Trump Vows to Issue Executive Orders if Coronavirus Relief Talks Collapse
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Here’s what you need to know:
- As the U.S. relief talks falter again, Trump says he is prepared to act on his own.
- Cuomo says N.Y. schools can reopen in-person but leaves it up to districts to determine if, when and how.
- Thousands of cases went unreported in California when a computer server failed.
- At Europe’s illegal dance parties, the virus is the last thing on anyone’s mind.
- Africa reaches one million confirmed cases, although the true toll may be higher.
- As Myanmar tourism collapses, horses become too expensive to keep alive.
- An Indian vaccine maker gets a big dose of money.
As the U.S. relief talks falter again, Trump says he is prepared to act on his own.
Crisis negotiations between the White House and top Democrats teetered on the brink of collapse on Friday, as both sides said they remained deeply divided on an economic recovery package and President Trump indicated he was ready to act on his own to provide relief, although it was unclear if he had the authority to do so.
At a news conference Friday evening at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., Mr. Trump said if an aid agreement with congressional Democrats could not be reached he would sign executive orders reinstating a national moratorium on evictions, deferring student loan interest and payments “until further notice,” and “enhancing unemployment benefits” through the end of the year. He also said he would defer payroll taxes, retroactive from July 1 through the end of the year.
“If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need,” Mr. Trump said. Speaking in front of dozens of club members who gathered in a gilded ballroom to see him, many of them holding wine glasses and forgoing masks, Mr. Trump explained that the reporters in the room had been “waiting outside for a long time” and described the back-and-forth he expected as “always a lot of fun.”
The audience even had a chance to participate, booing loudly when it was suggested by a reporter that the largely unmasked crowd in the room was violating social distancing guidelines, and then cheering when the president noted that the club’s members “know the news is fake.”
The president did not specify how the deferral would work, and it was unclear if he had the authority to take such an action without approval from Congress. Payroll taxes are intended to cover Medicare and Social Security benefits and take 7.65 percent of an employee’s income. Employers also pay 7.65 percent of their payrolls into the funds. The move, which would not aid unemployed workers, faces opposition from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.
The news conference came after another unproductive meeting between the administration officials and Democratic leaders, which ended with no agreement and no additional talks scheduled.
Democrats, who had earlier said they would be willing to lower their spending demands to $2 trillion from $3.4 trillion, said the White House needed to return with a higher overall price tag, after Mr. Trump’s negotiators declined to accept that offer. Republicans have proposed a $1 trillion plan.
“The House is Democratic, they need a majority of Democratic votes in the Senate,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, emerging with Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the meeting. “Meet us in the middle — for God’s sake, please — for the sake of America, meet us in the middle.”
Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Meadows demanded that Democrats agree to lower the amount of aid for state and local governments, and provide more specifics about how they were proposing to revive lapsed unemployment benefits.
“There’s both a top-line issue but also policy issues,” Mr. Mnuchin said after the meeting, which lasted more than an hour in Ms. Pelosi’s office. “I don’t want to speculate as to whether there is an agreement or not. We will continue to try to get an agreement that’s in the best interest of the people, and that’s why we’re here.”
While the executive orders have not yet been finalized, Mr. Meadows said it was likely that action would come over the weekend.
“This is not a perfect answer — we’ll be the first ones to say that,” he said. “But it is all that we can do and all the president can do within the confines of his executive power, and we’re going to encourage him to do it.”
The increase reported Friday by the Labor Department was well below the 4.8 million jump in jobs in June and a sign that momentum is slowing after a burst of economic activity in late spring. The unemployment rate fell to 10.2 percent.
Cuomo says N.Y. schools can reopen in-person but leaves it up to districts to determine if, when and how.
Schools across New York can reopen for in-person instruction this fall, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday, solidifying New York’s role as one of the few states in America that has a coronavirus transmission rate low enough to bring children back into classrooms — not only in its rural communities but also in the country’s biggest city.
Just a few months after New York City became a global center of the pandemic, the governor opened the door for millions of students across the state to return to classrooms, even as most public school students in the country will start the school year remotely.
Under the governor’s announcement, schools can decide to open as long as they are in a region where the average rate of positive tests is below 5 percent over a two- weeks period, based on reporting from all the state’s counties. Most of the state, including New York City, has maintained a positivity rate of about 1 percent. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said schools can only open in the city if the positivity rate is below 3 percent.
But Mr. Cuomo’s announcement does not guarantee that school buildings in the state’s roughly 700 local districts will actually reopen in the coming weeks. It is now up to local politicians and superintendents to decide whether to reopen, and how to do so. Their in-person reopening plans must also be approved by the state’s education and health departments in the coming weeks.
