Here’s what you need to know:
Some states in the U.S. start to think twice about reopenings as the virus spreads.
More than half of the United States is seeing an increase in coronavirus cases weeks after parts of the country reopened. And now some state officials are slowing the return-to-work plans and in some cases, reimposing earlier restrictions.
In Maine, indoor bars won’t be reopening as planned. In Louisiana, occupancy limits will remain in place. And in Riley County, Kan., where case numbers grew more than 50 percent over the past week, officials said they would tighten restrictions on mass gatherings.
“I think we may have let our guard down a little bit,” said Julie Gibbs, the Riley County health officer. Several athletes at Kansas State University, which is in the county, have tested positive in recent days, and a majority of new cases have been in young adults.
Louisiana logged another 393 new cases on Monday, a trend seen after a period of sustained declines. Gov. John Bel Edwards said it was not yet safe for businesses to reopen more fully. He noted that about 90 percent of new cases were coming from community spread, not nursing homes or other group living facilities.
“It is clear that Covid is alive and well in Louisiana, and as we see more people testing positive and admitted to hospitals, we simply are not ready to move to the next phase,” Mr. Edwards said.
In Maine, as in most of the Northeast, case numbers have continued to decline. But officials said clusters at restaurants and bars in other states caused them to retreat from plans to reopen bars for indoor service on July 1.
“As we learn more about how the virus spreads, duration and density — specifically, being in close quarters inside, as is the case with most bars — clearly elevate the risk of virus transmission,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
U.S. health officials will warn lawmakers of the potential for a ‘tremendous burden’ on hospitals.
Four of the top health officials leading the Trump administration’s virus response will testify before a key House committee on Tuesday about efforts to test for, trace and treat the coronavirus, the first time they will appear together in more than a month to brief Congress on the pandemic.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will speak and field questions in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. They are likely to be asked about whether they agree with President Trump, who last week claimed in an interview with Fox News that the virus would simply “fade away.”
The doctors will also probably be grilled on the federal government’s progress in developing a vaccine and about the administration’s handling of sharp upticks of the virus around the country. Mr. Trump said at a campaign rally on Saturday in Tulsa, Okla., that he had asked “my people” to “slow the testing down” because increased screening was revealing more infections, making the country look bad.
In a prepared statement provided to the committee ahead of the hearing, the C.D.C. wrote that “Covid-19 activity will likely continue for some time,” potentially careening into flu season and straining hospitals already nearing capacity.
“This could place a tremendous burden on the health care system related to bed occupancy, laboratory testing needs, personal protective equipment and health care worker safety,” the agency wrote.
The New York Times will provide live video of the hearing, which is to begin at 11 a.m. Eastern. Adm. Brett P. Giroir, once the administration’s testing “czar,” and Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, are also scheduled to appear.
Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield and Admiral Giroir have implored states to test widely for the virus, which allows local health departments and contact tracers to identify new cases quickly and work to stem outbreaks in badly affected areas. In some states with recent significant rises in cases, residents have reported bottlenecks at screening sites, and hospital systems have said that they do not have enough machines to run tests.
Shortly before the hearing began, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to complain that he was not getting credit for his response to the virus, noting that Dr. Fauci, “who is with us in all ways,” has “a very high 72% Approval rating.” The approval rating for the president, who is known to track his own popularity closely, is currently 41 percent, according to the latest figures by the polling analysis website FiveThirtyEight.
In one sign of the Trump administration’s eagerness to move on, Admiral Giroir quietly told his colleagues this month that he was returning to his old job as assistant secretary of health to focus on a wide range of public health matters, including childhood vaccination, the opioid epidemic and AIDS.
All four witnesses are part of the coronavirus task force, a dwindling panel of health officials that meets twice a week in the White House Situation Room, one of the few remaining visible elements of the administration’s coronavirus response efforts.
Saudi Arabia limits the hajj pilgrimage to 1,000 people.
Saudi Arabia announced Tuesday that only about 1,000 people will be allowed to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage at the end of July, signaling the effective cancellation of one of the world’s largest gatherings of Muslims.
Saudi officials already said Monday that the hajj would be limited to Muslim residents in Saudi Arabia, who last year accounted for over one-quarter of the 2.5 million people who performed the pilgrimage, as a measure to prevent the spread of the virus.
But the updated restrictions announced Monday — allowing a tiny fraction of the usual crowd — amounted to a declaration that this year’s hajj will be a token showing.
“This is a very precise process,” the Hajj Minister, Mohammad Benten, told reporters. “We are working with health ministry experts and organizers to guarantee safe pilgrimage.”
