Live Coronavirus Updates – The New York Times

Live Coronavirus Updates – The New York Times

KEY DATA OF THE DAY

Florida, Texas and Arizona all set records for the most cases they have reported in a single day.

The virus continued its steady spread across the Sun Belt on Tuesday, with state officials in Arizona, Florida and Texas all reporting their largest one-day increases in new cases yet.

Florida reported 2,783 new cases, Texas 2,622, and Arizona 2,392.

The new daily highs came as all three states have increased testing and moved swiftly to ease social distancing restrictions and allow more businesses to reopen. They were among 20 states that have seen the number of newly reported cases grow over the last two weeks, according to a New York Times database.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican, attributed the uptick to more widespread testing, noting at a news conference Tuesday that the state was not only testing far more people than it did earlier in the spring, but was also going into high-risk environments, testing farm workers and migrant workers, and finding new cases.

But epidemiologists have said that the numbers recorded in the state in recent days suggest increased transmissions, and the governor acknowledged that community transmission remained a factor.

“There’s been community spread the whole time,” Mr. DeSantis said at the news conference, saying that there were pockets of the state with higher rates, particularly lower-income areas.

He dismissed the idea that the recent infections stemmed from the reopening of businesses including bars and restaurants and said the state would not shutter activity again.

“We’re not shutting down,” he said. He added: “You have to have society function.”

Epidemiologists have said that even taking into account the increase in testing, the rise in confirmed cases in several Sun Belt states suggested increased transmissions, and they pointed to other measures, including the percentage of positive tests and hospitalizations. In Florida more than 4.5 percent of those who tested between May 31 and June 6 had the virus, compared with about 2.3 percent of people who sought tests in mid-May. Rates in Arizona and Texas have also risen in recent weeks.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said that Tuesday’s new high reflected several anomalies, and that some counties may have reported a backlog of cases that were not reported in recent days. But he also put some of the blame for Texas’s increase in cases on people under 30, suggesting that they were being too casual about wearing masks and social distancing. He said that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission had issued a warning this week to bars and restaurants that they face the suspension of their liquor licenses if they violate protocols.

Tension between the state and local governments over escalated again on Tuesday as nine Texas mayors, including those for the state’s largest cities, asked Mr. Abbott to give them the authority to mandate the use of face masks for their communities. The governor’s statewide policies do not require the wearing of face masks, although he strongly encourages them.

In an unexpected glimmer of hope amid the expanding pandemic, scientists at the University of Oxford said on Tuesday that an inexpensive and commonly available drug reduced deaths in patients with severe Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus.

If the finding is borne out, the drug, a steroid called dexamethasone, will be the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in the sickest patients. It might save hundreds of thousands of lives, eventually even millions, altering the course of the pandemic.

Three-quarters of hospitalized Covid-19 patients receive some form of oxygen. The drug appears to reduce deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of other patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

Until now, hospitals worldwide have had nothing to offer these desperate, dying patients, and the prospect of a lifesaving treatment close at hand, in almost every pharmacy, was met with something like elation by doctors.

“Assuming that when it goes through peer review it stands — and these are well-established researchers — it’s a huge breakthrough, a major breakthrough,” said Dr. Sam Parnia, a pulmonologist and associate professor of medicine at the Grossman School of Medicine at New York University.

But the report also comes quick on the heels of a series of blunders and retractions in the scientific literature, as scientists rush to publish research about the virus. While hospitals in the United Kingdom were able to begin treating severely ill Covid-19 patients with dexamethasone on Tuesday, many experts in the United States demanded to see the data and the study itself, which have not yet been peer reviewed or published.

“Epidemic trends in Beijing are very grim,” Chen Bei, a deputy secretary-general of the Beijing government, said at a news conference.

City officials face intense pressure to extinguish the new outbreak. After the pandemic spread from central China from late last year, Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, made defending Beijing from mass infections a priority. China’s capital is a nerve center of Communist Party rule, and a crowded, restless metropolis with more than 21 million inhabitants.

“Make containing the outbreak the most important and urgent task for now,” Cai Qi, the Communist Party secretary of Beijing, and a protégé of Mr. Xi, said at a meeting of officials on Monday. “Adopt the most resolute, decisive and strictest measures.”

Even so, the decision to raise the level of alert and shut schools was a potentially embarrassing and disruptive reversal for the government. Beijing had lowered its alert level for public health threats just 10 days earlier.

Elsewhere around the globe:

  • After declaring the pandemic eradicated last week, New Zealand authorities on Tuesday confirmed two new cases in travelers who had returned from Britain, ending the country’s 24-day streak without new infections.

