Coronavirus Live Updates: Trump Urges Reopening of Houses of Worship as C.D.C. Suggests Limits for Them

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‘We Need More Prayer,’ Trump Says, Calling Houses of Worship ‘Essential’

President Trump urged governors to reopen houses of worship immediately, saying he would override them if they did not. His authority to do so is unclear.

Today, I’m identifying houses of worship, churches, synagogues and mosques as essential places that provide essential services. Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right. So I’m correcting this injustice, and calling houses of worship “essential.” I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now. These are places that hold our society together, and keep our people united. The people are demanding to go to church and synagogue, go to their mosque. Many millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life. The ministers, pastors, rabbis, imams and other faith leaders will make sure that their congregations are safe as they gather and pray. I know them well, they love their congregations. They love their people. They don’t want anything bad to happen to them or to anybody else. The governors need to do the right thing, and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors. In America, we need more prayer, not less.

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President Trump urged governors to reopen houses of worship immediately, saying he would override them if they did not. His authority to do so is unclear.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Trump urges governors to let houses of worship reopen as the C.D.C. suggests limits.

President Trump stepped into the culture wars again on Friday, taking the side of some religious leaders against governors who have moved slowly in reopening houses of worship amid the pandemic.

Without any clear authority to do so, Mr. Trump said that he was calling houses of faith, including churches, synagogues, and mosques, “essential services” and urged governors to reopen them “right now.” After he spoke, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a number of long-delayed guidelines with suggestions for steps that houses of worship can take to curb the spread of the virus.

“Today I am identifying houses of worship — churches, synagogue and mosques — as essential places that provide essential services,” Mr. Trump said at a hastily scheduled briefing at the White House on Friday. “Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right.”

The president threatened to “override” the governors if they did not follow his order, though it was not immediately clear what powers he was claiming. “I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now,” he said. “If there’s any question, they’re going to have to call me, but they’re not going to be successful in that call.”

When the C.D.C. recently released a set of guidelines for reopening, its report largely mirrored a draft version that the White House had rejected — but it omitted a section on “communities of faith” that had troubled Trump administration officials, who worried that the suggestions infringed on religious rights.

On Friday the C.D.C.’s new guidelines for religious communities suggested that they consider a number of limitations to keep congregations safe. Among them:

  • “Take steps to limit the size of gatherings in accordance with the guidance and directives of state and local authorities.”

  • “Consider suspending or at least decreasing use of a choir/musical ensembles and congregant singing, chanting, or reciting during services or other programming, if appropriate within the faith tradition. The act of singing may contribute to transmission of Covid-19, possibly through emission of aerosols.”

  • “Consider temporarily limiting the sharing of frequently touched objects that cannot be easily cleaned between persons, such as worship aids, prayer rugs, prayer books, hymnals, religious texts and other bulletins, books, shared cups, or other items received, passed or shared among congregants.”

Mr. Trump said Friday at the White House that the nation needs religion. “In America, we need more prayer, not less,” he said. He left without taking questions.

Credit…Paul Ratje/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

David Postman, the chief of staff for Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, said the state didn’t know what the president’s comments meant and the state had not seen any formal order.

“We don’t believe the president has the ability to dictate what states can and cannot open,” Mr. Postman said.

Religious services have emerged as flashpoints since states first began restricting large gatherings. Mr. Trump initially hoped to let the country reopen by Easter, a goal that proved untenable as the outbreak continued to grow.

In several cases his Justice Department has put its weight behind religious institutions battling state and local restrictions. After the department lent its support last month to a Mississippi church that was penalized for holding drive-in services in defiance of local virus restrictions, Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement: “Even in times of emergency, when reasonable and temporary restrictions are placed on rights, the First Amendment and federal statutory law prohibit discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers.”

And Justice Department lawyers wrote to Gov. Gavin Newsom of California this week objecting to his timeline for letting religious institutions reopen.

