Coronavirus Live Updates: States Pause Plans to Reopen as Cases Soar
One restaurant, nine days: 107 infections and counting.
Harper’s Restaurant & Brew Pub in East Lansing, Mich., is popular with students at nearby Michigan State University, who flocked to the place after an executive order allowed restaurants and bars in the state to reopen on June 8.
So did the coronavirus.
At least 95 people who visited Harper’s between June 12 and June 20 have now tested positive, according to the Ingham County Health Department — and so have 12 more who did not go themselves but caught the virus from someone who did. All are between the ages of 15 and 28.
“Given the number of cases in this outbreak, we consider this a higher risk exposure than a typical visit to a restaurant or bar,” the county health officer, Linda S. Vail, said in a statement last week, when the county had confirmed 34 cases and knew there were probably many more.
“We need help from people who went to Harper’s during the exposure dates so that we can contain the outbreak,” Ms. Vail said. “We need everyone exposed to stay home.”
The state order allowing restaurants to resume indoor dining restricted them to filling 50 percent of their regular capacity. But photos and video posted on social media appeared to show Harper’s crammed with customers, many of them not wearing masks.
Most of the 107 people have been only mildly ill, so far at least, and some have felt no symptoms at all, the health department said; none have yet been hospitalized.
Harper’s Restaurant & Brew Pub said on its website that it followed health guidelines, including having its tables “laid out for appropriate social distancing,” and said that its “air handling systems are being modified to kill 99.4 percent of all Covid-19 and other viruses.” The restaurant’s management could not be reached for comment on Monday.
California grapples with a 45-percent spike in cases in the past week.
As states around the country struggle with rising case counts and tightening hospital capacity, confusion in California — home to the nation’s first stay-at-home order — has underscored the messiness and complexity of reopening.
On Monday, a day after the state said it was ordering bars to close in seven of the state’s 58 counties, Gov. Gavin Newsom again emphasized that public health officials expected transmission of the virus to increase as businesses were allowed to reopen.
And in fact, the number of cases has soared by 45 percent statewide over the past week.
In Imperial County, which is on the Mexican border east of San Diego, the number of people testing positive rose to 23 percent, prompting state officials to call for the county to reinstate a stay-at-home order. In the Bay Area, Alameda County, which includes Oakland, paused reopening plans. And in Riverside County, which extends east of Los Angeles, officials said that intensive care unit bed capacity had reached 98.7 percent.
“This shouldn’t surprise anybody watching,” Mr. Newsom said.
Still, he said, if allowing many types of businesses to reopen with modifications has been a kind of experiment, the results are less than encouraging.
With more than 106,000 Covid-19 tests conducted across the state on Sunday — a record — the state’s average positivity rate, or share of tests that come back positive, has increased to 5.5 percent. That’s up from 4.4 percent, Mr. Newsom said, just a couple of weeks ago.
“We don’t like that trend line,” he said. “So we’ve been using this ‘dimmer switch’ to pull back.”
Elsewhere around the United States:
At least 15 states have paused or reversed plans to reopen, including North Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, Texas and Nevada.
Officials in Montana announced more than 50 new cases on Monday, a single-day record. Montana and Hawaii are the only states with fewer than 1,000 known cases.
Black people account for more than 22 percent of the cases in Maine, but make up 1.6 percent of the state’s population, Sara Gideon, the speaker of the state House, said in a video posted on Twitter. Ms. Gideon, a Democrat who is running for the U.S. Senate against the Republican incumbent Susan Collins, pointed to structural inequities and institutional racism in the health care system.
A Pennsylvania company that sold bottles of hand sanitizer at an extreme markup on Amazon must refund customers nearly $14,000 and pay a $1,900 fine for price gouging, the state attorney general said. The Scranton retailer Goods And More Inc. charged as much as $109.99 for 24-packs of two-ounce bottles of sanitizer and as much as $39 for 12-ounce bottles of Purell, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.
