Coronavirus Live Updates: Deaths Top 150,000 in the United States

Here’s what you need to know:

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Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

Key Data of the day

More than 150,000 people have died in the United States from the coronavirus, according to a New York Times database, as the rate of deaths continues to rise on the heels of ballooning infections and hospitalizations in many areas.

An average of about 1,000 virus-related deaths a day have been reported over the past week, the worst rate since early June, when the number of people dying seemed to be falling. Now, daily death counts are rising in 24 states and Puerto Rico.

The nation’s overall death toll reached the grim figure on Wednesday, five months after the first reported virus death in the United States in February. The nation passed the 50,000 mark on April 27 and 100,000 on May 27, a milestone whose approach The Times commemorated by filling its front page with names of the dead.

During the early peak of the U.S. epidemic in late April, the national death toll was driven by a surge in New York State, which at its worst was reporting about 1,000 deaths a day, roughly half the national total at that time.

These days, the toll is being felt much more widely across many states, especially in the South, while New York is reporting about 16 deaths a day on average. For example, more than 2,100 deaths have been reported in the past week in Texas, the state with the highest recent death toll relative to its population, followed by Arizona and South Carolina. On Wednesday, Florida again broke its single-day record for deaths, reporting 216 fatalities, bringing the state’s total to 6,332.

The trend in virus deaths generally lags the trend in infections, reflecting the delays between when people test positive, when they die and when those deaths are reported. Daily death tolls kept falling for a while after daily case reports began to climb significantly in June. Since early July, though, the death numbers have been rising, while infection reports have begun to level off at around 65,000 a day.

Credit…for The New York Times

Representative Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican who has frequently refused to wear a mask in the Capitol, tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday ahead of a planned trip with President Trump on Air Force One, officials familiar with the matter said.

The results immediately sent a shudder through the Capitol, where Mr. Gohmert has actively participated in multiple congressional hearings this week, including Tuesday’s Judiciary Committee session with Attorney General William P. Barr and a hearing held by the Natural Resources Committee, during which he did not wear a mask.

Lawmakers and Mr. Barr were seated more than six feet apart during the hearing, but reporters spotted an unmasked Mr. Gohmert outside the hearing room exchanging words with Mr. Barr and in proximity to him. A Justice Department spokesman, Kerri Kupec, said that the attorney general would be tested on Wednesday.

Mr. Gohmert is among a group of House Republicans who have pointedly refused to wear masks in many instances while in the Capitol in recent weeks despite warnings from public health experts and an outbreak in his home state. He told CNN last month that he did not wear a mask because he did not have the virus.

“But if I get it, you’ll never see me without a mask,” he said.

Democrats were furious at the news, and both parties spent Wednesday morning scrambling to retrace Mr. Gohmert’s steps. The House Judiciary Committee was waiting for official guidance from Congress’s attending physician. It is a daunting task since Mr. Gohmert is a frequent schmoozer who could have come into close contact with dozens of fellow lawmakers and aides this week alone.

“I’m concerned about the irresponsible behavior of many of the Republicans who have chosen to consistently flout well-established public health guidance,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York and a member of the Judiciary Committee. He pleaded with Republicans like Mr. Gohmert to put on masks or go home.

Members of Congress have been flying weekly between Washington and their home states — some of which are experiencing serious outbreaks — and they are not required to be tested. Mr. Gohmert received a test only because he was scheduled to be in proximity to the president.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump on Wednesday indicated that he did not care about the fate of a broad economic recovery package that lawmakers in both parties, along with members of his own administration, are scrambling to put together before tens of millions of Americans formally lose their jobless benefits on Friday, telling reporters he would rather see a narrow package.

“You work on the payments for the people,” Mr. Trump said, referring to another round of direct payments, “and the rest of it — we’re so far apart we don’t care.”

“We really don’t care,” Mr. Trump added.

Mr. Trump suggested that he wanted to renew a federal moratorium on evictions that expired earlier this month for millions of Americans, saying, “We want to stop the evictions.” But the Republican proposal his administration helped draft has no measure to do so.

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said the president “is very focused on evictions and unemployment” — though Mr. Trump made no mention of the $600-per-week enhanced unemployment benefits set to formally expire Friday. Mr. Mnuchin said if the administration cannot reach agreement with Democrats by then on a broader economic stabilization plan, “the president wants to look at giving us more time to negotiate this.”

Mr. Mnuchin and Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, are expected to huddle with Senate Republicans during their weekly policy lunch and meet for the third consecutive day with Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, later Wednesday afternoon. Democrats have so far rejected the prospect of a narrow package, insisting on a comprehensive package, and Mr. Trump has dismissed the Republican package as “semi-irrelevant.”