Saudi Arabia is suffering from one of the largest virus outbreaks in the Middle East, with 161,000 cases and 1,346 deaths. Although the rate of infections has risen in recent days, the authorities lifted a nationwide curfew to allow economic activity to resume but they retained a ban on international travel.
Pilgrims permitted to perform the hajj this year will have to be under 65 years of age and in good health, said the health minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah. They will be required to undergo a virus test in advance and to self-quarantine after they return home.
The announcement sent a wave of sadness across Muslim communities where some had hoped it would still be possible to travel this year. “I am heart-broken, sad and disappointed but what can one do?” said Qari Ali Gul, who runs a seminary in Peshawar, Pakistan. “This must be the will of God.”
British leader will lift a wide variety of restrictions.
Declaring that “our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end,” Mr. Johnson cleared the way for the reopening of pubs, restaurants, hotels and museums in England on July 4, which will bring the country closer in line with Germany, Italy and other European countries.
But scientists, including some who advise the government, warned that reducing the required social distance would substantially raise the risk of spreading the virus in a country that is still reporting nearly 1,000 new infections a day.
Mr. Johnson is yielding to intense pressure, even from members of his own Conservative Party, to restart the British economy and return society to a semblance of normalcy. The government’s scientific advisers signed off on the change, though not without reservations and anguished debate.
In a study released this month, the government’s scientific advisory group, known as SAGE, estimated that reducing the so-called two-meter rule to one meter could increase the rate of transmission anywhere from two to 10 times.
Those risks would be mitigated, it said, if people wore face coverings and avoided prolonged face-to-face contact. Transmission is far less likely outdoors, which is why pubs and restaurants will be required to install plastic screens, provide adequate ventilation and collect contact information from customers. Face coverings are already mandatory on public transportation.
Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 men’s tennis player, has tested positive.
Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked male tennis player, said on Tuesday that he had tested positive, after days of growing criticism about an exhibition tournament he organized following which other players were also found to be infected.
The tournament, called the Adria Tour, was supposed to bring some of the world’s best players to Croatia and Serbia, where Djokovic is from, and to provide some welcome entertainment to tennis fans who haven’t seen professional games since March.
No one wore face masks and social distancing wasn’t enforced in the stands during the series. Besides Djokovic, at least three players and two coaches have tested positive, prompting fears among the authorities in Croatia and Serbia that the athletes may have set off a new wave of infections.
In Zadar, a small coastal town in Croatia that had no cases until it hosted a leg of the competition, the authorities were left scrambling to trace and test people who might have come in contact with the Bulgarian player Grigor Dimitrov, who said on Sunday that he had tested positive.
Djokovic returned to Belgrade, the Serbian capital, after the tournament’s final on Sunday was called off. He caused a stir in April after he suggested that he would rather not be vaccinated against the virus. The Serbian player said at the time that he was confused about the pandemic and wanted to know what was best for his body, while keeping an open mind.
The University of Michigan withdraws from hosting a presidential debate.
The University of Michigan said Tuesday it would withdraw from hosting a presidential debate on Oct. 15, citing concerns about bringing large numbers of national and international media and campaign officials to the campus in Ann Arbor amid the pandemic.
The Michigan gathering was set to be the second general election debate, but the event will instead be moved to the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, which hosted the first debates of the 2020 Democratic primary season last summer, according to two people directly familiar with the debate planning.
The move was expected to be formally announced on Tuesday. The Detroit Free Press first reported that Michigan would withdraw from hosting the debate.
The debate is set to become the second major presidential campaign event to move to Florida after officials elsewhere raised concerns about large gatherings.
After officials in North Carolina, including Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, sought assurances that delegates would adhere to social distancing at the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, the Trump campaign announced that Mr. Trump would instead accept the G.O.P. nomination in Jacksonville, Fla.
In other news from around the United States:
The business world reacted angrily after Mr. Trump temporarily suspended work visas and barred more than half a million foreigners from coming to work in the United States. The move is part of a broad effort by the administration to significantly limit entry into the country during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
After months of lockdown in which outbreaks were often centered on nursing homes, prisons and meatpacking plants, new clusters have been found in bars, churches and other places where people gather.
The governor of Texas said on Monday that the virus was spreading in the state at “an unacceptable rate” and that tougher restrictions could be necessary, although he did not specify what those measures would be. “Closing down Texas again will always be the last option,” he said.
