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As the U.S. death toll nears 100,000, infections are rising in Latin America.
Since the initial outbreak of the coronavirus in China, the world has tracked a pandemic that rapidly spread west, proliferating across Asia and Europe, seeding hot spots across Africa and exploding in North America. For weeks, the United States has been the global epicenter, confirming more than 1.6 million cases, and the number of deaths nearing 100,000.
And now the pandemic appears to be arriving at new milestones. China on Saturday reported no new coronavirus deaths or symptomatic cases for the first time since the virus emerged. And surges of Covid-19 in several of South America’s most populous countries are raising concerns of a new front.
Brazil is home to several of the world’s largest metropolises, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. While other countries around the world began sounding the alarm as the virus arrived in February and March, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, largely played down the threat, urging people to continue working and keeping businesses such as gyms and beauty salons open.
Worldwide, the pace of new infections is still climbing with over 100,000 new cases reported daily since Thursday. These numbers are among the very worst since the pandemic began, second only to a single day in April, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
Over all, infection rates are slowing in the United States, but they remain steady in about 25 states. Six — North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, North Dakota, Maine and Wyoming — have reported rises in newly reported cases over the last 14 days, in part because some have recently ramped up testing.
Gaza reports its first pandemic death, underscoring its success and vulnerability.
Officials in Gaza announced on Saturday that a 77-year-old woman had died after contracting the coronavirus, becoming the first known pandemic death in the blockaded Palestinian enclave.
The woman, identified as Fadila Abu Raida, was found to have Covid-19 on Tuesday, said Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesman for the Health Ministry run by Hamas, the militant movement that controls Gaza.
She had diabetes and high blood pressure, and died while receiving intensive care at a field hospital on the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, Mr. Qidra said.
Gaza, just 25 miles long and less than eight miles across at its widest, is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, but so far has reported only 55 infections in a population of some two million.
That appears to be the result of tight Israeli and Egyptian restrictions on the movement of people in and out of Gaza, as well as Hamas’s decision to isolate all returning residents in quarantine facilities.
Hamas officials have said that all known carriers of the disease have been individuals returning from abroad and have not mixed with the territory’s broader population.
Still, the death underscored Gaza’s vulnerability were its outbreak to grow.
“It would be a very problematic situation,” said Gerald Rockenschaub, the head of the World Health Organization’s mission to the Palestinians. “The health system suffers from many chronic weaknesses.”
There are currently only 87 ventilators in Gaza, most of which are already in use, he said.
Trump goes golfing for the first time since shutdowns began.
President Trump spent Saturday at his members-only golf club in Virginia, his first outing there since the coronavirus pandemic led to government restrictions on business and social activity across the country.
The trip comes as the administration has encouraged reopening, and a day after Mr. Trump announced that he was ordering states to allow churches and other places of worship to reopen, threatening to overrule any governor who defied the order. Some of his health experts also appeared to give him the green light to carry on with his normal weekend activity, which has been suspended for weeks.
“You can play golf. You can play tennis with marked balls,” Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said at a news conference on Friday. “You can go to the beaches” if you maintain distance from other beachgoers, she told Americans heading into a holiday weekend.
The White House did not provide any details about what Mr. Trump was doing at his golf club, or whom he was playing with. Reporters spotted him leaving the White House residence dressed in a white polo shirt and a white baseball cap.
Black Covid-19 patients have more advanced cases, study finds.
As the coronavirus spread across the United States, sweeping through low-income, densely populated communities, black and Hispanic patients have been dying at higher rates than white patients.
Crowded living conditions, poorer overall health and limited access to care have been blamed, among other factors. But a new study suggests that the disparity is particularly acute for black patients.
The disparity remained even after researchers took into account differences in age, sex, income and the prevalence of chronic health problems that exacerbate Covid-19, like hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.
The finding suggests 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.
Black patients were also far less likely than white, Hispanic or Asian patients to have been tested for the virus before going to the emergency room for care.
Black patients “are coming to us later and sicker, and they’re accessing our care through the emergency department and acute care environment,” said Dr. Stephen H. Lockhart, the chief medical officer at Sutter Health in Sacramento and one of the authors of the new study.
The study, which was peer reviewed, was published in Health Affairs.
Gatherings of up to 10 people are now allowed in New York.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York slightly loosened coronavirus restrictions, saying that gatherings of up to 10 people would be allowed “for any lawful purpose or reason” anywhere in the state — including New York City — provided that social-distance protocols were followed.
