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As tensions grew over the practicality of bringing students back to college campuses for the fall semester, officials at North Carolina State on Thursday announced that classes would be moved online after an increase in coronavirus cases and the number of students sent to quarantine or isolation.
On the same day, Syracuse University and Vanderbilt University warned newly arrived students who seemed intent on having an ordinary campus experience in a year that is anything but ordinary.
“The good news is that campus has been safe,” N.C. State’s chancellor, Randy Woodson, said at a news conference. “But we’ve seen behaviors off campus that, frankly, are inconsistent with our community standards and have had an impact on our ability to go forward.”
The caution at Syracuse came after a campus gathering alarmed officials.
“Last night,” one Syracuse official said in a letter, “a large group of first-year students selfishly jeopardized the very thing that so many of you claim to want from Syracuse University — that is, a chance at a residential college experience. I say this because the students who gathered on the Quad last night may have done damage enough to shut down campus, including residence halls and in-person learning, before the academic semester even begins.”
The university said that the students now face discipline.
Vanderbilt, trying to prevent a similar episode, sent out a series of tweets imploring everyone to behave on the Nashville campus and reminding students that disregard for safety rules “will not be tolerated.”
The shift at N.C. State and the warnings at Syracuse and Vanderbilt came just days after the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shut down its campus and moved to remote learning in response to an outbreak in the first week of its reopening. The university has said most students must leave their on-campus housing, a decision that N.C. State, for now, has not matched. N.C. State will begin its online-only learning on Monday.
The Vanderbilt messages, signed by the chancellor and the provost, who is also the vice chancellor for academic affairs, included a reminder that “we write this not to scare you but to be perfectly plain: The situation happening at other universities can be avoided at Vanderbilt, but only if you anchor down, step up and do your part.”
The Syracuse letter said that the students who gathered on the Quad had “knowingly ignored New York State public health law and the provisions of the university’s “Stay Safe Pledge” and called their actions selfish because they might “prevent our seniors from claiming their final year of college on our residential campus.”
Also on Thursday, Purdue University in Indiana suspended 36 students who attended a party the night before, the Lafayette Journal & Courier reported. Students will be able to appeal, the newspaper said. The university said the students had violated the Protect Purdue Pledge.
Also on Thursday, Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi banned all game day “social gatherings outside college and university stadiums,” including tailgates and picnics. Mr. Reeves said he would allow games to be held, but he barred “bowl seating” at stadiums from being more than 25 percent full.
The decision followed a series of rulings from schools across the South about how they would handle tailgating festivities, a rite of autumn Saturdays in the region’s college towns. The University of Alabama and Auburn University forbade tailgating on their campuses, but Florida State University said on Thursday that it would allow it, at least for now.
Mr. Biden said it was unacceptable that the U.S. caseload and death toll were the world’s highest, and that Black, Latino, Asian-American and Native American communities were “bearing the brunt” of the impacts.
“And after all this time the president still does not have a plan,” he added. “Well, I do.”
Speaking on the convention’s fourth night, Mr. Biden said that if he were elected, he would swiftly implement a national strategy for dealing with the virus that includes rapid testing with immediate results, more domestic manufacturing of medical supplies and a national mask mandate. He said the mandate would not be a “burden,” but rather a “patriotic duty to protect one another.”
Mr. Biden also pledged to provide enough resources to schools to make them “open, safe and effective,” and to “take the muzzle off” health experts to allow for “unvarnished truth” about the virus.
“In short, we’ll do what we should have done from the very beginning,” he continued. “Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to the nation. He’s failed to protect us. He’s failed to protect America. And my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable.”
South Korea threatened “maximum” criminal penalties and arrests for people who impede the government’s disease-control efforts, as it reported 324 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, the highest daily total since early March.
A new outbreak spreading from Sarang Jeil Church in Seoul, the capital city of 10 million people, has raised fears of mass transmission across South Korea. Once proud of its earlier successful fight against the virus, South Korea has reported triple-digit daily increases in cases for eight consecutive days.
Although most of the new cases have been found in the Seoul metropolitan area, many other cities have also reported cases, indicating that the outbreak was spreading to the rest of the nation.
“We can say that this is the biggest crisis we’ve faced since the Covid-19 pandemic started in our country,” President Moon Jae-in said on Friday while urging the Seoul city government to become more aggressive in tracking down members of Sarang Jeil Church and their contacts for testing. “If disease-control efforts fail in Seoul, the entire disease-control system of the nation could collapse.”
“We must exercise stern law enforcement, including detaining offenders on site or seeking arrest warrants,” he said.
Health officials were also seeking to test all of the thousands of people who joined an anti-government rally in downtown Seoul last Saturday, after dozens of participants, including church members, tested positive.
The church has been one of the most vocal conservative critics of Mr. Moon and has often organized large anti-government protests in recent months.
Officials accused the church and its members of hampering their disease-control efforts by hiding a complete roster of congregants or refusing to be tested or running away from government-run quarantine facilities for patients.