The president’s move came as health officials have found that worship gatherings can be particularly susceptible to viral spread. And some churches that recently reopened were forced to close again after discovering new infections, including Catoosa Baptist Tabernacle in Ringgold, Ga., and Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Houston.

The C.D.C. released a report this week about an outbreak in March at a rural Arkansas church. Of the 92 people who attended the church between March 6 and March 11, the report said, 35 tested positive and three died. And investigators found that another 26 other people who were in contact with the people who attended church events later tested positive, and one died.

States differ on their approaches to religious services during the pandemic.

It was not clear what authority the president was invoking when he called Friday for governors “to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now.” And soon after he spoke, the C.D.C. issued guidelines urging faith leaders to “take steps to limit the size of gatherings in accordance with the guidance and directives of state and local authorities.”

States and localities have been taking a variety of approaches to religious services since the outbreak began.

Houses of worship were already allowed to operate in more than half of the states, though many remain under social distancing instructions and many individual churches, synagogues and mosques have decided to remain closed for safety.

There have been tensions in places that still have restrictions in place. In California, more than 1,200 pastors signed a declaration protesting the state’s restrictions on in-person services and pledged to reopen their churches by May 31 even if the restrictions are not lifted. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said Friday that the state was working with faith leaders on guidelines to reopen in “a safe and responsible manner” that would be released by Monday at the latest.

The state’s guidelines, which will distinguish between megachurches and smaller venues, deal with the configuration of pews and “sanitation protocols,” the governor said.

In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said on Friday that he would “continue to operate on the basis of science and data” in deciding when it was safe for houses of worship to open.

“I’m as anxious as anybody to make sure that our churches, our mosques, our synagogues open back to where they were before Covid-19 came along,” Mr. Pritzker said. “We’re gradually moving in that direction. But there’s no doubt the most important thing is, we do not want parishioners to get ill because their faith leaders bring them together.”

The president’s call to let in-person services resume came just before one of the biggest Muslim holidays of the year, Eid al-Fitr, which starts Saturday night.

Washington State currently allows drive-in services, where congregants remain in their vehicles, and allows houses of worship to bring in personnel to broadcast and stream videos of services. Officials there have been working with an interfaith group to develop guidelines on how religious institutions can safely open up for more in-person activities.

And in some states, houses of worships were never required to close. In Pennsylvania, religious institutions were exempt from a stay-at-home order, though Gov. Tom Wolf has advised religious leaders not to hold in-person services or large gatherings to protect people from the virus.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan banned large gatherings but also said that houses of worship would not be subject to penalties, leaving the decision in the hands of religious leaders. Many churches, synagogues and mosques there decided to remain closed anyway, and those that are reopening often remain under strict guidelines, including limiting the number of congregants who could enter.

In hard-hit New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo moved this week to allow religious gatherings of up to 10 people to resume as long as attendees wear masks and maintain social distance. The announcement was particularly significant for Jewish congregations, where a minyan, defined as 10 people over 13, is required for a worship service.

Birx expresses ‘concerns’ about the persistence of cases in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington.

Credit…Ryan Young for The New York Times

One testing measure shows that coronavirus cases are persisting at worrisome rates in three major metropolitan areas — Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. — that are still under stay-at-home orders, a top White House official said on Friday.

“We have concerns of where cities have remained closed and metros that have remained closed but have still persistent high number of cases,” Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters at a news conference. She said officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were working with local officials in the three cities “to really understand where these new cases coming from, and what do we need to do to prevent them in the future.”

Dr. Birx’s concern did not suggest that the case rates in the three regions were spiking to alarming new levels, but rather that they were not dropping at the same rate as in many other cities.

Dr. Birx singled out the Washington area — which includes the district as well as parts of Maryland and Virginia — and said it led the country in the percentage of positive test results, a measure different from total coronavirus cases. Unlike New York, for example, the region has seen no “dramatic decline” in positive test rates or emergency room visits, Dr. Birx said.

