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Fauci sounds alarm at the virus task force briefing while Pence defends rally crowds.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci delivered an urgent “message to the country” on Friday, warning that coronavirus outbreaks largely in the South and West could engulf the country and pleading for social distancing and mask wearing as an obligation to others.
But even as Dr. Fauci invoked “a societal responsibility,” Vice President Mike Pence at the same briefing twice defended President Trump’s crowded campaign rallies and often maskless supporters, praising the exercises of free speech and assembly.
“The freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States,” he said, “and we have an election coming up this fall.”
The back and forth came during the first public briefing of the White House coronavirus task force in nearly two months. Most of the task force members tried to remain positive, even as they acknowledged the surging cases in Florida, Texas, Arizona and elsewhere. But Dr. Fauci tried to sound the alarm.
“You have an individual responsibility to yourself but you have a societal responsibility because if we want to end this outbreak, really end it and then hopefully when a vaccine comes and put as a nail in the coffin, we’ve got to realize that we are part of the process,” Dr. Fauci said, noting that some states are doing better than others.
“If we don’t extinguish the outbreak, sooner or later, even ones that are doing well are going to be vulnerable to the spread,” he said.
Half of new cases are affecting Americans younger than 35, which Mr. Pence described as “good news,” because younger Americans are less likely to fall seriously ill. However, Dr. Fauci has noted that the nation must not be sanguine about infections in young people, because some do suffer serious effects of the virus, and because they can infect the more vulnerable.
Mr. Pence said he and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator, will visit hot spots next week, including Texas and Arizona, to get an “on the ground report.” And he said the task force would have its 26th weekly call with the nation’s governors on Monday.
Even as cases spike around the country, Mr. Pence tried to take a victory lap, asserting, “We slowed the spread, we flattened the curve, we saved lives.”
Dr. Birx said that rising positive test rates in states across the South, including in Texas, Arizona, Florida and Mississippi, were causing significant concern among health officials, and that they had created an “alert system” to track them.
She singled out Texas as a state where higher positive test rates indicated a more complicated kind of spread that could not be explained by higher rates of testing. Texas, she said, was part of a group of states with positive testing rates above 10 percent, a threshold the White House has used to identify areas of particular concern.
“Throughout May, after opening, their test positivity continued to decline as their testing increased. It was in the last two and a half weeks that we saw this inflection of rising test positivity along with rising testing,” she said of Texas, displaying slides on television monitors in an auditorium at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence have explained recent spikes in cases as evidence of more testing, without acknowledging higher positive test rates and hospitalizations across the South.
Florida reports more than 8,900 new daily cases and bans drinking in bars.
As cases rise around the United States, Florida reported more than 8,900 new cases on Friday, after counting more than 10,000 new cases over the previous two days, pushing its total past 120,000.
Florida’s eye-popping number of new cases came as hospitals and local leaders warned about rampant complacency.
“When I go out, I see fewer and fewer people wearing masks and practicing safe, physical distancing,” said Dr. Lawrence Antonucci, chief executive of the Lee Health hospital system in Fort Myers. “The threat of this virus is as real as it’s ever been.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, who has resisted rolling back the economic reopening, said on Friday that had banned drinking in bars because many businesses were not following social distancing and capacity restrictions. Bars can remain open to sell takeout alcohol and food if they have a an appropriate license.
“There was widespread noncompliance, and that led to issues,” he said at a news conference in Fort Myers. “If folks just follow the guidelines, we’re going to be in good shape. When you depart from that, it becomes problematic.”
Mr. DeSantis attributed the spike in cases to more socializing among young people rather than businesses being open.
“Beginning of May, we went to this, you didn’t see any problems,” he said of the reopening, which started on May 4.
Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami said city officials are considering whether to restore even more restrictions, although they may first try to stiffen penalties he said were not harsh enough against businesses that fail to comply with existing rules. He added said that it should be possible to restore some restrictions.
