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President Trump is considering new immigration regulations that would allow border officials to temporarily block American citizens and legal permanent residents from returning to the United States from abroad if authorities believe they may be infected with the coronavirus.
In recent months, Mr. Trump has imposed sweeping rules that ban entry by foreigners into the United States, citing the risk of allowing the virus to spread from hot spots abroad. But those rules have exempted two categories of people attempting to return: American citizens and non-citizens who have already established legal residence.
Now, a draft regulation would expand the government’s power to prevent entry by citizens and legal residents in individual, limited circumstances. Federal agencies have been asked to submit feedback on the proposal to the White House by Tuesday, though it is unclear when it might be approved or announced.
Under the proposal, which relies on existing legal authorities of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the government could block a citizen or legal resident from crossing the border into the United States if an official “reasonably believes that the individual either may have been exposed to or is infected with the communicable disease.”
The draft, parts of which were obtained by The Times, explicitly says that any order blocking citizens and legal permanent residents must “include appropriate protections to ensure that no Constitutional rights are infringed.” And it says that citizens and legal residents cannot be blocked as an entire class of people.
The documents appear not to spell out how long a citizen or legal resident would be required to remain outside of the United States.
The draft memo says the prohibition on the introduction of U.S. citizens or legal residents from abroad would apply “only in the rarest of circumstances,” and “when required in the interest of public health, and be limited in duration.”
Still if Mr. Trump approves the change, it would be an escalation of his government’s longstanding attempts to seal the border against what he considers to be threats, using the existence of the coronavirus pandemic as a justification for taking actions that would have been seen as draconian in other contexts.
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security declined to comment. A spokesman for the C.D.C. said late Monday afternoon that he would seek to gather more information about the proposal.
It is unclear whether there are any existing rules that would allow American citizens and legal residents to be prohibited from returning to the United States for a period of time because of concerns about a communicable disease. Immigration officials have broad authority to deny entry to people based on national security issues.
The rule appears to apply to all points of entry into the United States, including at airports and along both the northern and southern borders. In particular, the draft could impact the border with Mexico, where many American citizens and legal residents cross back and forth frequently.
The rule notes the prevalence of the coronavirus in Mexico as evidence of the need for the modified rule, citing the death on August 2 of the health minister in the Mexican border state of Chihuahua, who the order says died of Covid-19 after a two week hospitalization.
The draft regulation notes the stress that Covid-19 has placed on the Mexican health care system and says it has driven people from Mexico into the United States to seek care.
Americans hit hard by the recession saw no relief in sight on Monday as presidential directives announced by Mr. Trump on Saturday caused confusion and prompted criticism from some governors, even as top Democrats and administration officials remained at loggerheads over a new stimulus package.
Mr. Trump had tried over the weekend to bypass Congress, saying he would deliver aid to needy Americans through executive measures that focus on four areas: extending supplemental unemployment benefits, suspending some payroll taxes, extending relief for student loan borrowers and offering eviction relief. They did not include several forms of relief that have been part of recent negotiations, including lump-sum payments to citizens and additional relief for small businesses.
Because Congress controls the federal budget, the measures will almost certainly be challenged in court.
“You can’t do with an executive order that which would be required by legislation,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Monday. “The executive order will be challenged in court and I think there’s serious legal questions, but even if you got past the legal challenges, you make it impossible for the state.”
Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, strongly criticized a provision of the unemployment measure that would make states responsible for providing 25 percent of the funding, comparing it to “handing a drowning man an anchor.”
The measure would revive the weekly boost to unemployment that had previously given jobless Americans an additional $600 each week. Under Mr. Trump’s plan, those eligible would receive $400 weekly, with the federal government covering only $300 of that amount, and states making up the difference.
A number of other governors expressed alarm about that scenario, as states around the country have seen tax revenues plummet during the pandemic, while costs increase. A spokesman for the National Governors Association said Monday that the measure would amount to an unfunded mandate that would likely prove impossible to deliver.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a Democrat, criticized the plan and called on the president to “stop playing political games.”
Governors from states big and small said Mr. Trump’s plan would produce a huge economic strain at the state level. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said the White House’s proposed requirement that states pick up a quarter of the costs of unemployment payments could cost California anywhere from $700 million to $3 billion a week. The plan, he said, “would create a burden the likes of which even a state as large as California can never absorb.”
Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, a Democrat, said Monday the White House’s plan was not workable. “That would’ve cost us of hundreds of millions of dollars, say $500 million between now and the end of the year, so that seemed prohibitive to me,” he said. “They’ve got to figure this out pretty soon, and hopefully we’re going to hear that tomorrow.”