Further complicating the picture, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington said on Thursday that the city could begin a phased reopening as early as May 29, pointing to figures that showed a downward trend in spread of the virus for almost two weeks. Yet on the same day, Washington, D.C., and Virginia announced single-day highs in cases.

The Washington region’s high positive-test percentage comes despite reassuring news in most states: 42 have a rate under 10 percent of positive test results as part of a rolling, seven-day average, Dr. Birx said.

The New York area, which includes Jersey City and Newark, is seeing steeper declines by that test result measure, Dr. Birx said. And cities that have been especially hard hit, such as Detroit, Boston and Miami, now have more promising daily case counts.

Some White House officials suggest the U.S. is overcounting virus deaths. Experts say the opposite is more likely.




‘Lord Have Mercy’: Inside One of New York’s Deadliest ZIP Codes

In early March, doctors at St. John’s hospital in Far Rockaway identified the first Covid-19 patient in Queens. Now, there is an uneasy lull and the staff fears a second wave will come.

“One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three. Got to roll — Roll him. Before, you didn’t really have time to think about it. You just had to get it done. Now you get time to sit back and look at what you’ve been doing, and start processing your feelings. That could be one of my family members. That could be me.” “Tower Five, Donyale. St. John’s is the only hospital on the peninsula. It’s a lot of people that I’ve known my whole life. My first night 10 people died, right in front of me. And it was just — yeah, that was a lot.” “I’m the director of the Emergency Department. I’m the first line of defense. How are you? My name is Dr. Lee, OK? Nobody’s ever trained for this type of scenario or the stuff that we saw this past month. All right, that should make you feel comfortable. I don’t think it’s going to hit me for a while.” “I think there’s a feeling, like can we take a breath? Can we back up? Take that moment, but still keep your hand on the gas.” “Is my stethoscope over there? It’s night and day. The volume has been drastically down. However, I’m still concerned. It’s calm. Nothing’s going on. But that’s part of the E.D. — you don’t know what’s coming through that door. I’m sure this is a great look with a goggle on top, you know what I mean? Maybe I spoke too soon. They’re coming in. Here you go. Patient with shortness of breath and fever. That looks like from a nursing home. How are you doing? My name’s Dr. Lee.” “He’s going to go to 53.” “People need to understand the gravity. Can you call respiratory for me, please? I’m intubating somebody in 53. In a peak, we had close to 60 patients intubated. We are surrounded by nursing homes. In that sense, we got hit pretty hard. I was never in a battle or any other armed type of deal, but that’s what it felt like when we are triaging the patients a certain way. Give me a four mat — is respiratory coming? And this was the first time in my lifetime that I actually went through that.” “There you go.” “Raise the bed. Two more. All right, ready? Let go.” “There’s got to be one in the bag, in the box.” “So we pulled the stylet out, balloon 22 at the lip. The chance they’re coming off the ventilator is very, very low. Good collar change. And I’ve got to protect their airway. And afterwards, we deal with what comes next.” “I feel like it wiped out a generation, like that generation that was hanging on with a lot of comorbidities. I just feel like it just came in and just —” “The day we maxed out, I think we were 112 patients in here. So outside the ambulance door, the stretchers went down the ramp to the bottom of the entrance where they drive in. And we literally, we just go out there and look and see, OK, who to pull off the list first? Because we knew — how many people can we intubate?” “I called two families, back to back, I went home two days crying in a row. And I held the phone, and they got to say goodbye to their loved one — terrible.” “What else do you do? I mean, you hate to say it. But we’re not God. But are you going to revive the 95 year old or the 42 year old?” “I’ll never be prepared. I don’t think you’re ever prepared for that.” “You know what the saddest thing was? You get someone in alert, talking to you from her house — I remember 72-year-old lady, Polish lady, very nice, couldn’t breathe. Oxygenation was awful. She broke her bridge because she was breathing so hard. And she was so upset about this piece of broken tooth. She said, ‘You have to wrap it. I can’t afford to fix it when I get home.’ I knew, as I was wrapping that tooth, you’re not going home. You’re going to be dead by tomorrow. And I said, ‘OK,’ and I’m wrapping it in a plastic bag, and sticking it in behind her insurance card. ‘Oh, thank you. God bless you. Thank you for fixing my — saving my tooth so I can fix it when I go home.’ She was dead the next day I came back in.” “Yeah.” “The poor families. It must be awful. It has to be, just to not be with them.” “I’ll be right back.” “I’m sorry. The thing that hit me was when my dad got infected. He’s a healthy working man. He owns his deli. I wouldn’t say never gets sick, but he rarely gets sick. Then I got a phone call from my mother saying that my dad didn’t look good. I thought maybe, maybe we just caught it in time. But he was intubated, put on a ventilator. He’s been on it for the past four weeks. I don’t think he’s going to make it. And we have — might as well just say it here — we have to figure out we’re going to do.” “I feel a responsibility to this place, this community. We’re safety net hospital. Said there’s nine in there. Working in the morgue right now, I’m still trying to figure out why God placed me here at this moment. Once I go outside, I’m in a zone with it. It’s set up like an airplane. You looking for somebody there in Section 5, Row D. You couldn’t have told me that we’d have did that a month and a half ago.” My son’s grandfather’s best friend, man. Jesus. One, two, three — stop. One, two, three — all the way. It’s more emotional for me now than it was two months ago. It’s starting to tap into my pain. We got this thing, we man up and get it done. We don’t go to somebody and say, ‘I’m hurting.’ And if we’re going to recover from this correctly, we’re going to have to do that.” “That’s what I don’t know is, how we’re going to move forward. Any update?” “No.” “I was born here in this hospital. My dad was born in this hospital, and all my siblings. In the beginning, I was leaving and crying every day. But thank God, it’s changing. It seems like it’s changing. Mr. Style?” “Yes.” “How are you this evening?” “I feel good.” “You feel good? I’m going to feed you, OK?” “Yes.” “We’re going to start with the soup because I know you like your soups.” “Yes.” “Right? How is that?” “Wonderful.” “I’m going to miss you when you leave me today. You know that? Reach your hand straight, and there’s your teacup.” “OK.” “All right. Put the straw to your mouth. Here’s the straw. OK, close your mouth. Go ahead. Drink. Dealing with Covid, people are scared when they find out that they have that. You don’t want to be the person that’s just running in the room and running back out. What’s most exciting about going home? What are you excited about?” “Oh, sometimes here, I’m just lonely by myself. And when I’m at home, my grandson is with me. I’m comfortable at home. I cannot see, but I can find my way around the house by touching furniture.” “Hey, this is St. John’s calling. Your dad is ready to go now. Somebody’s going home.” “Thank you for everything, OK?” “Yeah. It was a pleasure. I’m excited for you. You’re going home.” “Yeah. Thank you!” “Yes. Thank you.” “All right, thank you.” “I feel like we’ve seen the worst of it. I’m hoping that the numbers don’t go back up. But the reality is that they could. Just dealing with the unknown right now.” “Can we call respiratory? CPAP? It’s time to think, and it is time to work. What’s her SAT? That’s been taught by my dad, my mom. Just in case, set the intubation stuff set up, all right? I hope I’m wrong, but I still think the second wave is coming. I hope I’m wrong.” “You ever hear the saying, men cry in the dark? I’ve cried one time since this happened, and I’ve carried 100 — it’s got to be 150 people out of here. One, two, three. Big, small, men, women, people I know, grew up with them, grew up with their children. One, two, three. I would do everything in my being to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”

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In early March, doctors at St. John’s hospital in Far Rockaway identified the first Covid-19 patient in Queens. Now, there is an uneasy lull and the staff fears a second wave will come.CreditCredit…Emily Rhyne/The New York Times

Mr. Trump has begun questioning the official coronavirus death toll, suggesting the numbers are inflated, even as most experts say the opposite is likely.

