Coronavirus Updates: Latest News and Analysis

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Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

U.S. cases surge toward May’s high, with clusters among young people linked to bars and fraternity parties.

The United States reported more than 30,000 new infections on Friday, its highest total since May 1, with cases rising in 19 states across the South, West and Midwest.

Southern officials in particular are speaking out with increasing alarm about the large number of cases turning up in young adults.

At least 100 cases were linked on Friday to employees and customers of bars in the Tigerland nightlife district near the Louisiana State University campus. In South Carolina, cases among people ages 21 to 30 have grown 413 percent since April 4. And in Mississippi, state officials said several cases had been tied to fraternity rush parties in Oxford, home to the University of Mississippi. More than 80 percent of new cases in Oxford were in people age 18 to 24.

“Early information suggests that they’re violating the law in the number of people who are at these parties,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s state health officer, who noted that indoor gatherings without social distancing were supposed to be limited to 20 people.

In South Carolina, which posted its largest single-day case increase yet on Friday, officials warned that some young people had become seriously ill from the virus and that those without serious symptoms could still infect family members and friends.

“The increases that we’re seeing serve as a warning that young adults and youth are not immune to Covid-19,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. “They also tell us that younger South Carolinians are not taking social distancing seriously.”

The clusters may be especially worrying to colleges and universities that plan to bring students back to campus in the fall, when both the coronavirus and the flu virus are expected to be circulating simultaneously.

While some — like Cal State, the nation’s largest four-year public university system — have already told students classes will be almost exclusively online, others are betting that careful planning, broad testing and social limits can keep students and faculty members safe and healthy.

Critical to their planning is the idea that young people will strictly adhere to social distancing and other mitigations, an assumption that one expert on the psychology of the young has called “delusional.”

global roundup

Reopenings multiply around the world, as do resurgences in Turkey, the U.S., Australia and more.

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Credit…Burhan Ozbilici/Associated Press

Gradual reopenings are continuing across the United States and globally this weekend, including the lifting of a state of emergency that Spain imposed nearly three months ago. But a return to public life has also been accompanied by rises in coronavirus cases — and sometimes a reimposition of restrictions to curb the virus’s spread.

In Turkey, which has the world’s 12th largest known outbreak, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged losing ground against the virus two weeks after the country allowed businesses to reopen and people to travel.

The daily rate of infection has now rebounded from below 1,000 a day to about 1,500. The government announced new lockdown periods for this weekend and next while high school students take specially scheduled exams. Masks were made compulsory in three of the largest cities, Istanbul, Izmir and Bursa, which have been hit badly.

“The way to overcome the outbreak is, as I always say, through the principles of masks, distancing and hygiene,” Mr. Erdogan said in a televised address on Saturday for the inauguration of a new dam.

In the United States, where the world’s largest known outbreak has infected more than 2.2 million people, several states repeatedly set record daily highs for new cases, prompting some officials to called for greater vigilance, mask-wearing and social distancing.

Florida, among the hardest-hit states, reported 3,822 new cases on Friday, bringing its total to close to 90,000. Arizona recorded a new single-day high, and South Carolina reported a record of 1,081 new daily cases, the seventh time in 11 days that the state had broken its single-day case record.

In Italy, Pope Francis held one of his first audiences for a group since the country lifted its lockdown. In his comments on Saturday at the Vatican, the pope thanked the attendees, who included masked health care workers from the hard-hit Lombardy region, for their work. He also warned against reverting back to individualism once the crisis faded.

Here are other developments around the world:

  • In Australia, which has been widely praised for containing the virus, the state of Victoria said on Saturday that it was bringing back tighter restrictions on gatherings. The state, which includes Melbourne, on Wednesday recorded 21 new cases, its largest single-day increase in over a month. Premier Dan Andrews said in a statement that “the numbers are largely being driven by families — families having big get-togethers and not following the advice around social distancing and hygiene.” At least three cases also involved protesters who participated in recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

  • Beijing is scrambling to track and contain a new outbreak that has raised fears of broader contagion. While some limits were imposed, the authorities did not turn to the kind of widespread strict lockdowns introduced in January after the coronavirus emerged late last year in the city of Wuhan. The change is in part a recognition that it is not feasible to shut down societies for the duration of the pandemic, which shows no signs of disappearing.

  • In Afghanistan, which is grappling with a rapidly growing outbreak and a raging war, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy said on Saturday that infections had spread among diplomats, contract workers and local employees. The spokesman offered no numbers, but The Associated Press reported up to 20 cases.