On Wednesday, he slammed Republicans for distancing themselves from his efforts to secure funding for a new F.B.I. headquarters in Washington as part of the recovery package, saying that, “Republicans should go back to school and learn.”

Listen to ‘The Daily’: The Battle Over Unemployment Benefits

As Republicans consider the extension of existing unemployment benefits, the November election looms large.

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transcript

Listen to ‘The Daily’: The Battle Over Unemployment Benefits

Hosted by Michael Barbaro; produced by Rachel Quester and Daniel Guillemette; with help from Robert Jimison and Stella Tan; and edited by M.J. Davis Lin

As Republicans consider the extension of existing unemployment benefits, the November election looms large.

[music]
michael barbaro

From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is “The Daily.”

Today: A fight has erupted among congressional Republicans over how long and how generously government should help the unemployed during the pandemic. Nick Fandos on what that battle is really about.

It’s Tuesday, July 28.

Nick, tell me about this deadline coming up on Friday.

nick fandos

So on Friday, at the end of July, one of the key programs in the $2 trillion economic relief package, called the CARES Act, that Congress passed this spring to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, is set to expire. This is the federal unemployment benefit, this extra $600 that the federal government has been putting into unemployment checks, on top of whatever states give the tens of millions of Americans that are out of work.

michael barbaro

Right. And the thinking was that state unemployment benefits, which is how most people get by when they are laid off, are kind of stingy. And because these layoffs were so widespread, the federal government needed to step in an unusual way.

nick fandos

That’s right. And you know, $600 was arrived at by congressional Democrats and the Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, as something like a kind of average wage that they thought might be lost across the board. And though some Republicans were uneasy —

archived recording

Mr. President, the majority leader of the Senate.

nick fandos

— they ultimately set aside their concerns and ended up voting unanimously to put this program and others in place.

archived recording (mitch mcconnell)

Our nation needed us to go big and go fast. And they did.

So today, Mr. President, the Senate will act to help the people of this country weather this storm.

michael barbaro

Right. And I think for many Americans the sense was that this program — $600 a week from the federal government — would probably last as long as widespread unemployment lasted, stemming from the pandemic.

nick fandos

I think that that’s right, that that was the assumption of many Americans. But Republicans never quite viewed it that way.

archived recording (john cornyn)

We have spent a lot of money in the last couple of months. But we’ve done so in the face of an emergency, kind of like the civilian equivalent of World War II.

nick fandos

They saw the whole stimulus bill, including this benefit, as a kind of extraordinary measure for extraordinary circumstances. And that this was kind of a bridge to float the economy and float the American people through this period where the government was asking them to stay home, so that we could get the virus under control.

archived recording (ted cruz)

Look, I supported every one of these bills that has come through. I agree that we need emergency relief to help people, to help people through the crisis as a short-term bridge loan.

nick fandos

But you know, if that was a gamble — and it was, that this is going to be a temporary thing — Republicans do not come out where they want to. The virus has resurged in many states now across the South and West, you know, in states that are traditionally red states and are represented by Republicans.

archived recording (mitch mcconnell)

So the question today is where are we? And where do we go from here?

nick fandos

And the party now has to kind of come to terms with the fact that what they hoped would be a bridge is going to be a lot longer than they initially thought.

archived recording (mitch mcconnell)

We had hoped we’d be on the way to saying goodbye to this health care pandemic. Clearly, it is not over.

michael barbaro

Right. Which brings us back to this Friday expiration date. So do Republicans have intrinsic objections to just renewing the $600 a week?

nick fandos

So for most Republicans, the answer is yes.

michael barbaro

Hm.

nick fandos

That $600 figure, as we said, was arrived at honestly, but somewhat hastily back in March. And Republicans started voicing concerns at the time.

archived recording (ted cruz)

For 68 percent of people receiving it right now, they are being paid more on unemployment than they made in their job.

nick fandos

And they’ve grown a lot louder since. That $600 from the federal government, on top of whatever states were giving people that were out of work, was simply too generous.

archived recording (ted cruz)

And I’ll tell you, I’ve spoken to small business owners all over the state of Texas who are trying to reopen.

nick fandos

And actually was disincentivizing and has disincentivized many Americans from going back to work.

archived recording (ted cruz)

— and they’re calling their waiters and waitresses, they’re calling their busboys. And they won’t come back. And of course they won’t come back. Because the federal government is paying, in some instances, twice as much money to stay home.