In White House meetings, conversations with health officials have returned to similar suspicions: that the data compiled by state health departments and the C.D.C. include people who have died with the coronavirus but of other conditions, reported Noah Weiland, Maggie Haberman and Abby Goodnough.

Last Friday, Mr. Trump told reporters that he accepted the current death toll, but that the figures could be “lower than” the official count, which now totals nearly 95,000.

Most statisticians and public health experts say he is wrong; the death toll is probably far higher than what is publicly known. People are dying at their houses and nursing homes without ever being tested, and deaths early this year were likely misidentified as influenza or described only as pneumonia.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, has said publicly that the American health care system incorporates a generous definition of a death caused by Covid-19.

“There are other countries that if you had a pre-existing condition, and let’s say the virus caused you to go to the I.C.U., and then have a heart or kidney problem — some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a Covid-19 death,” she said at a White House news conference last month.

In a brief interview Thursday, Dr. Birx stressed that there had been no pressure to alter data.

Robert Anderson, who runs the mortality statistics branch of the C.D.C.’s National Center for Health Statistics, said it was unlikely that there was any kind of overcount.

“The case reporting system asks: Did the patient die from this illness?” he said. “It’s not asking if the patient with Covid-19 died. It’s asking if they died from Covid-19.”

White House officials say skepticism in the Trump administration over C.D.C. data, including for opioid use, long predates the coronavirus outbreak. But new reasons have cropped up.

The Trump administration has looked to the outside to get its numbers. The Department of Health and Human Services has used a technology program devised by Palantir to track numbers gathered by federal agencies, states, private health providers and universities. The administration also signed a $10 million deal with a tracking contractor — first reported by The Washington Post — that monitors hospital capacity and Covid-19 deaths, essentially repeating and privatizing the work of the C.D.C.’s National Healthcare Safety Network.

Mixing antibody and viral test results raises questions.

Credit…Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

The C.D.C. and several state health departments have come under fire for mixing two types of coronavirus tests in their reported results, in a way that public health experts say could distort the true picture of the pandemic.

The practice conflated two different types of tests results: viral tests, which assess whether someone currently has the virus, and antibody tests, which look for signs in the blood that a person had it in the past.

Both numbers are helpful in assessing the scale of the outbreak, but only viral test numbers can indicate a state’s ability to identify people who currently have the virus. Also, antibody tests are often inaccurate, recent research suggests.

A spokeswoman for the C.D.C. acknowledged in a statement that viral tests had initially far outpaced antibody tests, so the agency grouped them together. As antibody tests have become more common, officials are now working to differentiate the two.

Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont and Virginia have also faced scrutiny over combined results, though some state officials said they were initially not aware of the problem and have since made changes.

Virginia first faced criticism for combining its test results earlier this month, but has since stopped the practice, effective May 14, the state’s health department said on Friday.

Similarly, health officials in Texas announced this week that they had made changes to exclude antibody tests from its tally of total tests, Vermont removed antibody test results from the numbers on its website and officials in Georgia said they were working to improve transparency.

Georgia is being closely watched after it became one of the first states in the country to reopen businesses last month. Cases there have remained more or less the same, but the latest developments raised questions about the accuracy of the numbers.

“The integrity of our data is absolutely our No. 1 priority,” Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, said at a news conference on Thursday.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is still using a small number of positive antibody tests to inform the state’s total case numbers, a spokesman, Nate Wardle, said on Friday. But he said those antibody tests represented less than 1 percent of total cases in the state, and were not being used to decide whether regions should reopen.

An anti-malaria drug promoted by the president may be harmful when taken to treat the virus.

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

The malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which Mr. Trump has promoted, did not help coronavirus patients and may have done harm, according to a new study based on the records of nearly 15,000 patients who received the drugs and 81,000 who did not.

