U.S. Hits Another Record for New Coronavirus Cases

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Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

As the United States reached its third consecutive day with a record number of new infections, officials on Friday were urgently rethinking their strategies to head off new infections.

The U.S., which leads the world in total cases and deaths, reported more than 45,000 new infections on Friday, according to a Times database. Before this week, the country’s largest daily total was 36,738 on April 24.

Globally, countries reported more than 191,000 new infections — a single-day record as the total number of cases neared 10 million. India’s caseload surged past 500,000.

At least six U.S. states — Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon, South Carolina and Utah — reported their highest one-day case totals, and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious diseases expert, also warned that outbreaks in the South and West could engulf the country.

Dr. Fauci said in a brief interview on Friday that officials were having “intense discussions” about a possible shift to “pool testing,” in which samples from many people are tested at once in an effort to quickly find and isolate the infected.

European Union officials said the bloc was ready to bar most travelers from the U.S. and other countries considered too risky because they have not controlled the outbreak.

And for the first time, some U.S. governors were backtracking on reopening their states, issuing new restrictions for parts of the economy that had resumed.

Listen to ‘The Daily’: The Dilemma in Texas

The governor was insistent about reopening. And then the cases soared.

In Texas and Florida on Friday, leaders abruptly set new restrictions on bars, a reversal that appeared unthinkable just days ago. Near the end of the day, Mayor Carlos Giménez of Florida’s Miami-Dade County said he would sign an emergency order closing down beaches from July 3 to July 7, citing the surge of new cases and fears about mass gatherings during the July Fourth holiday weekend.

In California, which had one of the earliest stay-at-home orders in the nation, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new restrictions on Imperial County, which has the state’s highest rate of infection.

“This disease does not take a summer vacation,” he said.

The decisions in Texas and Florida represented the strongest acknowledgment yet that reopening had not gone as planned. Only days ago their Republican governors were adamantly resisting calls to close back down.

“If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars,” Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said in an interview with KVIA-TV in El Paso on Friday evening.

But even leaders outside the new hot zones in the South and West expressed mounting anxiety.

“This is a very dangerous time,” Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio said in an interview on Friday, as cases were trending steadily upward in his state after appearing to be under control. “I think what is happening in Texas and Florida and several other states should be a warning to everyone.”

Yet a few hours earlier in Washington, at the White House coronavirus task force’s first public briefing in almost two months, Vice President Mike Pence sought to take a victory lap for the Trump administration’s pandemic response.

“We slowed the spread, we flattened the curve, we saved lives,” Mr. Pence said, making a claim that was true in earlier months but has become outdated after the seven-day average of new cases climbed in recent weeks.

Unlike the health officials around him, Mr. Pence did not wear a mask.

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Credit…Felix Schmitt for The New York Times

After Dr. Fauci warned on Friday that coronavirus outbreaks in the South and West could engulf the country, European Union officials emphasized the perils they saw in the situation in the United States: The bloc said it was ready to bar most U.S. travelers because it considers them too risky.

The exclusion of the United States, an important source of tourism for the European Union, would represent a stinging rebuke to the Trump administration’s management of the virus.

Dr. Fauci pleaded for social distancing and mask wearing as “a societal responsibility.”

“You have an individual responsibility to yourself, but you have a societal responsibility, because if we want to end this outbreak, really end it, and then hopefully when a vaccine comes and puts a nail in the coffin, we’ve got to realize that we are part of the process,” Dr. Fauci said, noting that some states are doing better than others.

“If we don’t extinguish the outbreak, sooner or later, even ones that are doing well are going to be vulnerable to the spread,” he said.

Dr. Birx said that rising positive test rates in states across the South, including Texas, Arizona, Florida and Mississippi, were causing significant concern among health officials, and that the officials had created an “alert system” to track the test results.

E.U. officials first disclosed on Tuesday that the United States, which has reported more virus-related deaths and infections than any other country, was highly unlikely to make a final list of countries whose residents would be permitted to enter. The bloc is also likely to bar most travelers from Russia and dozens of other countries it sees as threats to its safety, officials said Friday.

European Union officials tried to base their decision on scientific criteria, in part to depoliticize the process and shield themselves from diplomatic pressures. But it’s proven to be difficult, and officials said the United States and other nations had been lobbying intensely to get on the list of safe countries.

The United States, which barred most European Union travelers in March as the virus was raging there, has not eased its own restrictions since then, even though infections and deaths in the bloc have dropped.