“This is a pendulum,” Mr. Suarez said. “There’s a point where people all coalesce behind that idea if it becomes necessary. We’re in a far more precarious position than we were a month ago.”
But in Palm Beach County, Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said going back to a more stringent phase of reopening might be difficult.
“I don’t think it’s possible,” she said. “We’d get huge pushback from the public in trying to do that.”
Florida’s problems with issuing unemployment benefit checks will make it even more difficult for elected officials to put people out of work again, Ms. McKinlay said. She said that some people have returned to work, if at reduced wages, without having received any unemployment checks.
“Can you imagine if you’re a worker who’s tried to apply for 60, 90 days to get an unemployment check and never got anything, she said. “And we’re going to try to close that again and you haven’t gotten your unemployment from the first time?”
But she emphasized the reopening cannot move forward: “I’m not ready to do anything further at this time until we get these numbers under control.”
Across the state, long lines have returned at testing sites that just a few weeks ago were seeing limited demand. Florida also reported an unusually high number of tests results on Friday — more than 71,000 — according to a daily Department of Health case report, and Mr. DeSantis noted that “we had a big test dump,” but did not go into detail or offer any details.
After pausing its reopening, Texas closes bars and Houston-area officials call for more restrictions.
The governor of Texas and the leader of its largest county moved separately Friday to respond to a sharp surge in cases, with Gov. Greg Abbott ordering bars closed statewide and Judge Lina Hidalgo of Harris County calling for the region to return to stay-at-home conditions to avoid “a catastrophic and unsustainable situation.”
The moves came just a day after Mr. Abbott, a Republican, put the reopening of the nation’s second largest state on pause, while remaining firm that going “backward” and closing down businesses was “the last thing we want to do.”
By Friday, he said, “it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars.”
Under the order, bars were required to close effective 12 p.m. Friday locally, but they can remain open for takeout. Restaurants, which had been operating at 75 percent capacity, must reduce capacity to 50 percent starting Monday.
In Harris County, which is home to Houston and is the third-largest county in the U.S. with nearly 5 million residents, officials had created a four-level threat system to gauge the spread of the virus. On Friday, Ms. Hidalgo, a Democrat, announced that she was setting the county’s threat level to red, the highest level.
Ms. Hidalgo also issued a stay-at-home advisory for the county, urging residents to avoid nonessential personal and business travel. Local officials in Texas can only issue advisories and not orders, because the governor, whose virus orders supersede local ones, previously lifted a statewide stay-at-home mandate.
“Today, we find ourselves careening toward a catastrophic and unsustainable situation,” Ms. Hidalgo said at a news conference, adding that the current hospitalization rate was on pace to overwhelm the hospital system “in the near future.” Since June 13, she said, the number of Covid-19 patients in county hospitals has doubled, including patients in both intensive care and in the general population.
“The curves that show our capacity running out in a matter of days or just a few weeks are conservative estimates,” she said.
Ms. Hidalgo wore a mask during her announcement, and equated the response to the spread of the virus with the response to Hurricane Harvey in 2017. “This pandemic is like an invisible hurricane, where all of a sudden your neighborhood is flooding, your next-door neighbor’s house is under water, and nobody knows why,” she said.
The changes come as the percent of positive tests in Texas exceeded 10 percent, a benchmark that Mr. Abbott had previously set as a warning sign of a more urgent crisis.
Texas Tech University announced Friday that of 197 football student athletes and staff tested, 23 tested positive for Covid-19. The school in Lubbock said that 21 of the 23 people with the virus had recovered and none required hospitalization.
Texas set several single-day records for new cases this week, including a high of 6,584 on Wednesday. Tarrant County, which includes Fort Worth, ordered businesses to require customers and employees to wear face masks. The order, which went into effect on Friday, comes days after a similar policy went into effect in neighboring Dallas County.
New state restrictions send U.S. stocks sliding lower.
Stocks slid on Friday after Texas said it would reinstate some measures to curb the outbreak, a move that added to investors’ concerns that a recent surge in cases could halt the economic recovery.
