Covid-19 Live Updates: India Sets Another Record for Daily Cases

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India now has the third-highest death toll from the virus.

Credit…Xavier Galiana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

India is breaking its own global records for daily cases, and now it has edged ahead of Mexico in a race no country wants to win: the number of deaths caused by the coronavirus.

India, a nation of 1.3 billion people, has the world’s third-highest death toll at 64,469, according to a New York Times database, behind only the United States and Brazil. (Mexico is just over 300 behind at 64,158.) And with India’s new cases exceeding 75,000 for the past five days, the virus doesn’t seem to be loosening its grip.

The steep rise in cases, which officials say is partly explained by an increase in testing, comes as India continues to ease restrictions following one of the world’s most severe lockdowns this spring. Decisions on reopening are being driven in part by economic concerns, with the government expected to announce what may be a historic contraction later on Monday.

In New Delhi, the capital, the subway will start reopening on Sept. 7, officials said Saturday.

“This is good news,” said Anuradha Raman, a college student in New Delhi. “But people are also scared, because we don’t follow social distance guidelines here.”

Arvind Kejriwal, New Delhi’s chief minister, said he was glad the subway, which is used by 2.6 million commuters a day, was resuming service. But the capital also recorded more than 2,000 new cases on Sunday, its largest daily tally in 51 days.

It was not clear whether subways in other cities would also resume service.

While sports events and religious festivals have been allowed with restrictions on attendance, the country’s schools will remain closed until the end of September. The suspension of scheduled international flights has also been extended until then, the Indian civil aviation authorities said on Monday.

Also in India on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi confirmed the death of Pranab Mukherjee, a politician who rose to high office alongside one of the country’s longest-serving prime ministers, Indira Gandhi. He was 84. Before undergoing brain surgery in recent weeks, Mr. Mukherjee announced on Twitter that he had also tested positive for the coronavirus. He was later put on a ventilator and fell into a coma, according to doctors who were treating him at a military hospital.

Other coronavirus developments around the world:

  • Global confirmed cases have surpassed 25 million according to a Times database, and at least 845,000 people have died. The 10 countries reporting the highest per capita infections in the last week are largely clustered in the Caribbean (Aruba, Turks and Caicos, Sint Maarten) and in Central and South America (Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Panama). The Maldives, Bahrain and Israel are also in that category.

  • New Zealand reported nine new cases on Monday, including four imported cases and five community cases linked to a cluster in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, which came out of lockdown late Sunday after more than two weeks. Monday is also the first day when it is mandatory to wear masks on public transportation nationwide.

  • Australia reported its highest daily death toll on Monday, most of them deaths from the past month that had not been recorded earlier. Of the 41 deaths — all of them in the state of Victoria, the center of Australia’s worst outbreak — eight were in the previous 24 hours, officials said. The rest occurred in nursing homes as early as late July but are being counted now because of a change in the way they are required to report coronavirus deaths.

  • Schools in Hong Kong will resume in-person classes on Sept. 23, the education minister said Monday. Students in the semiautonomous Chinese territory have been taking classes online since early February, except for about a month at the end of the school year when infections were almost zero. Hong Kong reported nine new cases on Monday as it continues to tamp down what is being called a third wave of infections. Officials also said that as of Monday afternoon, more than 526,000 residents in the city of 7.5 million had signed up for a mass testing program, set to begin on Tuesday.

  • The international airport in Ghana will reopen on Tuesday after being shut down since March, President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a nationwide broadcast late Sunday. Passengers must provide proof of a negative PCR test — the most widely used diagnostic test for the new coronavirus — within 72 hours of departure, in addition to paying for a second test upon arrival. Land and sea borders remain closed in Ghana, which has had more than 44,000 cases and 276 deaths, according to a Times database.

Trump retweets fringe theories on the virus as the U.S. has more than 6 million cases.

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It was a day of numbers.

Americans began their Sunday with the news that the staggering pandemic death toll, seemingly beyond dispute, was being questioned by their own president, and ended it as the country reached more than six million confirmed infections.

