Coronavirus Live Updates: Fauci Warns U.S. Could Hit 100,000 Daily Cases, and Officials Fight Vaccine Skepticism
Here’s what you need to know:
- Fauci warns that the U.S. could see 100,000 new cases a day, and officials aim to counter vaccine skeptics.
- New U.S. virus cases have gone up 80 percent in the past two weeks.
- The Republican Senate health committee chairman urges Trump to set a better example on masks.
- E.U. reopens borders July 1, barring travelers from Russia, Brazil and the U.S.
- Travelers from California and other hard-hit states are told to quarantine in the Northeast, joining a growing list.
- ‘We need a president’: Biden assails Trump’s response to the virus.
- California prison officials transferred inmates in an attempt to stop an outbreak. It backfired, badly.
Fauci warns that the U.S. could see 100,000 new cases a day, and officials aim to counter vaccine skeptics.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned Tuesday that the number of new infections in the United States could more than double to 100,000 a day if the country fails to contain the surge that is now underway in many states.
He noted that the recent sharp rise in cases, largely in the South and the West, “puts the entire country at risk.”
“We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day,” Dr. Fauci said. “I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around. And so I am very concerned.”
Dr. Fauci made the stark warning at a Senate hearing on Tuesday where health officials spoke about the need to reassure people about the safety of vaccines. Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Senate lawmakers that the agency had spent around three months developing a plan to rebuild “vaccine confidence,” an attempt to win over a large slice of Americans still hesitant about inoculation.
Skepticism of vaccines came up repeatedly at the hearing, which was framed as an update on the safety of returning to school. “I think it’s very important that we have an integrated plan for this vaccine,” Dr. Redfield told the Senate’s health and education committee, adding that the plan could be released in the coming weeks.
Senator Patty Murray, the panel’s top Democrat, implored him to speed up the work.
“We need to see that plan,” she said. “We need to know what it is, the public needs to know what it is.”
Dr. Redfield appeared with Dr. Fauci; Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner; and Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the assistant secretary for health.
Dr. Fauci said that the federal government had a “community engagement program” embedded at the sites of vaccine trials to help build trust in them.
“It is a reality: a lack of trust of authority, a lack of trust in government, and a concern about vaccines in general,” Dr. Fauci said. He added that there need to be “boots on the ground,” especially near minority communities that he said “have not always been treated fairly by the government.”
Dr. Fauci also said school administrators should take into account virus activity in their areas when they consider reopening plans for the fall. And Dr. Redfield also took a pointed shot at American Airlines, expressing disappointment that the air carrier has begun selling middle seats on its flights. But vaccines appeared to be a major concern.
“Public confidence in vaccines is so important,” Dr. Hahn, the F.D.A. commissioner, said. “We have an obligation to use all of our scientific knowledge, regulatory framework to ensure that any vaccine that comes before us, whether for authorization or approval, meets our stringent standards for safety and effectiveness.”
Seven in 10 Americans have said they would get vaccines against the virus if immunizations were free and available to everyone, according to recent polling, a number that health officials fear may not be enough to achieve “herd immunity,” a term that signifies that a vast majority of a population has protection against infection. At least 70 percent will need to be immune to the virus to reach that point, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
The F.D.A. took steps to try to reassure people that the sped-up process would not come at the expense of safety. Dr. Hahn announced at the hearing that the F.D.A. would release guidelines to aid in the development and production of Covid-19 vaccines, including that the vaccine be at least 50 percent more effective than a placebo to win agency approval.
There are currently more than 140 vaccines being developed against the coronavirus, and the F.D.A. will require that manufacturers prove their products are safe and effective through a clinical trial. The agency will also require manufacturers to track individuals who have been vaccinated for a year, to monitor them for any adverse reactions.
All four officials also appeared before House lawmakers last week, when Dr. Redfield warned of a potentially crippling second wave of the virus that would coincide with flu season.
Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak
The virus has infected more than 9 million people and has been detected in nearly every country.
KEY DATA OF THE DAY
New U.S. virus cases have gone up 80 percent in the past two weeks.