The S&P 500 was down more than 2 percent, a loss that erased any remaining gains the index had for the month of June.
Though stocks started the day only slightly lower, the selling quickly accelerated after the governor of Texas ordered all bars to close.
“The Texas response to close bars and restaurants is a the real driver of lower markets today, as it portends to a possible second shutdown across the country if we see Covid spikes,” said Doug Rivelli, president of institutional brokerage firm Abel Noser in New York. “And a second shutdown would be devastating to the overall economy.”
Shares of big banks led the declines, dropping a day after the Federal Reserve said it would put a temporary cap on their dividend payments to keep the banks capitalized. Goldman Sachs fell by more than 8 percent. JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America were about 6 percent lower.
The decision to limit payouts is an admission by the Fed that large financial institutions, while far better off than they were in the financial crisis, remain vulnerable to an economic downturn unlike any other in modern history. With virus cases still surging and business activity subdued, it remains unclear when and how robustly the economy will recover.
Still, investors are also seeing signs of recovery in the economic data. Consumer spending data released on Friday by the Commerce Department showed a sharp increase of 8.2 percent in May, as businesses started to reopen.
Officials are discussing a possible shift to ‘pool testing,’ Fauci says.
Dr. Fauci confirmed in a brief interview on Friday morning that officials are having “intense discussions” about a possible shift to “pool testing,” in which samples from many people are tested all at once in an effort to quickly find the infected and isolate them. Dr. Fauci’s comments were first reported by The Washington Post.
If the pooled sample tests negative for the coronavirus, all the individuals who provided samples are considered to be virus-free. But if a certain pool comes back with a positive result, each patient who provided a sample can be tested individually.
The strategy can be particularly effective when the prevalence of infection in a population is less than 30 percent, according to some reports. The method is being used in Germany, Israel and several other countries, as well as in Nebraska and Tennessee.
“When you are dealing with the kind of resurgences that we’re seeing in certain locations — and there is community spread which is clearly going on in a situation in which a substantial proportion of the infected people might be without symptoms — the standard process of identification, isolation and contact tracing does not seem to be adequate,” Dr. Fauci said in the interview.
Dr. Fauci said the task force is also considering ways to beef up contact tracing, not only by telephone but also in person, to help persuade those at risk of infection to isolate themselves.
“A certain number of people don’t want to stop working and get out of circulation,” he said, adding, “You have to get people that the community trusts to get out there, that are on the ground, in person, not making phone calls but actually making sure that you really can isolate them.”
Turkey’s outbreak is spreading beyond urban centers.
The shape of the pandemic appears to be shifting in Turkey, which has the world’s 13th largest known outbreak. Cases have been rising in the country’s east, southeast and center since national restrictions were eased at the beginning of June.
Turkey’s official figures do not break down national figures by region. It is mostly doctors who are reporting cases in the areas that are raising the alarm about the shift. Hospitals outside of the larger cities have limited capacity to cope with case surges.
Turkey has recorded 193,000 infections and just over 5,000 deaths since the pandemic first erupted in March, though, as in many countries, experts suggest the true counts are higher. The government had claimed success in curbing the virus, and when it relaxed an intercity travel ban several weeks ago, many workers left the cities to return to their home provinces.
Since then, daily national counts have increased from around 900 to 1,500, even as Turkey’s Health Minister, Fahrettin Koca, said that infections are declining in the large cities of western Turkey, including Istanbul, where 60 percent of infections have occurred. He has acknowledged that cases have started to rise in central and eastern Turkey.
In Ankara, the Turkish Parliament has suspended work after an infections among staff members and one legislator. And members of the Turkish Medical Association, an independent professional association, said the number of cases is rising rapidly and hospitals are filling up in several eastern cities.
In the southeast, the president of the Diyarbakir Medical Chamber, Mehmet Serif Demir, said that the city had registered 900 patients with Covid-19 in the first two and a half months from the onset of the outbreak in March but that the number had doubled in the last few weeks, reaching more than 2,000.