The revision, issued Friday night in an unexpected executive order, was swiftly condemned by Councilman Mark D. Levine, who represents Upper Manhattan and is chairman of the City Council’s health committee. He stressed that the order had not been made by health professionals.
“No one should interpret this as advice to change their behavior,” he added.
The new orders come as the daily number of coronavirus-related deaths dipped below 100 for the first time since late March. Mr. Cuomo reported 84 deaths on Saturday, the lowest daily death toll since March 24.
He called the number of new casualties on Saturday “a tragedy, no doubt,” but he said he could not ignore that the downward trend was a positive sign. “For me, it’s just a sign that we are making real progress.”
Minnesota, under pressure, is opening churches next week.
Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, said religious leaders could hold in-person services beginning on Wednesday, but that they would need to limit indoor crowds to 25 percent of their building’s capacity, up to a maximum of 250 people. The move follows pressure from the leaders of Catholic and Lutheran churches in the state, who said earlier this week that they planned to hold services in defiance of Mr. Walz’s orders.
In California, a federal appeals court, in a two-to-one decision on Friday, declined to block the restrictions on religious services in the state’s emergency orders. A Pentecostal church in San Diego had sued Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, arguing, among other things, that his orders had violated their right to freely practice their religion. Mr. Newsom has said he will provide more guidance regarding religious gatherings on Monday.
In Minnesota, Mr. Walz said Vice President Mike Pence had called him on Thursday to discuss reopening religious institutions and given him a heads up that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be releasing new guidelines for houses of worship this past Friday.
Even as he announced the looser restrictions at a news conference on Saturday, Mr. Walz seemed pained at the thought of the large gatherings that would be allowed under his new executive order, which also permits weddings, funerals, scripture studies and other planned events to be held at ceremonial venues, with restrictions.
“To be candid, the 250 terrifies me,” Mr. Walz said of the maximum number of people who would be allowed to gather for ceremonies under his new guidelines.
“The thing that frustrates me is when I see elected leaders stand in front of places, celebrating and demanding they be open,” Mr. Walz said. “They’re not with me when I have to open the new morgue.”
Jan Malcolm, the state’s health commissioner, said religious leaders must thoroughly clean their buildings and ensure that congregants stay six feet apart. She and Mr. Walz said that although the state was loosening restrictions, they still recommended that services be held remotely.
If you’re gathering for Memorial Day weekend, here’s how to do it safely.
Many of New York City’s beaches are open, but swimming, grilling and organized sports are prohibited. Strict social-distancing guidelines are being enforced across much of New Jersey’s coastline. Many California beaches are open only for “active uses” like running, swimming and surfing, but not sunbathing or extended stays.
Away from the shores, many parks across the country are open, but some are capping the number of people allowed inside and encouraging brief visits.
As many places continue to reopen, here is guidance on lowering the coronavirus risk and managing anxiety while being out during the pandemic.
The F.D.A. bars nearly 30 antibody tests, many made overseas, from the U.S. market.
The Food and Drug Administration has barred the sale of nearly 30 coronavirus antibody tests because the manufacturers, many of them based overseas, failed to prove that they were accurate.
A number of the manufacturers are based in China, including Bioscience (Chongqing) Diagnostic Technology Company, Hangzhou Clongene Biotech Company and Zhengzhou Fortune Bioscience Company. Other affected companies are LifeAssay, based in South Africa, and Promedical, based in Australia.
The tests are devised to detect whether an individual has antibodies to the virus, which would show whether they had been infected previously. Many people are getting tested on the assumption that the antibodies confer some immunity to the virus, though researchers are not yet certain how long any immunity might last or how strong it might be.
The volunteers included Diazyme Laboratories, BioMedomics and Shenzhen Landwind Medical Company.
Abhijit Datta, the vice president for operations at Diazyme Laboratories, said the company had never actually sold the rapid antibody detection test listed on the F.D.A.’s website, but was continuing to sell a high-throughput antibody test used in labs around the country.
The N.B.A. considers resuming its season at Walt Disney World Resort.
The N.B.A. is in the early stages of discussions with the Walt Disney Company to restart its suspended season in late July at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, a league spokesman said Saturday.
The restart would be at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which would act as “a single site for an N.BA. campus for games, practices and housing,” said the spokesman, Mike Bass.
“Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place,” Mr. Bass said in a statement.
The N.B.A. was among the first major sports leagues to suspend its season on March 11 as a result of the coronavirus, beginning a cascade of other leagues doing the same. Since then several players, including the Nets star Kevin Durant, have tested positive for the virus.
