Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Ponders Brazil Travel Ban As Death Toll Nears Grim Milestone

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The U.S. is barring travel from Brazil.

The Trump administration is banning travel into the United States from Brazil, where the Covid-19 pandemic has been spiking, using the same authority it used earlier to halt certain travel from China and Europe.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that President Trump was adding Brazil to the list of countries where travel has already been banned, including Europe, the United Kingdom and China.

“As of May 23, 2020, Brazil had 310,087 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which is the third highest number of confirmed cases in the world,” Ms. McEnany said in a statement. “Today’s action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country.”

She added that the new travel restrictions did not apply to the flow of commerce between the two countries.

The decision was detailed in a proclamation Sunday evening, but had been foreshadowed earlier in the day by Robert O’Brien, the president’s national security adviser.

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

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.

The head of Wuhan’s virus lab denies that it was the source of the novel coronavirus.

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The Trump administration’s unsubstantiated claims that the coronavirus pandemic was set off from a Wuhan government laboratory are “pure fabrication,” the head of the lab was quoted as saying in Chinese state media on Sunday.

Wang Yanyi, who leads the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said that the institute first received a sample of the virus at the end of December. By that point, the virus had been circulating in Wuhan, a major travel hub, for weeks.

“We didn’t have any knowledge about the virus before that, nor have we ever met, researched or kept the virus,” Dr. Wang said.

Scientists are still studying how the outbreak first happened. Most of them believe that the virus was passed from bats to humans via an intermediary species, one that was probably sold at a wet market in Wuhan late last year.

On Sunday, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, appeared on “Face the Nation” and “Meet the Press,” accusing Chinese officials of carrying out a cover-up of the Covid-19 outbreak that effectively “unleashed” the virus on the world.

Houses of worship around the world face tough choices in reopening.

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

But pastors have been sharing plans for returning to in-person services in the weeks ahead while deciding how 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 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.

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 not to begin reopening until at least July.

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

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.

France took tentative steps on Sunday 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.

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

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 vaccine developed first may not be the best, an expert warns.

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Though there are promising signs that coronavirus vaccines will be successfully developed, an expert cautioned on Sunday that the first vaccines that become available may not prove to be the most effective.

Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said on the NBC program “Meet the Press” that some early vaccines may be only partly protective.

“They may reduce hospitalization and death, which is still very important,” he said, but in the end, the first to be released “may not be the ones we wind up with.”

“History tells us they get replaced with new and improved vaccines, so this is a gradual process,” Dr. Hotez said, stressing that the next year or so would probably not result in the introduction of “a magic bullet” against the virus.

Dr. Barouch cautioned that while it “is theoretically possible” to develop a vaccine in 12 to 18 months, “many, many things would have to go perfectly the first time” for that to happen.

Boris Johnson says he won’t fire top aide who defied lockdown orders.

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Despite calls for him to oust a top adviser who disobeyed Britain’s stay-at-home order, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is standing by that official, Dominic Cummings, who had fallen ill with the coronavirus.

During a news briefing on Sunday, the prime minister staunchly defended Mr. Cummings for driving in April to visit his parents in Durham, in the north of England. But Mr. Johnson deflected questions about whether he had known of Mr. Cummings’s travels and muddied the details of the lockdown rules.

Mr. Cummings has said there was no other way to get care for his young child after he and his wife began showing symptoms of the virus.

“He followed the instincts of every father and every parent, and I do not mark him down for that,” Mr. Johnson said on Sunday. “I believe that in every respect, he has acted responsibly, and legally, and with integrity.”

Mr. Johnson’s decision to stand by his adviser underlines his deep reliance on Mr. Cummings, who was the architect of his election victory last year and the driving force behind his ambitious post-Brexit agenda. But it is unlikely to defuse the uproar over Mr. Cummings’s actions, which critics say send a signal that Britain’s leaders can ignore the rules they impose on others.

The opposition Labour Party called for an inquiry into Mr. Cummings’s conduct and accused Mr. Johnson of double standards.

“It is an insult to sacrifices made by the British people that Boris Johnson has chosen to take no action against Dominic Cummings,” the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, said in a statement. “The public will be forgiven for thinking there is one rule for the prime minister’s closest adviser and another for the British people.”

New York sports teams can resume training, Cuomo says.

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo gave the go-ahead on Sunday for teams to reopen their training facilities in New York, saying that the absence of professional sports had left a significant void this spring during a stay-at-home order.

“I believe that sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena,” Mr. Cuomo said during his daily coronavirus briefing. “Do it. Work out the economics if you can. We want you up.”

Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League are all in discussions with the players’ unions about the timetable, safety protocols and logistics of playing games.

Training is the first hurdle in that complicated process, and several states still have not cleared teams to practice. The Yankees would normally train at their complex in Tampa, Fla.

The N.B.A. and N.H.L. suspended their seasons during the second week of March because of the outbreak, while baseball had been scheduled to start its season on March 26.

A significant point of contention for the players and owners has been over how much the athletes would be paid in a shortened seasons without the revenue from ticket sales and stadium concessions.

And then there is the issue of the health and safety of the players and team employees, which has put the onus on each of the sports leagues to develop testing and contact tracing protocols should an athlete become infected.

“We want people to be able to watch sports to the extent people are still staying home,” Mr. Cuomo said. “It gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy so we are working and encouraging all sports teams to start their training camps as soon as possible and we will work with them to make sure that can happen.”

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.

“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.”

“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.

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.”

Reporting was contributed by Reed Abelson, Peter Baker, Dan Barry, Keith Bradsher, Stephen Castle, Melina Delkic, Elizabeth Dias, Max Fisher, Abby Goodnough, Rebecca Halleck, Michael Hardy, Jason Horowitz, Mike Ives, Yonette Joseph, Sheila Kaplan, Annie Karni, Mark Landler, Michael Levenson, Cao Li, 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, Knvul Sheikh, Marc Stein, Matt Stevens, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Jim Tankersley, Neil Vigdor, James Wagner, Vivian Wang, Alex Williams, Elaine Yu and Karen Zraick.

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