Though Mr. Cuomo has frequently wielded his power over school closures throughout the pandemic, in some cases contradicting Mr. de Blasio on key decisions, he has signaled that his role in the debate over reopening will be limited to setting the threshold for a safe reopening, and unilaterally shutting down schools if that threshold is reached.
The governor directed districts on Friday to publicly post their plans for testing teachers and students after the school year begins — a demand from the teachers’ union that New York City has not released significant details on. Mr. Cuomo also asked all districts to post their protocols for when someone in a school tests positive. Mr. de Blasio outlined the city’s plan for that last week: Just two cases in different classrooms of the same school could force its closing for two weeks.
And Mr. Cuomo said school districts must hold more virtual meetings with parents and teachers throughout August to answer questions.
Mr. Cuomo is leaving most of the other details about how to actually reopen safely to individual school districts. Districts across the state are tentatively planning to reopen late in August or early next month. New York City, the nation’s largest school district and the only major district planning to reopen even part-time, is scheduled to start school on Sept. 10.
Many teachers and parents across the state have expressed alarm about returning to school buildings as the virus has spiked in other states. But families across New York say they are desperate for schools and child care centers to open so that they can return to work. About 75 percent of New York City students are low-income and many of their parents are essential workers or employees who cannot work from home.
New York City and other districts across the state are still finalizing strategies that allow for social distancing in school buildings, trying to find enough nurses to staff school buildings, and upgrading or replacing ventilation systems in classrooms.
Here are some other key education developments:
In some places in the United States, including Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, students have begun some school as early as last week, with quarantines quickly following. The Times spoke to students about their experiences. One who tested positive said she “was a little scared.”
The health officer of Montgomery County, Md., Dr. Travis Gayles, backed away from a confrontation with Gov. Larry Hogan on Friday, rescinding an order prohibiting private schools from in-person instruction. The governor had countermanded the order on Monday and the issue was headed to federal court. A statement by the county said Dr. Gayles continued to “strongly advise schools against in-person learning.”
Johns Hopkins University and Princeton University became the latest academic institutions to rescind plans for in-person classes this fall, announcing that they would instead conduct undergraduate instruction entirely online because of the virus’s effect on their surrounding communities.
Hannah Watters, the 15-year-old student at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga., who received a five-day suspension for posting photos of packed hallways on the first day back to classes, said Friday that administrators had lifted the suspension. “My mom has always told me that she won’t get mad at us if we get in trouble as long as it’s ‘good trouble,’” Hannah said in an interview, invoking the famous phrase of Representative John Lewis, the civil rights leader who was laid to rest in Atlanta last week.
Some educators say students and parents can expect much less in-person instruction than was initially hoped for this school year. Teachers are finding themselves unprepared, leading to questions about whether schools missed a chance to fix remote learning.
Thousands of cases went unreported in California when a computer server failed.
As California surpassed 10,000 coronavirus deaths this week, the head of the state’s Health and Human Services Agency, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said a breakdown in the main disease reporting system had undercounted as many as 300,000 test results.
“Our data system failed, and that failure led to inaccurate case numbers,” Dr. Ghaly said.
The malfunctions in the data system were compounded in recent days by huge backlogs in testing — in some California counties results are taking more than two weeks to process — muddying the overall picture of the virus’s progression in the nation’s most populous state.
The breakdown dates to July 25, when a server failed, and the agency separately stopped receiving data from one of the largest labs in the state, Dr. Ghaly said. The missing data, which could amount to thousands of positive test results not previously recorded, would be added to the system within days, he said.
With well over 500,000 cases and 10,042 deaths, California has the third highest coronavirus death toll in the United States, behind New York, which has had more than 32,000 deaths, and New Jersey with over 15,000, according to a New York Times database. On a per-capita basis, California ranks 29th in reported coronavirus deaths.
Despite the undercounting of cases, officials say they believe the overall encouraging trends reported by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier in the week still hold. Mr. Newsom had reported a decline of more than 20 percent in the seven-day average of cases.
“We believe that the trend has been stabilizing and coming down,” Dr. Ghaly said, an assessment partly based on hospitalization rates, which are calculated using separate data systems.
At Europe’s illegal dance parties, the virus is the last thing on anyone’s mind.
The weather in Europe this weekend is forecast to be sunny and hot, which guarantees one thing: illegal parties will be happening in forests, warehouses and on boats.
The popularity of these raves is growing — even as coronavirus cases have spiked across the continent. And they’re causing a headache for police and politicians, who seem unable to stop them and fear they will spur a second wave of infections.
Last weekend, Times reporters attended events in Berlin, London and just outside Paris to see what they were actually like.
Some of the rave organizers had responded to public concern about coronavirus, encouraging partygoers to wear masks. But few attendees did. The virus seemed far from their minds.