  • The Eiffel Tower announced that it would reopen June 25 after being shut for three months — its longest closure since World War II — and that visitors would have to take the stairs at first, and wear masks if they are over 11 years old.

  • Hong Kong will relax some social-distancing restrictions on Thursday, allowing wedding banquets and live music to resume and lifting the limit on public gatherings to 50 people from eight, the city’s secretary of health said on Tuesday.

Mexico will stop sending temporary workers to Canadian farms that have been hit by the virus and do not have proper worker protections, the Mexican labor ministry said on Tuesday.

Canada depends heavily on migrant laborers to plant and harvest its crops, now Mexican workers planning to travel to farms that had corona outbreaks or do “not have a strategy of prevention and care for workers” will be reassigned, the ministry said.

The decision, reported by Reuters, came after outbreaks hit at least 17 farms in Ontario, killing two Mexican workers.

Canadian farmers bring in about 60,000 short-term foreign workers, predominantly from Latin America and the Caribbean. This year, Mexico’s Temporary Agricultural Workers Program has sent more than 16,000 people on short-term contracts to Canada, including 10,600 people since the pandemic began, the labor ministry said.

Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said he had expressed condolences to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico. “We are going to make sure that we’re following up,” Mr. Trudeau said.

Britain has backtracked on a plan to stop giving out school meals over the summer.

Bowing to public pressure, Britain has agreed to keep providing food aid to low-income families over the summer school break.

When Britain went into lockdown in March, many families that depend on school meals to help keep their children fed — more than a million a year — were suddenly in trouble.

The government set up a nationwide program to keep getting food to the children, but last week announced that it would not be extended through the summer.

The decision was greeted with off outrage. Among those denouncing it was the soccer superstar Marcus Rashford, who urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s conservative government to reverse course.

Mr. Rashford, a striker for Manchester United, was raised by a single mother and relied on free school meals and food provided by his club when he was younger. He pleaded with members of Parliament to “protect the vulnerable.”

According to estimates by the Food Foundation, a British think tank, 200,000 children have had to skip meals during the pandemic because their parents couldn’t afford enough food.

On Tuesday, the prime minister announced a £120 million — $152 million — “Covid summer food fund” that will provide families £15 vouchers once a week for the six-week summer break.

“Brilliant news!” the Food Foundation declared. For the socially isolated, chatbots provide company — of a sort.

Trump’s rally on Saturday could cause a huge spike, Tulsa officials fear.

Officials in Tulsa, Okla., are warning that Mr. Trump’s planned campaign rally on Saturday — his first in over three months — is likely to worsen an already troubling spike in infections and could become a disastrous “super spreader.”

They are pleading with the Trump campaign to cancel the event, slated for the BOK Center, a 20,000-person indoor arena — or at least move it outdoors.

“It’s the perfect storm of potential over-the-top disease transmission,” said the Tulsa health department’s executive director. “It’s a perfect storm that we can’t afford to have.”

When Dr. Nichole Quick, the health officer in Orange County, Calif., issued an order requiring all residents to wear masks when in public last month, the backlash was swift — and personal.

Angry speakers flooded a public meeting calling for her firing. Protesters defaced her photo, comparing her to Hitler. The situation got so heated, local officials said, that she was placed under police protection.

By last week, Dr. Quick had resigned as county health officer, and county officials had reversed the order, making face coverings optional in the county of 3 million, where new reported cases and hospitalizations have trended slightly upward. The county has a total of nearly 9,000 cases so far, the fourth most in the state, and new reported cases are also rising overall in California.

The abrupt turnaround is perhaps one of the most pronounced examples of the backlash facing officials who promote face mask requirements, as face masks increasingly become a flash point. Support for face masks has often fallen along partisan lines, despite federal health recommendations and recent research that suggest that face masks could be critical to stopping the spread of the virus. Mr. Trump has largely declined to wear a mask in public.

Officials and business owners alike have faced pushback. In the Houston area, the county judge was sued over an order requiring face masks. Costco faced threats of boycotts over a similar requirement for its stores. And in Stillwater, Okla., north of Oklahoma City, an order requiring residents to wear face masks inside stores and restaurants was quickly rescinded last month, after an uprising among customers.

Arts and Sports Roundup

The U.S. Open is on, Lyric Opera of Chicago cancels its fall season and the Queen misses Royal Ascot.

In Britain, the normally glamorous Royal Ascot horse racing meeting, immortalized in “My Fair Lady” when Eliza Doolittle shocks a crowd of toffs by crudely urging on her horse, got underway Tuesday. But it was transformed.

For the first time in her 68-year reign as sovereign, Queen Elizabeth, an enthusiastic racing fan, missed it. “I am sure,” she wrote in a statement, “it will remain one of Britain’s finest sporting occasions.”

