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Two days after U.S. deaths surpassed 150,000, three familiar federal health officials, including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, will return to Capitol Hill to testify in front of a new audience: the House’s special select committee investigating the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic.
Dr. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, will be joined on Friday morning by Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the assistant secretary for health and the administration’s point person on coronavirus testing.
The hearing begins at 9 a.m. and will be streamed online by The New York Times.
The three witnesses last testified a month ago before lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Senate, when the subject was school reopenings.
But the Democrat-led House select committee has had a hard time securing Dr. Fauci and his colleagues as witnesses. The Trump administration initially refused to make them available to the panel before relenting to the demands of Democrats.
The hearing is taking place as states across the country are reimposing limits amid a resurgence of cases — a turn of events reflected in the title lawmakers gave the hearing: “The Urgent Need for a National Plan to Contain the Coronavirus.”
The session is expected to center on three overlapping subjects: testing, vaccines and the push in some quarters to send children back to school. On Thursday, the president, meeting with reporters, again stressed his desire for students to return to the classroom.
With President Trump clearly intent on announcing promising vaccine news, it has fallen to Dr. Fauci to offer reassurances that the federal government is moving quickly but safely.
Dr. Redfield will most likely be asked about the C.D.C.’s shift on reopening schools. The agency’s recently published guidelines tilt strongly toward reopening, listing numerous benefits of in-person education and playing down the potential health risks.
For Admiral Giroir. the questions are likely to focus on the delays in test results across the South, where local health officials have complained of excruciating wait times.
The coronavirus panel was established this spring by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in large part to put a check on how the federal government is spending the trillions of dollars in emergency aid. But its mandate has broadened to include a panoply of issues, including racial disparities in the pandemic and nursing home outbreaks.
The panel includes some of the most fiery members of the House, including Representative Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who has been a regular skeptic of Dr. Fauci and public health mandates, including mask wearing.
A number of prominent House Democrats who sit on the panel are also not known for shying away from conflict, including the chairman of the committee, Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, and Representative Maxine Waters of California.
The hearing will take place one day after Florida and Arizona broke their single-day records for deaths from the virus, reporting 253 and 158, respectively, on Thursday. Mississippi also set a record, with 48 deaths. That state and three others — Missouri, Hawaii and Ohio — set single-day records for new cases.
The coronavirus pandemic’s unrelenting toll came into sharper focus on Thursday as the United States announced that it had suffered its worst economic contraction on record this spring, several states reported record numbers of deaths as the nation mourned 150,000 and an impasse in Washington threatened to leave millions of jobless Americans facing the loss of federal aid.
As the Senate continued its stalemate ahead of Friday’s expiration of the weekly $600 in federal jobless aid, President Trump, whose unsteady handling of the virus has left him trailing in the polls, floated the idea of changing the date of the presidential election — which he has no authority to do, and which instantly drew rare rebukes from top Republicans.
The president, who has been pushing for schools across the country to reopen for in-person instruction and calling on more governors to reopen their states even as federal data shows serious outbreaks across many states, broached the idea on Twitter, writing, “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
And as the U.S. surpassed 150,000 deaths, the highest toll of any nation in the world, Arizona, California, Florida and Mississippi all set records this week for the most deaths they have reported in a single day. Herman Cain, the businessman who made a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, died of the virus.
Arizona reported 158 new deaths on Thursday, a single-day record, according to a New York Times database. Florida set death records three days in a row this week, hitting its latest record, 253, on Thursday. And California saw back-to-back records, with 172 deaths reported on Tuesday and 192 on Wednesday.
In recent days the number of new cases in those states have stopped spiking, but the virus continues to spread widely and infect thousands of people. On average, in Arizona, there have been about 2,500 new cases a day; in California, more than 9,000 new cases a day; and more than 10,000 a day in Florida, which leads the country with the most new cases per 100,000 in the past week, according to the Times database.
Top Democrats on Thursday rejected the Trump administration’s proposal for a short-term agreement to address the looming expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits, administration officials said.
Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, spent nearly two hours in the Capitol Hill suite of Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, along with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, where the two Democrats “made clear they don’t want to do that,” Mr. Mnuchin said afterward.
“Our proposals were not received warmly,” Mr. Meadows said afterward, later adding, “I wouldn’t say that optimism is the word I would characterize in negotiations.”
Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer said they had insisted that any agreement needed to be broad and comprehensive. “We just don’t think they understand the gravity of the problem,” Mr. Schumer told reporters.
“I think they understand that we have to have a bill,” Ms. Pelosi added, “but they just don’t realize how big it has to be.”
With negotiations over the broader recovery package stalled, Senate Republicans tried to pass the stand-alone bill, which would have continued the extra jobless aid payments through the end of the year, but slash them to $200 a week from $600.
Democrats blocked the effort and instead tried to pass the $3 trillion stimulus measure the House approved in May, which includes an extension of the full $600 benefit through January.
Republicans blocked that legislation, dismissing it as too costly and too broad in scope.
The group of negotiators plan to continue talks on Friday, either by phone or in person.
Cases in New Jersey, which recently plunged to their lowest levels since the pandemic began, are rising again.
Just a week ago, New Jersey recorded its lowest seven-day average of new daily cases — 224 — since the numbers peaked in the state in early April, according to a database maintained by The New York Times. But cases have been rising since then, and the state has averaged 416 cases per day over the past week.
The increase, which came after the state moved to ease a number of restrictions, has worried elected leaders and public health officials, who say that young people who are enjoying summer parties are not taking enough precautions.
A party that dozens of Long Beach Island lifeguards attended has been linked to 35 cases of the virus, according to the state’s health commissioner. A house party in Middletown, N.J., has been blamed for 65 new cases; 52 of the people infected were between the ages of 15 and 19, Gov. Philip D. Murphy said. Judith M. Persichilli, the state health commissioner, said Wednesday that 15 Rutgers football players had tested positive.
And a house party in Jackson, N.J., about 65 miles south of Manhattan, drew more than 700 people on Sunday night, leading the police to issue tickets to its organizers. More than 100 cars were parked outside, and it took the police more than five hours to clear the scene.
Officials with the governor’s office noted that despite the uptick, New Jersey continues to be among the six states with the fewest new daily infections per 100,000 residents. Some of the increase in the past week also can be linked to a lag in testing results, which they said are sometimes delivered in large bulk batches, skewing the daily case counts.
Perry N. Halkitis, an epidemiologist and dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health, agreed the delay in testing results muddies the daily data report. But he said the seven-day trend is alarming.
“It’s time for us to say, ‘Indicators are bad,’” Professor Halkitis said. “People are just gathering with no thought in mind.”
He added, “It’s almost like we have to re-pause, right now, before it gets too late.”
Here’s what else is happening around the United States:
Wisconsin’s governor announced on Thursday that he will require people to wear face coverings indoors starting Saturday and strongly recommends that people wear them outdoors and when they cannot social distance.
Public schools in Washington, D.C., will all rely on remote teaching until Nov. 6, the mayor said on Thursday. The Washington Teachers’ Union had petitioned the mayor to issue the order, as cases in the Washington metropolitan region continued to tick upward.
An experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson protected monkeys from infection in a new study.
The “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston revealed on Thursday that he had recovered from the coronavirus and shared a video of himself donating plasma, which he said had virus antibodies that could possibly help others.
Several states broke records on Thursday for the most cases they have reported in a single day: Mississippi with 1,775 cases; Missouri with more than 1,600 cases; and Ohio with 1,733 cases.
Education officials in New York City, one of the few large districts in the country that are still planning to open schools in the fall, laid out a plan on Thursday for what would happen in the seemingly inevitable event that cases of the coronavirus are confirmed in a classroom.
The protocol means it is likely that at many of the city’s 1,800 schools, individual classrooms or even entire buildings will be closed at points during the school year. Although the city’s test positivity rate and caseload are relatively low, many public health experts expect those numbers to tick up this fall, whether or not schools reopen.