“I feel like if I were going to get it, it wouldn’t affect me,” said Paul Evina-Ze, 32, an American caricaturist who was dancing away at the Berlin rave, which had been organized via Telegram, the encrypted messaging app.
“Of course this virus scares me, but I’ve got to enjoy my 20s,” said Sarah Salter, 21, a Swiss college student at the party near Paris. The event was called “The Piracy” and saw people dance beneath a skull-and-crossbones flag.
In Britain, tabloid newspapers document raves each weekend, but the police have struggled to clamp down on the parties. The London event was closed by the police, although in the gentlest way possible: They agreed with the D.J. that he could play until 4:30 a.m., when the sun rose.
Africa reaches one million confirmed cases, although the true toll may be higher.
Africa has passed the milestone of one million confirmed cases of the virus, despite efforts by many governments to keep people at home at great cost to their livelihoods. The continent has reported at least 22,000 deaths.
The spread of the virus has happened more slowly than some experts anticipated, although most African countries have low levels of testing. They have relatively few deaths, too, according to the official numbers, something often attributed to their large numbers of young people.
“It took Africa nearly five months to hit 500,000 Covid-19 cases, but about a month to double that number,” said Patrick Youssef, the regional director for Africa of the International Committee of the Red Cross, in a statement.
Governments locked down early, but quickly realized that people did not have enough money to stay home and that if they did not ease restrictions, millions would suffer.
The actual one million caseload may have been reached on the continent weeks or even months ago, hidden by extremely low rates of testing for the virus. Also, fear of the stigma associated with being diagnosed with the virus and a plethora of conspiracy theories that mean many doubt its very existence have probably kept a number of infected people from reporting their symptoms, experts said.
More than half the confirmed cases are in South Africa, the African country hit hardest by far, and one that has done comparatively extensive testing.
Dr. Caroline Tatua, a senior health coordinator with the International Rescue Committee, said the lack of testing — and therefore reliable data — was hampering countries’ efforts to fight the virus.
“We are hitting a million, but we know that that doesn’t get close to the true picture of what we are really facing,” she said in an interview. “Without knowing the true picture, we’re not sure whether the response we’re mounting is sufficient, or what we should be doing.”
Indicators that the spread of the virus could be more extensive than official figures suggest include increased mortality from respiratory diseases and the high percentage of infected health workers.
As Myanmar tourism collapses, horses become too expensive to keep alive.
When a coronavirus lockdown sealed Myanmar’s borders in March, the tourism industry was devastated, even if the country was spared from disease. In the hill town of Pyin Oo Lwin, owners of horse carts that used to clip-clop through streets laden with holidaymakers are sending their animals to slaughterhouses because they can no longer afford to keep them alive.
“I feel sad about selling the horse because he is like a family member,” said U Maung Win, a horse cart owner. “He worked so hard to save our lives, and I could not save his life.”
For months now, no tourists have come to ride through the town, with its cool breezes and pretty gardens, Mr. Maung Win said, but the horses still needed to be fed, at a cost of a couple dollars a day. The slaughterhouses paid about $500 per animal.
Mr. Maung Win, who supports a family of six, is now working as a mason and earns less than $10 a week.
“It’s better than nothing,” he said.
With his horse and a cart painted like a fairy tale stagecoach, Mr. Maung Win could pull in $10 in a single day, delivering tourists to the botanical gardens or cafes offering fresh strawberries. Couples posed for wedding pictures in the carriages, holding the bell-adorned reins in their intertwined hands.
Two-thirds of the 100 or so horse carts in town are now gone, Mr. Maung Win said.
“I tried not to sell the horse to the slaughterhouse but I had no choice,” he said. “I still feel sad talking about this.”
Lucky friends, he said, had two horses. But he only owned one.
An Indian vaccine maker gets a big dose of money.
The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker and one that is poised to play an instrumental role in mass-producing a coronavirus vaccine, just received a huge injection of cash.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide $150 million to cover some of the Serum Institute’s costs to scale up capacity to mass-produce two potential coronavirus vaccines. A private, family-run company, the Serum Institute had been casting about for help as it began readying its high-speed assembly lines.
The partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, a global vaccine alliance, calls for Serum to produce 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines for India and low- and middle-income countries and sell them at no more than $3 a dose.
“It’s just a start,” Bill Gates said in a statement.
More than 50 years ago, the Serum Institute started out as a horse farm that later branched into processing horse serum for low-cost vaccines. It now produces 1.5 billion doses of many different vaccines each year using high-speed assembly lines that can crank out 500 doses a minute. The Poonawalla family that controls the company has become one of the richest in India.
