Coronavirus Live Updates: In U.S., a Stark Human Toll; Churches Face Tough Choices

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The U.S. may bar travel from Brazil today, Trump’s national security adviser says.

President Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, said the Trump administration is likely later today to ban travel into the United States from Brazil, where the Covid-19 pandemic has been spiking, using the same authority earlier used to halt certain travel from China and Europe.

“We hope that will be temporary,” Mr. O’Brien said, speaking on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” “Because of the situation in Brazil, we are going to take every step necessary to protect the American people.”

When other countries began taking drastic measures to curb the spread of the virus in February and March, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, played down the risks and encouraged public gatherings. In early March, he visited Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida club, with three aides who later tested positive for coronavirus, setting off alarm throughout the White House.

Countries around the world are struggling with the question of reopening air travel and tourism, a crucial economic sector for many.

Officials in Greece have suggested an “air bridge” with other nations that have minor outbreaks. International flights to Athens are to resume June 15, and to the country’s other airports on July 1. But tourists will be admitted only if their home countries meet certain “epidemiological criteria,” officials said.

Spain is going in the other direction. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced that the country would allow international visitors in July, hoping to salvage the summer for a tourism industry that accounted for 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic output last year, when Spain received almost 84 million visitors.

Houses of worship face tough choices as Trump pushes for them to reopen.

Congregations across the U.S. were still praying largely over Facebook or YouTube on Sunday, or were taking part in services from their cars in the church parking lot.

But pastors have been sharing plans for returning to in-person services in the weeks ahead. And religious leaders across the country are navigating the tension between two competing priorities: the desire to worship together and the need to do so safely.

“Some governors have deemed the liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s not right. So I am correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential.”

Minnesota announced on Saturday that it would lift restrictions and allow houses of worship to open at 25 percent capacity, if they follow public health guidelines. Some Catholic and Lutheran leaders had said they would resume in-person worship next week in defiance of Gov. Tim Walz’s previous order limiting gatherings.

Houses of worship can already open legally in more than half the states, but many had decided to remain closed while working out their next steps. Many that are considering opening for in-person worship soon have been mapping out new seating arrangements or foot traffic flows.

The idea of reopening is an especially difficult issue for African-American churches, as the coronavirus has been infecting and killing black people at disproportionally high rates.

Leaders of the Church of God in Christ, a historically black denomination with about six million members worldwide, are urging pastors to not begin to reopen until at least July. Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., the church’s presiding bishop, found Mr. Trump’s push on Friday to reopen “frightening.”

“The moral safe choice is to wait,” Bishop Blake said. “We don’t think now is the time, and neither do the scientists and doctors we consult with.”

In Europe, more infections emerge as worshipers return.

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In Germany, which for weeks now has allowed religious services, 40 churchgoers became infected with the coronavirus during a service at a Baptist church in Frankfurt, the health authorities said.

Six parishioners were hospitalized, according to Wladimir Pritzkau, a leader of the parish.

“We followed all the rules,” Mr. Pritzkau told the German news agency DPA, noting that the church did not know how many people were at the service on May 10.

The state of Hesse, where the infections occurred, has been allowing church services under special guidelines, including asking worshipers to keep five feet apart and requiring churches to have disinfectant readily available. Now, the church has since moved its weekend services, which are held in German and Russian, back online.

France on Sunday took tentative steps to reopen churches, mosques and synagogues. Officials were nudged by a legal challenge to a blanket ban on public worship that was not set to be lifted until the end of May.

The Council of State, France’s highest administrative court, ordered the government last Monday to reopen churches, mosques and synagogues within eight days, calling worship a fundamental freedom that could be reconciled with public health measures.

“It was a nice surprise,” said the Rev. Antoine De Folleville, who was preparing to offer his first public Mass in 10 weeks. “It’s a great joy to finally be reunited with our parishioners.”

There was a sense of both joy and anxiety in the church of St.-Germain-des-Prés in Paris, where Father De Folleville is the parish priest, as Roman Catholic worshipers returned for the first time in two months.

“How should Communion be given?” a woman asked. “With pliers?”

“No, we’ll wash our hands with alcoholic gel right before taking up the host,” said Father De Folleville, who was making final preparations.

In Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher reopened after a two-month lockdown. On the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians crowded into streets early Sunday in defiance of coronavirus restrictions, including many who demanded that the Palestinian authorities reopen mosques for Eid al-Fitr, the festival for the conclusion of the fasting month of Ramadan.

“The people want holiday prayers,” demonstrators chanted in front of the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

The devastating toll of the virus nears 100,000 in the U.S. Our front page names some of the lost.

Each one is more than a name. Each one had a unique life story. Each one succumbed to the coronavirus pandemic that swept across the globe, devastating families and industries and dealing a crippling blow to the world’s economy.

The death toll is approaching a grim marker: “One. Hundred. Thousand,” as our correspondent Dan Barry writes:

“A number is an imperfect measure when applied to the human condition. A number provides an answer to how many, but it can never convey the individual arcs of life, the 100,000 ways of greeting the morning and saying good night.

The immensity of such a sudden toll taxes our ability to comprehend, to understand that each number adding up to 100,000 represents someone among us just yesterday. Who was the 1,233rd person to die? The 27,587th? The 98,431st?

Why has this happened in the United States of 2020? Why has the virus claimed a disproportionately large number of black and Latino victims? Why were nursing homes so devastated? These questions of why and how and whom will be asked for decades to come.”

As the number of U.S. cases (not fatalities, as an earlier post said) from Covid-19 passed 1.6 million, The New York Times sought to memorialize the tens of thousands who died of the coronavirus in the United States. The result: a print front page like no other, and an interactive digital counterpart, to frame the incalculable loss with a presentation of obituaries and death notices from newspapers around the country.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, played golf at his members-only club in Virginia, his first game since shutdowns began, as states reopened businesses, restaurants and other activities. In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz said he would allow houses of worship to open this week. In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that gatherings of up to 10 people would be allowed, provided that social-distancing protocols were followed.

Other governors — including Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey — were to appear on the Sunday talk shows.

A new study from Northern California found that, compared with white or Hispanic patients, black patients seeking care have more advanced cases of Covid-19. The finding suggested that black patients may have had limited access to medical care or that they postponed seeking help until later in the course of their illness, when the disease was more advanced.

As Americans gather on a holiday weekend, governors and officials stress continued safety measures.

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Governors and Trump administration officials appearing on the Sunday talk shows stressed the need for caution as the country gingerly tries to restart something resembling normal life.

Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, a Democrat, said it was too early to tell whether residents were following social distancing guidelines after beaches were reopened. The holiday weekend started with heavy rain, and temperatures hovered in the 50s along the Jersey Shore.

“For the most part, folks have been extraordinary in doing the right thing in the state now, for going on two and a half-plus months,” Governor Murphy said on the CNN program “State of the Union.” “And I fully expect that will continue on the beaches, even when Mother Nature begins to cooperate with good weather.”

He stressed the need for federal aid to shore up his depleted state budget and prevent layoffs of essential workers, including police officers, health care workers and teachers.

Administration officials were in talks with lawmakers about another round of economic assistance to hard-hit individuals, businesses and possibly state and local governments, the White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said on the same program.

Mr. Hassett touted the effectiveness of stimulus payments to many Americans, and said the economy may now be improving fast enough for lawmakers to decide against a second round of payments, and instead turn to tax cuts — including one that would largely benefit high-earning investors.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican who never issued a full stay-at-home order, likened efforts to reopen while maintaining social distancing to wearing a seatbelt.

“You can be in an automobile, and it’s very risky, but you manage the risk by wearing a seatbelt,” he said in an interview with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “At first, everyone resisted wearing a seatbelt and said, ‘Well, that’s a matter of freedom.’ Well, it is, but it’s also a matter of safety.”

Mr. Hutchinson said a recent spike in reported cases in his state was a product of increased testing, and that many of the cases were among workers in the food industry. He said the state was watching to see whether lifting restrictions was causing an increase in cases, “and our answer is that we don’t see a connection there.”

“This is not about whether you’re liberal or conservative, left or right, Republican or Democrat,” Mr. DeWine said on “Meet the Press” on NBC. “We wear the masks not to protect yourself so much as to protect others. This is one time when we truly are all in this together. What we do directly impacts others.”

“We know it’s important for people to socially interact, but we also know it’s important that we have to have masks on if we’re less than six feet, and that we have to maintain that six feet.”