Black people have been hospitalized for Covid-19 four times more than white people, new data released on Monday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found. The data reinforced the many public accounts of the disparities in access to health care and treatment outcomes faced by black people during the pandemic.
A former director of the C.D.C., Dr. Julie Gerberding, warned a Senate committee that the pandemic is “a harbinger of things to come,” and said there is no guarantee that a single vaccine will protect everyone from infection.
A moratorium on evictions that New York State expired over the weekend, raising fears that tens of thousands of residents would be called into housing courts, which reopened on Monday.
Kentucky, New York and Virginia are holding primary elections on Tuesday. The number of voters casting absentee ballots has risen sharply because of the pandemic, and the results of key races may not be known on Tuesday night as a result. Here’s what to watch for.
The White House began easing restrictions on Monday, the same day that the District of Columbia allowed churches, gyms, restaurants and “nonessential” stores to reopen with limited capacity.
After months of failed negotiations, Major League Baseball announced that it would impose a 2020 schedule and that it wanted players to report to their home ballparks by July 1 for training camp. If they do — and if the union signs off on health protocols — the schedule would be for 60 games, most likely starting July 24.
A German district tightens its lockdown after an outbreak at a slaughterhouse.
Germany’s biggest pork processing plant, which is owned by the Tönnies company and is in the northwest of the country, has registered 1,550 new infections since early last week, leading to the biggest regional outbreak since the nation reopened in May.
On Tuesday, Armin Laschet, the state governor of North Rhein-Westphalia, announced a temporary lockdown of Gütersloh, the district that includes the plant.
Officials had already closed schools and day care centers in the district of roughly 370,000 people. But Mr. Laschet’s emergency plans will focus on enforcing quarantine for the plant’s 7,000 workers as well as community members who are infected.
He also announced that health officials would test residents of nursing homes. Bars, gyms and cultural events — which had only recently reopened — are closed again until at least June 30.
Speaking to reporters, Mr. Laschet characterized the lockdown as a precautionary move and promised to ease the measures as soon as the authorities were sure that the illness would not spread significantly from the plant.
Later in the day the state’s health minister declared that a neighboring district to the west, Warendorf, would also go back into lockdown.
The outbreak has caused Germany’s reproduction number to rise significantly, to a value of 2.9 on Sunday. That means that one person with the disease is expected to infect, on average, 2.9 others. The number had been below one just a few days before.
Since then, the number of daily new infections has fallen. On Monday, the national health authority registered 503 cases across the country.
In other news from around the world:
A 72-year-old man in Hong Kong died from the virus on Tuesday, officials said, raising the city’s death toll to six. Hong Kong has recorded 1,161 confirmed cases. The authorities also confirmed 30 imported infections on Monday — the highest daily increase in more than two months — and another 16 imported cases on Tuesday.
The scientific council advising France’s government on the coronavirus said in a note published this week that a second wave of infections in the coming months was “extremely likely.” They wrote that France’s collective immunity — estimated at less than 5 percent of the population — was too low to prevent a second wave. The continued spread of the virus elsewhere in the world and the tendency of flu epidemics to come in two to three waves were also worrying, they wrote.
Officials in Japan, which lifted its emergency declaration in late May, announced on Tuesday a series of reopenings, including Tokyo Disneyland on July 1. The country’s professional baseball league, which resumed play last week without fans in attendance, plans to allow spectators starting next month.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore announced that the city-state would hold the first elections in Southeast Asia since the pandemic began.
The local authorities in Melbourne, Australia, have recommended that people in six neighborhoods remain at home after a growth in cases in those communities. Daniel Andrews, the premier of the state of Victoria, blamed the surge — 17 new cases reported on Monday — in part on people failing to self-isolate after being directed to do so. “If people don’t do the right thing, it is almost certain they will give the virus to other people,” he said.
Sweden’s lax approach to the outbreak alarms its neighbors.
While Scandinavian countries like Denmark, Finland and Norway went into strict lockdowns this spring, Sweden refused, and now has suffered roughly twice as many infections and five times as many deaths as the other three nations combined, according to figures compiled by The New York Times.
Though reporting differences can make comparisons inexact, the overall trend is clear, as is Sweden’s new status as Scandinavia’s pariah state.
Swedish officials, including the architect of the country’s measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Anders Tegnell, say Swedes have been stigmatized by an international campaign to prove Sweden was wrong and warn their neighbors that they are going to be much more vulnerable if a second wave of the virus hits in the fall.
“We are really confident that our immunity is higher than any other Nordic country’s,” Mr. Tegnell said during a news conference last week. He added that while Sweden was not striving for so-called herd immunity, the higher level of immunity “is contributing to lower numbers of patients needing hospitalization, as well as fewer deaths per day.”