nick fandos

So ideologically, many Republicans in Congress were never comfortable with this $600 benefit at that level in the first place. And then, they’re certainly not comfortable with extending it into perpetuity.

michael barbaro

So Nick, with this program running out of time, how is this playing out among the Republicans?

nick fandos

So as Republicans are approaching these deadlines at the end of July, they’re looking around and seeing a bunch of different inputs that are really difficult for them. On the one hand, Democrats are, you know, unabashedly and enthusiastically pushing to extend this $600 benefit through the end of the year and as long as it’s needed.

michael barbaro

Mhm.

nick fandos

And at the same time, Republicans are having to reconcile themselves to the fact that the virus is spreading around the country. There are signs in the last few weeks that the economy, which was recovering, is starting to potentially soften again. And they recognize for a variety of reasons — economically, for the livelihood of the country, and politically, as they’re looking ahead to November’s elections — that it’s simply not going to be an option not to have a plan.

michael barbaro

Mhm.

nick fandos

And so Republicans start trying to put together their own proposal for how to fix unemployment benefits going forward and a range of other programs to keep the economy afloat. And it turns out it’s a lot harder than they think it’s going to be.

michael barbaro

What do you mean?

nick fandos

Well, it turns out, as they try to unpack this and get into the details of what might we do next, that there’s a pretty big split between two different camps of Republicans.

archived recording (ted cruz)

I asked my Republican colleagues, what in the hell are we doing?

nick fandos

So one of them are the kind of arch conservatives that are really worried about federal spending. People like Ted Cruz.

archived recording (ted cruz)

A number of senators at lunch get up and say, well gosh, we need $20 billion for this. We need $100 billion for this. And they’re just really eager to spend money. I’m, like, what are you guys doing?

nick fandos

Or Rand Paul, who compared his colleagues to a bunch of Bernie bros with the way they were talking.

archived recording (rand paul)

I find it extraordinary that I just came from a Republican caucus meeting that could be sort of the Bernie bros progressive caucus.

nick fandos

And that is a sharp pejorative in the Senate Republican conference.

michael barbaro

I would think.

archived recording (rand paul)

This is insane. It’s got to stop. We’re ruining the country. And there has to be some voice left for fiscal conservatism in this country.

nick fandos

This group is just, frankly, uneasy about the $2 trillion that they spent back in the spring and is not interested in seeing the federal government add to the deficit, add to the debt and further involve itself in the U.S. economy.

archived recording (rand paul)

I, for one, am alarmed at where the country is heading. I’m also alarmed that my party has forgotten what they actually stand for. There is no difference now between the two parties on spending.

nick fandos

Now, at the other end of the spectrum are a group of more moderate or middle-of-the-road Republicans, who are up for re-election this fall and are actually having to face the voters, in many cases, in swing states or blue states where President Trump and the Republican response to the pandemic have been deeply unpopular. People like Cory Gardner or Thom Tillis —

archived recording (thom tillis)

Well, I think we have to build on what we did with the CARES Act, almost $3 trillion dollars to help individuals, to provide a supplement for unemployment.

nick fandos

— who have really staked their re-election on the government’s response to this crisis, and on showing that they are effectively leading the country through one of its most challenging periods in anybody’s memory. And joining with them on that side —

archived recording (mitch mcconnell)

This crisis is far from over.

nick fandos

— are some of the best known leaders of the Republican Party on Capitol Hill.

michael barbaro

Hm.

archived recording (mitch mcconnell)

For weeks now, I have made it clear that further legislation out of the Senate will be a serious response to the crisis.

nick fandos

So Mitch McConnell, the majority leader from Kentucky, and John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas who’s one of his longtime deputies —

archived recording (john cornyn)

But as the impact of Covid-19 has grown, so has the need for assistance.

nick fandos

— seem to recognize that not only are the fates of individual senators up in the air, but the Republican Party’s prospects up and down the ticket this fall may well be tied up into how they are judged to have handled this crisis. And doing what the conservatives want and basically stopping now and saying, “we’ve done what we need to do” is not an option for that group.

michael barbaro

Nick, how much of that debate you just described is being informed by the political realities surrounding the single most important person in the party at this moment, which is President Trump?

nick fandos

I think it’s inescapable for elected Republicans. And it’s not just the way that the public seems to be viewing President Trump and giving him very poor grades on handling the pandemic, which could hurt the whole Republican Party in November. It’s also the kind of erratic nature of his leadership and engagement on this issue itself. And so they’re working with his Treasury secretary to iron out the details. But this is not a negotiation that President Trump is leading or even all that active in. They’re trying to do whatever they can to bail out the party, not to please President Trump in this case.