Almost 183,000 people have died in the United States from the virus — some analyses put the true toll well past 200,000 — but President Trump lent his embrace to fringe groups peddling claims that the number is grossly exaggerated.

On Twitter, Mr. Trump reposted messages from conspiracy theorists. They reject the data of his own administration — and they attack the very people he has put in charge of trying to stop the pandemic, among them Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and Dr. Deborah L. Birx.

The real death toll, these groups claim, is closer to 9,000, because many of those who died had underlying health issues and most were elderly.

“So get this straight — based on the recommendation of doctors Fauci and Birx the US shut down the entire economy based on 9,000 American deaths to the China coronavirus,” said the summary of a story by the hard-line conservative website Gateway Pundit that Mr. Trump retweeted.

It was part of a presidential tweet storm, though at least one of the posts was short-lived. “This Tweet is no longer available because it violated the Twitter Rules,” the social media company said after deleting one of them.

Days after his Justice Department targeted four Democratic governors over their handling of the pandemic, Mr. Trump also retweeted a message calling for New York’s governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, to be imprisoned because of the high death toll from the virus in nursing homes in the state. “#KillerCuomo should be in jail,” the message said.

Mr. Cuomo responded on his own Twitter feed a few hours later, pointing to the Trump administration’s failure to contain the pandemic. “The White House has learned nothing from COVID,” Mr. Cuomo wrote. “National threats require national leadership. It’s been 6 months without a national strategy on testing or mask mandate. Only the federal government has the power to go to war with COVID. They are failing and the nation suffers.”

As of Monday morning, more than 6,008,100 people in the United States had been infected with the coronavirus, and at least 182,900 had died, according to a New York Times database. The country’s last million cases emerged in just 22 days, compared with more than three months for the first million cases this spring. However, there are signs that infections are slowing.

With testing disrupted, storm-hit Louisiana watches other measures of the virus and sees trouble.

Credit…William Widmer for The New York Times

Many dangers linger in Louisiana since Hurricane Laura, Gov. John Bel Edwards has warned: Downed power lines. Falling debris. Carbon monoxide poisoning from generators, the cause of more than half of storm-related deaths.

And the coronavirus. It has killed 400 times as many Louisianans as the storm, the governor noted, “just to put things in perspective, for whatever this may be worth.”

The storm interrupted virus testing across the state, so the new-case data “is not going to be robust over the next several days,” Mr. Edwards said at a news conference Sunday evening. It will take time to ramp the testing back up, he said, so officials must depend on other markers, like hospitalizations, to track the virus’ — and there are signs of trouble, the governor said, including increases in hospitalizations on Friday and Saturday.

Calcasieu Parish, which includes Lake Charles, one of the cities most affected by the storm, has reported 7,439 confirmed cases of the virus and 182 deaths since the pandemic began, according to a New York Times database. As of Sunday afternoon, Louisiana as a whole had reported 148,030 cases and 4,931 deaths.

“The public health emergency is real,” Mr. Edwards said.

Experts warned that the storm stood to worsen the coronavirus’s spread. Residents face more exposure while staying with relatives and friends or cleaning their property, or in other circumstances were it is difficult to maintain social distance. That may be especially true in the southwest, where hundreds of thousands of people lack power and may not see it return for days.

“If we think of Laura on top of Covid or Covid on top of Laura, it’s new and overwhelming,” Susanne Straif-Bourgeois, a professor at the L.S.U. Health Sciences School of Public Health who studies pandemics, told The New Orleans Advocate and Times-Picayune, which reported that the storm recovery provided fertile ground for new infections. “We’ve never had to deal with this before.”

‘Not completely benign’: Why children are not as safe from infection as commonly believed.

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As some schools begin in-person classes, data compiled by the American Academy of Pediatrics from the summer show that cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus have increased at a faster rate in children and teenagers than among the general public.

The data, which spans from May 21 to Aug. 20, varies from state to state, possibly obscuring differences in how the virus affects infants, young children and adolescents.

For example, many states group infants and teenagers into the same category. One state even includes people up to age 24. But the rise remains similar across states.

Young children seem to catch and transmit the virus less than adults, and children of all ages tend not to experience severe complications from it. But Dr. Sean O’Leary, vice chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on infectious diseases, said that substantial community spread in many parts of the United States corresponded with more infections among children.