The church denied the accusations, saying that it had been cooperating the best it could, and it instead accused the government of a “witch-hunt” to silence its vocal critics. During a telephone interview on Friday, the Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon, the chief pastor of the church, who is under quarantine after testing positive, reiterated that the outbreak in his church was caused by a “terrorist attack with the virus from the outside.”
So far, 732 cases have been traced to the church.
Hong Kong will roll out voluntary coronavirus tests for all citizens over a period of two weeks starting on Sep. 1, Carrie Lam, the city’s pro-Beijing leader, said on Friday, crediting the Chinese government for making the large-scale testing possible.
The mainland authorities will provide staff and services to testing laboratories, Mrs. Lam said. The free, one-time testing program has raised privacy concerns among Hong Kong’s activists and residents, who fear it could lead to the harvesting of DNA samples. The local government, grappling with public distrust after a year of protests, has denied the accusation.
“Our objective is to encourage as many Hong Kong people to come forward to receive this free-of-charge testing, so that they can be assured of their own situation and they can help us and help society to recover as soon as possible,” Mrs. Lam said, calling it a “civic responsibility of every Hong Kong citizen.”
One-hundred and fifty swabbing stations will be set up across Hong Kong for the citywide program, the South China Morning Post reported.
Other projects facilitated by the Chinese government include converting parts of a major exhibition center near Hong Kong’s airport into makeshift health facilities, Mrs. Lam said. A temporary hospital will also be built over the next four months.
Hong Kong is currently battling its most severe wave of infections yet, although the daily tally has gradually eased after a peak in July, with 27 new cases reported on Friday.
Economists and deficit hawks have warned for decades that the United States was borrowing too much money. The federal debt was ballooning so fast, they said, that economic ruin was inevitable: Interest rates would skyrocket, taxes would rise and inflation would probably run wild.
The death spiral could be triggered once the debt surpassed the size of the U.S. economy — a turning point that was probably still years in the future.
It actually happened much sooner: sometime before the end of June.
The pandemic, and the economic collapse that followed, unleashed a historic run of government borrowing: trillions of dollars for stimulus payments, unemployment insurance expansions and loans to prop up small businesses and to keep big companies afloat.
But the economy hasn’t drowned in the flood of red ink — and there’s a growing sense that the country could take on even more without any serious consequences.
“At this stage, I think, nobody is very worried about debt,” said Olivier Blanchard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and a former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund. “It’s clear that we can probably go where we are going, which is debt ratios above 100 percent in many countries. And that’s not the end of the world.”
Since the 2008 financial crisis, traditional thinking about borrowing by governments — at least those that control their own currencies — has weakened as central banks in major developed markets became enormous buyers in government bond markets.
In other news around the country:
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is defending his first three months of overseeing the Postal Service before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Friday, and denouncing what he described as a “false narrative” that had emerged about his tenure. Mr. DeJoy contends that a series of cost-cutting measures intended to help improve efficiency have been misconstrued “into accusations that we are degrading the service provided to election mail.”
A player and staff member for the New York Mets tested positive in Miami on Thursday, prompting Major League baseball to postpone the team’s game in Miami and the opener of its series with the Yankees at Citi Field on Friday. Since the truncated baseball season began on July 23, the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals have had large-scale outbreaks, and the Cincinnati Reds had one positive test last Saturday.
More than 300 doctors in Nairobi went on strike on Friday over what they say are delayed salaries and substandard personal protective equipment, precipitating a health crisis in the Kenyan city that is hardest hit by the pandemic.
Besides persistent delays in the payment of salaries, doctors say they have been supplied with poor-quality protective gear that has led many of them to become infected in the course of caring for the sick. Many say they have gone weeks without medical insurance since a national fund stopped paying for the expense at the end of June, leaving doctors to foot the bill for their own care. Those who become infected are not given access to isolation facilities, they say.
The doctors, who work in Nairobi’s public health system, have now joined thousands of other medical workers nationwide who have gone on strike in recent weeks over what they say are dangerous and exhausting working conditions.
Across Kenya, more than 700 health workers have tested positive for the coronavirus and at least 10 have died, according to the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union.
New cases of the virus have surged in recent weeks as the country has lifted a ban on international flights and slowly reopened the economy. As of Friday morning, Kenya had recorded at least 31,000 cases and 516 deaths, according to a New York Times database, with the area around Nairobi counting for more than half of the cases.
The strike began on Friday after talks between the authorities in Nairobi and the doctors collapsed the day before.
“Doctors are not martyrs,” said Thuranira Kaugiria, the secretary general of the Nairobi branch of the doctor’s union. “Doctors are not children of a lesser God.”
Dr. Kaugiria said that he had been threatened for calling for the strike and had moved his children out of his home as a precaution.
“We deserve to be treated better, and we deserve to be given what is rightfully ours,” he said.
