Fauci Says Virus Cases ‘Never Got Down to Where We Wanted to Go’ as Deaths Pass 130,000

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Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned on Monday that the country was still “knee-deep in the first wave” of the pandemic, as U.S. deaths passed 130,000 and cases neared three million, while Texas and Idaho set daily records for new cases, according to a New York Times database.

Dr. Fauci said that the more than 50,000 new cases a day recorded several times in the past week were “a serious situation that we have to address immediately.” He was speaking with Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, in a conversation that was streamed on N.I.H.’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

The two scientists were discussing progress on vaccine research — but the talk quickly veered into whether the rapid rise in cases amounted to a “second wave” of the virus.

“I would say this would not be considered a wave,” Dr. Fauci said. “It was a surge, or a resurgence of infections superimposed upon a baseline that really never got down to where we wanted to go.”

On Monday, Arizona surpassed 100,000 cases as its tally rose to 101,505 according to a New York Times database. Cases there have doubled within the last two and a half weeks. Officials in Idaho announced more than 400 new cases, the state’s most on a single day. Case numbers have more than tripled since mid-June in the county that includes Boise.

More than 1,000 new cases were announced Monday in Washington State, a single-day record in the state that was the site of the country’s first known case and first major cluster.

And more than 8,800 new cases were announced across Texas, the largest single-day total of the pandemic. Those figures included daily highs in Dallas County and in Tarrant County, which includes Fort Worth. But the spike on Monday was also influenced by a flood of newly announced cases in some places that reported little or no data over the holiday weekend.

Dr. Fauci compared the United States unfavorably with Europe, which he said was now merely handling “blips” as countries move to reopen. “We went up, never came down to baseline, and now it’s surging back up,” Dr. Fauci said.



‘We Are Still Knee-Deep in the First Wave,’ Fauci Warns

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said on Monday that he did not consider the increase in U.S. coronavirus cases a wave, but rather a resurgence of infections.

The current state is really not good in the sense that, as you know, we had been in a situation — we were averaging about 20,000 new cases a day. And then a series of circumstances associated with various states and cities trying to open up, in the sense of getting back to some form of normality, has led to a situation where we now have record-breaking cases. Two days ago, it was at 57,500. So within a period of a week and a half, we’ve almost doubled the number of cases. We are still knee-deep in the first wave of this. And I would say this would not be considered a wave. It was a surge or a resurgence of infections superimposed upon a baseline, Francis, that really never got down to where we wanted to go. If you look at the graphs from Europe — Europe, the European Union as an entity — it went up and then came down to baseline. Now they’re having little blips, as you might expect, as they try to reopen. We went up, never came down to baseline, and now we’re surging back up. So it’s a serious situation that we have to address immediately.

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Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said on Monday that he did not consider the increase in U.S. coronavirus cases a wave, but rather a resurgence of infections.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Al Drago

He pleaded with viewers to maintain social distancing strictures, as new outbreaks have been traced to large, indoor gatherings.

“Avoid crowds,” he said. “If you’re going to have a social function, maybe a single couple or two — do it outside if you’re going to do it. Those are fundamental, and everybody can do that right now.”

Over the first five days of July, the United States reported its three largest daily case totals. Fourteen states recorded single-day highs. In all, more than 250,000 new cases were announced nationwide, the equivalent of every person in Reno catching the virus in less than a week.

“The situation is that we are experiencing rampant community spread,” said Clay Jenkins, the top elected official in Dallas County, Texas, where more than 2,000 new cases were announced over the weekend. Mr. Jenkins pleaded with residents to “move from selfishness to sacrifice” and wear a mask in public.

Across much of the country, the outlook was worsening quickly.

In Mississippi, where nearly every county has reported an uptick in cases, the speaker of the State House of Representatives was among several lawmakers to test positive. The governor of Mississippi, Tate Reeves, announced that he would isolate while awaiting test results for the virus after he was “briefly in contact” with a lawmaker there who tested positive.

New case clusters emerged as people resumed their pre-pandemic routines. At least 16 infections were linked to a church in San Antonio. In Missouri, a summer camp shut down after more than 40 people, including campers and employees, tested positive.

But the move toward reopening continues. Some federal workers are heading back to their offices in the Washington area, where confirmed infections have held steady or declined.

Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian president and noted coronavirus skeptic, said Monday night that he had gone to the hospital for a lung scan and would take a new test for the virus.

Mr. Bolsonaro took those steps after developing symptoms of Covid-19, including a fever and abnormal blood oxygen level, according to a report from CNN Brasil.