The company has teamed up with several vaccine developers, including AstraZeneca and Novavax, to mass produce vaccine candidates that are still in trial phases.
“It is important to make sure that the most remote and poorest countries of the world have access,” said Adar Poonawalla, Serum’s chief executive.
He said the partnership with the Gates foundation and Gavi would help the effort to “save the lives of millions of people from this dreadful disease.”
Vietnam’s latest outbreak is more infectious than its last, officials say.
The latest coronavirus outbreak in Vietnam, which followed more than three months with no confirmed cases of local transmission, is driven by a variant of the coronavirus that is far more infectious than the variants that previously circulated in the country, health officials said.
Scientists have urged caution in concluding that a variant of the virus is more infectious. While some believe a mutation circulating widely since February gave it a biological edge, others believe more evidence is needed to differentiate any potential effect from other factors like lockdowns, travel patterns and luck.
Vietnamese officials pointed to the fast spread of the country’s most recent outbreak. It had gone months without a single death from the coronavirus, and its fast, firm reaction to the virus was praised for keeping infections in check. But an outbreak that appears to have originated in the central city of Danang last month has sent the virus to other regions.
On Friday, health officials announced that new cases had been found in two more provinces and that about 300 infections were tied to the Danang outbreak.
Research by the Vietnamese C.D.C. and a local medical research institute found that while the viral mutation detected in Danang did not lead to more severe disease, it was more infectious. Each person could spread the new variant to five or six people, rather than one or two people with earlier variants, Nguyen Thanh Long, the acting health minister, said at a government meeting.
Some research has suggested that a variant of the virus may infect more people. But the size of any effect is unknown, and other researchers have argued that current evidence is insufficient to make such a claim.
Vietnam has now recorded 10 deaths from the coronavirus, although the total caseload remains below 900. Domestic tourists who visited Danang are undergoing mass testing, and Danang officials plan to test every city resident for the virus.
In other news from around the world:
The International Committee of the Red Cross has canceled its coming quarterly visit to the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, citing the perils of travel during the pandemic, making for its longest absence from the prison since it opened in January 2002.
Beijing offered to send a team of 60 medical officials from mainland China to Hong Kong to help expand testing across the city. But it is being viewed with skepticism by some residents, who worry about the growing reach of the Chinese Communist Party and the testing project’s potential implications for their privacy.
Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut destroyed 17 containers of personal protective equipment, leaving Lebanon’s already faltering health system even more hampered in its fight against the coronavirus. The World Health Organization has made an initial $15 million appeal for emergency trauma and humanitarian health support. UNICEF warned that the most active community transmission is now the area around the blast site, where social distancing is difficult, Reuters reported.
Spain should conduct an independent evaluation of what went wrong in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a group of 20 Spanish medical experts, who made their demand in a letter published by The Lancet on Thursday.
India has recorded more than two million coronavirus infections. The country has the third-largest coronavirus caseload — 2,027,000 cases and 41,585 deaths — after the United States and Brazil. India is now racking up more than 60,000 cases per day and over 886 deaths, according to a New York Times database and the country’s health ministry. Many prominent Indian politicians, including the powerful home minister, Amit Shah, and B.S. Yediyurappa, the chief minister of Karnataka State, have recently been hospitalized after testing positive for the virus.
Norway’s prime minister said on Thursday that the country would postpone the easing of coronavirus restrictions and reimpose others after an uptick in cases, Reuters reported. Prime Minister Erna Solberg said the goal was to prevent a full lockdown. “We need to slow down now to avoid a full stop down the road,” Ms. Solberg said. Norway has had 9,468 confirmed cases of the virus and 256 deaths, according to a New York Times database.
South Korea’s Health Ministry said the country would lift a ban on travelers from the central Chinese province of Hubei, the first epicenter of the pandemic, starting on Monday.
‘Boxed into a corner,’ a South Dakota city braces for thousands to attend a motorcycle rally.
For most of the year, Sturgis, S.D., is a relatively quiet city of 7,000 residents tucked beside a 1.2 million-acre forest, with a motorcycle museum as its signature attraction. But each summer, Sturgis transforms as bikers descend for an immense motorcycle rally.
This year’s festival may attract about 250,000 people despite an uptick in virus cases across the state, city officials say, leading to fears it could become a super-spreader event.
The 10-day rally, which began Friday, may be the country’s largest public gathering since the pandemic began, and it comes amid widespread opposition. More than 60 percent of residents favored postponing the event, according to a city-sponsored survey.
“We should have postponed or canceled the rally last March,” said Terry Keszler, a Sturgis City Council member, echoing the concerns that have divided his community.
City officials faced pressure from businesses, people outside the city and threats of litigation, Mr. Keszler said. Still, they cut back on advertising and canceled city-sponsored events, including the opening ceremony.