Several hurdles remain to a resumed season. One is testing. The league was criticized when some of its teams were able to obtain tests for their players even though there was a nationwide testing shortage, raising questions of greater accessibility for the wealthy.
On Tuesday, Mr. Bass said, “Regular testing will be key in our return to play,” and that the league wanted to ensure that it “does not come at the expense of testing front line health care workers or others who need it.”
Any return to play must also come with a green light from the players’ union. A union spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It is also unclear how many, if any, fans would be allowed into an arena for games.
As of Friday, unions representing athletes in major North American team sports were still negotiating specific plans for returning to play, including extra protection for the most vulnerable employees. For some athletes and team staff members with conditions that put them at greater risk from the coronavirus, balancing health needs against the zeal to play is an especially delicate matter.
A Missouri hair stylist may have exposed 91 people by working while sick.
A hair stylist in Missouri worked for eight days at a salon while sick with the coronavirus, health officials said, potentially exposing 84 clients and seven co-workers.
While symptomatic, the stylist showed up for eight shifts at the Great Clips hair salon in Springfield between May 12 and Wednesday, after getting sick following travel within the state, health officials said.
“I’ll be honest — I’m very frustrated to be up here today, and maybe more so I’m disappointed,” Clay Goddard, who leads the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, said at a news conference on Friday.
Mr. Goddard said that the 91 clients and co-workers who were potentially exposed would all be tested, and that health officials would begin contact tracing.
He said that while the stylist had not exercised enough personal responsibility, he hoped the salon’s strict enforcement of health policies had prevented many possible infections. The stylist and all of the clients had worn masks, he said, and Great Clips kept detailed records that allowed health officials to contact the clients who might have been exposed.
Mr. Goddard said that the stylist had also visited a fitness center, a Dairy Queen and a Walmart in the last 10 days.
“I’m going to be honest with you: We can’t have many more of these,” he said. “We can’t make this a regular habit, or our capability as a community will be strained, and we will have to re-evaluate what things look like going forward.”
Federal scientists finally publish remdesivir data.
Nearly a month after federal scientists claimed that an experimental drug had helped patients severely ill with the coronavirus, the research has been published.
The drug, remdesivir, was quickly authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of coronavirus patients, and hospitals rushed to obtain supplies.
But until now, researchers and physicians had not seen the actual data.
The long-awaited study, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared on The New England Journal of Medicine’s website on Friday evening. It confirmed the essence of the government’s assertions: Remdesivir shortened recovery time from 15 days to 11 days in hospitalized patients. The study defined recovery as “either discharge from the hospital or hospitalization.”
The trial was rigorous, randomly assigning 1,063 seriously ill patients to receive either remdesivir or a placebo. Those who received the drug not only recovered faster but also did not have serious adverse events more often than those who were given the placebo.
In a nervous America, the car becomes a safe space.
The role of the automobile has been reinvented in the coronavirus era.
Once simply a way of getting from one place to another, the car has become a mini-shelter on wheels, a cocoon that allows its occupants to be inside and outside at the same time.
When people pack up their families and friends, they can still adhere to social distancing rules. They remain under a roof, within closed doors, sealed off and separated from the rest of their fellow human beings.
Mobile safe distancing has generated a new way of life — a society on wheels.
Reporting was contributed by Julfikar Ali Manik, Ian Austen, Peter Baker, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, José María León Cabrera, Stephen Castle, Damien Cave, Michael Cooper, Steven Erlanger, Tess Felder, Jacey Fortin, Jeffrey Gettleman, Abby Goodnough, Denise Grady, Maggie Haberman, Christine Hauser, Mike Ives, Jennifer Jett, Yonette Joseph, Sheila Kaplan, Annie Karni, Gina Kolata, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Mark Landler, Judith Levitt, Ernesto Londoño, Louis Lucero, Sarah Mervosh, Raphael Minder, Zach Montague, Sharon Otterman, Richard C. Paddock, Tariq Panja, Elian Peltier, Daniel Politi, Suhasini Raj, Adam Rasgon, Stanley Reed, Luis Ferré Sadurní, Edgar Sandoval, Choe Sang-Hun, Marc Stein, Matt Stevens, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sabrina Tavernise, Katie Thomas, Anton Troianovski, Hisako Ueno, Shalini Venugopal, James Wagner, Sui-Lee Wee, Noah Weiland, Jin Wu and Elaine Yu.
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