The number of new virus cases in the United States has gone up 80 percent in the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database, a troubling trend for states that have been moving forward with plans to reopen. The increase in cases has mostly been concentrated in the South and West, where some cities are facing dire situations and a shrinking number of hospital beds.
Case counts have climbed sharply in many of the states that were the first to reopen, including Florida and Texas, which recently forced bars to close again. More than 4,600 new cases of the virus were announced on Tuesday in Arizona, by far that state’s most in a single day, as Oklahoma and South Carolina also reported single-day highs. California’s case count has exploded, surpassing 220,000 known infections. And even states that had reported improvements are starting to see the number of new cases rise, causing governors to rethink their plans to get residents back to work.
The Midwest, which in June started seeing declines in virus cases, is now seeing the beginnings of a resurgence. Six states in the region had increasing case numbers as of Monday. And even in places like Illinois and Minnesota, where case numbers have remained mostly flat, new hot spots have emerged.
In Kansas, the governor on Monday ordered residents to wear masks as case numbers lurched back toward their peak levels. In Wisconsin, new cases in the Madison area have reached a troubling new high. And in Ohio, the cases in counties that include Cincinnati and Cleveland have been doubling in the past two weeks. Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said the Ohio increases were not the result of more testing, contradicting the messaging from the White House and some other Republican governors.
“If the spread of this virus remained at a low level, more testing should show a lower positivity — there simply wouldn’t be as many cases to pick up with testing,” said Mr. DeWine, who asked for federal help responding to upticks in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas. “Instead, the creeping up of our positivity rate even as we are doing more testing means that we are likely picking up signs of broader community spread.”
The Republican Senate health committee chairman urges Trump to set a better example on masks.
Masks — and President Trump’s refusal to wear one — were a central topic of the Senate health committee hearing on Tuesday, as Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the committee chairman, called on the president to set a better example by occasionally covering his face.
At the outset of the hearing, Mr. Alexander, a Republican, lamented that wearing a mask had “become part of the political debate,” and said he had “suggested that the president occasionally wear a mask, even though in most cases” Mr. Trump does not need to do so.
“The president has plenty of admirers,” Mr. Alexander said. “They would follow his lead, it would help end this political debate. The stakes are too high for this political debate about pro-Trump, anti-Trump to continue.”
The senator’s remarks, an echo of comments he made over the weekend, were a striking example of a Republican criticizing the president by name. As they have in the past, health experts emphasized that masks were essential to containing the virus, though they avoided direct mention of Mr. Trump.
E.U. reopens borders July 1, barring travelers from Russia, Brazil and the U.S.
The European Union will open its borders to visitors from 15 countries as of Wednesday, but not to travelers from the United States, Brazil or Russia, putting into effect a complex policy that seeks to balance health concerns with politics, diplomacy and the desperate need for tourism revenue.
The list of nations that European Union countries have approved includes Australia, Canada and New Zealand, while travelers from China will be permitted if China reciprocates.
The plan was drawn up based on health criteria, and European Union officials went to great lengths to appear apolitical in their choices, but the decision to leave the United States off the list — lumping travelers from there in with those from Brazil and Russia — was a high-profile rebuke of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Travelers’ country of residence, not their nationality, will be the determining factor for their ability to travel to countries in the European Union, officials said, and while the policy will not be legally binding, all 27 member nations will be under pressure to comply. If not, they risk having their European peers close borders within the bloc, which would set back efforts to restart the free travel-and-trade zone that is fundamental to the club’s economic survival.
The bloc implemented its own travel ban in mid-March and gradually extended it as the pandemic spread to other parts of the world. It had set July 1 as the date to begin allowing non-European Union travelers to return, even as Portugal and Sweden, both members, and Britain, which will be treated as a member until the end of the year, still grapple with serious outbreaks. Other members, such as Germany, are seeing new localized outbreaks drive up their national caseloads.
The full list of the first 15 countries that the European Union will open up to includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and China, provided that China also opens up to travelers from the bloc. It also includes four European microstates, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican.
Travelers from California and other hard-hit states are told to quarantine in the Northeast, joining a growing list.
