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After months of equivocation over mandating face coverings to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain announced on Tuesday that people in England would be required to wear masks inside shops and supermarkets.
The reversal, set to take effect next week, caps months of dithering over face coverings in England that many scientists found mystifying — and uneasily reminiscent of delays in imposing a lockdown in March, a decision that cost thousands of lives and has left Britain with one of the highest death rates in the world.
More than 50,000 people in Britain have died from the virus, the third highest total in the world. The majority of the deaths were in England and Mr. Johnson’s government has faced intense criticism for its sometimes laissez-faire approach to public health measures, an attitude that was evident in its reluctance to make face coverings compulsory.
In mandating face masks, England followed the path of other European countries, like Germany and Italy, and other parts of the United Kingdom, like Scotland, which had already mandated face coverings. (Each country in the United Kingdom has power over its own public health measures and has moved at different speeds on matters like face coverings and reopening shops.)
Many scientists had pleaded for months with Mr. Johnson’s government to heed the growing evidence that masks could help stop the spread of the virus. Unlike in the United States, where feelings about masks often fall along political lines, England’s hesitation stemmed in part from a scientific debate among advisers about the masks’ usefulness.
Masks have been mandatory on public transportation in England since mid-June. The government had previously encouraged masks in enclosed spaces, but Mr. Johnson resisted wearing one himself until Friday. As recently as this weekend, the government continued to give contradictory advice, with a prominent minister, Michael Gove, resisting the idea of mandating masks and saying that they were instead a matter of “courtesy and good manners.”
The government has indicated that the police, rather than shop owners, will enforce the new rules, with anyone who refuses facing a fine up to 100 pounds, or $125.
Leaders in the country’s three most populous states acknowledged on Monday that the outbreaks they have been battling for months were on the rise and may require a return of stricter lockdown measures.
California, Florida and Texas have reported a total of at least 892,000 cases since the start of the pandemic, according to a New York Times database. On Monday alone there were at least 30,000 new cases recorded across the three states, 18 percent of the world’s daily total.
There will be strict new orders in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would move to close indoor operations statewide for restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, zoos and card rooms. Bars would be forced to close all operations.
And in 30 of California’s hardest hit counties — where 80 percent of the state’s 39 million residents live — even more restrictions were put in place. In those counties, businesses would be forced to close indoor operations for fitness centers, places of worship, noncritical offices, hair salons and barbershops, and malls.
“We’re going back into modification mode of our original stay-at-home order,” Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, said. “This continues to be a deadly disease.”
In Texas, a top medical adviser to Gov. Greg Abbott said the state may need to roll back its reopening plans and reinstitute an economic lockdown if cases keep rising.
The adviser, Dr. Mark McClellan, is a physician and an economist at Duke University who is a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. He said in an interview that a lockdown in Texas was a “real possibility” that Mr. Abbott may be forced to impose in the next few weeks.
“I don’t think we have much time, before having to go to a more extreme step,” Dr. McClellan said. Already, the rapid spread has forced Mr. Abbott, a Republican, to reverse course by temporarily pausing the state’s reopening, closing bars again and issuing a mask order for most Texans.
In Florida, deaths are trending upward and are at their highest seven-day average level of the pandemic. Florida added more cases on Sunday than any state had recorded — 15,300 — and on Monday it reported more than 12,600 additional cases, its second-highest total recorded for a single day.
“We have a long road ahead,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
As the virus surges in Florida, more big-name Republicans are taking a wait-and-see approach to the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville next month, or deciding to skip it. The Republican Party, which moved the convention to Florida from Charlotte, N.C., after balking at health precautions there, now finds itself locked into a state with a far bigger virus problem, and planning an event whose attendance is waning as the pandemic escalates.
The back-and-forth closings of many small businesses is forcing some to permanently close.
Nearly 66,000 businesses have folded since March 1, according to data from Yelp, which provides a platform for local businesses to advertise their services and has been tracking announcements of closings posted on its site. While it’s not clear how many of the businesses tracked by Yelp are considered small by the federal government’s standards (with 500 or less employees), the company found that businesses were closing permanently at a higher rate than in the previous three months, from June 15 to June 29, the most recent period for which data is available.
And that may be an undercount. Researchers at Harvard estimated that nearly 110,000 small businesses across the country had decided to shut down permanently between early March and early May, based on data collected in weekly surveys by Alignable, a social media network for small-business owners.
In Wichita Falls, Texas, Mick Larkin, the owner of a karaoke club, closed his business permanently when the governor announced a second shuttering of bars to stem the spread of the virus. At the time, Mr. Larkin had purchased $1,000 worth of perishable goods and protective equipment in preparation for reopening.
In other news from around the United States:
New York will require travelers from Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin to quarantine for 14 days. Delaware has been removed from the list of such states, which now number 22, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.Beginning Tuesday, travelers arriving at New York airports will be required to fill out a form with their personal information and planned whereabouts, or face a $2,000 fine.