In a statement on Monday, the leaders of the National Governors Association, which has requested $500 billion in unrestricted state aid, called for a cohesive, national strategy to address the enduring economic fallout of the pandemic. They emphasized that “we are concerned about the significant administrative burdens and costs this latest action would place on the states.”
“The best way forward is for the Congress and the Administration to get back to the negotiating table and come up with a workable solution, which should provide meaningful additional relief for American families,” Mr. Cuomo, the association’s chair, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican and the vice chair, said in the statement.
Republican governors generally, though, struck less critical tones. Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio said he was examining the measure and did not know if his state could afford to pay the difference. Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia credited the president for taking action and said that officials were “digging in” on the issue of how the unemployment payments might work. Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire echoed his remarks and criticized lawmakers for failing to reach a broader deal.
“Congress and the White House made a commitment to the governors that there would be a second round of relief for states,” Mr. Sununu said in a statement. “We are going to hold their feet to the fire until they uphold that commitment.”
The president also proclaimed that his gambit to obtain more leverage in the talks had been a success, tweeting that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, “now want to meet to make a deal.”
The two lawmakers had been meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, to close the gap between a $3.4 trillion measure the Democratic-led House approved in May and a roughly $1 trillion package that Republicans unveiled late last month. Lawmakers have largely left the capital to return to their home districts, and it is unclear when negotiations over the bill will resume.
Mr. Mnuchin said on CNBC on Monday that the White House was “prepared to put more money on the table,” to come to an agreement. “If we can get a fair deal, we’re willing to do it this week,” Mr. Mnuchin said.
The Trump administration is ordering schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education to reopen for in-person instruction “to the maximum extent possible” on Sept. 16, according to an internal memo obtained by The New York Times.
The memo says that while families may choose to keep their students home and rely on virtual instruction, teachers are expected to teach in person unless they are at high risk for health complications should they contract the coronavirus.
The bureau operates 53 schools serving Native Americans living on tribal lands. A number of reservations have been hard-hit by the coronavirus, especially the Navajo Nation in the Southwest. For example, Native American and Alaska Native people make up just 9 percent of the population of New Mexico, but account for nearly 40 percent of virus cases in the state.
The bureau’s schools are among the few under direct federal control, rather than state or local control. The bureau is part of the Department of the Interior.
Sue Parton, a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and the president of the union that represents the bureau’s employees, said the plan to reopen the schools so soon was “foolish.”
Educators are afraid to return to classrooms, she said, because of high rates of infection in Native communities. But unlike teachers in local school districts, she said, the bureau’s teachers felt they had little say in what the schools should do.
“I think a big difference, of course, is us being federal employees,” Ms. Parton said. “We have our chain of command, and unfortunately it goes all the way to the top in D.C.”
About a quarter of New York City families in public schools have said they want to at least start the school year remote-only, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday, while the majority of families are still tentatively planning to send their children to classrooms part-time starting in September. Those numbers could change over the next month, since families can choose remote-only at any time.
Mr. de Blasio seized upon the numbers as evidence that the city should forge ahead with its plan to reopen schools on a hybrid model, with children attending school in-person one to three days a week. Monday’s announcement seemed partly intended to rebuff the leader of the city’s powerful teachers’ union, who has spent the last few weeks saying that teachers and parents were unwilling to send their children back to school.
The mayor also said that about 15 percent of the city’s public school teachers have applied for medical exemptions that would allow them to work remotely, but that not all requests would be granted. The city had originally anticipated that about 20 percent of teachers would apply to work remotely. Teachers over 65 and those with pre-existing medical conditions will likely be granted accommodations to work at home.
Asked about concerns that many of the city’s aging school buildings would not have proper ventilation to combat an airborne virus, Mr. de Blasio said the city was upgrading ventilation systems but would not reopen any classrooms that did not have proper ventilation.
Though indoor dining, gyms and museums remain closed in New York City, the governor said Monday that city schools can reopen because students won’t be “in the immediate company of hundreds of people.” When schools reopen, students will be split into smaller cohorts, which the governor said limits their potential to spread the virus to a large population. “It’s fundamentally different than a museum because it’s a much more controlled circumstance,” he said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said Monday that the head of the state’s Department of Public Health resigned amid “personnel judgment questions” that contributed to the breakdown of the state’s disease reporting system.
Nearly 300,000 records, most of them from virus tests, disappeared from the system over the past two weeks, a problem that the state is currently rectifying.
“She wrote a resignation letter and I accepted her resignation,” Mr. Newsom said of the public heath director, Dr. Sonia Angell. “We are all accountable in our respective roles for what happens underneath us.”
In a letter to her colleagues at the California Department of Public Health, Dr. Angell on Sunday had cited “my own plans to depart from my position,” but did not give a specific reason for leaving.