People who received the drugs were more likely to have abnormal heart rhythms, according to the study, which was published in the The Lancet. They were also more likely to die.

Mr. Trump has said he has been taking hydroxychloroquine in hopes of preventing a virus infection, despite a safety warning last month from the Food and Drug Administration, which said that the drug should only be taken by virus patients in clinical trials or in hospitals where they could be closely monitored for heart problems.

His promotion of the drug has been criticized by medical experts and has led to an uptick in reported use by Americans. Hours after Mr. Trump first touted the drugs in March, new prescriptions for them poured into retail pharmacies at a much higher rate than had previously been seen.

The study was observational, meaning that the patients were not picked at random to receive the drug or not. It is based on data from 96,032 coronavirus patients from 671 hospitals around the world. Observational studies like this one cannot provide definitive evidence about drug safety and effectiveness.

Even so, the authors of the study recommended that the drugs not be used outside clinical trials, and they said carefully controlled trials were urgently needed. Several clinical trials are underway around the world.

Cascading weaknesses in the federal disaster response system are being exposed.

Credit…Emily Rose Bennett for The New York Times

For decades, the backbone of the nation’s disaster response system — and a hallmark of American generosity — has been its army of volunteers who race toward danger to help shelter, feed and counsel victims of hurricanes, wildfires and other calamities.

However, the pandemic has exposed a critical weakness in this system: Most volunteers are older people at higher risk from the virus, so this year they can’t participate in person. Typically more than 5 million volunteers work in disaster relief annually, said Greg Forrester, president of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, an association of nonprofit groups, but this year he expects the number to decline by 50 percent.

Asked how disaster relief efforts can meet the usual demand with half as many people, Mr. Forrester said: “You won’t.”

It is the latest in a cascading series of problems facing an already fraying system ahead of what is expected to be an unusually severe hurricane season combined with disasters like this week’s dam collapse and flooding in Michigan, a state particularly hard hit.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is running short of highly trained personnel as the virus depletes its staff. Longstanding procedures for sheltering victims in gymnasiums or other crowded spaces suddenly are dangerous because they risk worsening the pandemic. And traditional agreements among states to help each other if crisis strikes are now sputtering.

FEMA says it has taken steps to prepare for hurricane season. “We have not taken our eye off the ball about handling other disasters,” Peter Gaynor, FEMA’s administrator, said in a briefing this month.

Nevertheless the problems amount to one of the most severe tests in decades for a system designed to respond to local or regional storms or other disasters — not a crisis on a national scale.

A vaccine developed in China appears to be safe and may offer protection against the virus, scientists say.

The early-stage trial, published in the Lancet, was conducted by researchers at several laboratories and included 108 participants. Subjects who got the vaccine mounted a moderate immune response to the virus, which peaked 28 days after the inoculation, the researchers found.

A vaccine to the new coronavirus is considered to be the best long-term solution to ending the pandemic and helping countries reopen their societies. Nearly 100 teams worldwide are racing to test various candidates.

On Monday, Moderna announced that its RNA vaccine appears to be safe and effective, based on results from eight people in its trial. On Wednesday, researchers in Boston said a prototype vaccine protected monkeys from coronavirus infection.

The vaccine reported today was created with another virus, an adenovirus called Ad5 that easily enters human cells.

But the virus is one that many people already have been exposed to, and some experts have worried that too many already have antibodies to Ad5, limiting its usefulness as a way to deliver a vaccine.

Although the vaccine did elicit some immune response, the results are based on data from just a short period. It is not clear how long-lasting the protection might be.

Apart from pain at the injection site, close to half of the participants also reported fever, fatigue and headaches, and about one in five had muscle pain.

The participants knew whether they were receiving a low, medium or high dose, however, which may have influenced their perceptions of the side effects.

The country enters a Memorial Day weekend to remember (or forget).