His counterpart in the neighboring district of Sirnak, Dr. Serdar Kuni, said in an interview that hospitals there “are almost full.” And the town of Cizre, he said, was a “red alarm,” with patients being quarantined in student dorms for lack of hospital space or being taken by their families to bigger cities to try to find care. In other news from around the world:
A Russian ransomware group whose leaders were indicted by the Justice Department in December is retaliating against the U.S. government, many of America’s largest companies and a major news organization, identifying employees working from home during the pandemic and attempting to get inside their networks with malware intended to cripple their operations.
Officials in India’s capital, New Delhi, plan to test all of the city’s 29 million residents over about 10 days, as the nationwide caseload surged toward 500,000 infections and pushed many hospitals to their breaking point. On Thursday, the government reported 16,922 new cases, a single-day record.
Officials in South Africa — where the national caseload of more than 118,000 is the highest on the continent — published new measures to ease restrictions that had been in effect since late March. Among other things, people will be allowed to leave home to go to work, buy food and attend a place of worship in their neighborhoods.
Starting on Saturday in Egypt, restaurants, cafes and mosques will gradually reopen after three months of lockdown that exacted a punishing economic toll on the country’s 100 million citizens. Restaurants will operate at 25 percent capacity and close by 10 p.m., and mosques and churches will stay shut for weekly prayers.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan said that 53 of its personnel had tested positive for the virus since the country recorded its first case in early April. The mission has almost 20,000 peacekeepers from 73 countries who are protecting civilians, assisting humanitarian aid and investigating human rights abuses related to the violence that has engulfed the country since 2013.
In Italy, local health authorities are monitoring a surge in Mondragone, a town of nearly 30,000 some 35 miles north of Naples, that has set off unrest. More than 40 people in a cluster of low-income apartment buildings tested positive this week, mostly Bulgarian farm workers, and violent tensions flared with Italian residents, prompting the interior minister to send an army contingent of 50.
In South Korea, the city of Daegu has filed a lawsuit seeking at least $83 million in damages from a church that was an epicenter of the country’s outbreak. More than 40 percent of the country’s nearly 13,000 coronavirus patients have been members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus or linked to them.
Officials in Canada have traced 18 cases in a single nail salon in Kingston, Ontario, a college and prison town east of Toronto. The salon, which reopened on June 12, has been closed again.
Australia’s largest supermarket chains are reintroducing national limits on toilet paper purchases, after a small surge of virus cases around Melbourne led to panic buying.
The World Health Organization said Friday that it needed $27.9 billion over the next year to speed up the production of a vaccine and to develop other tools in the fight against the virus.
After a judge’s ruling, houses of worship in N.Y.C. can hold services indoors at 50 percent capacity.
In recent weeks, businesses in New York have started gradually reopening amid mass protests against systemic racism. But houses of worship have had to wait until Phase 2 of the state’s reopening, which New York City entered on Monday, to operate at 25 percent capacity.
On Friday, a federal judge in Albany ordered Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to afford religious worshipers the same reopening privileges as others. The decision by Judge Gary L. Sharpe means that houses of worship in New York City can now hold services indoors at 50 percent capacity and can act without restrictions if they hold them outside.
“It’s an application of common sense fairness,” said Christopher Ferrara, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case, two Catholic priests and three ultra-Orthodox Jewish men from Brooklyn. “Especially, when the whole city has erupted into partying and marching.”
Religious leaders in several states have complained that social distancing rules and bans on large-scale gatherings have violated their constitutional rights to worship in public. Courts across the country, including the Supreme Court, have issued rulings permitting governments to impose restrictions religious services so long as houses of worship were not treated differently than any other public or private enterprise.