The rise in reported cases comes in part from more widespread testing, but Dr. O’Leary said there was evidence that minors were becoming infected at a higher rate now than earlier in the year because hospitalizations and deaths among children had increased as well.

Much is still unknown about how the virus affects young people, but Black and Latino children who contract the virus are more likely to be hospitalized, as is true with adults.

“Anyone who has been on the front lines of this pandemic in a children’s hospital can tell you we’ve taken care of lots of kids that are very sick,” Dr. O’Leary said. “Yes, it’s less severe in children than adults, but it’s not completely benign.”

Since the beginning of the summer, every state in the country has had an increase in the number of young people who have tested positive for the virus, as a share of all cases. In late May, about 5 percent of the nation’s cases were documented in minors. By Aug. 20, that number had risen to more than 9 percent.

New Jersey restaurants to open at 25 percent capacity for indoor dining

Credit…Seth Wenig/Associated Press

New Jersey restaurants can open for indoor dining at 25 percent of capacity starting Friday, Gov. Philip D. Murphy announced Monday on Twitter.

The reopening, on the eve of Labor Day weekend, comes about two months after Mr. Murphy canceled a scheduled restart of indoor dining as virus cases spiked in parts of the country that had relaxed rules on restaurants. Outdoor dining in New Jersey resumed on June 15.

“Reopening responsibly will help us restore one of our state’s key industries while continuing to make progress against Covid-19,” Mr. Murphy said on Twitter.

The slow easing of restrictions has been a growing source of tension in New Jersey, a densely populated state that has had 15,937 virus-related deaths, the nation’s highest rate per 100,000 residents.

“At 25% capacity they still can’t make a profit,” Eileen Kean, the state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said in a statement.

“Many restaurants operate on narrow profit margins and only had a few months of cash reserves, so while loans and grants extended that, it has gone on so long that some had to close for good. Mostly those with savings, or who owned a building and didn’t have pay rent have lasted to this point. But they will only survive if they are safely able to increase to 50% and hopefully full capacity in short order.”

Last week, the governor said all health clubs could fully reopen for workouts starting Tuesday.

Indoor dining remains forbidden in New York City. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York acknowledged that New Jersey’s allowing indoor dining could further put restaurants in the city at an economic disadvantage and said that state officials were considering whether to allow indoor dining there.

But Mr. Cuomo said that he was still apprehensive, especially with city schools reopening. “I want as much economic activity as quickly as possible,” he said. But, he added, that the state was trying to find a balance between that and public health concerns.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said it would take a “huge step forward” for restaurants in the city to be able to resume indoor dining.

“Is there a way we can do something safely with indoor dining? So far we have not had that moment,” he said.

Waivers allowing free school meals in the U.S. get a partial reprieve.

Credit…Todd Berkey/The Tribune-Democrat, via Associated Press

The Department of Agriculture, in a partial reversal, said on Monday that it would once again allow schools and community organizations to provide free breakfasts and lunches to all children, and not just to enrolled students who qualify under the usual regulations.

The policy, meant to allow wider nutritional support during the coronavirus pandemic, will now apply through the end of 2020, as long as funds remains available.

When schools shut down in the spring because of the pandemic, the department authorized districts across the country to distribute subsidized to-go meals to any child or adolescent under 19, without parents having to apply or show financial need. The change was intended to make it easier to get meals to low-income children while they were stuck at home.

In recent months, though, the department had said that districts would have to go back to the usual rules governing the school meal program when instruction began this fall — whether in-person or remote. That meant providing meals only to students enrolled in that school district, and students who didn’t qualify for free meals would have to pay. (Children living in households with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level qualify for free meals. Those in households up to 185 percent of the poverty level qualify for reduced-price meals.)

Officials in districts where schools has already started remotely this month said the change had led to huge drops in the number of meals they were distributing.

Members of Congress from both parties urged the Agriculture Department to extend the special pandemic rules through the end of the 2020-21 school year. But Sonny Perdue, the secretary of agriculture, had said that his department had neither the money nor the authority to do that.