michael barbaro

Hm.

nick fandos

And that has added another kind of layer of interest and unpredictability to this whole thing which, you know, we have not seen a lot of in the last three and a half years.

michael barbaro

And what does that tell you, that they’re choosing this moment to do that?

nick fandos

Well, I think whether they want to acknowledge it or not, Republicans are starting to sense that their party is really in trouble. That if things aren’t turned around quickly, they may not only lose the White House, but really get wiped out in November. And are thinking in different ways about why that is and what the party may need to look like in a world that’s just starting to dawn on them as a possibility of being kind of post-Trump.

michael barbaro

So in other words, this battle over $600 a week and what this entire new version of a relief package looks like, it’s not really just about what’s in a piece of legislation like this. It’s about the identity of the Republican Party at a time where it may need a new identity. Because theoretically, Donald Trump could lose. And the Republican Party would no longer be just the party of Donald Trump.

nick fandos

That’s right. So while they’re very much focused on how is the party going to be viewed in November, they’re really kind of foreshadowing or staking out positioning for this potentially larger battle to come, over what Republicanism really looks like after Donald Trump has defined it for four or five years.

[music]

And you know, some of these folks are not new to their positions. But they recognize that there may soon be more of a need to kind of assert their views, and the primacy of those views, against others in the Republican Party.

michael barbaro

We’ll be right back.

[music]

So Nick, where does this very high stakes ideological battle within the Republican Party, where does it leave this economic relief package?

nick fandos

So it’s up to Mitch McConnell, basically, to try and pull together these different factions and arrive at a bill that deals with the expiring unemployment benefits and a host of other kind of programs and priorities. Basically, to try and reconcile those differences and put together a bill that can be Republicans’ starting point when they go to the negotiating table with Democrats.

michael barbaro

Mhm.

nick fandos

And so that’s where we were by the middle of last week. And as he tries to work out those details with the White House and run it by his Republican colleagues, there’s a bunch of snafus along the way. They push past some small deadlines. But in the end, they’re unable to introduce their bill, because those differences turn out to have been more significant than Republicans even wanted to let on.

michael barbaro

So the Republicans cannot come up with any kind of consensus bill to salvage this program that we’ve been talking about?

nick fandos

So as of Thursday morning, no. And as lawmakers head for the exits for the weekend, without a proposal for how to fix a whole host of programs, they have not arrived at a solution on a range of issues, including what to do about this expiring $600 unemployment benefit. But their staff and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, Meadows, the White House chief of staff, work through the weekend to try and iron out some of these details.

archived recording (mitch mcconnell)

Well, good afternoon, everyone. The Senate Republicans and the administration have been consulting over the last few weeks.

nick fandos

By Monday afternoon, what they finally introduce —

archived recording (mitch mcconnell)

— with what we think is an appropriate amount of additional debt to be added. We think it is about a trillion dollars.

nick fandos

— is a plan that is roughly a trillion dollars.

archived recording (mitch mcconnell)

And we’ve allocated that in a way that we think makes the most sense.

nick fandos

Some of that goes to schools to help them reopen and for more testing and contact tracing.

archived recording (mitch mcconnell)

So with that, I’m going to call on my colleagues who have developed the various —

nick fandos

And on this key question of unemployment benefits, Republicans propose a real overhaul to the way that they would work conceptually.

archived recording (mitch mcconnell)

Do we know who’s next?

archived recording

Chairman Grassley.

archived recording (mitch mcconnell)

Senator Grassley.

archived recording (chuck grassley)

Number one, we’re going to continue —

nick fandos

So they say that for the short term, we’re going to cut that $600 down to $200 a week.

michael barbaro

Big cut.

nick fandos

A pretty dramatic cut.

archived recording (chuck grassley)

So we want to continue to help the unemployed. But we want to encourage work. And we’ve learned a very tough lesson, that when you pay people not to work, what do you expect?

nick fandos

And they say, that’s just going to buy us time over the next few months for us to basically help states set up a new system, where what we’re going to try and do is make sure that every individual that’s unemployed, between the state government and the federal government ends up getting about 70 percent of what their old wages would have been.

archived recording (chuck grassley)

We’re going to have further tax relief for businesses to encourage hiring and rehiring. And we want to do that to encourage people to get back to work and help the employer, in the process, support people in the meantime.

nick fandos

And so what Republicans are trying to do here is keep a safety net in place, but remove what they think is hindering people from going back to work.

archived recording (chuck grassley)