Four dozen Chinese workers who received an experimental vaccine last week were barred from flying to Papua New Guinea over concerns that they could pose a risk to residents of the remote Pacific island nation.
David Manning, who heads Papua New Guinea’s pandemic response, said that the planeload of workers headed for a Chinese-run mine, Ramu Nickel, would not be allowed into the country, the local news media reported.
China began giving the unproven vaccine to select groups of workers last month even though human trials have not been completed to determine whether it is safe or effective.
China notified Papua New Guinea this week that it was sending 48 workers who had been given the unproven vaccine on Aug. 10, and that they might test positive for the coronavirus on arrival even though they did not have Covid-19.
China has offered the experimental vaccine to workers traveling abroad, but the Papua New Guinea deployment appears to be the first time China has acknowledged sending workers abroad after they received it.
A nation of nine million people, Papua New Guinea has largely been untouched by the pandemic. As of Friday, it had reported 361 cases, including four deaths.
Mr. Manning, the pandemic response official, said in a statement on Friday that any vaccines imported into Papua New Guinea “must go through vigorous vaccine trials, protocols and procedures.”
In other developments around the world:
The Colombian government said that, beginning on Friday, the authorities in Venezuela would suspend re-entry for citizens attempting to return via the Simón Bolívar Bridge, a major crossing point along the two countries’ porous border. Venezuelans who have streamed home in recent months after losing jobs in Colombia and elsewhere have been held by their government in makeshift containment centers, as part of President Nicolás Maduro’s effort to deploy his repressive security apparatus against the virus.
Ireland’s agriculture minister, Dara Calleary, resigned on Friday after he broke public health guidelines by attending a gathering of more of 80 people earlier this week. Ireland has limited indoor gatherings to no more than 50 people since June, and the government on Tuesday announced even tighter restrictions on gatherings in response to new clusters of coronavirus cases and an increasing rate of infection.
The fight against a growing ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is being hampered by the pull of resources toward the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization said in a news release. Cases have now reached 100 in the outbreak, and 43 people have died. The country has had 9,802 coronavirus cases and 248 deaths, according to a New York Times database.
Ukraine, which had done a good job controlling the coronavirus compared with neighboring countries, reported a sharp rise in cases this week, attributed in part to church attendance and weddings.
On Thursday, the country reported its highest single-day case count, according to Maksym Stepanov, the minister of health. The ministry reported 2,134 cases in the past 24 hours, surpassing the record of 1,967 cases reported the day before.
“Almost every day we have a new anti-record,” he told journalists in an online briefing. He reiterated requirements for wearing masks in public spaces and social distancing. “We live in a new reality that requires sticking to the certain rules,” he said. As of Friday, Ukraine had reported at least 100,000 cases and 2,200 deaths.
Lax adherence to the rules, rather than premature lifting of restrictions, was mostly to blame, Ukrainian medical experts said. Weddings and religious ceremonies in the western part of the country were the main cause of the recent increase in cases, the prime minister, Denys Shmygal, said on Monday. In response, he said, the police are stepping up enforcement of quarantine measures.
Partly, the increase in reported cases followed an increase in testing, Svitlana Fedorova, the director of the Mykolaiv Center, a scientific body studying infectious diseases, said in a post on Facebook. About 20,000 people are now tested daily in Ukraine, authorities have said.
But the more rapid spread in Ukraine is not wholly the result of rising rates of testing, Kateryna Bulavinova, of the United Nations Children’s Fund in Ukraine, said in an interview. “People don’t stick to the safety measures, do not keep social distance,” she said. Hospitals have not separated coronavirus and non-coronavirus patients, she said, making the health care system itself a source of infection. Because of this, she said, “the risk of getting infected is obviously higher.”
Ukraine, however, still has far fewer cases per capita than neighboring Russia and Belarus. In Belarus, President Aleksandr Lukashenko for months denied the virus posed a threat and never fully locked down the country to slow its spread. Participants in antigovernment street protests in Belarus say the failed virus response is one reason for their disaffection.
As the pandemic has ravaged the United States, some Americans are finding that a second citizenship or permanent residency has a renewed appeal.
Some people see it as a kind of insurance policy, a way to ensure freedom of movement in the future. Newfound free time at home has enabled others to engage in a laborious application process they have had on their to-do lists for years.
The practice of establishing a second nationality has risen in the past few months.
“I see how European people have really stepped up to take a collective problem and work together toward achieving the goal, i.e. of getting rid of the virus,” said Susan Periharos, who began her application process for Greek citizenship about four weeks ago. “The pandemic pretty much clinched it for me.”
Reporting was contributed by Reed Abelson, Alan Blinder, Alexander Burns, Choe Sang-Hun, Abdi Latif Dahir, Katie Glueck, Mike Ives, Tyler Kempner, Gwen Knapp, Richard C. Paddock, Valeriya Safronova, Anna Schaverien, Kaly Soto, Matt Stevens, Marina Varenikova and Elaine Yu.
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