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As clashes over face-covering mandates and school reopening plans intensified throughout the United States, the country shattered its single-day record for new cases on Thursday — more than 75,600, according to a New York Times database.
This was the 11th time in the past month that the record had been broken. The previous single-day record, 68,241 cases, was announced last Friday. The number of daily cases has more than doubled since June 24, when the country registered 37,014 cases after a lull in the outbreak had kept the previous record, 36,738, standing for two months.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease specialist, warned senators in June that cases could reach 100,000 a day in the United States if outbreaks at the time were not contained.
It’s not just cases that are breaking records, so are deaths. Florida on Thursday reported 156 new fatalities, its highest number. It was one of 10 states to reach a record for deaths in a single day this week, joining Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
As cases have soared, cities and more than half of the states are issuing mask requirements to try to stop the spread. Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican, announced a face covering requirement on Thursday, after previously taking a more hands-off approach. Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado, a Democrat, also issued a mask order on Thursday, after questioning whether such a mandate would be enforceable.
But there remains firm resistance in many circles, including from some Republican leaders who view mask requirements as a threat to personal liberty.
Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who announced this week that he was suspending all local mask mandates, filed a lawsuit on Thursday challenging the authority of leaders in Atlanta to require masks inside their city’s limits.
Also on Thursday, health officials in Dallas announced that the city’s public and private schools would conduct classes virtually for the first three weeks of the school year, which begins there on Aug. 17. Several other large school districts have announced plans to rely on distance learning when they reopen for the upcoming school year, bucking pressure from the Trump administration.
The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, on Thursday reiterated President Trump’s view that schools must open in the fall. “When he says open,” she said, “he means open and full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school. The science should not stand in the way of this.”
Dr. Fauci said in an interview on Thursday on Facebook with its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, that after its initial peak, the nation never succeeded in driving the virus beneath a plateau of about 20,000 new cases a day.
“What I think we need to do, and my colleagues agree, is we really almost need to regroup, call a timeout — not necessarily lock down again, but say that we’ve got to do this in a more measured way,” Dr. Fauci said. “We’ve got to get our arms around this and we’ve got to get this controlled.”
The number of cases in late June surged higher than during the outbreak’s first peak. At this same time, daily Covid-19 fatalities decreased slightly, leading President Trump to proclaim that deaths were “way down.” But that divergence may have come to an end last week, when the average number of deaths per day began steadily rising again.
Public health experts have pointed to a few factors that help explain why the death count was initially flat. Treatment has improved and young people, who are less likely to die from Covid-19, make up a larger share of new cases.
Additionally, more widespread testing means cases are caught sooner, on average. That means that the lag between diagnosis and death would be longer than in March, when tests were in critically short supply.
Many of the states that reopened early are the ones seeing the biggest increases, while New York, the country’s hardest-hit city, has seen a 64 percent drop since June 1.
India on Friday surpassed a million confirmed infections and 25,000 deaths, weeks after the government lifted a nationwide lockdown in hopes of getting the economy up and running.
In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government was one of the first to impose a national lockdown to slow the pandemic. But that drove many migrant workers out of crowded cities and back to their home villages, where some of them spread the virus.
The lockdown came at a steep economic cost, and Mr. Modi lifted it last month. Now India is recording about 30,000 new cases a day, almost three times as many as a month ago, and with testing still sparse, the true figure is likely to be much higher.
Critics say that Mr. Modi imposed the lockdown before it was needed, then lifted it too soon. In his defense, he has pointed to wealthier countries where the official death toll has been 20 to 50 times as high, relative to the size of their populations, as in India.
Regardless, India now ranks third in the world — behind only the United States and Brazil — in both total infections and the number of new ones recorded each day.
The rate of new cases in India is on track to soon overtake Brazil, which surpassed two million cases on Thursday but where the spread of the virus has leveled off. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimate that by the end of next year, India will have the worst outbreak in the world.