Officials said confirmed infections among students, teachers and staff members would be treated the same. One or two confirmed cases in a single classroom would require those classes to close for 14 days; all students and staff members in that classroom would be ordered to self-quarantine, and students would learn remotely. The rest of the school would continue to operate.
But if two or more people in different classrooms in the same school tested positive, the entire building would close while disease detectives from the city’s Department of Health were brought in to investigate the cases, which could take several days. Depending on the results of the investigation, the building could reopen, but the classrooms with positive cases would remain closed for 14 days.
If disease detectives were not able to find a link between two or more confirmed cases in a building, including exposure to the virus outside of school, the entire building would remain shuttered for two weeks.
New York City is currently planning to reopen its schools on a hybrid model starting Sept. 10, with students reporting to classrooms one to three days a week to allow for social distancing. All staff members will be asked to take coronavirus tests before the start of school, with expedited results.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration faced enormous criticism for waiting until mid-March to close schools, after the virus had already begun to spread significantly throughout the city, which soon became a global center of the crisis. Throughout March, when a student or staff member tested positive, the school would automatically close for 24 hours for cleaning, a protocol that many parents and teachers said was too lax.
Other states, including California, have announced less stringent policies for how to manage positive cases in schools. But most California school districts will begin the academic year exclusively online because of the high numbers of cases in their communities.
Herman Cain, who made a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2012 race and was a recent contender for a top Federal Reserve job, died after being hospitalized with the coronavirus, according to an announcement posted to his personal website and on his verified social media accounts.
Mr. Cain, 74, was the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza. Mr. Trump said in 2019 that he was planning to nominate him to the Federal Reserve Board, but Mr. Cain withdrew his name as he battled old accusations of sexual harassment, the same ones that had halted his earlier presidential campaign.
“We knew when he was first hospitalized with Covid-19 that this was going to be a rough fight,” Dan Calabrese, editor of HermanCain.com, wrote on the website. “Although he was basically pretty healthy in recent years, he was still in a high-risk group because of his history with cancer.”
In 2018, Mr. Cain formed the America Fighting Back political action committee, which had a mission of publicly rebutting what he believes is misinformation about Mr. Trump.
He was admitted to a hospital with the coronavirus at the beginning of July. Mr. Cain attended Mr. Trump’s indoor rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 20. A few hours before the event, the Trump campaign disclosed that six staff members who had been working on the rally had tested positive during a routine screening. Two members of the Secret Service also tested positive there, people familiar with the matter said.
In a video on his website, Mr. Cain described the rally and said he had worn a mask while in groups of people. But he also posted photographs of himself on social media that showed him without a mask and surrounded by people in the arena.
The statement on Mr. Cain’s Twitter account in early July announcing he had tested positive said that there was “no way of knowing for sure how or where Mr. Cain contracted the coronavirus.”
Mr. Cain, who was an official surrogate for Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, wrote an op-ed after the rally in which he defended the event, writing, “The media worked very hard to scare people out of attending the Trump campaign rally last Saturday night in Tulsa.”
On July 8, the top health official in Tulsa said that a surge in cases in and around Tulsa was probably connected to Mr. Trump’s campaign rally.
Tabaski, the Senegalese version of Eid al-Adha, is the biggest religious celebration of the year in a country that is about 95 percent Muslim. Properly celebrating it requires a sacrificial sheep.
But government-imposed measures to contain the coronavirus — borders closing, markets shuttering and travel severely restricted — have been financially devastating for many people. The sheep, a purchase of great cultural and social significance, is beyond reach for many this year.
The sheep’s role in the Tabaski celebration is far more central than just providing a meal. Eid al-Adha honors the story of Ibrahim, whom God asked to sacrifice his cherished son, Ismail, but then told him at the last minute he could swap in a ram.
This year, in an effort to alleviate worries about catching the virus at in-person markets, the livestock ministry set up a Tinder-like digital matchmaking site where sellers could post appealing photos of their sheep. Buyers were able to swipe left or right through hundreds of sheep profiles, and then arrange a deal for the preferred animal, skipping hours of risky face-to-face haggling.