In his ruling, Judge Sharpe pointed out that across New York, businesses have reopened, noting that Mr. Cuomo even permitted graduation ceremonies of 150 people to begin this weekend. The judge also argued that the governor and the mayor have both encouraged nearly a month of well-attended demonstrations for racial equality, sending “a clear message that mass protests are deserving of preferential treatment.” A group of more than 1,000 people working in health and medicine signed a letter recently that said protests were, in fact, vital to public health.
Richard Azzopardi, a senior aide to Mr. Cuomo, said the governor’s office would review the decision. A spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio declined to comment.
Elsewhere in New York:
Asked Friday when New York City could expect to transition to Phase 4 and beyond, the mayor reiterated the need for a careful approach. Earlier in the week, he said the city was on track to enter Phase 3 on July 6. “We’re going to be smart and we’re going to be cautious,” he said Friday.
The mayor also announced that, from July 4 to Labor Day, he would close up to 40 streets to all but emergency vehicles and pedestrians on Friday evenings and weekend afternoons to create more outdoor seating areas for restaurants.
After more than 100 students at Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y., reported that items in their dorm rooms had gone missing, the university said in a statement on Friday that it appeared that contractors or staff members had stolen the items after having been recruited to clean or ship those belongings to students. “We apologize for the added stress this failure has created,” the university said, adding that it is investigating the missing item reports, tightening access to the campus and installing video cameras.
Infections among Latinos have soared during the recent surge in cases.
When the virus spread to the fields and food processing factories of the Central Valley in California, Graciela Ramirez’s boss announced that line workers afraid of infection could stay home without pay.
A machine operator for a manufacturer of frozen burritos, Ms. Ramirez stayed on the job to keep her $750-a-week wages. Soon her coworkers started to get sick, and then a test for Ms. Ramirez, a 40-year-old mother of four, came back positive.
Ms. Ramirez’s case reflects a grim demographic theme. Infections among Latinos in the United States have far outpaced those among the rest of the population during the country’s surge in recent weeks, a testament to the makeup of the nation’s essential work force.
In the past two weeks, counties across the country where at least a quarter of the population is Latino have recorded an increase of 32 percent in new cases, compared with a 15 percent increase for all other counties, a Times analysis shows.
The analysis affirms broad national tallies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which show that Latinos make up 34 percent of cases nationwide, a much higher proportion than the group’s 18 percent share of the population.
Detailed virus data broken down by ethnicity is incomplete in many places, making it difficult to know why Latinos have been infected at higher rates. But counties with a high proportion of Latinos tend to have attributes that reflect a vulnerability during the recent surge: crowded households, younger populations and hotter weather that drives people indoors, said Jed Kolko, a researcher and chief economist at Indeed.com, a job search website.
Elsewhere in the United States:
California, where stay-at-home orders were imposed particularly early in the pandemic, surpassed 200,000 total cases on Thursday, as its number of infections doubled over the past month. That is the second highest total for any state, though California’s per capita infection rate remains far lower than New York’s.
P.G.A. tour officials sent golfers a health tracking device and expanded testing protocols after eight golfers pulled out of the Traveler’s Championship because of some positive tests that have emerged.
In Illinois, where Gov. J.B. Pritzker described a “trajectory of relative success,” museums, zoos and bowling alleys were set to reopen on Friday, along with indoor dining at restaurants.
“I’m not afraid to protect the people of Illinois by moving a region back to an earlier phase if we see a surge,” Mr. Pritzker said. “Ours will not be one of the states that takes no action in response to a return to a peak.”
Most of the 121 cruise ships that entered U.S. waters after March 1 had cases on board, according to newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court late Thursday to overturn the Affordable Care Act — a move that could bring a permanent end to the health insurance program known as Obamacare and wipe out coverage for as many as 23 million Americans.
Morehouse, one of the country’s most celebrated historically black colleges, said Friday that it had canceled its fall sports of football and cross country, making it one of the first to publicly abandon its football season outright, though a handful of other schools have canceled games.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, suggested that, if he were president, he “would insist that everybody out in public be wearing that mask,” telling the CBS Pittsburgh affiliate on Thursday that “these masks make a gigantic difference.”