  • The removal of Spain’s state of emergency, which will officially take place at midnight, means that the country’s 47 million residents will be free to travel within the country, and international arrivals will no longer be required to quarantine. Other restrictions remain, including limits on the numbers of people allowed inside cafes and shops. Masks remains compulsory nationwide in public places, including on mass transit. Spain registered 40 coronavirus deaths and about 1,500 new infections in the past week, a huge drop from early April, when deaths rose by more than 900 a day.

  • Saudi Arabia is set to lift a nationwide curfew on Sunday morning, allowing “all economic and commercial activities” to restart, the state-run SPA news agency reported on Saturday, despite a resurgence in infections since the kingdom began reopening over the last several weeks. Nearly 4,000 new cases were reported on Saturday, bringing the total to 154,233. Large gatherings, international flights and land entries are banned.

Anticipation for Trump’s rally in Tulsa is building, as are worries about public health.

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Trump Supporters Camp Out Ahead of Tulsa Rally, Despite Virus Risk

Supporters of President Trump lined up outside the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., two days ahead of his rally. The president and some of his supporters have shrugged off concerns that the event could spread the coronavirus.

“I could get the flu someday — you never know. So I’m not going to worry about it. I don’t feel like I’m going to get the coronavirus. I use safety measures when I need to, but when I don’t, I’m just going to be my regular self.” “I really thought this was an important rally for me to go to. It’s the ninth one I’ve been to, but after having been away from rallies for so long, I think that there’s going to be some very important themes the president’s going to introduce here. And I wanted to be here to support his message.” “Well, we have face masks with this — and how do you feel about it, Mark?” “I think it’s all a hoax, to tell you the truth.”

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Supporters of President Trump lined up outside the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., two days ahead of his rally. The president and some of his supporters have shrugged off concerns that the event could spread the coronavirus.CreditCredit…Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

As people gathered in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday in anticipation of President Trump’s rally, health officials worried that the event could further spread the coronavirus in a state that has had a surge in new cases.

Many supporters were exuberant as they awaited the president’s return to the campaign trail. A few hundred gathered at Fourth and Cheyenne, the first rally checkpoint. Almost none wore masks.

“If it is God’s will that I get coronavirus, that is the will of the Almighty,” said Robert Montanelli, a resident of a Tulsa suburb who chose not to wear a mask. “I will not live in fear.”

“I don’t feel sick,” said Mike Pellerin of Austin, Texas, who wore a T-shirt saying “Are we dead yet?” and proudly noted his age, 68. “I don’t have the virus. I’m not going to give it to anyone.”

But Tulsa health officials have expressed concerns about conducting the rally in a large, indoor arena, saying it had the potential to become a “superspreader” event, and they were not alone.

A lawsuit filed by residents and businesses to stop the rally because of health risks was rejected on Friday by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The lawsuit had demanded that the event be postponed unless the BOK Center, the 19,000-seat arena where the rally is being held, agreed to enforce certain social distancing guidelines.

The court said that because Oklahoma’s reopening plan allowed businesses to use their discretion when instituting social distancing measures, such restrictions were not mandatory.

City officials rescinded a three-night curfew after Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he had spoken with the mayor, “who informed me there will be no curfew tonight or tomorrow for our many supporters.”

And Tulsa’s police chief said this week that his department was planning for “a mass amount of people that probably Tulsa has never seen before.”

There have been at least 9,706 cases of the coronavirus in Oklahoma, according to a New York Times database. As of Saturday morning, at least 367 people had died.

Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said that attendees would be given face masks, but that using them would be optional. Mr. Trump has eschewed masks in public, and Ms. McEnany said on Friday that she would not wear one at the rally.

The president, who has been determined to signal a return to normal as states reopen, announced on Friday that he would hold a Fourth of July celebration for a second consecutive year, including “music, military demonstrations and flyovers.”

The event, which is expected to culminate in a speech by Mr. Trump, comes as Democratic lawmakers in the area urged against such a gathering, saying it would “needlessly risk the health and safety of thousands of Americans.”

In another setback for hydroxychloroquine, the National Institutes of Health halts a clinical trial.

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Credit…George Frey/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The National Institutes of Health said on Saturday that it had stopped a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine, the antimalarial drug that President Trump has promoted to treat the virus with scant evidence of its efficacy, because the drug was unlikely to benefit hospitalized patients.

The halting of the trial, which had aimed to enroll more than 500 patients, is the latest evidence that scientists are increasingly concluding that the promise of hydroxychloroquine has fallen far short of early expectations.