For the uninitiated, this dispatch from last year on Royal Ascot, its millinery and its social mores, provides a useful, or at least amusing, primer.

Here is a look at the some of the latest developments in the worlds of sports and culture:

  • New York’s governor announced Tuesday that the U.S. Open tennis tournament could go ahead as scheduled from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13 in Queens, but without spectators. The lack of fans will be a financial hit for the tennis association, but the organization still has the support of its primary sponsors and ESPN, which pays more than $70 million annually in rights fees mainly to televise the tournament.

  • The San Francisco Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, two of the nation’s premier opera companies, both announced Tuesday that they were canceling their fall seasons. The Metropolitan Opera already announced that it was canceling its fall season.

  • A day after the Oscars ceremony was pushed back, the Emmy Awards announced that it would go ahead on Sept. 20 with Jimmy Kimmel as its host. “I don’t know where or how or even why we are doing this, but we are and I am hosting it!” he wrote on Twitter.

  • The N.F.L.’s players’ union on Monday told agents there were still no guidelines established for testing protocols or rules on distancing and equipment for players’ mandatory return to training camps in July, according to a source who participated and spoke on condition of anonymity. The lack of guidance has left many in football unsure about safety in an environment with a lot of close contact.

Need one more thing worry about? A new study explores the danger that might lurk in bathrooms.

As cities around the world navigate reopening, more people will need to use public or shared restrooms — and new research raises concerns that flushing the toilet can generate a cloud of aerosol droplets.

Scientists have found that such clouds can rise nearly three feet. The droplets may linger in the air long enough to be inhaled by the toilet’s next user, or land on surfaces in the bathroom.

That isn’t just gross.

Simulations show that the plume can carry infectious particles that are already present in the surrounding air, or that were recently shed in stool. The research, published Tuesday in the journal Physics of Fluids, adds to growing evidence that the virus can be passed not only through respiratory droplets but through feces, too.

While it remains unknown whether public toilets are a major point of transmission, the research highlights the need to rethink some of the common spaces people share.

It is not illegal for members of Congress or their families to apply for or accept the loans under the newly created Paycheck Protection Program. But after approving about $2.8 trillion in economic relief, lawmakers are facing additional scrutiny over whether they have tailored the rescue programs to benefit themselves.

Representative Susie Lee, Democrat of Nevada, helped lobby for casinos to be included in the Paycheck Protection Program, and shortly after the Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department began administering it, her husband’s casino company received millions of dollars from the program. A spokesperson told the Daily Beast, which first reported details of the loan, that the congresswoman had no involvement in the company’s decision to accept the loans.

Representative Vicky Harzler, Republican of Missouri, and her husband, who own a farm and other businesses, also received aid through the program, citing “the realities of this uncertainty” and the need “to ensure the continued ability to maintain the employment of all team members during this time.”

Fiesta Restaurant Group, the parent company of Pollo Tropical, a Miami restaurant chain where the husband of Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Democrat of Florida, is an executive, received $15 million in loans. The money was ultimately returned.

A car dealership owned by Representative Roger Williams, Republican of Texas and one of the wealthiest members of Congress, also received a loan, though it is unclear how much the loan was. A representative for the car dealership told the Dallas Morning News that the loan helped “keep over 100 employees on payroll and prevent their families from experiencing further hardships during this unprecedented pandemic.” Mr. Williams was singled out by Representative Katie Porter, Democrat of California, in a news release calling for transparency surrounding the funds.

The Trump administration has resisted calls for disclosure of how it is distributing the money and who is benefiting. House Democrats launched an investigation on Monday.

NEW YORK ROUNDUP

As virus cases wane, New York hospitals can allow visitors again.

Reporting was contributed by Reed Abelson, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Dan Bilefsky, Aurelien Breeden, Emma Bubola, Chris Buckley, Emily Cochrane, Michael Cooper, Michael Corkery, Abdi Latif Dahir, Thomas Erdbrink, Oskar Garcia, Rebecca Griesbach, Michael Gold, Christine Hauser, Jason Horowitz, Winnie Hu, Sapna Maheshwari, Jonathan Martin, Tiffany May, Sarah Mervosh, David Montgomery, Benjamin Mueller, Aimee Ortiz, Elian Peltier, Elisabetta Povoledo, Katie Rogers, Adam Satariano, Jeanna Smialek, Christopher F. Schuetze, Nate Schweber, Libbie Seline, Knvul Sheikh, Mitch Smith, Kaly Soto, Eileen Sullivan, Anton Troianovski, Amber Wang, Timothy Williams, David Yaffe-Bellany, Noah Weiland and Karen Zraick.


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