As infections surge in the South and the West, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — three former hot spots in the Northeast — called on Tuesday for travelers from California and several other states struggling to contain outbreaks to quarantine for 14 days upon reaching their states.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, said that visitors from an additional eight states — California, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee — would be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the state. People traveling to New York from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah had already been told to quarantine.
It was the latest example of how the shifting geography of the outbreak is once again upending travel regulations. The tristate area’s new restrictions now cover travelers from the nation’s most populous states, and from several of the busiest airports in the country, including those in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Dallas-Fort Worth.
In Massachusetts, which had previously required all visitors to quarantine for 14 days, Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, announced on Tuesday that beginning on Wednesday, the state would no longer require travelers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York and New Jersey to do so. “Due to lower infection rates across the Northeast region, our administration is updating our state’s travel guidance,” he said.
Other places are taking different approaches.
Starting July 15, people traveling to Puerto Rico will be required to bring proof of a negative test taken within three days of their arrival, the governor announced Tuesday. Anyone who doesn’t have one will be tested, and those who test positive will have to quarantine for two weeks, and must assume all medical and housing costs.
Over the past week California’s case count has exploded, surpassing 220,000 known infections, and forcing Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, to roll back the state’s reopening in some counties. On Monday, he said the number of people hospitalized in California had risen 43 percent over the past two weeks. More than 7,000 new cases were announced across California on Monday, the highest single-day total of the pandemic.
In other news from around the United States:
More than 80 soldiers tested positive for the virus on Monday after three weeks of grueling survival training in North Carolina, according to a current Defense Department official and a former one, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The roughly 110-person class was quickly quarantined at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, but those who tested negative for the virus were allowed to leave, the former official said. The former official said the virus was most likely spread by an Army instructor who tested positive but continued to teach the course, known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, or SERE school.
After a stumbling start three months ago, the U.S. government’s centerpiece relief program for small businesses is ending with money left over. The Paycheck Protection Program is scheduled to wrap up on Tuesday after handing out $520 billion in loans meant to preserve workers’ jobs during the pandemic. But as new outbreaks spike across the country and force many states to rethink their plans to reopen businesses, the program is closing down with more than $130 billion still in its coffers.
The F.B.I. has issued a warning about scammers who advertise fraudulent Covid-19 antibody tests, which they use as a way to obtain personal information that can be used for identity theft or medical insurance fraud. Scammers are advertising the fake or unapproved tests online, in person and over the phone, the F.B.I. said. The agency recommends that those looking to take an antibody test — which is used to determine whether a person has had the coronavirus — consult a list of tests and testing companies that the Food and Drug Administration has approved.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, offered different assessments of how quickly the economy will recover during a congressional hearing on Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Mnuchin said he expected a rebound in the second half of the year while Mr. Powell warned that a surge in cases could set the recovery back and “undermine public confidence, which is what we need to get back to lots of kinds of economic activity that involve crowds.”
A U.A.W. union local has asked General Motors to temporarily close an S.U.V. assembly line in Arlington, Texas, as a health measure after a surge of cases in that area. National union officials and G.M. said they were discussing the concerns raised by the local. The factory employs about 4,900 people.
‘We need a president’: Biden assails Trump’s response to the virus.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday opened a new round of attacks on President Trump and his handling of the pandemic, accusing him of failing to protect the American people from the virus.
In a speech in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said that “we need a president,” not a “cheerleader.”
Before the speech, the Biden campaign released an updated plan for fighting the outbreak. It said that “minutes after he is declared the winner of the election,” Mr. Biden would reach out to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
“Dr. Fauci will have full access to the Oval Office and an uncensored platform to speak directly to the American people — whether delivering good news or bad,” the campaign said.
Mr. Biden has made only sporadic in-person appearances since the pandemic upended American daily life, refraining from holding the rallies that have long been a staple of the campaign trail.
He has repeatedly criticized Mr. Trump over his response to the crisis, and this month, he outlined an eight-part plan for reopening the economy.
California prison officials transferred inmates in an attempt to stop an outbreak. It backfired, badly.