Florida braces for a hurricane season complicated by fears of contagion.

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Consider this scenario: It’s deep into the summer and a powerful hurricane looms off the Florida coast, threatening enormous destruction and widespread blackouts. In normal times, that would prompt evacuation orders for millions of coastal residents.

But in the middle of a pandemic, the most consequential disaster decisions become complicated by fears of contagion.

Temporarily moving in with a relative might expose older family members to the coronavirus. Friends might be wary of letting in evacuees from outside their quarantine bubble. People who could otherwise book a flight out of town may worry about getting infected on a plane. And the more than 1.5 million Floridians who are out of work could be unable to afford gas or a motel room.

What is left are emergency shelters, where hundreds of people crowd into high school gymnasiums, share public bathrooms and line up for buffet-style meals.

This is the planning challenge that emergency managers across the Southeast face ahead of June 1, the start of a hurricane season that meteorologists expect to be quite active.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has forecast as many as six storms rated Category 3 or higher. A named system, Tropical Storm Arthur, formed in May.

If a big storm comes this summer, people in harm’s way may hear advice from the authorities that is somewhat contradictory and perhaps confusing: Stay at home and remain socially distant from others to avoid contracting the coronavirus. But leave home — even if that means coming into closer contact with other people — to be safe during a dangerous hurricane.

“We’re going to need to get people out, because that is the emergent threat,” said Jared Moskowitz, the director of Florida’s division of emergency management. “We will undoubtedly have to balance the risks.”

Hong Kong protesters, subdued for months by the virus, are back on the streets.


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Thousands of Hong Kong protesters clashed with the police, who fired rounds of tear gas, in the first major demonstration since China announced plans to tighten its control over the territory through security legislation.CreditCredit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Protesters gathered in a central shopping district around midday, chanting slogans against the government and the Chinese Communist Party like “Heavens will destroy the C.C.P.” and “Hong Kong independence is the only way out.”

Dozens of police officers in riot gear swarmed the area, but many protesters pressed around them, ignoring their warnings to disperse. Just before 1:30 p.m., the police fired at least four rounds of tear gas, sending protesters scrambling. The Hong Kong police said in a statement that they arrested 120 people, most on charges of unlawful assembly.

The protest was the biggest the territory had seen in several months. The Hong Kong government has banned public gatherings of more than eight people until at least June 4, and attempts since January to revive the protests were sparsely attended and quickly stifled by the police.

Many Hong Kong residents see China’s move to impose the security laws as a major blow to the city’s relative autonomy, perhaps an irreparable one.

In Beijing on Sunday, the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, asserted that the protests that had roiled Hong Kong posed a grave threat to national security, proving that such legislation was long overdue. “We must get it done without the slightest delay,” Mr. Wang said at a news briefing.

With the virus reordering economies, more Italians are finding work as farm laborers.

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Only a few weeks ago, Massimiliano Cassina was running a fabric company that had international clients and specialized in sports T-shirts. But the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 30,000 Italians and wrecked the national economy also dealt a deathblow to his business. Desperate for a paycheck, he became one of an increasing number of Italians seeking a future in the country’s agrarian past.

“They gave me a chance,” said Mr. Cassina, 52, wearing a blue mask, blue rubber gloves and sweat-stained shirt. He now works on a small farm outside Rome, tending to corn stalks for the coming harvest.

The virus has drastically reordered society and economies, locking seasonal workers in their home countries while marooning Italians who worked in retail, entertainment, fashion and other once-mighty industries.

A return to the land once seemed reserved for natural wine hipsters or gentry sowing boutique gardens with ancient seeds, but more Italians are now considering the work of their grandparents as laborers on the large farms that are increasingly essential to feed a paralyzed country and continent.

Without them, hundreds of tons of broccoli, fava beans, fruit and vegetables are in danger of withering on the vine or rotting on the ground.

“The virus has forced us to rethink the models of development and the way the country works,” Teresa Bellanova, Italy’s agricultural minister, who is herself a former farmhand, said in an interview.

She said that the virus required Italy, which has remained at the vanguard of the epidemic and its consequences in Europe, to confront “a scarcity of food for many levels of the population,” including unemployed young professionals, and that agriculture needed to be “where the new generations can find a future.”