With Tennessee on the verge of 40,000 cases, Gov. Bill Lee extended a state of emergency until Aug. 29 — it had been set to expire June 30. Several other states, including New Jersey and Michigan, have taken similar steps, which give governors the power to impose certain restrictions and the flexibility to seek federal aid.
After weeks of donating the antiviral drug remdesivir to hospitals with severely ill patients, the drug’s maker, Gilead Sciences, announced today that it has settled on a price — $390 per vial, which works out to $2,340 per treatment course.
The W.H.O. will send experts to China to investigate the source of the virus.
The World Health Organization will send a team of experts to China next week to investigate the original source of the coronavirus.
“We can fight the virus better when we know everything about the virus, including how it started,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the organization, said on Monday.
While the coronavirus likely originated in bats, how it was transmitted to humans remains unknown. The outbreak was first identified late last year at a market in Wuhan, China, and one hypothesis is that other poached wildlife sold there might have spread the virus to people.
Dr. Tedros said it is very important to know the exact zoonotic origin of the virus and understand the science behind it in order to deal with the current pandemic and outbreaks that might occur in the future.
In February, a W.H.O. delegation led by Dr. Bruce Aylward, a specialist with experience fighting polio, Ebola and other health emergencies, spent two weeks in China and said health officials there were seeing success in suppressing the outbreak.
The United States and other countries have criticized China over its initial handling of the outbreak, including delays in reporting the first cases to the W.H.O., and for looking to deflect blame for the epidemic on outsiders. The W.H.O. has been reluctant to publicly criticize China, and at times it has praised health officials for providing genetic information about the virus and taking strong action around Wuhan to contain it. Member countries of the organization agreed to investigate the W.H.O.’s initial response to the virus during a meeting in May, but the Trump administration nonetheless said it would cut off support for the organization.
Tuesday will mark six months since China reported the first cases of the virus to the W.H.O. Dr. Tedros said that “the worst is yet to come.” “I am sorry to say that,” he said, “but with this kind of environment and condition, we fear the worst.”
Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak
The virus has infected more than 9 million people and has been detected in nearly every country.
The House approves a housing relief package.
In an effort to intensify pressure on Republicans — and address foreclosure and eviction moratoriums set to expire — House Democrats on Monday approved a stand-alone housing relief package. The provisions in the legislation were initially included in the $3 trillion stimulus bill that the House passed in May, but Senate Republicans have refused to take it up.
The legislation, championed by Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California and the House Financial Services Committee, would also allocate more funding to federal housing programs, provide $11.5 billion for homeless assistance grants and provide billions of dollars to help cover rent, mortgage payments and utility bills.
But in the Senate, Republicans blocked an effort to approve another package of state and local funding, as Democrats renewed calls to begin negotiating another pandemic relief package amid a continuing surge in cases. A number of existing relief measures, including a $600 expanded unemployment benefit, will expire soon without congressional action.
Democrats tried to use a procedural maneuver that would allow the legislation to pass the Senate without the full chamber present, but Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, objected, citing concerns that the national debt and deficit would reach “unsustainable levels.”
The dispute came as Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, slammed Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, for his unwillingness to begin another round of talks. They wrote in a letter to Mr. McConnell that “now is the time for action, not continued delays and political posturing.”
Though there is widespread acknowledgment on Capitol Hill that another relief package is needed, Mr. McConnell and top Senate Republicans have pushed to delay any negotiations or legislation until after the chamber returns from a two-week July 4 recess.
Republicans, however, have repeatedly stressed that Congress should wait before doling out another round of taxpayer aid so they could see the impact of the $2.2 trillion stimulus package, which became law in March.
Several economists have pleaded with Congress to continue spending and maintain the unemployment extension, but Republicans remain divided over how to balance the need for economic relief with calls to rein in spending.