U.S. Roundup

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Young Adults Fueling Florida Coronavirus Spread, DeSantis Says

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida attributed the skyrocketing number of coronavirus cases, which have passed 120,000 in the state, to increased socializing among young adults.

From June 1 until now, the number of cases from 25 to 34 have almost tripled, just in less than a month now. So that’s a really, really big group of folks. Part of, I think, the message is, is most of these people are asymptomatic. Most of them, if they do have symptoms, will be so mild that they would not even need to seek medical attention. But you are somebody that would potentially be able to spread the virus to more vulnerable groups. When we started doing things in March, the goal, remember, was to, quote, “flatten the curve.” We wanted to preserve the health care system and its resources from being overwhelmed by the results of the virus, and, you know, Florida was able to do that. And we’re in a much better position to be able to handle what would come down the pike.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida attributed the skyrocketing number of coronavirus cases, which have passed 120,000 in the state, to increased socializing among young adults.CreditCredit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

As cases rise around the United States, Florida reported more than 8,900 new cases on Friday, after counting more than 10,000 new cases over the previous two days, pushing its total past 120,000.

The eye-popping numbers came as hospitals and local leaders warned about rampant complacency.

“When I go out, I see fewer and fewer people wearing masks and practicing safe, physical distancing,” said Dr. Lawrence Antonucci, chief executive of the Lee Health hospital system in Fort Myers. “The threat of this virus is as real as it’s ever been.”

On Friday night, Mayor Carlos Giménez of Miami-Dade County said he would sign an emergency order closing down beaches from July 3 to July 7, citing the surge of coronavirus cases and fears about mass gatherings during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Parks and beaches will be closed to fireworks displays, and gatherings of more than 50 people, including parades, will be banned.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, who has resisted rolling back the economic reopening, said on Friday that drinking had been banned in bars because many businesses were not following social distancing and capacity restrictions. Bars can remain open to sell takeout alcohol and food if they have an appropriate license.

“There was widespread noncompliance, and that led to issues,” he said at a news conference in Fort Myers. “If folks just follow the guidelines, we’re going to be in good shape. When you depart from that, it becomes problematic.”

Mr. DeSantis attributed the spike in cases to more socializing among young people rather than businesses being open.

“Beginning of May, we went to this, you didn’t see any problems,” he said of the reopening, which started on May 4.

Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami said city officials are considering whether to restore even more restrictions, although they may first try to stiffen penalties he said were not harsh enough against businesses that fail to comply with existing rules. He added that it should be possible to restore some restrictions.

“This is a pendulum,” he said. “There’s a point where people all coalesce behind that idea if it becomes necessary. We’re in a far more precarious position than we were a month ago.”

But in Palm Beach County, Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said going back to a more stringent phase of reopening might be difficult.

“I don’t think it’s possible,” she said. “We’d get huge pushback from the public in trying to do that.”

Across the state, long lines have returned at testing sites that just a few weeks ago were seeing limited demand. Florida also reported an unusually high number of tests results on Friday — more than 71,000 — according to a daily Department of Health case report, and Mr. DeSantis noted that “we had a big test dump,” but did not go into detail or offer any details.

Elsewhere in the United States:

  • A federal judge on Friday ordered the release of children held with their parents in U.S. immigration jails and denounced the Trump administration’s prolonged detention of families during the coronavirus pandemic. The order by District Judge Dolly Gee applies to children held for more than 20 days at three family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Some have been detained since last year. There were 124 children living in those facilities on June 8, according to the ruling.

  • In Illinois, where the governor described a “trajectory of relative success,” museums, zoos and bowling alleys were set to reopen on Friday, along with indoor dining.

  • Infections among Latinos in the United States have far outpaced those among the rest of the population during the country’s surge in recent weeks, a testament to the makeup of the nation’s essential work force.

  • Tennessee health officials on Friday announced sweeping changes to guidelines on who would get lifesaving treatments if resources fell dramatically short during a crisis. The new plan weighs how likely patients are to survive their immediate illness.

  • Alaska Native corporations, for-profit businesses which serve tribal villages in Alaska, will receive a portion of the $8 billion pot of funds set aside for tribal governments, dealing a blow to tribes in the lower 48 states who had argued that they should not be made eligible for the aid.

  • Morehouse, one of the country’s most celebrated historically black colleges, said Friday that it had canceled its fall sports of football and cross country, making it one of the first to publicly abandon its football season outright, though a handful of other schools have canceled games.