Lastly, I hope that Democrats will come to the table and we can work out a bipartisan agreement. Thank you very much.

nick fandos

So in other words, if they can get this program up and operating, it will always make sense from a financial point of view for somebody to go and take their old job back or take a new job back, but not be so draconian that they’re making the economic situation drastically worse, or can be accused of forcing people towards soup kitchens or the streets.

michael barbaro

So this is a classic compromise. In other words, we’re going to keep the benefits but not at $600 a week, because they see that as not conservative and not incentivizing an economic recovery.

nick fandos

That’s right. But remember, this is just kind of the first step. This should have been the easy part for Republicans. Because what they have coming is negotiations with Democrats, who are in favor of keeping the benefit totally as it is, and are already lining up to say basically that Republicans are giving a massive economic financial hit to individuals and the economy right when they need it most, and at this moment where the country’s recovery seems to be teetering. Is it going to keep going up? Or is it about to collapse again? And Democrats are not going to settle for $200 for any period of time.

michael barbaro

So given all that, what is likely to happen to this Republican bill in the Senate?

nick fandos

So the interesting thing about where Republicans find themselves is, this bill that they’re introducing probably couldn’t even pass the Senate just on Republican votes. And that leaves them in a pretty weak position as they head into negotiations with the Democrats. Because remember, to pass anything into law, even if there’s a Republican president or a Republican Senate, you need the Democrats to get it through Congress. And they have a very long and expensive wish list of things that they’d like to see in legislation. And they’re not going to be easy on the Republicans.

michael barbaro

Nick, this may sound like a strange question. But do you think Republicans now regret ever agreeing to these enhanced unemployment benefits? I’m mindful of the fact that it was not a Republican idea. It was Democrats who pushed for it. As you have said, it cuts against a lot of Republican principles. But they agreed to it as a short-term fix. And it turns out it’s not going to be a short-term term fix, because there’s nothing short-term about this pandemic. And it is inevitably hard to take something like this away from people once you give it to them. So is it possible Republicans look back and think we should have never agreed to do this?

nick fandos

I think there may be a small subset of fiscally conservative Republicans that feel that way. But my guess is that the vast majority felt like, hey, we did what we had to do back then in the springtime. I mean, the economy was in freefall, remember. And the course of the virus was highly uncertain. And the fundamental problem for them is that they envisioned the federal government having a relatively short-term role to play in getting the country back on its feet and ready to fight against this virus. And it’s just turned out to be, for a lot of different reasons, a much more complicated, prolonged, expensive fight than they wanted. And honestly, Michael, at this point, it’s hard to see how this situation resolves itself. Usually, when you cover Congress for a while, you can kind of see the pattern of how these negotiations will work. But Republicans really find themselves pretty far up the stream without a paddle right now. And there seem to be risks for them and consequences in every direction. And it’s going to be a pretty fascinating next couple of weeks to see how and if they can reach an agreement with Democrats — and one that some members of the party feel like doesn’t completely undermine what they stand for.

michael barbaro

Of course, weeks is not what people who are on this program have. They have days. Because this thing really does expire on Friday.

nick fandos

That’s right. Many of the people receiving these benefits are living paycheck to paycheck or don’t have a lot of savings to fall back on. There can and will be very real consequences to this delay. And that’s not to mention the whole host of other programs that are being debated by Congress right now that are touching different aspects of people’s lives.

[music]

The longer this goes on, the effects just get magnified. Bigger and bigger and bigger. And it frankly makes the problem even harder to solve.

michael barbaro

Thank you, Nick.

nick fandos

Thank you, Michael.

michael barbaro

On Monday night, Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, met with White House officials to begin negotiations over a new economic relief package, including federal unemployment benefits.

archived recording (nancy pelosi)

Suffice to say that we hoped that we would be able to reach an agreement. We clearly do not have shared values.

michael barbaro

Little progress was made during the two-hour session. But afterward, the Democratic leaders made one thing clear. Congressional Republicans lack the votes to pass their own bill.

We’ll be right back.

Here’s what else you need to know today. On Monday, the pandemic touched the worlds of politics, business and sports. The Trump administration said that its national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, had contracted the virus, becoming the most senior White House official yet to test positive. Meanwhile, the parent company of Google — Alphabet — told employees that they would not be expected to return to the office until next summer, suggesting that work-from-home policies will extend well past the end of the year. Finally, the Miami Marlins canceled two upcoming baseball games after 12 players and two coaches tested positive for the coronavirus. The outbreak was disclosed just four days after the beginning of the baseball season.

archived recording (dave martinez)

My level of concern went from about an eight to a 12. You know, it hits home now that you see half a team get infected and it go from one city to another. So —

michael barbaro

During a news conference, the manager of the Washington Nationals expressed alarm over the news.

archived recording (dave martinez)

Yeah, I got friends on that Miami team. And it really stinks. Now I’m not going to lie. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Seeing those guys go down like that, it’s not good for them. It’s not good for anybody.

michael barbaro

That’s it for “The Daily.” I’m Michael Barbaro. See you tomorrow.