“While the Democratic House slapped together an absurd multi-trillion-dollar wish list that even the mainstream media panned immediately, the Senate has continued with our substantive, serious, facts-first approach,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor. “That is the formula we will replicate in any future recovery legislation down the road.”
New York City officials agree to a smaller budget, including cuts to the police.
After a shutdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus created a $9 billion revenue shortfall, New York City officials on Monday agreed to an austerity budget that includes drastic cuts to city services and a shift of resources out of the New York Police Department. The gloomy $87 billion budget is nearly $6 billion less than the one the city approved last year.
The city will demand across-the-board savings from city agencies, and slash services that city residents have come to rely on, such as eliminating the residential composting program and closing city pools for the summer. Trash pickups will be reduced, and overnight service on the Staten Island Ferry will be curtailed. Fewer police traffic agents will be deployed at intersections, and tree pruning and tree stump removal will be less frequent.
Frequent calls among activists to defund the New York Police Department were central to negotiations, as activists sought to pare $1 billion from the police’s $6 billion budget. Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council agreed on Monday to reach that $1 billion in cuts by, among other things, canceling the planned hiring of 1,163 police officers.
But slightly less than half of the $1 billion in cuts will come from a budgetary sleight of hand: School safety officers, who are currently under the auspices of the Police Department, will be moved to the authority of the Department of Education, according to three Council members familiar with the plan.
Mr. de Blasio still believes the city needs to find $1 billion in labor savings or face 22,000 layoffs, unless the federal government comes through with aid or the state grants the city borrowing authority, according to Mr. de Blasio’s spokeswoman, Freddi Goldstein.
Drought-stricken Puerto Rico will impose water rationing measures in the middle of the pandemic.
Starting on Thursday, nearly 140,000 customers of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, including some in San Juan, the capital, will be without running water every other day, the utility announced on Monday.
Public health experts have repeatedly cited frequent hand washing as key to curbing the coronavirus spread. Puerto Rico has reported 7,250 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases and 153 deaths.
“We are aware of how necessary water is as a resource in the Covid-19 pandemic, which is why it is important to continue hygiene measures to protect families,” Doriel Pagán, the executive director of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, said in a statement. She added that the utility does not know how long the rationing measures may last.
Gov. Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency over the worsening drought conditions. Of the island’s 78 municipalities, 21 are in a severe drought and 29 in a moderate drought, Ms. Vázquez said.
Earlier this month, other water rationing measures were imposed on more than 16,000 customers in northeastern Puerto Rico. The most parched area is the island’s southwest, which is still recovering from a 6.4 earthquake in early January.
The virus is battering Africa’s growing middle class.
As the virus spreads in many countries in Africa, it is threatening to push as many as 58 million people in the region into extreme poverty, experts at the World Bank say. But beyond the devastating consequences for the continent’s most vulnerable people, the pandemic is also whittling away at one of Africa’s signature achievements: the growth of its middle class.
For the last decade, Africa’s middle class has been pivotal to the educational, political and economic development across the continent. New business owners and entrepreneurs have created jobs that, in turn, gave others a leg up as well.
Educated, tech-savvy families and young people with money to spare have fed the demand for consumer goods, called for democratic reforms, expanded the talent pool at all levels of society, and pushed for high-quality schools and health care.
About 170 million out of Africa’s 1.3 billion people are now classified as middle class. But about eight million of them could be thrust into poverty because of the coronavirus and its economic fallout, according to World Data Lab, a research organization.
“We have been working hard to build better lives,” James Gichina, a tour van driver, said of his colleagues in the tourist sector. Now, he said, “We have nothing.”
Other world news:
In Egypt, a fire erupted in the coronavirus ward of a private hospital in Alexandria on Monday, killing seven patients — six men and one woman — according to the country’s public prosecutor, Gov. Mohamed el-Sharif.
A coronavirus vaccine candidate has received approval from the Chinese government for use by the country’s military, its maker said on Monday. CanSino Biologics, a pharmaceutical company based in Tianjin, says it has seen promising results in early trials.