“We have paid a price for laxity,” said K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, a nonprofit organization of public health experts and academics.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not release its guidance for reopening schools this week as expected, the latest turn in a clash between President Trump and the disease control centers over how — and whether — students should return to the classroom in the fall as coronavirus pandemic rages.
“C.D.C.’s Reopening Schools Safely documents will not be released this week; instead the full set will be published before the end of the month,” an agency spokesman said in a statement. “These science- and evidence-based resources and tools will provide additional information for administrators, teachers and staff, parents, caregivers and guardians, as together we work towards the public health-oriented goal of safely opening schools this fall.”
News of the delay was first reported by N.P.R. Earlier this month, Mr. Trump — who has been insistent that schools reopen in the fall — clashed with the C.D.C. over its proposed guidelines as “very tough and expensive” and demanded that they be revised. A copy of the draft rules to which Mr. Trump apparently objected, outlined in a document obtained by The New York Times and marked “For Internal Use Only,” warned that fully reopening schools remained “the highest risk” for spreading coronavirus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain outlined a road map on Friday to ease lockdown restrictions and to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the coming months, as he warned that there won’t be any “significant return to normality” until November at the earliest, and “possibly in time for Christmas.”
All schools will reopen in September, Mr. Johnson said at a news conference from Downing Street, and concert halls and theaters might welcome visitors again in the fall, as well as stadiums. Indoor gyms and pools will also be allowed to reopen by the end of July.
Nightclubs and indoor playgrounds will remain closed, and wedding receptions will remain limited to 30 people, Mr. Johnson said, as the authorities toe the line between what may be possible, and what won’t be. Local authorities will also be granted extended powers to enforce local lockdowns when areas face an uptick in virus cases. Leicester, in central England, has seen one in recent weeks.
“I know some will say this plan is too optimistic, that the risks are too great and that we won’t overcome the virus in time,” said Mr. Johnson, who warned that all measures were optional and could be pulled back at any time.
With at least 45,000 deaths, Britain has been one of the worst-hit countries in the world, and the authorities have announced that masks will be required in shops and supermarkets starting next week. Pubs and restaurants reopened in England and Wales earlier this month, and Mr. Johnson said the authorities would gradually encourage employees to go back to offices, and may not warn against taking public transportation anymore.
Britain should “hope for the best,” Mr. Johnson said, but “plan for the worst.”
The offer to employees at the state-owned oil giant was compelling: Be among the first in China to receive a coronavirus vaccine.
The employees at PetroChina could use one of two vaccines “for emergency use” to protect themselves when working overseas as part of China’s ambitious infrastructure program, according to a copy of the notice, which was reviewed by The New York Times. They would effectively be guinea pigs for testing the unproven vaccines outside official clinical trials.
The offer was backed by the government. It stressed that data from clinical trials showed that the products, both made by Sinopharm, were safe. It did not mention the possible side effects or warn against the false sense of security from taking a vaccine that had not been approved by regulators.
“I don’t think this is right ethically,” said Joan Shen, the Shanghai-based chief executive of the pharmaceutical firm I-Mab Biopharma.
The unorthodox move, to test people separately from the normal regulatory approval process, reflects the formidable challenge facing China as it races to develop the world’s first coronavirus vaccine.
Eager to find a long-term solution to the outbreak and burnish their scientific credentials, Chinese companies are rushing to get as much data as possible on their vaccines to prove they are safe and effective. In China, they are selectively testing their vaccines on small pools of people like the PetroChina employees — an approach that does not count toward the regulatory process but that could bolster their own confidence in the vaccines.
Companies and researchers worldwide are rushing to test hundreds of possible treatments meant to prevent or quell coronavirus infections. Some they hope will block the virus itself, nipping a burgeoning infection in the bud, while others are aimed at mimicking the immune system or quieting an overactive immune response.
The New York Times is cataloging some of the most talked-about drugs, devices and therapies in a new tracker that summarizes the evidence for and against each proposed treatment. The tracker includes 20 treatments so far; five have strong evidence of efficacy, three are pseudoscience, and the rest fall somewhere in between.