An effort by California officials to halt the spread of the virus at a prison in Chino backfired and caused a massive outbreak inside San Quentin, the state’s oldest and best-known prison.
Late last month, 121 prisoners from the California Institution for Men in Chino, which had nearly 700 cases and nine deaths, were bused to San Quentin, where no inmates were known to have the virus.
When they arrived, prisoners’ temperatures were taken and they were placed in a holding area, but no Covid-19 tests were given. The men used the same showers and ate in the same dining hall as other inmates.
Now more than 1,000 of the 3,700 prisoners at San Quentin have been infected.
A hearing is scheduled on Wednesday in the State Senate, where lawmakers say they have become alarmed about the outbreak and what they describe as a haphazard response by prison officials.
Since the pandemic began, California has agreed to release as many as 3,500 inmates up to six months early and is considering more early releases, but the prison system remains at 124 percent capacity, according to state records.
Across the United States, the number of prison and jail inmates known to be infected has doubled during the past month to more than 80,000, according to a New York Times database. Nine of the 10 largest known clusters of the virus in the United States are inside correctional institutions, The Times’s data shows.
In the town where Italy’s first virus victim lived, 40 percent of cases showed no symptoms.
Three days after a 78-year-old man, Adriano Trevisan, died on Feb. 21 and became the first registered victim of the coronavirus in Italy, the government imposed a 14-day quarantine on Vo’, the small town near Padua where he lived.
Backed by the Veneto region, scientists swab-tested nearly all of the town’s 3,275 residents, both at the beginning and at the end of the lockdown.
On Tuesday, the results of the study were published in the journal Nature. It found that 42.5 percent of the cases showed no symptoms, indicating that asymptomatic cases might have been important — if unwitting — spreaders of the pandemic, and confirming the importance of widespread testing.
The study also found that local outbreaks could be controlled “by combining the early isolation of infected people with community lockdown.”
Andrea Crisanti, the top scientific consultant on the virus in Veneto and a professor at the University of Padua and Imperial College London, co-led the study and has been a forceful advocate of widespread testing. He argued in the paper that the Veneto region’s testing and tracing approach had a “tremendous impact on the course of the epidemic in Veneto compared to other Italian regions.”
“The experience of Vo’ shows that despite the silent and widespread transmission of SARS-CoV-2, transmission can be controlled,” the authors wrote.
The study showed that at the start of the quarantine, 73 residents of Vo’, or 2.6 percent of the population, tested positive for the virus. Two weeks later, that number had dropped to 29 people, eight of which were new cases, but in both rounds of testing, 40 percent of the positive cases had been asymptomatic.
Transmission in the absence of symptoms poses clear challenges for the control of Covid-19 without strict social distancing measures or epidemiological surveillance comprising, for instance, a test, trace and isolate strategy, the study noted.
In other news from around the world:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India announced on Tuesday that more than 800 million citizens would receive free food aid through the fall, in a move intended to mitigate hardship for those affected by the virus. Mr. Modi also said that the country’s restrictions, which were first put into effect in late March, would be further eased this week.
Airbus announced Tuesday that it would cut 15,000 jobs across its global work force, the largest downsizing in the history of the company. Citing a 40 percent slump in commercial aircraft business activity and an “unprecedented crisis” facing the airline industry, the company said the majority of the layoffs would come from plants in France, Germany, Spain and Britain.
Canada extended its ban on most travelers coming from places outside of the United States until July 31. A separate measure barring people coming across the border with the United States is in effect until July 21. Citizens and permanent residents are among the people exempt from both measures.
Australia, which showed early signs of quashing the coronavirus, is now battling spikes in its second-most-populous state, Victoria, leading the authorities to announce lockdowns in the greater Melbourne area starting Wednesday night. On Tuesday, Victoria recorded 60 new cases, its 14th consecutive day of double-digit increases. Australia, with a population of 25 million, reported just seven cases in its other states on Tuesday.
A new strain of the H1N1 swine flu virus that has been circulating in China should be “urgently” controlled to avoid another pandemic, a team of scientists said in a new study.