Some businesses turn to pay cuts to avoid layoffs.

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Martin A. Kits van Heyningen feared he was letting the team down at the company he co-founded, KVH Industries. Rather than lay off workers in response to the coronavirus pandemic, he had decided to cut salaries. When he emailed a video explaining his decision at 3 a.m. last month, he was prepared for a barrage of complaints.

Instead, he woke to an outpouring of support from employees that left him elated.

“It was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but it turned out to be the best day of my life at work,” Mr. Kits van Heyningen said. “I was trying to keep their morale up. Instead, they kept my morale up.”

Even as American employers let tens of millions of workers go, some companies are choosing a different path. By instituting across-the-board salary reductions, especially at senior levels, they have avoided layoffs.

The trend is a reversal of traditional management theory, which held that it was better to cut positions and dismiss a limited number of workers than to lower pay for everyone.

There is often a genuine desire to protect employees, but long-term financial interests are a major consideration as well, said Donald Delves, a compensation expert with Willis Towers Watson.

“A lot has happened in the last 10 years,” Mr. Delves said. “Companies learned the hard way that once you lay off a bunch of people, it’s expensive and time-consuming to hire them back. Employees are not interchangeable.”

C.D.C. error in counting tests baffles scientists.

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As it tracks the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been combining tests that detect active infection with those that detect recovery from Covid-19 — a system that muddies the picture of the pandemic but raises the percentage of Americans tested as President Trump boasts about testing.

Now that serology tests, which look for antibodies in the blood of people who have recovered, are more widespread, C.D.C. officials said on Friday they would work to separate them from the results of diagnostic tests, which detect active infection. One agency website that tracks the data has been lumping them together.

Stunned epidemiologists say data from antibody tests and active virus tests should never be mixed, because diagnostic testing seeks to quantify the amount of active disease in the population.

Serological testing can also be unreliable. And patients who have had both diagnostic and serology tests would be counted twice in the totals.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” said Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida. “All of us are really baffled.”

China promises more consumer spending and jobs.

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With the coronavirus outbreak in China at least temporarily under control, consumer spending is recovering and plans are underway to create jobs, Chinese officials said on Sunday.

Retail sales plunged in February and only gradually rose in March and April even as industrial production rebounded. Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of China’s top economic planning agency, said on Sunday that consumer spending continued to recover this month but did not predict whether it would catch up with last year’s level.

“Covid-19 has had a broad impact on the economy, and consumption bears the brunt,” he said at a news conference in Beijing. Earlier on Sunday, the Chinese mainland reported three new confirmed infections, including one locally transmitted case and two from overseas.

Governments in the United States and elsewhere have paid money directly to households as the outbreak hits global growth. China appears to be more interested in allocating money to investment programs.

Mr. Ning outlined a two-pronged plan to create jobs. First, China will start public works construction programs in rural areas that are meant to employ migrant workers. The national government has approved an additional $140 billion in borrowing by local governments this year to help pay for these projects, he said.

Second, Mr. Ning said, the government plans to create nine million jobs in cities, especially for this year’s 8.7 million college graduates. Incentives will be provided for business start-ups as well as large employers.

More than 300,000 jobs will be allocated to China’s poorest people as part of the government’s campaign to alleviate extreme poverty this year, said Cong Liang, the agency’s secretary general.

Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Dan Barry, Keith Bradsher, Melina Delkic, Elizabeth Dias, Max Fisher, Abby Goodnough, Rebecca Halleck, Michael Hardy, Jason Horowitz, Mike Ives, Yonette Joseph, Sheila Kaplan, Michael Levenson, Iliana Magra, Mujib Mashal, Tiffany May, Patricia Mazzei, Constant Méheut, Sarah Mervosh, Raphael Minder, Sharon Otterman, Elizabeth Paton, Roni Caryn Rabin, Austin Ramzy, Adam Rasgon, Rick Rojas, Luis Ferré Sadurní, Andrea Salcedo, Edgar Sandoval Charlie Savage, Christopher F. Schuetze, Nelson D. Schwartz, Marc Stein, Matt Stevens, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Jim Tankersley, James Wagner, Vivian Wang, Alex Williams, Elaine Yu and Karen Zraick.

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