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia sued the Trump administration on Monday, seeking to block a new rule that would revoke the visas of foreign students who take classes entirely online in the fall.
The pandemic stripped an estimated 5.4 million American workers of their health insurance between February and May, according to a new analysis. The study, to be announced Tuesday by the nonpartisan consumer advocacy group Families USA, found that the estimated increase in uninsured workers was nearly 40 percent higher than the highest previous increase, during the recession of 2008-9, when 3.9 million adults lost insurance.
The United States budget deficit grew to a record $864 billion for June as the federal government pumped money into the economy to prop up workers and businesses affected by the pandemic, the Treasury Department said.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, was back at the White House on Monday meeting with Mark Meadows, the chief of staff — but not President Trump — after a weekend in which some of the president’s advisers undercut him in the press.
Researchers are reporting what they say is the first confirmed case of the virus being transmitted during pregnancy from a woman to her baby.
The baby, born in a Paris hospital in March, developed symptoms of inflammation in his brain, but recovered without treatment, said Dr. Daniele De Luca, who led the research team and is chief of the division of pediatrics and neonatal critical care at Paris Saclay University Hospitals.
The baby, now more than three months old, is “Very much improved, almost clinically normal,” Dr. De Luca said, adding that the mother, who needed oxygen during the delivery, is now completely healthy.
Dr. De Luca said the virus appeared to be transmitted through the placenta of the 23-year-old pregnant woman. Since the pandemic began, there have been isolated cases of newborns testing positive for the virus, but there has not been enough evidence to rule out the possibility that the infants became infected by the mother after they were born, experts said. In this case, Dr. De Luca said, the team was able to test the placenta, amniotic fluid, cord blood and the baby’s blood.
The testing indicated that “the virus reaches the placenta and replicates there,” Dr. De Luca said. It can then be transmitted to a fetus, who “can get infected and have symptoms similar to adult Covid-19 patients.”
Dr. Yoel Sadovsky, executive director of Magee-Womens Research Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, who was not involved in the study, said he thought the claim of placental transmission was “fairly convincing.” He said the relatively high levels of virus found in the placenta and the rising levels of virus in the baby, along with the baby’s symptoms “are all consistent with SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
Still, Dr. Sadovsky said, it is important to note that cases of possible coronavirus transmission in utero appear to be extremely rare. With other viruses, including Zika and rubella, placental infection is much more common, he said. With the coronavirus, “we are trying to understand the opposite: what underlies the relative protection of the fetus and the placenta,” he said.
France celebrated public health workers as heroes during Bastille Day celebrations on Tuesday for their role during the pandemic, a day after granting them 8 billion euros ($9.06 billion) in pay raises.
The traditional Bastille Day parade down the Champs-Élysées in Paris was canceled because of the pandemic. Instead, after a military parade on the Place de la Concorde, President Emmanuel Macron and his government watched from a platform as doctors, nurses and other workers in their white hospital attire were honored.
A military choir sang the Marseillaise, France’s national anthem, and fighter jets streaked the sky with blue, white and red as they flew over. Long minutes of applause followed. Over 800 health workers from around France were also invited to a thank-you reception on Monday night in Paris.
Doctors, nurses, retirement home employees and others were widely praised for their role in the coronavirus crisis, and the French government had promised to address longstanding requests for increased hospital funding, better pay and more staffing.
After seven weeks of intense negotiations with the government, most health care unions and the government struck a deal that gives nurses, aides and other hospital or nursing home workers over $200 in monthly raises, as well as new bonuses for overtime and night work.
The deal also provides 450 million euros for doctors, mostly to increase an existing bonus for those who choose to work only in the public sector. Over all, the deal affects about 1.8 million health workers.
Jean Castex, Mr. Macron’s new prime minister, called the raises a “massive” investment in France’s public health system.
Not all unions signed the deal, and critics said it did not go far enough with structural reforms.
In other news from around the world:
The World Health Organization admonished governments on Monday that it said were sending mixed messages to citizens, and for failing to invest in the hard work necessary to combat the pandemic. “Too many countries are headed in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organization’s director general. “The virus remains public enemy No. 1, but the actions of many governments and people don’t reflect this.”
An Egyptian journalist who was jailed last month on charges of spreading fake news died from the coronavirus on Monday, officials said, amplifying concerns that the pandemic is spreading inside Egypt’s crammed prisons. The reporter, Mohamed Monir, 65, was detained after appearing on Al Jazeera, the Qatari-owned channel that is banned in Egypt. He was released July 2 after falling ill, and last week he posted a video on Facebook saying he was struggling to breathe.