Mr. Trump had called it a “game changer” and said he had been taking it. .

The N.I.H. said Saturday that an oversight board that monitors safety met Friday and “determined that while there was no harm, the study drug was very unlikely to be beneficial to hospitalized patients with Covid-19.”

The trial, which was being run by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a division of the N.I.H., had enrolled more than 470 patients when the study was stopped. It was one of several placebo-controlled studies that had been organized to test the drug after a series of small, poorly controlled trials showed early signs of a benefit.

Since then, several other large trials have been halted or have not shown the drug to be effective against the virus.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration revoked the emergency authorization it had given hospitals to give hydroxychloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, to hospitalized patients. The agency said that the drugs were “unlikely to be effective” and could carry potential risks.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said it was stopping the hydroxychloroquine arm of a large clinical trial that was testing several treatments against the virus because evidence showed it did not reduce mortality rates of hospitalized patients.

And on Friday, the Swiss drugmaker Novartis said it was halting its clinical trial because it could not recruit enough patients to sign up.

Several U.S. states and cities will begin allowing indoor dining at restaurants.

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Credit…Erin Clark/The Boston Globe, via Getty Images

Even as states like Texas and Florida have seen considerable spikes in new coronavirus cases in recent days, other corners of the United States where the virus has so far been mostly contained are planning to let patrons eat in restaurants again.

On Friday, the mayor of Baltimore said the city would join the rest of Maryland in allowing restaurants and bars to open for indoor dining with certain restrictions. Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., are enacting similar plans on Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers restaurants that allow indoor dining to be one of the riskier environments among those establishments that have opened so far. As scientists’ understanding of the virus has evolved, crowded indoor spaces with poor airflow have been identified as one of the likeliest situations in which the virus can spread, particularly as people laugh, talk and take off their masks to eat.

Businesses will still have to comply with restrictions. In both Massachusetts and Washington, dining establishments will have to keep tables six feet apart, and parties at any table cannot exceed six people. Washington will also limit restaurants to seating people at 50 percent capacity.

The C.D.C. has warned that even with these restrictions, indoor dining still brings together people who may not live with one another in tight spaces, and has urged individuals to take extra precautions.

The Belmont Stakes will be run today, without spectators or owners.

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Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

The race that traditionally goes last in the progression of the Triple Crown will be run first this year, and the 150,000 people who typically gather to watch it will be absent.

A skeleton crew of around 100 trainers, assistants and members of the news media will be at the track in New York on Saturday to oversee the race, but betting and spectating will all largely take place online.

The Belmont Stakes was already delayed several weeks because of the pandemic. The other two legs of the Triple Crown — the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby — which were originally planned for May, have both been moved to the fall.

Since many traditional Derby prep races have been canceled or moved, several of the horses running in the Belmont will be competing without having raced in months.

The unusual circumstances of the Belmont this year are not limited to the adjustments made because of the virus. The race was shortened, and several of the horses that were thought to be top contenders were withdrawn after sustaining serious injuries.

Protesters douse France’s Health Ministry with red paint symbolizing ‘blood on their hands.’

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Credit…Rafael Yaghobzadeh/Associated Press

Demonstrators in France on Saturday doused the entrance to the country’s Health Ministry with bright red paint symbolizing blood, in protest over inadequate resources and poor working conditions in the country’s public hospitals.

The group of about 30 protesters also placed a giant fake “Medal of Contempt” on the steps of the ministry, in central Paris.

“It’s been years, months that health workers have been mobilizing to denounce the lack of resources in terms of staffing, beds and equipment,” said Aurélie Trouvé, a spokeswoman for ATTAC, a left-wing activist group.

“This government, and the previous ones, are responsible for thousands of deaths during this crisis,” she said. “They have blood on their hands.”

Over 29,500 people have died from the coronavirus in France. President Emmanuel Macron has praised French doctors and nurses as heroes during the pandemic, and the government has given bonuses of 1,500 euros (about $1,680) to public health care workers. The government is also in talks with unions over an investment plan for hospitals.

But French health workers say the government has not made concrete promises on issues like pay raises, increased hiring and a moratorium on plans to downsize or close hospitals.

The protesters also expressed anger at the government’s handling of a much larger demonstration of health workers last week in Paris, where violence broke out and the police used tear gas.

Ines Pujol, a spokeswoman for L’Inter-Urgences, a group of emergency health care workers, said at Saturday’s protest that “it took a pandemic, a global health crisis for the government and its institutions to take a look at public hospitals” and “for our suffering to be heard.”