Online learning in U.S. schools is here to stay for some students this fall.
On Thursday, the Seattle Public Schools announced that its goal was to provide at least two days of in-person instruction per week to elementary students and one day per week to middle and high school students. Children with disabilities, those learning English and those living in poverty would be the priorities for receiving additional in-school support.
In the Washington suburb of Fairfax County, Va., students will have either four days of remote learning per week, with the promise of live teaching over video, or an in-person schedule of at least two days per week, with online learning the rest of the time.
In New Jersey, the new school year will likely look different in each district, with some expected to resume in-person learning, the governor said on Friday. School staff will be required to wear masks, and students will be encouraged to do so.
Many of the nation’s largest school districts have yet to announce concrete reopening plans. Some states, like California, Connecticut and Massachusetts, have issued guidelines, but district policymakers will have the final say.
On Friday, New York City’s mayor described a list of considerations that would determine how many children can be in a classroom in the fall and said staggered schedules and online learning would be part of any plan.
Many districts are surveying parents to better understand their comfort level with reopening school buildings. The Marietta City Schools in Georgia, for example, announced Thursday that families could choose between regular in-person schooling, beginning Aug. 4, and full-time online instruction. Temperature checks will be required for those returning to school.
Battered by a heat wave and fed up by lockdowns, many Britons abandon caution.
They descended by the tens of thousands on southern beaches and jammed into city parks. They cavorted by the hundreds in swamps and streams. They attacked police officers who tried to disperse illegal block parties. And hundreds became stuck in mud flats while trying to reach the sea at low tide.
By Friday, the third sweltering day in a row in a country where many homes lack air conditioning, the message was abundantly clear: Many Britons are done with the lockdown.
“It’s like an avalanche of people everywhere,” said Rachel Cox of western London, who said she had been woken up on Thursday night by the sound of partygoers pelting police officers with various objects. “It’s as if the last three months of fear and caution over the coronavirus vanished overnight.”
Under the government’s new guidance, groups of up to six people are allowed to meet outdoors. But each night, hundreds of people have been gathering on Portobello Road in London’s Notting Hill district for group drinks, block parties, music events and raves.
Police patrols will increase over the weekend and all unauthorized gatherings will be dispersed, London’s police chief, Cressida Dick, said on Friday.
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, threatened to close down the country’s beaches if social distancing measures continued to be violated.
On Friday, the weather cooled a bit, but London’s parks were still full of large groups frolicking, sunbathing and exercising.
“Thousands of people should not be sitting on top of each other at the beach, and the parks should not be this full during a pandemic,” said Anton Bregman as he meandered through London’s Hyde Park on roller skates.
Rediscover personal ways to communicate.
Writing letters and journal entries has helped people connect meaningfully and find comfort during this period of isolation, grief and unrest. Here are some tips on doing it well.
Reporting was contributed by Ian Austen, Brooks Barnes, Ronen Bergman, Julie Bosman, Damien Cave, Choe Sang-Hun, Emily Cochrane, Abdi Latif Dahir, Melissa Eddy, Marie Fazio, Manny Fernandez, Alan Feuer, Jacey Fortin, Thomas Fuller, Carlotta Gall, Dana Goldstein, J. David Goodman, Katie Glueck, Ben Hubbard, Shawn Hubler, Mike Ives, Juliette Love, Apoorva Mandavilli, Mike Mason, Patricia Mazzei, Jesse McKinley, Donald G. McNeil Jr, Sarah Mervosh, Zachary Montague, Elian Peltier, Nicole Perlroth, Alan Rappeport, Frances Robles, Amanda Rosa, David E. Sanger, Nelson D. Schwartz, Eliza Shapiro, Anjali Singhvi, Daniel E. Slotnik, Mitch Smith, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan, David Waldstein, Declan Walsh, Noah Weiland, David Yaffe-Bellany, Sameer Yasir and Ceylan Yeginsu.
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