The breakdown of the antiquated data system, which the governor on Monday vowed to replace, had clouded the overall picture of the virus’s progression in California, which as of Monday has had 10,378 deaths related to the virus, third in the nation after New York and New Jersey, and 567,908 confirmed cases, according to a database maintained by The New York Times.
On Monday Mr. Newsom said that despite testing delays and the problems with the disease reporting system that there were encouraging signs in the state’s fight against the virus. He cited a 19 percent decline in hospitalizations over the past two weeks. Last week the state had reported a 10 percent decline. Hospitalizations are counted using a separate system unaffected by the data problems.
Dr. Angell, who had been in her role for less than a year, was replaced by two people: Sandra Shewry, a veteran public health official, is now the acting director of the Department of Public Health, and Dr. Erica Pan, the former chief health officer of Alameda County, is now the acting state public health officer. In her role in Alameda County, Dr. Pan had clashed with Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur and head of Tesla, over plans to reopen the company’s car factory in Fremont, Calif.
Health officers across the country have come under intense pressure during the pandemic, and some have been subjected to harassment, personal insults and death threats.
England will overhaul its faltering coronavirus contact-tracing system, the government said on Monday, shifting some control from private contractors to local public health teams and cutting the jobs of thousands of call center workers who had complained of having no one to call.
The changes were the clearest acknowledgment yet by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government that its centralized, privatized system for tracking down the patients’ contacts has come up short.
Instead, the government has heeded some of the pleas of underfunded local public health directors, who have been warning for months that a London-run contact tracing system would not deliver the local intelligence needed to squelch flare-ups of the virus.
Under the reorganization announced on Monday, 6,000 contact tracing jobs will be cut by late August, one-third of the total employed by two outsourcing companies. Some of the remaining 12,000 privately employed tracers will be redeployed to regional public health teams.
In some areas, “the national Test and Trace system wasn’t picking up enough of the cases and contacts on the ground to make a difference,” Dr. Lincoln Sargeant, the director of public health in North Yorkshire, said in an interview on Monday. “The knowledge and relationships we have in local government are certainly what you need to bridge that gap.”
England’s centralized program has repeatedly stumbled since its rushed launch in late May — one of many missteps that have contributed to Britain having the worst outbreak in Europe.
Only 51,500 of the 92,000 people identified as close contacts of positive cases were ever reached by call center contact tracers as of late July, according to government statistics. Many contact tracers had reached no more than a couple of people in two months of work.
Many top college football players have mounted a public campaign to salvage the fall season amid the pandemic, and to assert power in a multibillion-dollar industry that has always relied on their talents and often sought to silence their voices.
In messages on Twitter, the players, including the quarterbacks Justin Fields of Ohio State and Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, and the running back Najee Harris of Alabama, all posted the same image that led with: “We all want to play football this season.” They urged conferences to adopt universal health guidelines; said that players should be allowed to opt out, as some already have; and declared that they wanted to use their “voices to establish open communication and trust between players and officials.”
Later Monday, Mr. Trump joined the debate when he retweeted Mr. Lawrence and said, “The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled. #WeWantToPlay.”
No Power 5 conference has abandoned plans for a football season, though all have cautioned for months that games were no sure bet. On Monday afternoon, a Big Ten official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private talks, said that the presidents and chancellors of the conference’s member schools had not taken a vote over whether to proceed with a season during recent meetings. (The conference is scheduled to open on Sept. 3.)
The sweeping display from players amounted to a merger of movements within college sports. Previously, some players had warned that they would not take the field this fall unless schools took greater steps to ensure their safety.
Mexico is battling one of the worst outbreaks in the world, with at least 52,000 confirmed deaths, the third-highest toll of the pandemic. And its struggle has been made even harder by a pervasive phenomenon: a deeply rooted fear of hospitals.
The problem has long plagued nations overwhelmed by unfamiliar diseases. During the Ebola epidemic in 2014, many in Sierra Leone believed that hospitals had become hopeless death traps, leading sick people to stay home and inadvertently spread the disease to their families and neighbors.
In Mexico, a similar vicious cycle is taking place. As the pandemic crushes an already weak health care system, many Mexicans see the Covid ward as a place where only death awaits — to be avoided at all cost.
The consequences, doctors, nurses and health ministers say, are severe. Mexicans are waiting to seek medical care until their cases are so bad that doctors can do little to help them. Thousands are dying before ever seeing the inside of a hospital, government data show, succumbing to the virus in taxis on the way there or in sickbeds at home.
Fighting infections at home may not only spread the disease more widely, epidemiologists say, but it also hides the true toll of the epidemic because an untold number of people die without ever being tested.
Many Mexicans say they have good reason to be wary of hospitals: Nearly 40 percent of people hospitalized with confirmed cases in Mexico City, the center of the nation’s outbreak, end up dying, government data show, a high mortality rate even when compared with some of the worst coronavirus hot spots worldwide. During the peak of the pandemic in New York City, less than 25 percent of virus patients died in hospitals, studies have estimated.