Over the past week, there has been an average of 84 coronavirus cases a day in South Dakota, a 31 percent increase over the previous two weeks. And some say the surge might grow worse: The city plans to offer coronavirus testing for its residents once the rally concludes on Aug. 16. South Dakota is among several states that did not put in place a lockdown or a mandatory mask requirement.
Little could be done to stop the event, said Doreen Allison Creed, the Meade County commissioner who represents Sturgis. Ms. Creed said the county lacked the authority to shut down the rally because much of it takes place on state-licensed campgrounds.
“We are either going to be a great success story or failure,” Ms. Creed said.
In other news around the United States:
The governor of Massachusetts said on Friday that the state will reduce the number of people allowed at outdoor gatherings to 50 people from 100, starting Tuesday. Indoor gatherings remain limited to 25. The state will also indefinitely postpone the next phase of its reopening plan.
Face coverings will now also be required where there are more than 10 people from different households; Massachusetts has had a statewide order since May that requires face coverings in both indoor and outdoor public places where social distancing was not possible.
Virginia’s Supreme Court on Friday extended a statewide moratorium on evictions. Under the moratorium, which was requested by Gov. Ralph Northam, evictions for failure to pay rent will be suspended through Sept. 7.
Indiana announced 1,245 new cases on Friday, the second day in a row the state has broken its record for single-day cases.
Officials in Georgia reported 87 new deaths on Friday, a single-day record.
New York City’s mayor said Friday that so far about 200 vehicles had been stopped at checkpoints set up this week to promote compliance with the state’s requirement for travelers from dozens of states to quarantine for 14 days. Travelers who had spent time in those places are asked to fill out a required travel form with their personal information.
In Illinois, the governor said Friday he is filing a set of emergency to give local health departments and law enforcement agencies “more leeway” to enforce the state’s mask mandate in businesses.
The pandemic has sharply curtailed investigations into accusations of child abuse or neglect.
Since the start of the pandemic, child welfare workers in the United States have been exempt from stay-at-home orders because they have the legal responsibility to take emergency custody of abused children and, when necessary, place them in foster care.
Yet leaders at the federal, state and local levels have pushed these workers to carry out their duties from home as much as possible to limit the virus’s spread. The consequences are now rippling across California, which has the highest rate of child poverty in the nation when the cost of living is taken into account.
In Fresno County, about a third of the child welfare staff went on leave as the pandemic spread. Even those who remained on the job generally did work they could manage without leaving their homes.
The death of one infant in the county was discovered more than 30 days after a hotline began receiving several tips raising urgent concerns about the well-being of the baby and his twin brother. For the next month, as the virus took off and California declared a stay-at-home order in mid-March, the child welfare agency did almost nothing other than asking the twins’ mother to take a drug test, which she failed to do, records show.
Child welfare officials have determined that the death was the result of neglect.
The child welfare agency for Los Angeles County, the largest in the nation, has locked its doors, and the agency’s leaders sent home virtually all employees.
Many abused children whom the agency deemed to be living under “high” or “very high” risk of renewed abuse were not visited for months, records and interviews show. Before the pandemic, child welfare workers in Los Angeles were required to at least try visiting children within five days of a new abuse allegation. Now they are allowed to take up to 10 days to respond to most new reports of mistreatment.
“We are in completely uncharted territory, and it concerns me greatly,” said Bobby Cagle, the director of the child welfare agency for Los Angeles County.
The U.S. economy added jobs last month, but only a small fraction of those lost in the spring.
The American economy gained 1.8 million jobs last month, even as the coronavirus surged in many parts of the country and renewed restrictions caused some businesses to close for a second time.
Still, the increase reported Friday by the Labor Department was well below the 4.8 million jump in jobs in June and a sign that momentum is slowing after a burst of economic activity in late spring. The unemployment rate fell to 10.2 percent.
“The easy hiring that was done in May and June has been exhausted,” said Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America. “With many companies not running at full capacity, it becomes harder to get that incremental worker back in.”
The gain of 1.8 million jobs is heartening but represents only a small fraction of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April, when all but essential businesses closed.
The report from the Labor Department follows the expiration of federal supplemental unemployment benefits of $600 a week late last month, payments that kept many households afloat while buoying the economy.
Ohio’s governor tests positive — then negative — as Trump visits.
Gov. Mike DeWine tested negative for the coronavirus hours after a positive rapid-result test had prevented him from welcoming President Trump to Ohio on Thursday, a whiplash reversal that reflected the nation’s increasingly complex state of testing.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 6, 2020
Why are bars linked to outbreaks?