The Israeli government announced new coronavirus restrictions on Friday as the number of cases in the country continued to swell and the government faced further criticism for its handling of the pandemic.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office and the Health Ministry said in a statement that gyms would be closed and almost all restaurants would be limited to takeout and delivery services, starting at 5 p.m. on Friday.
Beaches, they said, would be inaccessible during most of the weekends, starting July 24.
The new restrictions come after Israel reimposed other measures to stem the spread of the virus last week.
Since late June, infections in Israel have soared. The nation is averaging more than 1,500 cases a day, up from 664 two weeks ago, and unemployment stands at more than 20 percent.
In the past several weeks, Mr. Netanyahu’s government has come under sharp criticism for its management of the virus crisis, especially its economic fallout. Last Saturday, thousands of Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv to protest the government’s handling of the pandemic’s economic fallout.
In other news around the world:
Japan has asked the U.S. military to quarantine all of its personnel arriving at American bases in Japan for two weeks and then test them for the coronavirus, the country’s defense minister, Taro Kono, said on Friday. There has been an outbreak of cases on U.S. military bases on the island of Okinawa.
As European Union leaders met to negotiate a massive economic aid package, the major sticking point was how much latitude to give those countries receiving the aid. The talks in Brussels on Friday were the first time that E.U. leaders had held an in-person meeting since the start of the pandemic.
The residents of Barcelona, Spain, were told on Friday to stay indoors in order to help contain a new coronavirus outbreak in the Catalonia region in the northeastern part of the country. The authorities also announced a ban on outdoor gatherings of 10 people or more in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia.
In Australia, the state of Victoria reported 428 new cases on Friday, another single-day record. “We are in the fight of our lives,” Victoria’s health minister, Jenny Mikakos, told reporters in Melbourne, the locked-down state capital.
The authorities in the Philippines said that foreigners with long-term visas could begin entering the country in August, for the first time since March. They will be quarantined, monitored and tested.
Queen Elizabeth II will confer a knighthood on Tom Moore, the 100-year-old British Army veteran who raised $40 million for Britain’s National Health Service by walking 100 laps of his garden in the spring. Friday’s ceremony, to be held outside Windsor Castle, will be only the second time the queen has emerged from seclusion since March 19, when she left Buckingham Palace as the coronavirus bore down on London.
A 27-year-old woman in Tunisia was found guilty of “inciting hatred between religions” and sentenced to six months in jail and a $700 fine after she shared another Facebook user’s post about the coronavirus that mimicked Quranic iconography.
More than three weeks after the New York State primaries, election officials have not counted an untold number of mail-in absentee ballots, leaving numerous closely watched races unresolved, including three key Democratic congressional contests.
The absentee ballot count — greatly inflated this year because the state expanded the vote-by-mail option because of the pandemic — has been painstakingly slow, and hard to track, with no running account of the vote totals available.
The delays in New York’s primaries raise huge concerns about how the state will handle the general election in November and may offer a cautionary note for other states as they weigh whether to embrace, and how to implement, a vote-by-mail system.
The primary reason for the delays is the sheer number of absentee ballots: In New York City, 403,203 ballots were mailed for the June primary; as a comparison, just 76,258 absentee and military ballots were counted in the 2008 general election, when Barack Obama was elected president.
But other factors also have played a part.
Election officials said they were left scrambling when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo decided in late April to send absentee ballot applications to every registered voter; a May court decision that reinstituted a June presidential primary also complicated matters.
Reporting was contributed by Lilia Blaise, Manny Fernandez, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Jeffrey Gettleman, Erin Griffith, Mark Landler, Lauren Leatherby, Jesse McKinley, Sarah Mervosh, Jennifer Miller, Raphael Minder, Azi Paybarah, Elian Peltier, Adam Rasgon, Motoko Rich, Campbell Robertson, Mariana Simões, Karan Deep Singh, Mitch Smith, Kaly Soto, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, and Sui-Lee Wee.
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