The virus reaches an encampment on the Mexican border where migrants wait to apply for asylum in the U.S.
Stranded in a crowded encampment along the Mexican border, migrants waiting to apply for asylum in the United States have for months feared that the coronavirus would reach them. This week, the first known case was confirmed among the 2,000 camp dwellers.
A 20-year-old woman living at the tent camp in Matamoros, Mexico, has been transferred to an isolation area on the edge of the camp, according to Global Response Management, a nonprofit that runs a clinic there. Two other people at the camp were isolated on June 26 after presenting symptoms of Covid-19, the organization said. Test results are still pending.
“The presence of Covid-19 in an already vulnerable population exposed to the elements could potentially be catastrophic,” said Andrea Leiner, the director of strategic planning for Global Response.
The encampment sits at the foot of the bridge to Brownsville, Texas, where migrants must go for asylum hearings. They have been subjected to a U.S. policy, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, that requires asylum applicants to remain in Mexico while applying for asylum, entering the United States only on their court dates.
Families of four or five occupy tents intended for two people on a muddy strip of land, with many of the camp residents already weakened by respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments. Migrants bathe and wash their clothes in the Rio Grande.
After the coronavirus outbreak, Global Response had expressed concern that hospitals in Matamoros lacked capacity to care for migrants. To date, there have been 1,215 confirmed virus cases in Matamoros and 2,183 cases in Cameron County, Texas, which have both experienced spikes in the last week.
The organization’s doctors and nurses in February began distribution of vitamins to boost the immunity of migrants, added dozens of hand-washing stations and checked temperatures. They also erected a field hospital to care for those who fell ill.
Local officials in Texas implore the governor to let them issue stay-at-home orders.
The leaders of the most populous counties in Texas have been imploring Gov. Greg Abbott to allow them to issue stay-at-home orders amid the rapidly spreading outbreak.
“We are having an experiment, a gamble, in the hopes that we can be the first community that suddenly flattens the curve without a stay-at-home order,” said Lina Hidalgo, the executive in Harris County, the hardest-hit area of the state.
Ms. Hidalgo, whose county includes Houston, has issued an advisory to residents to stay at home, but said she needed tools to enforce it.
A joint letter sent Monday by the judge in Bexar County and the mayor of San Antonio urged the governor to restore county officials’ power to issue stay-at-home orders and workplace restrictions. Mr. Abbott, a Republican, took away those powers in late April, ahead of the state’s reopening.
Samuel T. Biscoe, the judge in Travis County, which includes Austin, sent a similar letter. “The rapid increase in cases has outstripped our ability to track, measure and mitigate the spread,” he wrote.
Mr. Biscoe also asked the governor to require face masks. Mr. Abbott has said Texans should wear masks, but he has stopped short of requiring them to do so.
The officials, who are all Democrats, also called attention to overloaded local hospitals.
The governor had already ordered the postponement of elective procedures in four counties to make room for virus patients. On Tuesday, he extended the order to include four additional counties, this time in south and southwest Texas. The virus has been spreading beyond the major metropolitan areas and into less populous parts of the state.
Texas has the fourth-highest case count nationwide, after New York, California and New Jersey, according to a Times database.
Also Tuesday, the Texas Medical Association called on the state Republican Party to reconsider its decision to hold an in-person convention in the middle of July in Houston. The state’s Democrats opted to hold their convention online this year.
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Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Ian Austen, Michael Cooper, Stacy Cowley, Thomas Fuller, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Dana Goldstein, J. David Goodman, Abby Goodnough, Rebecca Griesbach, Andrew Higgins, Shawn Hubler, Mike Ives, Miriam Jordan, Thomas Kaplan, Cao Li, Iliana Magra, Alex Marshall, Patricia Mazzei, David Montgomery, Ivan Nechepurenko, Elisabetta Povoledo, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Kai Schultz, Jeanna Smialek, Mitch Smith, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Matt Stevens, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan, Noah Weiland, Timothy Williams, Elizabeth Williamson, Carl Zimmer and Karen Zraick.