On Monday morning, Mr. Perdue partially reversed course. In an appearance at an elementary school in Georgia, he said that, after getting the latest figures, his department had calculated that it could extend the special rules into the fall, and possibly through December.

Democrats had challenged Mr. Perdue’s explanation for not extending the special rules, saying that providing free meals to all comers had not actually cost more than the regular school lunch and breakfast program, and that Congress had given the department extra money.

Mr. Perdue did not shed any new light on that issue at his appearance on Monday. Asked by a reporter how much extending the special rules through December would cost, he said only, “It’s expensive.”

Infections continue to turn up at colleges, forcing changes on campus and beyond.

Credit…Pete Kiehart for The New York Times

As the summer winds down, colleges and universities across the United States continue to change their plans for the fall semester. Some are welcoming students back to campus, while others are barring them.

The disparate approaches reflect the constantly changing landscape of the pandemic. Experts have long known that one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of the virus is for people not to travel.

But higher-education institutions are often filled with students from all over the country, if not the world.

Still, many universities pledged to open, even moving students into dorms as they traditionally would — albeit with masks and social distancing. Then, as they started testing, colleges like the University of North Carolina saw clusters of infections and abruptly changed plans, amid protests by students and faculty that in-person learning was not safe.

The lack of a uniform approach can be seen at many universities, like Northwestern, which announced on Friday that freshmen and sophomores would not be allowed back for the fall quarter but third- and fourth-year students would.

And there are consequences for the communities around these universities. Mayor Walt Maddox of Tuscaloosa, Ala., ordered all the bars in his city to close for two weeks last Monday, in hopes of slowing an explosion in cases tied to the University of Alabama campus. Since the university reopened at the beginning of August, more than 1,300 students, staff and faculty members have tested positive, according to the university’s tracker.

“The rising Covid cases we have seen in recent days is unacceptable, and if unchecked threatens our ability to complete the semester on campus,” Stuart Bell, the university’s president, told reporters last week, The Tuscaloosa News reported.

Nearly half of the top 20 metropolitan areas where new cases per capita rose the most over the past two weeks are college towns, home to the reopened campuses of large public universities.

In Ames, Iowa, Iowa State University found 104 cases on campus in the first week of fall classes and quarantined 204 more people. Officials also reported a 13.6 percent positivity rate for tests performed in the first week.

In Iowa City, the University of Iowa had 607 students test positive by last Friday, a week into the semester. The outbreaks at the two universities prompted Gov. Kim Reynolds to order bars closed through most of September in six Iowa counties.

Temple University in Philadelphia announced on Sunday that it would suspend in-person classes for two weeks and shift to online learning after more than 100 students had tested positive for the virus. The university said it had conducted more than 5,000 tests for the virus in the past two weeks and that there were 103 active cases, most of which were asymptomatic.

A pause is also in effect at SUNY Oneonta, a public college in central New York. The college closed down in-person classes within a few days of reopening, after learning of more than 100 virus cases connected with the campus. Officials began testing 3,000 students and faculty members after “several large parties” and positive tests for 20 people on campus. Fall classes at the school began last week.

“I think the colleges are the canary in the coal mine,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said in a recent conference call with reporters. “I think what we’re seeing at colleges, we’re going to see at the K-12 setting when those schools start to reopen.”

The U.S. Open field is diminished because of the pandemic, but tennis has a long history of disruption.

Credit…Amy Tennery/Reuters

The United States Open that is set to begin in New York on Monday will be far from full strength, extraordinarily far, but will it really be the Asterisk Open?

As of Sunday evening, 24 of the top 100 women were missing, including six of the top eight and three of the four reigning Grand Slam singles champions: Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu. Though Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka will be in the field, it will have the fewest top 10 players — four — of any U.S. Open since the WTA rankings began in 1975.

On the men’s side, only 12 of the top 100 were out as of Sunday, but this will be the first Grand Slam tournament of the 21st century without both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Stan Wawrinka, a three-time major singles champion, will be missing, too.

The absences are primarily because of concerns about traveling and scheduling during the pandemic.