While the statistic may be imprecise because of limited testing, doctors and researchers confirmed that a startling number of people are dying in Mexico’s hospitals.
In other news from around the world:
People in France must wear face masks outdoors in crowded areas of Paris and other major cities beginning Monday as the number of virus infections rises at the fastest rate since a national quarantine ended in mid-May.
The United States’ top health official lauded Taiwan’s democracy on Monday as he met with the island’s leader for a visit laden with symbols of stronger ties between Washington and the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing. Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health, is the highest-ranking American official to visit Taiwan since Washington severed official ties with the island in 1979 and established formal diplomatic relations with the Communist government in Beijing.
Britain reported 1,062 new cases on Sunday, the country’s highest number since mid-July, according to a New York Times database. The increase comes after France and Germany reported new case counts that were higher than they had seen in months.
President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus, who has denied that the coronavirus poses a health risk, was on course to win his sixth term in office, in an election his critics dismissed as rigged.
New Zealand on Sunday marked 100 days without any new reported cases of local transmission of the virus.
India’s health ministry said the country had recorded more than 1,000 virus deaths on Sunday, the first time the daily death toll had been that high. Some health experts said the high number is likely to be seen again, as state-run hospitals are still overflowing with sick patients, and private hospitals are mostly out of reach for many Indians.
The mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, announced on Monday she would self-quarantine after coming into contact with the city’s interior secretary, José Alfonso Suárez del Real y Aguilera, who announced on Twitter Monday that he had tested positive for the virus.
As schools face the daunting challenge of reopening while the virus continues to spread, at least 97,000 children around the United States tested positive in the last two weeks of July, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. It says that at least 338,000 children had tested positive from the start of the pandemic through July 30, meaning that more than one-quarter of the total had come in just those two weeks.
The report comes as some schools have tried to reopen, only to quickly order quarantines or close their doors. North Paulding High School in Georgia, which drew attention after images of its crowded hallways circulated on social media, announced on Sunday that it would switch to online instruction for Monday and Tuesday after reporting at least nine cases.
States in the South and West accounted for more than seven out of 10 infections in the new report, which relied on data from 49 states along with Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam. The count could be higher because the report did not include complete data from Texas and parts of New York State outside of New York City.
Missouri, Oklahoma, Alaska, Nevada, Idaho and Montana were among the states with the highest percentage increase of child infections during that period, according to the report.
The report comes as a study in Chicago found that infected children carry at least as much virus in their nose and throat as adults do. Several studies from other countries have also suggested that children under 10, in particular, are much less likely to spread the virus to others.
In other news:
Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky, a Democrat, on Monday said he had recommended that schools delay their start dates until Sept. 28. “It’s six weeks from what I hope is the peak of this virus,” he said. “In my very core, I want us to get back to in-person instruction. But to ask our kids to go in and all of our teachers and faculty at a time when it’s not safe, is something that we can’t ask of them, and I’m not willing to.”
Many medical experts — including members of his own staff — worry about whether Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and one of the nation’s most powerful health officials, has the fortitude and political savvy to protect the scientific integrity of the F.D.A. from the president. Critics point to a series of worrisome responses to the epidemic under Dr. Hahn’s leadership, most notably the emergency authorization the agency gave to hydroxychloroquine, the drug promoted by Mr. Trump. The F.D.A. reversed its decision three months later because the treatment did not work and harmed some people.
Gov. Lourdes Leon Guerrero of Guam posted on Twitter Monday that she had tested positive. Ms. Guerrero said in a statement that she had discovered on Wednesday that she had come into close contact with a relative who had tested positive for the virus. After Ms. Guerrero began feeling sick on Saturday, she took a test that confirmed she had contracted the virus, according to Pacific Daily News.
Reporting was contributed by Alan Blinder, Emily Bobrow, Luke Broadwater, Troy Closson, Emily Cochrane, Stacy Cowley, Thomas Fuller, Christina Goldbaum, Kevin Granville, Jenny Gross, Mika Gröndhal, Andrew Higgins, Winnie Hu, Sheila Kaplan, Natalie Kitroeff, Hari Kumar, Ron Lieber, Apoorva Mandavilli, Sarah Mervosh, Benjamin Mueller, Ivan Nechepurenko, Azi Paybarah, Amy Qin, Alan Rappeport, Nate Schweber, Eliza Shapiro, Michael D. Shear, Jeanna Smialek, Kaly Soto, Eileen Sullivan, Lucy Tompkins, Paulina Villegas, Mark Walker, Jeremy White, Katherine J. Wu, Sameer Yasir and Karen Zraick.
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