Global Roundup

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Fears of a second wave of infections in China have receded, after the government responded to an outbreak of nearly 300 cases in Beijing with a partial lockdown and a push to test millions of people.

But while the number of new reported cases has mostly tapered in past weeks, Beijing’s recent surge has confirmed fears of sporadic flare-ups even after countries tame their outbreaks.

Beijing’s new infections emerged two weeks ago, after officials discovered a cluster in people who had worked or shopped at the sprawling Xinfadi wholesale market, which supplies most of the city’s fruits and vegetables.

Within days, officials had locked down dozens of residential complexes, prohibited taxis from leaving Beijing and postponed school reopenings. As of June 22, the authorities had taken samples from more than 2.9 million people over the previous 10 days, the state news media reported.

But officials stopped short of a full lockdown in the style of Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus is believed to have originated. The central government has emphasized the need to restart the country’s economy, and even health officials have said that sustained, repeated lockdowns are not practical.

As of Saturday morning, the authorities had reported 297 confirmed cases in Beijing, and cases tied to the city had been found in at least four provinces. The partial measures appeared to be working: The Beijing Health Commission reported 17 newly confirmed cases in the previous 24 hours, down from a peak of nearly 60 positive tests on June 14.

Wu Zunyou, the head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control, said last week that the outbreak was “under control.” In an interview this week with the state news media, he predicted the number of cases would not exceed 400.

Still, even the state media outlets acknowledged that it might be too early to claim victory, given long lines for testing and a potential delay in results.

“We’ve had two outbreaks in half a year, so it is highly possible that the outbreak will make a comeback in the near future,” Zeng Guang, an expert at the National Health Commission, told Global Times, a nationalistic state-controlled tabloid.

In other international news:

  • The Hong Kong police on Saturday banned an annual pro-democracy march planned for the anniversary of the Chinese territory’s handover from British rule, citing concerns about the virus and potential street violence. Mainland China’s top legislative committee could pass a sweeping security law for Hong Kong on Tuesday, a day before the march would have taken place.

  • As coronavirus lockdowns loosen around the world, city leaders are scrambling to address a new problem: gridlock. They worry that people will avoid public transit for fear of catching the virus, and decide to drive instead.

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A day after tens of thousands flocked to resorts, Britain’s health secretary said on Friday that beaches could close if recent crowds cause a new flood of coronavirus cases.CreditCredit…Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images
  • Officials in Britain have warned of enhanced measures to restrict gatherings after many residents abandoned caution during the country’s attempt to reopen. London’s police chief said on Friday that patrols would increase over the weekend, dispersing unauthorized gatherings, and the health secretary threatened to close the country’s beaches if social distancing measures continued to be violated.

  • In Italy, the health authorities are monitoring a surge in Mondragone, a town of nearly 30,000 some 35 miles north of Naples, that has set off unrest. More than 40 people in a cluster of low-income apartment buildings tested positive this week, mostly Bulgarian farm workers, and violent tensions flared with Italian residents, prompting the interior minister to send an army contingent.

  • The World Health Organization said Friday that it needed $27.9 billion over the next year to speed up the production of a vaccine and to develop other tools in the fight against the virus.

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Newsom’s Call to Californians: ‘Wear These Masks’

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said the state is monitoring the coronavirus spread within each of its 58 counties and urged residents to wear masks and practice social distancing.

We’ve been monitoring all 58 counties in the state of California for community spread. We’ve been looking at the positivity rates. We’ve been looking at I.C.U. volume. We’ve been looking at total number of hospitalizations, not just deaths, the most lagging of indicators as it relates to this pandemic. We’ve been doing so recognizing, and I can’t again say this enough, that California is the size of 21 states combined. The size and scope and scale of California require a disciplined understanding that there are parts of this state that are very distinct and unique from other parts of this state. So 15 counties, overall, that we’re monitoring very, very closely, all 58 of course, that we have oversight and continue to monitor numbers — 4,890 positive tests, a little bit better than yesterday, a little bit better than that record number north of 7,000 a few days ago. But these trend lines of the last seven days, over the last 14 days, are disturbing. And that’s why I cannot impress upon people more to wear these masks when they cannot practice physical distancing, to continue to be vigilant about the spread of this virus.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said the state is monitoring the coronavirus spread within each of its 58 counties and urged residents to wear masks and practice social distancing.CreditCredit…Bryan Denton for The New York Times

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said Friday that counties across the state should heed rising case counts and consider dialing back or postponing reopening, as San Francisco did.