- Think about a bar. Alcohol is flowing. It can be loud, but it’s definitely intimate, and you often need to lean in close to hear your friend. And strangers have way, way fewer reservations about coming up to people in a bar. That’s sort of the point of a bar. Feeling good and close to strangers. It’s no surprise, then, that bars have been linked to outbreaks in several states. Louisiana health officials have tied at least 100 coronavirus cases to bars in the Tigerland nightlife district in Baton Rouge. Minnesota has traced 328 recent cases to bars across the state. In Idaho, health officials shut down bars in Ada County after reporting clusters of infections among young adults who had visited several bars in downtown Boise. Governors in California, Texas and Arizona, where coronavirus cases are soaring, have ordered hundreds of newly reopened bars to shut down. Less than two weeks after Colorado’s bars reopened at limited capacity, Gov. Jared Polis ordered them to close.
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
- As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
- The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
- Employers have to provide a safe workplace with policies that protect everyone equally. And if one of your co-workers tests positive for the coronavirus, the C.D.C. has said that employers should tell their employees — without giving you the sick employee’s name — that they may have been exposed to the virus.
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
In a high-profile example of a new testing frontier, Mr. DeWine first received an antigen test, which allows for results in minutes, not days, but has been shown to be less accurate. The positive result came as a “big surprise,” said Mr. DeWine, a Republican, who had not been experiencing symptoms other than a headache.
Later on Thursday, he was tested using a more standard procedure known as polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R., an accurate but time-intensive method that requires samples to be processed at a laboratory. His wife, Fran, and staff members also tested negative.
“We feel confident in the results,” the governor’s office said in a statement late Thursday, noting that the negative result had been processed twice. “This is the same P.C.R. test that has been used over 1.6 million times in Ohio by hospitals and labs all over the state.”
The puzzling results capped a long day for Mr. DeWine, 73, who drove three hours up Interstate 71 to meet with Mr. Trump in Cleveland. He had hoped to discuss testing, a key issue that has plagued the response to the virus in the United States. But first, he had to be tested himself as part of a routine White House screening.
After the unwelcome news, the president stood alone outside Marine One and praised Mr. DeWine as “a very good friend of mine,” while Mr. DeWine left to get the secondary test and returned to quarantine at his home in Cedarville, Ohio.
With U.S. stimulus talks stalemated, the jobs report provides little promise of a break in the gridlock.
A jobs report released Friday that found that the American economy added 1.8 million jobs in July offered little promise of a breakthrough in stalemated negotiations between White House officials and Democratic leaders on a pandemic relief package.
Lawmakers and White House officials ended more than three hours of negotiations on Thursday night still starkly divided, and Friday’s report could prolong the impasse by giving both sides new talking points to insist on their positions. Negotiations resumed with a meeting on Friday afternoon as the expiration of a federal protection plan for small businesses loomed over the weekend.
In a news conference ahead of Friday’s negotiation session, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said Democrats would be willing to drop their demand for a $3.4 trillion stimulus package by $1 trillion. But Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said they would not go lower than a $2 trillion package. That would essentially split the difference with Republicans, who have proposed a $1 trillion plan.
Democrats seized on the jobs report as a call to action, warning that the report showed a significant slowdown in the pace of job creation from June, giving them additional grounds to call for robust continued aid, including a full reinstatement of the jobless payments, which lapsed last week.
Republicans, who are pressing for a narrow recovery measure, are likely to take the jobs report, which beat economists’ expectations, as confirmation of their argument that it is time to scale back federal help, including slashing a $600 weekly enhanced unemployment benefit.
Lawmakers are also considering extending the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal program that allowed small-business owners to keep employees on payrolls. The P.P.P. injected $523 billion into the economy and preserved at least 1.4 million jobs through early June, a recent economic analysis concluded.
Senate Republicans have proposed letting companies whose sales have fallen by 35 percent or more get a second loan through the program. Lawmakers are also considering expanding existing low-interest loan programs offered by the Small Business Administration and increasing tax credits for companies that retain workers.
“There is lingering concern that the fiscal package talks in D.C. are gridlocked, and news that the economy continues to add jobs may reduce the sense of urgency to get a deal done,” David Donabedian, chief investment officer of CIBC Private Wealth Management, said shortly after the report was released. But, he added, he still expects lawmakers to strike a compromise next week.
The Thursday talks, held in the Capitol Hill offices of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, turned so contentious that Ms. Pelosi said Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, had slammed the table at one point, an accusation Mr. Meadows denied.
Mr. Trump has threatened to act on his own if no deal can be reached, telling reporters that he could move as soon as Friday or Saturday to sign executive orders to forestall evictions, suspend payroll-tax collection and provide unemployment aid and student loan relief. But it was not clear that he had the power to do so without Congress, which controls spending — or whether any actions he takes that survive court challenges would suffice to prop up the slowing recovery.