A Roman Catholic bishop in India who has been charged with repeatedly raping a nun has tested positive for the coronavirus, his spokesman said on Tuesday. The news came a day after the court where he is facing trial in the southern state of Kerala issued an arrest warrant for him, saying he was trying to evade the court proceedings. The bishop, Franco Mulakkal, faces maximum of life in prison.
President Emmanuel Macron of France said on Tuesday that he wanted to make mask-wearing mandatory in enclosed public spaces, amid growing worries over a possible second wave of infections. He said the government would draw up the new mask-wearing rules in the coming weeks and suggested that they could be enforced starting in August.
Revenue at Delta Air Lines declined by 88 percent in the second quarter compared to a year earlier, reflecting what its chief executive described as the “truly staggering” toll the pandemic has had on the aviation industry. That decline contributed to a $5.7 billion quarterly loss, compared to last year’s $1.4 billion profit.
“Given the combined effects of the pandemic and associated financial impact on the global economy, we continue to believe that it will be more than two years before we see a sustainable recovery,” Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive, said in a statement.
The company’s quarterly losses were driven by a 93 percent decline in passengers, though they included a more than $2 billion write-down associated with investments in a trio of troubled foreign carriers: Latam Airlines Group, Grupo Aeroméxico and Virgin Atlantic.
More than 45,000 employees have taken temporary voluntary unpaid leave. Last week, United Airlines said it could furlough as many as 36,000 workers when federal stimulus funding for payroll runs out at the end of September. Delta has not yet detailed what impact the expiration of funds may have, though it did warn nearly 2,600 pilots last week that they could be furloughed.
Stocks fell on Tuesday amid a re-tightening of restrictions on businesses and fresh data showing slower-than-expected economic activity. The S&P 500 fell about half a percent in early trading. European markets were broadly lower, most by more than 1 percent and stocks in Asia also fell.
As many U.S. courthouses try to reopen, people who work in the courts are coming down with the virus, forcing the buildings to close again.
In St. Louis, the federal courthouse closed Monday after a security guard tested positive and that person’s contacts had to be quarantined. In the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County, Ga., an employee came down with the virus, shutting the clerk’s office for two weeks. And in Kanawha County, W.Va., the court clerk’s office was shuttered abruptly on Monday after a worker tested positive.
“This emergency makes it unsafe for court personnel, attorneys, parties, and others to be at or near the Kanawha County Circuit Clerk’s office until negative test results are obtained for remaining employees,” the chief judge there said in an emergency order.
In Johnson County, Kan., where new infections are being reported at twice the rate they were two weeks ago, cases among court employees and their acquaintances prompted the chief judge to call off this week’s in-person hearings.
“We must be cautious and responsible to minimize exposure to ourselves, our staff and the public who use the courthouse facilities expecting to be safe,” court officials said in a statement. “We must remember we are still dealing with a highly contagious and unpredictable disease.
Archivists and museum curators in the United States are staring down one of the most daunting challenges of their careers — telling the stories of the pandemic, followed by severe economic collapse and a nationwide social justice movement.
And they are imploring individuals across the country to preserve personal materials for posterity, and for possible inclusion in museum archives. It’s an all-hands-on-deck effort, they say.
Of these three earth-shaking events, Anthea M. Hartig, the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, said, “The confluence is unlike most anything we’ve seen.”
Museums, she said, are grappling “with the need to comprehend multiple pandemics at once.”
Some curators are imploring us to see historical value in the everyday objects of right now.
“Whatever we’re taking to be ordinary within this abnormal moment can, in fact, serve as an extraordinary artifact to our children’s children,” said Tyree Boyd-Pates, an associate curator at the Autry Museum of the American West, which is asking the public to consider submitting materials such as journal entries, selfies and even sign-of-the times social media posts (say, a tweet about someone’s quest for toilet paper — screengrab those, he said).
Some museums have assembled rapid response field collecting teams to identify and secure storytelling objects and materials. Perhaps the most widely-publicized task force, assembled by three Smithsonian museums working in a coalition, dispatched curators to Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., to identify protest signs for eventual possible collection.
As the pandemic continues, many parents, struggling to balance work and child care, are hiring nannies again. But some parents are looking for new qualifications, including whether a caregiver had the virus, is willing to relocate or has teaching experience.
Reporting was contributed by Pam Belluck, Aurelien Breeden, Niraj Chokshi, Reid J. Epstein, Nicholas Fandos, Manny Fernandez, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Emily Flitter, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Michael Gold, Dana Goldstein, Erica L. Green, Shawn Hubler, Miriam Jordan, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Dan Levin, Patricia Mazzei, Constant Méheut, David Montgomery, Benjamin Mueller, Azi Paybarah, Alan Rappeport, Nate Schweber, Michael D. Shear, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Mitch Smith, Eileen Sullivan, Jim Tankersley, Declan Walsh, Noah Weiland and Sameer Yasir.
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