Mr. Tegnell also said that infections in Sweden “had peaked,” and were now falling, a trend reflected in The Times’s figures.
Experts in the other Scandinavian countries say the higher immunity levels have not been proved through rigorous testing, and that such talk misses a major point.
“When you see 5,000 deaths in Sweden and 230 in Norway, it is quite incredible,” said Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former prime minister of Norway and the former director of the World Health Organization, during a digital lecture at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in May. “It will take a lot to even out this difference a year or two into the future.”
Companies see a multibillion-dollar opportunity in virus-proofing offices.
With companies pressing to figure out how to safely reopen workplaces, makers of everything from office furniture to smart ventilation systems are rushing to sell products and services marketed as solutions.
Some companies, like makers of thermal cameras that sense skin temperature, are rebranding their wares as fever-scanning products. Others are creating entirely new services.
And they have a captive market. To protect employees and reduce liability for virus outbreaks at work, companies are racing to comply with public health guidelines on issues like employee screening and social distancing. In the United States, the market for contact-tracing technologies for employers could soon be worth $4 billion annually, according to estimates from International Data Corporation, a market research firm.
But the preventive tools and pandemic workplace rules are so new — as is the emerging science on the virus — that it is too soon to tell how well, or if, they work.
“These are all untested theories and methods right now,” said Laura Becker, a research manager focusing on employee experience at I.D.C. “What is going to be the most effective component of all of these work force return strategies? We don’t know.”
Amid the pandemic, moviegoers escape to a world of dinosaurs.
The pandemic has turned most of America’s arts industries upside down. Now, it seems to have sent one — the movie world — back in time.
Last weekend, “Jurassic Park,” Steven Spielberg’s film about a dinosaur theme park, topped the U.S. box office, some 27 years after its 1993 release.
The film played at 230 theaters, including drive-ins, and made about $517,000, according to the entertainment news site Deadline, to take the top spot ahead of other reissued movies such as “Jaws” and, appropriately, “Back to the Future.”
“Jurassic Park” held the No. 1 spot for three weeks in 1993, but hadn’t done so since, even with a 2013 reissue, Deadline added. It has now made over $404 million at the box office.
Some critics spotted the film’s likely longevity when it was first released. Janet Maslin, in a review for The New York Times, wrote that the film presented “awe- and fear-inspiring sights never before seen on the screen,” adding that it was clear the movie would spawn an empire.
“Even while capturing the imagination of its audience,” she noted, “this film lays the groundwork for the theme-park rides, sequels and souvenirs that insure the ‘Jurassic Park’ experience will live on. And on. And on.”
Under lockdown, a Philippine priest hits the streets.
When Manila was placed under lockdown in March, Father Eduardo Vasquez moved his daily Mass online. That kept him safe from the coronavirus but left some of his poorest parishioners — the ones without cellphones — beyond his reach.
So he set off to find them. In the city’s teeming slums, already reeling from President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody antidrug campaign, he celebrated Mass, served the Eucharist, and distributed food and face masks.
“Journalists, doctors, garbage collectors and undertakers were out doing their duties” during the lockdown, he said in the city of Caloocan, the district of Manila where he works. “It’s a big knock on the Catholic Church if we don’t.”
The Philippines has nearly 1,200 deaths from Covid-19 and more than 30,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, one of Southeast Asia’s highest tallies.
On many days, Father Vasquez, 47, tends to his churchyard garden, baptizes children, and attends to the dead at funeral parlors and crematories.
But when he dresses for work these days, his vestments are as protective as they are holy. His cassock has been replaced by a protective suit, his collar hidden behind an N-95 respirator mask.
All that identifies him as a priest is his stole, a scarf about two meters long, the perfect length to measure an acceptable social distance.
Reporting was contributed by Jes Aznar, Hannah Beech, Aurelien Breeden, Stephen Castle, Julie Creswell, Reid J. Epstein, Thomas Erdbrink, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Matthew Haag, Ben Hubbard, Mike Ives, Miriam Jordan, Annie Karni, Ismail Khan, Tyler Kepner, Mark Landler, Alex Marshall, Jonathan Martin, Sarah Mervosh, Elian Peltier, Christopher F. Schuetze, Michael D. Shear, Natasha Singer, Mitch Smith, Matt Stevens, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan, Lucy Tompkins, Hisako Ueno, Declan Walsh, Noah Weiland and Elaine Yu.
View original article here Source