The Chinese authorities imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in a county near Beijing, in the latest effort by the government to stamp out a small but stubborn second wave of infections in and around the capital.
Britain is set to lift restrictions on pubs, restaurants, hotels, barbershops and salons and other venues on Saturday, but the city of Leicester, in central England, might not be included after a regional outbreak of the virus, the city’s mayor said. And all children in England will be expected to go back to school in September full-time, The Guardian reported.
CULTURE AND SPORTS ROUNDUP
Broadway will stay dark for the rest of the year.
Broadway will remain closed for at least the rest of this year, and many shows are signaling that they do not expect a return to the stage until late winter or early spring.
The Broadway League said Monday that theater owners and producers are ready to refund or exchange tickets previously purchased for shows through Jan. 3. But, given the unpredictability of the pandemic, the League said it was not yet ready to specify a date when shows will reopen.
Broadway shows went dark on March 12, and already this has been the longest shutdown in history. Thus far three shows, the Disney musical “Frozen,” a new Martin McDonagh play called “Hangmen,” and a revival of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” both of which were in previews, have announced that they will not resume performances when Broadway reopens.
Several producers have indicated that they are looking several months into 2021 for a resumption of their productions.
“Birthday Candles,” a new play by Noah Haidle that had been scheduled to open this spring, will not open until the fall of next year.
In other sports and culture news:
Cirque du Soleil announced that it had filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada and would seek to do the same in the United States. With productions shuttered, the famed circus said that it had lost its entire revenue stream. The company, which this year temporarily laid off 5,000 employees, nearly 95 percent of its work force, said that it had entered into a “stalking horse” purchase agreement for existing shareholders to restart the business.
Brazilian soccer players are openly objecting to their return to play. Botafogo, one of the top teams, came out to its first game back carrying a banner protesting the game, and its players laid out their objections on social media. The chairman of another top team has also expressed his reservations.
Tentative plans will expand the 2021 Sundance Film Festival from Park City, Utah, to at least 20 other locales in the United States and, possibly, Mexico. The festival said that its “full curated program” would also be made available online.
The National Hockey League said that 15 of the 250 players participating in voluntary training sessions have returned positive tests for the virus after being examined at those sessions. Another 11 players, the league said, have tested positive since June 8.
Wall Street rebounds, shrugging off the continuing rise in virus cases.
Stocks rallied Monday, rebounding from a week of losses, even as a resurgence in coronavirus cases that had alarmed Wall Street last week continued to grow.
The S&P 500 rose more than 1 percent, after having fallen nearly 3 percent last week. A jump in shares of Boeing helped lead the Dow Jones industrial average to a gain of nearly 2 percent. Shares in Europe had also ended higher, after rebounding from a decline earlier in the day.
Companies that have come to reflect investor sentiment toward the return of normal spending by American consumers — retailers and airlines — were among the best performing stocks in the S&P 500. Southwest Airlines rose nearly 9 percent, and Simon Property Group, which operates shopping malls, jumped more than 8 percent.
And oil prices rose, with West Texas intermediate futures approaching the $40 a barrel mark.
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Reporting was contributed by Ian Austen, Brooks Barnes, Pam Belluck, Emily Cochrane, Abdi Latif Dahir, Sheri Fink, Abby Goodnough, Erica L. Green, David Leonhardt, Dan Levin, Gina Kolata, Iliana Magra, Jeffery C. Mays, Patricia Mazzei, Dave Montgomery, Christina Morales, Michael Paulson, Daniel Politi, Amy Qin, Austin Ramzy, Frances Robles, Dana Rubinstein, Mitch Smith, Hilary Stout, David Streitfeld, Daniel Victor, Neil Vigdor, David Waldstein, Elizabeth Williamson, Mihir Zaveri and Karen Zraick.
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June 30, 2020