But he stopped short of saying whether the state would reimpose restrictions that have been lifted. Instead, he said, the state had simply paused issuing more reopening guidelines.

And Mr. Newsom said the state reserves the right to “toggle back” if it becomes necessary in days ahead, once again pleading with residents to follow the state’s mask order and stay away from loved ones.

Officials in California, where stay-at-home orders were imposed particularly early in the pandemic, acknowledged the challenges of managing a constantly shifting situation when, as the governor put it, the state “is not one-size-fits-all.”

After more than 5,500 new cases were announced on Thursday, thousands more were identified on Friday. The state surpassed 200,000 total cases on Thursday, as its number of infections doubled over the past month. That is the second highest total for any state, though California’s cumulative per capita infection rate remains far lower than New York’s.

The governor reported that there was a 3.3 percent increase in hospitalizations and a 4.4 percent increase in cases requiring intensive care. The state’s positivity rate increased to 5.3 percent over the past two weeks.

He also laid out how the state and federal governments have sent extra resources to Imperial County, an impoverished agrarian valley along the border, that has notched a 23 percent positivity rate and where an influx of Americans returning from Mexico have been hospitalized. More than 500 people have been transferred to other hospitals around the state from the area.

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Credit…Kyrre Lien for The New York Times

Like many countries, Norway ordered all gyms to close in March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But unlike any other nation, Norway also funded a rigorous study to determine whether the closings were really necessary.

It is apparently the first and only randomized trial to test whether people who work out at gyms with modest restrictions are at greater risk of infection than those who do not. The tentative answer after two weeks: no.

This week, responding to the study it funded, Norway reopened all of its gyms, with the same safeguards in place that were used in the study.

The trial, begun on May 22, included five gyms in Oslo with 3,764 members, ages 18 to 64, who did not have underlying medical conditions. Half of the members — 1,896 people — were invited to go back to their gyms and work out.

Another 1,868 gym members served as a comparison group; they were not permitted to return to their gyms.

The researchers found only one coronavirus case, in a person who had not used the gym before he was tested; it was traced to his workplace. Some participants visited hospitals, but for diseases other than Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Is there hope for gymgoers in other parts of the world?

“I personally think this is generalizable, with one caveat,” said Dr. Michael Bretthauer, a cancer screening expert at the University of Oslo who led the study with Dr. Mette Kalager. “There may be places where there is a lot of Covid, or where people are less inclined to follow restrictions.”

Norway is bringing its epidemic under control, and the number of new infections has fallen.

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A handful of school districts across the United States have started announcing plans for the upcoming school year, forcing parents to grapple with the reality that it is unlikely many schools will return to a normal schedule in the fall. This means learning will take place at home and online, and emergency child care arrangements will continue indefinitely.

On Thursday, the Seattle Public Schools announced that its goal was to provide at least two days of in-person instruction per week to elementary students and one day per week to middle and high school students. Children with disabilities, those learning English and those living in poverty would be the priorities for receiving additional in-school support.

In the Washington suburb of Fairfax County, Va., students will have either four days of remote learning per week, with the promise of live teaching over video, or an in-person schedule of at least two days per week, with online learning the rest of the time.

In New Jersey, the new school year will likely look different in each district, with some expected to resume in-person learning, the governor said on Friday. School staff will be required to wear masks, and students will be encouraged to do so.

Many of the nation’s largest school districts have yet to announce concrete reopening plans. Some states, like California, Connecticut and Massachusetts, have issued guidelines, but district policymakers will have the final say.

On Friday, New York City’s mayor described a list of considerations that would determine how many children can be in a classroom in the fall and said staggered schedules and online learning would be part of any plan.

Many districts are surveying parents to better understand their comfort level with reopening school buildings. The Marietta City Schools in Georgia, for example, announced Thursday that families could choose between regular in-person schooling, beginning Aug. 4, and full-time online instruction. Temperature checks will be required for those returning to school.

New York Roundup

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In recent weeks, businesses in New York have started gradually reopening amid mass protests against systemic racism. But houses of worship have had to wait until Phase 2 of the state’s reopening, which New York City entered on Monday, to operate at 25 percent capacity.

On Friday, a federal judge in Albany ordered Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to afford religious worshipers the same reopening privileges as others. The decision by Judge Gary L. Sharpe means that houses of worship in New York City can now hold services indoors at 50 percent capacity and can act without restrictions if they hold them outside.

  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 24, 2020

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.