Worries over pro and college sports grow with new diagnoses and facility closings.

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Credit…Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

A number of new cases of the coronavirus among professional and college athletes have added to concerns about competitive sports.

On Friday, days after the PGA Tour restarted, the golfer Nick Watney withdrew from the RBC Heritage tournament in South Carolina after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Clemson University also confirmed on Friday that 28 people had tested positive across its athletics department, including 23 football team members.

Sports leagues across the country have already been wrestling with stubborn questions about how and when to resume games and practices without putting players at risk.

Two Major League Baseball clubs, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays, and a professional hockey team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, had said they would shut down their training facilities in Florida this week, after several players and staff members tested positive. Major League Baseball is now planning to temporarily close all spring training sites in Florida and Arizona for deep cleaning and will require players and staff members to be tested before they can re-enter the sites.

The Phillies said in a statement Friday that five players and three staff members working at the club’s facility in Clearwater had tested positive for the virus. The club said eight staff members tested negative and more than 30 others were awaiting results.

Both the N.H.L. and M.L.B. are hoping to start up in late July.

The shutdowns cast a shadow over the return of professional sports, which became a source of friction this week between President Trump and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

Mr. Trump rebuked Dr. Fauci after Dr. Fauci said Thursday on CNN that the National Football League would need to replicate the kind of safety “bubble” planned by professional basketball and soccer leagues to safely resume play.

Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday that “Tony Fauci has nothing to do with N.F.L. Football. They are planning a very safe and controlled opening.”

Latin America’s devastation is compounded by a wave of fraud.

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Credit…Diario El Debate, via Reuters

As Latin America has emerged as an epicenter of the pandemic, with deaths and infections soaring, efforts to contain the coronavirus have been undermined by several corruption scandals.

Investigations into fraud have reached the highest levels of government. The former Bolivian health minister is under house arrest awaiting trial on corruption charges after the ministry paid an intermediary millions more than the going rate for 170 ventilators — which did not even work properly.

Dozens of public officials and local entrepreneurs are accused of exploiting the crisis for personal enrichment by peddling influence to price-gouge hospitals and governments for medical supplies including masks, sanitizer and ventilators.

In Brazil, which has the second highest number of coronavirus deaths after the United States, government officials in at least seven states are under investigation over the misuse of more than $200 million in public funds during the crisis.

Peru’s police chief and interior minister resigned after their subordinates bought diluted sanitizer and flimsy face masks for police officers, who then began dying of infections from the virus at alarming rates.

In Colombia, the attorney general is investigating reports that more than 100 political campaign donors received lucrative contracts to provide emergency supplies during the pandemic.

“People are dying in the streets because the hospital system collapsed,” said Diana Salazar, Ecuador’s attorney general. “To profit from the pain of others, with all these people who are losing their loved ones, it’s immoral.”

Russians wear gloves to eat burgers. In a pandemic, should everyone?

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Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Entering a home in Moscow, it’s customary to take off your shoes. When attending a play, checking your coat is a must. And when eating a burger, it’s often done while wearing gloves.

Across hygiene-conscious Eastern Europe, many people consider it uncouth and unsanitary to eat a burger with their bare hands. The answer used to be a knife and fork. But the pandemic has accelerated a years-old trend: order a burger, and there is a fair chance it will come with a side of disposable gloves.

“Gloves, I think, are an unspoken, required attribute of any burger restaurant,” said Alina Volkolovskaya, the manager of Butterbro, a gastro pub in Minsk, Belarus. “I’m surprised that establishments in every country don’t offer them.”

Several American restaurant safety experts said they doubted that the practice would take off in the United States — the coronavirus, after all, is not even known to spread through food. But some said that gloves used properly could help protect people from a variety of germs.

“They could be potentially beneficial,” said Robert C. Williams, an associate professor of food microbiology at Virginia Tech, “in cases where the customer would not have washed their hands anyway.”

The many uses for food scraps.

Feeling crafty? Want to have less waste? There are many things that can be done with the bottoms of carrots, beets, egg shells and even meat waste. Or start a compost bin. We’ll show you how.

Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Aurelien Breeden, Nancy Coleman, Tess Felder, Ben Fenwick, Carlotta Gall, Matthew Haag, Tyler Kepner, Natalie Kitroeff, Iliana Magra, Mujib Mashal, Raphael Minder, Zach Montague, Mitch Smith, Mitra Taj, Katie Thomas, Anton Troianovski and Vivian Yee.

Source: nytimes.com

Tags: health

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