Credit…Bryan Anselm for The New York Times
Credit…Bryan Anselm for The New York Times
Credit…Sarah Rice for The New York Times
Credit…Sarah Rice for The New York Times

Mobbed beaches. Crowded parades. Congested public ceremonies. Jam-packed backyard barbecues. Memorial Day, which has come to signal the beginning of hot weather across much of the United States, typically brings millions shoulder to shoulder, towel to towel.

But this year, these first rites of summer are taking place as the country grapples with the pandemic and cautiously emerges from months of quarantine. People are eager for social interaction and fun, yet public health officials warn that those impulses could result in an uptick in cases.

Many traditional Memorial Day events have been canceled or replaced with socially distant formats. Elected officials and event organizers are struggling to bring back as much normalcy as possible without jeopardizing public health. The results have been hopeful, maddening and bewildering. But many Americans are pressing on, and trying to preserve what is important while letting go of what is not.

In the New York region, beach battles erupted ahead of the holiday weekend. After Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City moved to keep the city’s beaches closed, officials in the region, fearing an influx of sun-starved city dwellers, took steps to limiting outsiders at beaches from the Hamptons to the Jersey Shore. The city, however, is seriously considering opening its beaches to swimming in June, though the mayor declined to give a date.

The Memorial Day ceremony in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., is on but organizers are begging the public not to come. The boardwalk in Ocean City, Md., opened this month, but signs reminded that groups of 10 or more were discouraged. And in Massachusetts, beaches will reopen for swimming on Memorial Day, but volleyball is banned and sunbathers must place their towels 12 feet apart.

Here are some general tips for planning a trip to the beach.

People are also beginning to feel the negative health effects of social isolation, which Steve Cole, a social genomics researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, argued can increase the chances of chronic disease and other types of illnesses the longer it goes on.

“We don’t want to be packed like sardines in a crowd,” he said, “but at the same time, a lone human being is a recipe for death.”

Deadly diseases could surge after disruptions to vaccination programs.

Credit…Arshad Arbab/EPA, via Shutterstock

The widespread interruption of routine immunization programs around the world during the coronavirus pandemic is putting 80 million children under 1 year old at risk of contracting deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases, according to a report Friday by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

The groups surveyed 129 poor and middle-income countries and found that 68 had some degree of disruption of vaccine services through clinics and through large inoculation campaigns.

Many public health experts say they are worried that deaths from diseases including cholera, rotavirus and diphtheria could far outstrip those from Covid-19 itself.

But officials are now moving toward a cautious risk-benefit analysis.

Summer camps and youth athletics will be allowed in Florida, without state restrictions.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican, said on Friday that he was lifting all prohibitions on youth activities in the state, effective immediately. Local governments could choose to keep some restrictions.

The state Department of Health will publish answers to frequently asked questions, but “we’re not really going to be instituting a lot of rules, or really any rules,” he said. “We trust parents to be able to make decisions.”

Mr. DeSantis acknowledged that children have died of complications related to Covid-19. And a handful of children in Florida have been hospitalized with an inflammatory disease linked to the virus. (The ailment has now been reported in at least 161 children in New York; three have died there. Hundreds of other children across the United States and in Europe have also been sickened with the illness.)

Dr. Bonnie White, a pediatrician who treats the governor’s three young children, said at the news conference that parents should also let their children play with other children, assuming none of them have any symptoms. She did urge parents to vaccinate their children, especially against the measles.

The governor noted that the state never closed day care centers, in spite of C.D.C. recommendations, and did not see major problems stemming from those facilities.

Mayor Lenny Curry of Jacksonville, who joined him on Friday, said parents have approached him asking for their children’s activities to be renewed.

Most of Florida began gradually reopening on May 4, with the exception of populous South Florida, where the virus has hit hardest. But even there, life has slowly resumed. Beaches in Miami-Dade County will reopen on June 1, its mayor announced on Friday. Miami-Dade and neighboring Broward County had been the last to allow beachgoers back.

The virus still does not spread easily on surfaces, the C.D.C. says.