But even if a would-be buyer finds a sheep, it may not be affordable. A $140 sheep last year now costs more than $170, with the hike attributable to the ripple effects of virus restrictions.
About half of Senegal’s Tabaski sheep come from neighboring Mali and Mauritania. Until late June, all the herds were stuck on the other side of the border. And even though the bovid border has been reopened, the expected surge of sheep has not materialized. One reason is that sheep now must be transported only in trucks, and many drivers are charging twice as much as usual to move the animals.
Mr. Trump said Thursday that a renewed economic shutdown to contain the virus is “not a viable option” for responding to the recent surge in case numbers nationwide.
“The primary purpose of a shutdown was to ‘flatten the curve,’” to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and to buy time for new treatments and therapies, Mr. Trump said in a briefing at the White House.
“And we’ve done that,” he said.
Mr. Trump allowed that “a small shutdown of certain areas” might be helpful for short periods. A federal report issued this week urged state officials to impose more restrictions to try to curb the spread in 21 states considered to be in the “red zone” of outbreaks.
“A blanket shutdown to achieve a temporary reduction in cases is certainly not a viable long-term strategy for any country,” said Mr. Trump, who noted that several U.S. states that once appeared to have contained the virus, including California, have recently seen a steep rise in cases.
Mr. Trump continued to press for schools to reopen, claiming that “young people are almost immune” to the virus.
While it is true that only a very small percentage of children have shown symptoms and tested positive for the virus, there is a growing body of evidence that children can spread the virus to others.
A large study from South Korea found that children and teenagers between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the virus at least as well as adults do, and that while children younger than 10 transmit to others much less often than adults do, the risk is not zero.
And a small study published on Thursday found that infected children may have at least as much of the virus in their noses and throats as infected adults, and that children younger than 5 may host up to 100 times as much of the virus in the upper respiratory tract as adults.
That does not necessarily mean that children are passing the virus to others. Still, the findings should factor into the debate over reopening schools, several experts said.
“I’ve heard lots of people saying, ‘Well, kids aren’t susceptible, kids don’t get infected.’ And this clearly shows that’s not true,” said Stacey Schultz-Cherry, a virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Michelle Bolsonaro, the wife of President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, tested positive on Thursday, just days after Mr. Bolsonaro said he had been cured.
Mrs. Bolsonaro is the latest prominent figure in Brasília to get the virus, which her husband has dismissed as a “measly flu.”
The president’s office disclosed her illness a day after Brazil reported a record number of virus deaths. The government nevertheless decided to reopen its borders to foreigners, doing away with restrictions that had been in place since March. A decree published on Wednesday night said visitors were now allowed to fly to Brazil as long as they could prove that they were covered by health insurance for the duration of their trip.
Other countries in Latin America, like Argentina and Colombia — which are reporting far fewer cases than Brazil — are keeping their borders closed to international flights.
Travelers crossing the border through land and sea are still barred, with some exceptions, and most incoming foreigners are still are not allowed at international airports in five of Brazil’s 27 states. The government didn’t offer an explanation for its decision.
Brazil has now reported more than 90,000 deaths and 2.5 million cases, the highest figures after the United States.
Here are other developments from around the globe:
Amid a steady rise in cases and deaths in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte announced the extension of virus restrictions in Manila until mid-August. A spokesman for Mr. Duterte said that in addition to wearing face masks in public, face shields would now be mandatory for Manila residents. Mr. Duterte said that he expects China to develop a vaccine by December, and that he would distribute a vaccine for free.
President Adama Barrow of Gambia went into isolation after the vice president, Isatou Touray, tested positive for the virus, Reuters reported.
The Hong Kong government said on Thursday that it would again allow restaurant dining until 6 p.m., only a day after banning dine-in arrangements for breakfast and lunch. The measure had quickly triggered a backlash, with social media filled with images of people eating outside in the rain and summer heat. Hong Kong is seeing its most severe surge in infections, with more than 100 new cases daily for the past week.