Credit…Natalie Keyssar for The New York Times

Big retailers have made strong statements recently about their new rules requiring customers to wear face masks when shopping, saying that the health of their workers and customers is paramount. But the companies are taking a decidedly hands-off approach to enforcing those mandates.

Walmart has told employees that they should not prevent customers from entering the store if they refuse to wear a mask. Walgreens said that “for the safety of our team members,” the company would not bar customers without masks from its stores. Lowes also said it would “not ask our associates to put their safety at risk by confronting customers about wearing masks.”

Many shoppers and workers say the retailers’ reluctance to police mask wearing ultimately renders their rules toothless, and will perpetuate the spread of the coronavirus. And workers find themselves thrust onto the front line of a cultural and political war over masks that can lead to ugly confrontations and sometimes violence.

Last weekend, two episodes stood out. In one, a video of an altercation involving two shoppers in Walmart wearing masks with a Nazi swastika went viral. In the other, a man was arrested after he pulled a gun on another shopper who had asked him to put on his mask in a Walmart in Palm Beach County, Fla.

Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, representing workers at Macy’s and Bloomingdales in New York, said retailers needed to invest in more security guards or empower management to confront shoppers, not leave it up to rank-and-file workers. But not enforcing the rules, when they are challenged, was not effective, he said.

“A rule that isn’t enforced,” Mr. Appelbaum said, “is not a rule.”

In a new analysis, pediatric researchers have estimated that the states’ decisions to close schools last spring likely saved tens of thousands of lives from Covid-19 and prevented many more coronavirus infections. Still, the authors acknowledged that their findings are not broadly applicable today.

The findings come amid a worldwide debate on whether, when and how to reopen schools, including for some 56 million American students, kindergarten through high school. Outside experts cautioned that the effect of school closings is extremely difficult to predict because of unknowns regarding how infectious children are and because of the difficulty in separating out the effect of school closures from other measures that states took to control the virus, like stay-at-home orders, business closures and limits on large social gatherings.

In addition, early in the pandemic, testing was especially limited and spotty, raising questions about how well the number of confirmed cases reflected actual infections.

The study, published Wednesday in JAMA, focused on a six-week period in the spring, when there were still many unknowns.

“At the time, there wasn’t any masking in schools, there wasn’t physical distancing, there wasn’t an increase in hygiene and that sort of thing,” said Dr. Katherine Auger, an associate professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the lead author of the study.

Some experts expressed concern that the study’s estimates about the impact of closing schools early in the pandemic would be seized upon as an argument that schools should remain closed. Experts on public health and education have recommended that communities and schools should work toward reopening with strong health precautions in place, because in-person schooling has such tremendous value for children’s academic, social and emotional development.

“I do worry that these large estimates of the effect of school closures will lead people to give up because it is going to be challenging to open schools,” said Julie Donohue, a professor of public health at the University of Pittsburgh who co-wrote an editorial about the study. “I do worry that some districts will look at these numbers and say, well, it’s just too hard and it’s not safe to reopen.”

A Times survey of every public four-year college in the country, as well as every private institution that competes in Division I sports or is a member of an elite group of research universities, revealed at least 6,300 cases tied to about 270 colleges over the course of the pandemic. And the new academic year has not yet begun at most schools.

There is no standardized reporting method for cases and deaths at colleges, and the information is not being publicly tracked at a national level. Of nearly 1,000 institutions contacted by The Times, some had already posted case information online, some provided full or partial numbers and others refused to answer basic questions, citing privacy concerns. Hundreds of colleges did not respond at all.

Still, the Times survey represents the most comprehensive look at the toll the virus has taken on the country’s colleges and universities.

Among the colleges that provided information, many offered no details about who contracted the virus, when they became ill or whether a case was connected to a larger outbreak. It is possible that some of the cases were identified months ago, in the early days of the U.S. outbreak before in-person learning was cut short, and that others involved students and employees who had not been on campus recently.

Credit…Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

Once again, the coronavirus is ascendant. As infections mount across the country, it is dawning on Americans that the epidemic is now unstoppable, and that no corner of the nation will be left untouched.