Guidelines from the C.D.C. making the rounds online this week are clarifying what we know about the spread of the virus.

The virus does not spread easily via contaminated surfaces, according to the agency. For those who were worried about wiping down grocery bags or disinfecting mailed packages, the news headlines highlighting this guidance in recent days might have brought some relief.

But this information is not new; the agency has been using similar language for months. If anything, the headlines have pulled into sharper focus what we already know. The virus is thought to spread mainly from one person to another, typically through droplets when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks at close range — even if that person is not showing symptoms.

The C.D.C.’s website also says that “touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes” is a possible way for people to become infected. But those are “not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

N.Y.C.’s suburbs could start to reopen next week, Cuomo said.



Cuomo Says New York City Suburbs Could Reopen Soon

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said that Long Island and the Mid-Hudson regions could begin opening next week if virus-related deaths continued to decline.

Long Island and Mid-Hudson region: If the number of deaths continues to decline the way it has, and they get their tracing online — every region has a certain number of tracers that they need to reopen because we want to make sure when they reopen they have the testing and tracing operation working. But if the number of deaths continues to decline. They get their tracing up and online. Both regions could reopen this week. In anticipation of that, we’re going to allow construction staging, Phase 1 construction begins, before you can begin construction you have to have staged the construction, the materials have to be on site etc., and safety precautions have to be on site. So we’re going to allow that construction staging. Now for the Long Island and the Mid-Hudson, we’re hopeful that the number of deaths continues to decline, and then they would be reopening this week.

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said that Long Island and the Mid-Hudson regions could begin opening next week if virus-related deaths continued to decline.CreditCredit…Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Long Island and the suburban counties north of New York City could begin reopening next week if the number of virus-related deaths keep declining and local officials set up strong contract-tracing programs, Mr. Cuomo said on Friday.

As of Friday, only New York City and the surrounding areas have yet to meet the state’s seven reopening metrics. Both Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Bill de Blasio said New York City, which has met four of the state’s criteria, was not likely to begin reopening until June.

New York City still needs to have at least 30 percent of its hospital beds and at least 30 percent of its intensive-care-unit beds available. As of Friday morning, it had 27 percent of hospital beds and 26 percent of its I.C.U. beds available.

Both city and state officials have said that their metrics were likely to go hand in hand, and that they would coordinate in their decisions on reopening, though the governor on Friday suggested that the state’s guidelines took precedence.

This is how to fix your work-from-home tech.

The last thing you need right now is a spotty Wi-Fi signal interrupting your workday. Good news! There are some simple steps you can take to improve that. And, while you’re at it, take a look at the rest of your computer setup and see what may be slowing you down. A little tweak can make working from home less miserable.

China abandons a growth target for the year and more from our international correspondents.

Parting with years of precedent, China on Friday abandoned an annual growth target for 2020, in an acknowledgment that restarting its economy after the outbreak will be a slow and difficult process. In his annual report to lawmakers meeting in Beijing, Premier Li Keqiang said that the country had made major achievements in its response to the epidemic and that economic development was a top priority. But while he set goals to limit inflation and unemployment, he did not announce a target for economic growth for the year.

Reporting was contributed by Denise Grady, Alan Blinder, Michael Cooper, Eileen Sullivan, Christopher Flavelle, Apoorva Mandavilli, Mike Baker, Karen Barrow, Patricia Mazzei, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Kassie Bracken, Niraj Chokshi, Michael Gold, Dana Rubinstein, Keith Bradsher, Mohammed Hadi, Chris Buckley, Sarah Mervosh, Julie Bosman, Jan Hoffman, Annie Karni, Corey Kilgannon, Alan Rappeport, Joseph Goldstein, Jesse McKinley, Emily Rhyne, Biance Giaever, Robin Pogrebin, Marc Santora, Elizabeth Dias, Jeanna Smialek, Farah Stockman, Noah Weiland, Maggie Haberman and Abby Goodnough.

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