As cases spiked in Tokyo, with another daily high on Thursday of 367 new infections, Gov. Yuriko Koike requested that karaoke venues and bars and restaurants serving alcohol close by 10 p.m. from Aug. 3 through the end of the month. Businesses that cooperate will be offered 200,000 yen, or about $1,900. The initiative comes as the country’s health ministry announced a record 1,264 new cases.
Quarantines are the latest way to silence dissent in China, according to human rights activists. Activists in quarantine are often detained without their families’ knowledge, according to Frances Eve, deputy director of research at Chinese Human Rights Defenders. “This treatment is de facto enforced disappearance,” she said.
Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 in Britain will now have to isolate for 10 days instead of seven, as the authorities said they may take new measures to hold off a second wave of infections that has started to appear across Europe.
Economic output fell at its fastest pace on record in spring as businesses across the United States closed and kept millions shut in their homes for weeks.
Gross domestic product — the broadest measure of goods and services produced — fell 9.5 percent in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday. On an annualized basis, G.D.P. fell at a rate of 32.9 percent.
The collapse was unprecedented in its speed and breathtaking in its severity. By comparison, economic output fell 4 percent during the entirety of the Great Recession a decade ago — and took 18 months to sink that far. The only possible comparisons in modern American history came during the Great Depression and the demobilization after World War II, both of which occurred before the advent of modern economic statistics.
What’s more, fears are growing that after rebounding strongly in May and June, the economy has run out of steam, with many states closing businesses again after coronavirus cases surged.
Also on Thursday, the government reported that 1.43 million people filed new claims for state unemployment benefits.
It was the 19th straight week that the tally exceeded a million, an unheard-of figure before the coronavirus pandemic.
Key Data of the day
As Europe became the center of the pandemic in the late winter and early spring, many countries implemented nationwide lockdowns, which was already killing thousands. Most of the excess deaths were in four big, hard-hit countries — Britain, Italy, Spain and France.
In their worst weeks, Belgium, England, France and Spain all had more than twice as many deaths than was usual for the time of year.
England had the second-highest peak mortality after Spain in Europe, and “the longest continuous period of excess mortality,” according to a report published by Britain’s Office for National Statistics on Wednesday. Britain had registered over 55,000 confirmed deaths as of mid-July, and is the worst-hit country in Europe.
Although European countries encountered wide discrepancies in their excess deaths, most saw a rise over the course of two deadly weeks, from March 30 to April 12. During the last week of March, the deadliest across Europe with 33,000 excess deaths, Spain alone registered over 12,500 more deaths than would be expected when compared with data from 2016 to 2019, a 155 percent increase, and Italy over 6,500, according to data provided by the French national statistics agency, INSEE. The following week, Belgium recorded over 2,000 excess deaths, an increase of nearly 110 percent compared with data from previous years.
The virus has depleted nursing homes across the continent, infected thousands of health care workers, and revealed how some of the most stable countries in the world were unprepared for a pandemic, although several national security agencies had defined it as one of the most critical threats that their countries could face.
The surge in deaths was highest among elderly people, according to the statistics provided by Britain and France, with northern Italy and central Spain the hardest-hit areas across the continent.
If you’re dealing with uncertainty about school options this fall, here are some ideas to consider.
Reporting was contributed by Manuela Andreoni, Maggie Astor, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Luke Broadwater, Julia Calderone, Benedict Carey, Ben Casselman, Emily Cochrane, Michael Cooper, Reid J. Epstein, Marie Fazio, Jim Glanz, Denise Grady, Annie Karni, Ernesto Londoño, Apoorva Mandavilli, Zach Montague, Julia O’Malley, Elian Peltier, Austin Ramzy, Motoko Rich, Jeanna Smialek, Nelson D. Schwartz, Mitch Smith, Eliza Shapiro, Eileen Sullivan, Tracey Tully, Neil Vigdor, Noah Weiland and Carl Zimmer.
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