As of Tuesday, the pathogen had infected at least 4.3 million Americans, killing almost 150,000. Many experts fear the virus could kill 200,000 or even 300,000 by year’s end. Even Mr. Trump has donned a mask, after resisting for months, and has canceled the Republican National Convention celebrations in Florida.

Each state, each city has its own crisis driven by its own risk factors: vacation crowds in one, bars reopened too soon in another, a revolt against masks in a third.

“We are in a worse place than we were in March,” when the virus coursed through New York, said Dr. Leana S. Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner. “Back then we had one epicenter. Now we have lots.”

To assess where the country is heading now, The New York Times interviewed 20 public health experts — clinicians and epidemiologists, historians and sociologists, because the spread of the virus is now influenced as much by human behavior as it is by the pathogen.

Over all, the scientists conveyed a pervasive sense of sadness and exhaustion. Where once there was defiance, and then a growing sense of dread, now there seems to be sorrow and frustration, a feeling that so many funerals never had to happen and that nothing was going well.

“We’re all incredibly depressed and in shock at how out of control the virus is in the U.S.,” said Dr. Michele Barry, the director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford University.

Credit…Adriana Loureiro Fernandez for The New York Times

Postponed elections. Sidelined courts. A persecuted opposition.

As the virus tears through Latin America and the Caribbean, killing more than 180,000 and destroying the livelihoods of tens of millions in the region, it is also undermining democratic norms that were already under strain.

Leaders from the center right to the far left have seized on the crisis to extend their time in office, weaken oversight of government actions and silence critics — actions that under different circumstances would be described as authoritarian and antidemocratic but that now are being billed as lifesaving measures to curb the spread of the disease.

“It’s not a matter of left or right, it’s a general decline of democracy across the region,” said Alessandra Pinna, a Latin America researcher at Freedom House, an independent Washington-based research organization that measures global political liberties.

President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela has detained or raided the homes of dozens of journalists, social activists and opposition leaders for questioning the government’s dubious virus figures.

In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega released thousands of inmates because of the threat posed by the virus, but kept political prisoners behind bars. In Guyana, a lockdown prevented protests against the government’s attempt to stay in power despite losing an election.

And in Bolivia, a caretaker government has used the pandemic to postpone elections, tap into emergency aid to bolster its electoral campaign and threaten to ban the main opposition candidate from running.

The gradual undermining of democratic rules during an economic crisis and public health catastrophe could leave Latin America primed for slower growth and an increase in corruption and human rights abuses, experts warned.

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

New York City’s contact-tracing program seems to have been especially plagued by problems.

Only a few weeks into the rollout of the city’s much-heralded program, which began on June 1 and was a vital initiative in the effort to contain the virus and to reopen the local economy, the newly hired contact tracers were already expressing growing misgivings about their work.

One said the city was “putting out propaganda” about the program’s effectiveness.

Another wrote, “I don’t think this is the type of job we should just ‘wing it,’ and that’s the sense I’ve been getting sometimes.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared that the city’s new Test and Trace Corps, which has hired about 3,000 contact tracers, case monitors and others, will make a difference in curbing the virus now that the outbreak that devastated New York in the spring has waned.

The de Blasio administration acknowledged that the program had gotten off to a troubled start, but said that improvements had been made.

“All signs indicate that the program has been effective in helping the city avoid the resurgence we’re seeing in other states,” Avery Cohen, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said.

Still, some contact tracers described the program’s first six weeks as poorly run and disorganized, leaving them frustrated and fearful that their work would not have much of an impact.

They spoke of a confusing training regimen and priorities, and of newly hired supervisors who were unable to provide guidance. They said computer problems had sometimes caused patient records to disappear. And they said their performances were being tracked by call-center-style “adherence scores” that monitor the length of coffee breaks but did not account for how well tracers were building trust with clients.

Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

Federal Reserve officials will conclude a two-day policy meeting on Wednesday that is likely to yield little action — rates are already at near-zero and are almost certain to stay there for an extended period — but could provide a fresh read on how policymakers are thinking about the economic outlook, and hints about their plans.

On Tuesday the Fed extended its emergency lending programs through the end of 2020, a three-month addition that, while not surprising, signaled how lasting the economic damage from the coronavirus is proving.

The chair, Jerome H. Powell, who will hold a remote news conference at 2:30 p.m., is sure to field questions on the newly extended programs, which were introduced to try to keep markets functioning and credit flowing.