But if you want to start affixing asterisks to Grand Slam tennis tournaments with weakened fields, you had best have a big box of asterisks.

“It is messy, and it is tricky,” said Steve Flink, an American tennis historian.

First, there is the amateur era, which lasted until 1968 and prohibited professionals from taking part in the four major tournaments: the Australian Championships, French Championships, Wimbledon and U.S. Championships.

Until 1968, leading men’s players — like Jack Kramer, Ken Rosewall and Rod Laver — would often turn professional after making their mark in the amateur game, which meant Grand Slam events seldom featured all of the best men in the world, only the best “amateurs,” some of whom received under-the-table payments to help them afford to remain amateurs.

The hypocrisy helped lead to change, but it also skewed the record book. Mr. Laver, who co-won all four major tournaments in 1962 and 1969, was ineligible for Grand Slam play for five full seasons in between.

That was not an issue in the women’s game, which had no professional circuit.

“In women’s tennis, there really should be no distinction between amateur and Open era because everybody played,” said Martina Navratilova, who became one of the greatest champions of any era by winning 167 WTA Tour singles titles, including 18 Grand Slams, and 177 doubles titles.

But leading women in the earlier years sometimes cut short or interrupted their competitive careers to raise families, depriving tournament fields of established stars.

There have also been plenty of major tournaments since 1968 with diminished fields for women and men.

The first open Grand Slam tournament — the 1968 French Open — was disrupted by protests and strikes and was nearly canceled. Some stars chose not to come, including Arthur Ashe, John Newcombe and Margaret Court, the Australian who holds the record for most Grand Slam women’s singles titles, with 24. Other players struggled to reach Paris.

Lady Gaga’s masks win the V.M.A.s

Credit…Viacom, via Reuters

The question of what the red carpet would become in a Covid-19 world was answered Sunday night at, of all places, the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards. And it was answered by Lady Gaga, The Times’s fashion director, Vanessa Friedman, writes.

Held live around New York City, socially distanced but without an audience, the V.M.A.s were the last of the summer award shows and the first to attempt some semblance of old-days pizazz. Keke Palmer hosted, and she both acknowledged the tragedies of the day — the death of Chadwick Boseman, the shooting of Jacob Blake — and engaged in multiple-dress modeling.

Not everyone wanted in. Taylor Swift accepted her prize remotely. So did BTS. There was a space where hosts and performers could pose on their ownsome for arrival photos. It was nice to see them make an effort. But it also felt as if something was missing, like a hot-air balloon slowly deflating.

But then came Lady Gaga. She puffed it back up.

She accepted her many awards in person. She performed. She changed clothes every single time she appeared, and she appeared seven times. And almost every time, she wore a different face mask.

First came her entry-making silver circular Area coat, with a matching clear face shield/astronaut helmet by Conrad by Conrad that made reference to the V.M.A. Moonman himself. To accept her artist of the year award, she wore an Iris Van Herpen bird of paradise dress with a swirling pink Cecilio Castrillo face mask; for the song of the year award, a gigantic iridescent emerald shirtdress ball gown from Christopher John Rogers and a matching bejeweled and tusked Lance V. Moore mask. She looked like some sort of superglamorous mastodon.

And so it went. In her performance from “Chromatica,” Gaga appeared in a pink and black bodysuit, mask by Diego Montoya. And finally, she wore a giant feathered Valentino couture cape and silver bodysuit with a silver Maison Met mask, which she also wore for her last change into a silver cape by Candice Cuoco to accept the Tricon award.

The pandemic has changed how Americans will choose their president. If you’re voting by mail, don’t delay.

In 35 states, voters can request ballots so close to Election Day that it may not be feasible for them to be received and sent back in time. Deadlines and other rules may change, but here’s the current breakdown of how much time voters will have in each state.

Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, John Branch, Christopher Clarey, Troy Closson, John Eligon, Reid J. Epstein, Vanessa Friedman, J. David Goodman, Ethan Hauser, Jennifer Jett, Dan Levin, Eric Nagourney, Rick Rojas, Kaly Soto, Lucy Tompkins, Tracey Tully, Marc Tracy and Neil Vigdor.

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