Key Data of the Day
More than 66,000 future deaths could be avoided if Americans wear masks, data predicts.
The coronavirus death toll in the United States could almost double in the next four months, hitting nearly 300,000 by December 1, according to new data released Friday by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent health research center that is part of the University of Washington. But more than 66,000 of those losses could be averted if 95 percent of Americans wore face coverings in the meantime.
A crucial measure to stop the spread of disease, wearing a mask reduces the risk of infection for both the people donning one and those nearby, decreasing the number of inbound and outbound virus particles that can enter the nose and mouth. Masks might also reduce the chance that an infection, should it occur, will lead to severe disease.
The new numbers further bolster the case for the benefits of mask wearing, which has garnered near-universal support from health experts.
Several states, including Texas, California and New York have issued mask mandates, but the stipulations aren’t universal, and remain difficult to enforce. Across the country, many people still go without masks — and some vocally protest the mandates — a troubling trend as businesses and schools continue to debate the possibility of reopening in the coming weeks.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois announced on Friday that he is filing a set of emergency rules that will give local health departments and law enforcement agencies “more leeway” to enforce the state’s mask mandate in businesses. The rules “provide multiple opportunities for compliance before any penalty is issued,” Mr. Pritzker said in a statement.
First will come a warning to comply, then businesses will be given an order to have some or all of their customers leave the premises and, finally, a fine of anywhere from $75 to $2,500 may be issued. Individuals are not subject to these rules.
In a new set of initiatives on Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts said that face coverings would be required where more than 10 people from different households would be mixing. Massachusetts has had a statewide order since May that requires face coverings in both indoor and outdoor public places where social distancing was not possible.
Should compliance with public health measures like physical distancing and mask wearing decrease, the model projects more than 90,000 additional deaths, bringing the death toll closer to 400,000 by the start of December.
Johns Hopkins University plans to go remote this fall.
Johns Hopkins University is the latest academic institution to rescind plans for in-person classes this fall, announcing that it will instead conduct them entirely online for undergraduates because of a fresh surge in coronavirus cases.
“Unfortunately, the pandemic is clearly worsening,” Ronald J. Daniels, the university president, and other officials wrote in an email to students late Thursday.
“We are experiencing a second surge in cases in our region and in other areas of the country,” they wrote.
“We strongly urge those of you who had planned to come to Baltimore this fall not to do so.”
Earlier, the school had planned to offer an on-campus “undergraduate experience this fall to all who want it,” saying that large classes would be held online while smaller classes would be conducted in person.
The university follows in the footsteps of Georgetown University, George Washington University and the University of Virginia, which have also announced they would start fall classes entirely virtually.
Officials at Johns Hopkins said that the university will reduce its planned fall undergraduate tuition by 10 percent and that the Office of Financial Aid is planning for a “substantial increase in students’ aid packages in anticipation of many families’ changed circumstances.” It is also planning to provide emergency aid to those students experiencing financial difficulties, as it did in the spring, because of the switch to remote learning.
China’s offer to help with virus testing alarms Hong Kong.
The offer was presented as a favor to Hong Kong, a city struggling with a surge in coronavirus infections: a team of 60 medical officials from mainland China who would help expand testing across the city.
But it is being viewed with skepticism by some residents, who worry about the growing reach of the Chinese Communist Party and the testing project’s potential implications for their privacy.
Hong Kong could use the help. The largest wave of coronavirus infections to hit the semiautonomous city has overwhelmed its isolation wards and testing facilities in recent weeks.
The ability to provide testing for all who need or want it is a challenge for many cities and countries. That is where China comes in.
“If you want to have a quantum jump in terms of the number of tests done per day, then we definitely need some help from other countries, or the mainland government,” said Leo Poon, head of the division of public health laboratory sciences at the University of Hong Kong.
When it comes to conducting widespread testing, China is in a league of its own. The Chinese government takes pride in its ability to marshal the resources needed for mass testing.
Beijing dispatched seven medical experts to Hong Kong on Sunday to help with testing, Chinese state media reported. Yu Dewen, a health official from the southern province of Guangdong who is in charge of the team, said that even with the help of third-party laboratories, Hong Kong could only process 20,000 to 30,000 tests a day, according to Southern Metropolis Daily, a state-run Chinese newspaper. He said the team’s goal was roughly 200,000 samples a day.
But for some residents, the prospect of more readily available tests was overshadowed by concern that the outreach by Beijing was only the Communist Party’s latest intrusion into their lives.
They found it especially unnerving in the wake of the sweeping national security law that Beijing imposed on June 30 to quash dissent in Hong Kong. Police officers investigating alleged subversion crimes under the new law have been collecting DNA samples from people arrested at protests.