The Fed took unprecedented actions in March and April to provide a first line of defense for the economy as coronavirus cases swept the nation and shut down entire business sectors. Most of the nine programs were set to expire on or around the end of September, a sign that officials thought normal conditions might return by fall.

That optimism has been upended by a surge in infections, which has continued to depress economic activity. While state and local economies have reopened, many have had to roll back or delay their plans, and experts warn that the situation could worsen if the virus takes hold more deeply.

Here’s what else is happening in the business world:

  • U.S. stocks ticked higher and global markets were mixed on Wednesday as investors waded through corporate earnings reports.

  • Boeing lost $2.4 billion in the second quarter, the company said Wednesday, adding that it plans to slow plane production and could cut more jobs as it reels from the grounding of the 737 Max and the devastating aviation slowdown brought on by the pandemic.

global roundup

Credit…Paul J. Richards/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A union representing FedEx pilots called on the delivery company on Tuesday to suspend operations in Hong Kong after its members were subject to quarantine facilities under “extremely difficult conditions.”

Hong Kong began testing all airline workers who were previously exempt from mandatory coronavirus tests this month, prompting United Airlines and American Airlines to suspend flights to the city. A FedEx pilot who had arrived from the United States and visited a popular restaurant tested positive on July 11.

The Air Line Pilots Association International said on Tuesday that three FedEx pilots who had tested positive for the coronavirus but were asymptomatic were “forced into mandated hospital facilities.” Those who tested negative but had been in close contact with an infected person “were put into government camps under extremely difficult conditions.”

“Pilots who test positive for Covid-19 face compulsory admission and treatment in government-selected public hospitals, with as many as five patients to a room with one shared bathroom,” the union said in a statement.

“Not only do these situations pose unacceptable risks to our pilots’ safety and well-being, but they also create added stress and distraction for flight operations,” it added.

Hong Kong has had the same quarantining and hospitalization requirements for residents.

The semiautonomous Chinese territory is fighting its biggest surge in coronavirus infections yet, reporting more than 100 new cases in each of the past seven days. Health officials believe the spike was caused by people who had been exempted from quarantine rules to help boost the economy, including airline workers, seafarers and business executives.

Hong Kong planned to tighten testing and quarantine arrangements for air and sea crew members starting on Wednesday.

Reports about Hong Kong’s quarantine facilities have varied. Some camps have been compared to a “cozy university dorm” with new Ikea furniture, but people in others have complained about unsanitary and moldy environments.

On Wednesday, Carrie Lam, the city’s top leader, warned that the sharp rise in infections could lead to a “collapse” of the hospital system. Health officials reported 118 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total tally past 3,000.

Here are other developments from around the globe:

  • Across the Middle East, celebrations for Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice that marks the end of the hajj this weekend, will be tamer this year. About 2.5 million Muslims from around the world performed the pilgrimage to Mecca last year. This year, Saudi Arabia said it would allow just 1,000 pilgrims, all from within the kingdom.

  • The agriculture minister of Zimbabwe, Perrance Shiri, who led a military unit that massacred thousands of civilians during civil strife in the 1980s and helped plot the coup that overthrew the country’s longtime strongman leader, Robert Mugabe, in 2017, has died of coronavirus, according to local media reports. Mr. Shiri was 55, and was thought to have contracted the virus from his driver, who also died recently.

  • The federal government in Australia said this week that it would send a specialist medical team usually deployed to disaster zones to help manage an outbreak in the state of Victoria. The state of Queensland said it would bar entry to travelers from Sydney and surrounding regions in New South Wales after recording new cases from travelers who had passed through the city.

  • Sending patients from hospitals to nursing homes to free up hospital beds early in the pandemic has been described as “reckless” by lawmakers in Britain, the BBC reports. The death toll in British care homes has been a defining scandal of the pandemic for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

  • Drinkers in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, now must make reservations for seats in outdoor patios. The measure was introduced after Dr. Vera Etches, the city’s medical officer of health, expressed concern that a rise in cases among people in their 20s was partly related to long lines outside of bars.

Talking about money is always difficult, but new financial hardships may be hitting those closest to you, making these conversations all the more important. It doesn’t have to be awkward.

Reporting was contributed by Pam Belluck, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Weiyi Cai, Julia Calderone, Benedict Carey, Michael Corkery, Nicholas Fandos, Lauryn Higgins, Danielle Ivory, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Isabella Kwai, Alex Lemonides, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Claire Moses, Jeffrey Moyo, Sharon Otterman, Jeanna Smialek, Mitch Smith, Eileen Sullivan, Neil Vigdor, and Elaine Yu.

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