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader, announced plans on Friday to roll out free and voluntary tests for every resident with help from the Chinese government in two weeks.
Mrs. Lam stressed that people’s personal data will be protected and that labs will not be given any personal information behind the specimens. But she did not provide specific details on Friday about the nature of the universal testing program, which could cover millions of residents.
‘I was a little scared’: Go inside America’s reopening schools.
As the first students return to American classrooms, many face a profoundly altered experience, where sitting next to a friend on a long bus ride or unmasking at a busy table in the cafeteria carries a heightened level of risk.
Most schools have yet to open, and a growing number — especially in the nation’s largest districts — are opting to stay online as caseloads, hospitalizations and deaths climb in their states. But in some places, including Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, students began streaming back into classrooms as early as last week, with quarantines quickly following.
The New York Times spoke to students about their experiences in returning to class.
“I was a little scared,” said Kennedy Heim, a 14-year-old freshman who tested positive for the coronavirus. Her high school in Indiana started last week but had already closed by the weekend after a staff member tested positive.
In North Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga., a series of widely shared photos showed students crowded into packed hallways during their first days back to class this week. Few were wearing masks, and there was little sign of social distancing, generating criticism and outrage in news reports and on social media.
A 15-year-old student at North Paulding, Hannah Watters, was suspended for five days for posting some of those images on Twitter, according to her mother, Lynne Watters, who said she filed a grievance with the school on Thursday.
Medical experts want an independent accounting of what went wrong in Spain’s handling of the virus.
Spain should conduct an independent evaluation of what went wrong in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a group of 20 Spanish medical experts, who made their demand in a letter published by The Lancet on Thursday.
The experts said that Spain needed to understand why it was among the countries worst hit by the virus, when its health care system had ranked until then as among the best performing in the world. The study, they said, should look at the performance of the central government and the country’s 17 regional administrations. And it should focus on three areas: governance and decision making, scientific and technical advice, and operational capacity.
Such an independent evaluation would help Spain prepare for another wave of the virus or a similar epidemic, and the experts noted that some other countries like Sweden had also conducted similar independent studies.
“This evaluation should not be conceived as an instrument for apportioning blame,” the experts wrote. “Rather, it should identify areas where public health and the health and social care system need to be improved.”
The request for an independent evaluation comes amid a strong uptick in the number of virus cases in Spain, which has left regional authorities scrambling to contain about 580 local outbreaks this week. As a result, Switzerland and Hungary have joined this week the list of countries that are imposing quarantine restrictions on people arriving from Spain, dealing a major blow to Spain’s summer tourism economy.
There is little to suggest a compromise is in sight for pandemic relief.
With the expiration of a federal protection plan for small businesses looming over the weekend, lawmakers and White House officials ended more than three hours of negotiations on Thursday night still starkly divided over proposals for a new relief package to help the United States through the pandemic recession.
The talks, held in the Capitol Hill offices of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, turned so contentious that Ms. Pelosi said Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, had slammed the table at one point, an accusation Mr. Meadows denied.
With little to suggest a compromise was in sight, Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said the negotiators were expected to touch base by phone on Friday to determine whether it would be worthwhile to convene in person for more negotiations.
Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Meadows accused the Democrats in Thursday’s meeting — Ms. Pelosi, of California, and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader — of an unwillingness to compromise, while Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer said administration officials continued to push for proposals that did not meet the needs caused by the pandemic.
“We have always said that the Republicans and the president do not understand the gravity of the situation, and every time we meet with them, it is reinforced,” Ms. Pelosi said Thursday evening. “It’s so clear that we should do something and we should do something big, and we should do it in a way that is bipartisan.”
Mr. Trump has threatened to act on his own if no deal can be reached, telling reporters that he could move as soon as Friday or Saturday to sign executive orders to forestall evictions, suspend payroll-tax collection and provide unemployment aid and student loan relief. But it was not clear that he had the power to do so without Congress, which controls spending.
Reporting was contributed by Aksaule Alzhan, Hannah Beech, Julia Calderone, Emily Cochrane, Patricia Cohen, Stacy Cowley, Marie Fazio, Thomas Fuller, Jeffrey Gettleman, Maggie Haberman, Rebecca Halleck, Annie Karni, Daniel Lempres, Dan Levin, Ruth Maclean, Alex Marshall, Tiffany May, Constant Méheut, Sarah Mervosh, Raphael Minder, Thomas Rogers, Amanda Rosa, Nelson D. Schwartz, Eliza Shapiro, Karan Deep Singh, Matt Stevens, Jim Tankersley, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Garrett Therolf, Mark Walker, Sui-Lee Wee, Lauren Wolfe, Adam Wren and Elaine Yu.
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August 8, 2020