Even as several of his aides tested positive for the virus in recent months, the president often rejected precautions like wearing a mask and social distancing, most recently at a luncheon on Saturday hosted by the American ambassador to Brazil to celebrate the Fourth of July.

A photo taken during the lunch and posted on Twitter by Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo shows the president sitting next to the American ambassador, Todd Chapman, giving a thumbs-up sign at a table decorated with an American flag design.

The president’s office and the foreign ministry did not immediately respond to emails about the president’s health.

While he awaits the test results, Mr. Bolsonaro, who is 65, cleared his schedule on Tuesday, according to several Brazilian press reports.


When he returned to the presidential palace on Tuesday evening, Mr. Bolsonaro told a group of supporters that his lung scan looked “clean” and that “everything was OK.”

Mr. Bolsonaro has come under criticism for his cavalier handling of the pandemic, even as Brazil’s caseload and death toll ballooned in recent months. Brazil’s 1.6 million diagnosed cases and more than 64,000 deaths make it the second hardest-hit country, trailing only the United States.

Credit…Sergio Flores/Reuters

At least two Texas sheriffs say that they won’t enforce the order that Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas issued last week requiring Texans to wear face masks in public.

The sheriffs of Gillespie County, west of Austin, and suburban Montgomery County, north of Houston, announced that their departments did not intend to comply.

Mr. Abbott’s mask order was a sharp reversal that underscored the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in Texas, after he had previously blocked municipalities from taking similar actions. But as the average number of Texans hospitalized for the virus has tripled since late May, Mr. Abbott described the order as a necessary step to avoid thrusting the state back into lockdown.

The governor’s order directs Texans in counties with 20 or more cases to wear face masks in public and provides for fines of up to $250 per violation, but no jail time. Gillespie County Sheriff Buddy Mills and Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson argued that the governor’s order “strips law enforcement” of the tools needed to enforce compliance by prohibiting detention, arrest or confinement.

A number of Republicans have changed their views on masks in recent days as the virus has surged in the South and the Sun Belt.

Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia issued an order Monday requiring people 9 and over to wear masks in indoor public places where social distancing cannot be maintained. The state reported 130 new cases on July 5, a single-day record, according to a New York Times database.

And, in a reversal, President Trump’s campaign said Monday that it would “strongly” encourage people to wear the masks it plans to distribute at an outdoor rally scheduled for Saturday evening in Portsmouth, N.H. The event will be the first since Mr. Trump’s arena rally in Tulsa, Okla., last month, which drew criticism for not imposing virus restrictions, including mask wearing and social-distancing measures.

Several attendees of the event, including Herman Cain, the former Republican presidential contender, as well as aides who had worked to organize the rally, tested positive for the virus.

Mr. Trump has resisted wearing a mask, even as a growing chorus of public officials, including his administration’s public health experts have advocated doing so.

The decision came as Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, 86, told reporters that he would not attend the Republican National Convention in August because of concerns about the virus — the first time in 40 years he has not attended the party gathering.

Credit…Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

In the early months of the nation’s outbreak, testing posed a significant problem, as supplies fell far short and officials raced to understand how to best handle the virus. Since then, the United States has vastly ramped up its testing capability, conducting nearly 15 million tests in June, about three times as many as it had in April.

But in recent weeks, as cases have surged in many states, the demand for testing has soared, surpassing capacity and creating a new testing crisis.

In many cities, officials said a combination of factors was now fueling the problem: a shortage of certain supplies, backlogs at laboratories that process the tests, and skyrocketing growth of the virus as cases climb in almost 40 states.

Fast, widely available testing is crucial to controlling the virus over the long term in the United States, experts say, particularly as the country reopens. With a virus that can spread through asymptomatic people, screening large numbers of people is seen as essential to identifying those who are carrying the virus.

Testing in the United States has not kept pace with other countries, notably in Asia, which have been more aggressive. When there was an outbreak in Wuhan last month, for instance, Chinese officials tested 6.5 million people in a matter of days.

In Arizona, where reported cases have grown to more than 100,000, a shortage of testing has alarmed local officials, who say they feel ill equipped to help residents on their own.

“The United States of America needs a more robust national testing strategy,” Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix said in an interview.


Credit…Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated Press

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta said on Monday that she tested positive for the coronavirus without any symptoms, yet another bump during months of tumult for the mayor and her city.

Writing on Twitter, Ms. Bottoms said the virus “has literally hit home.” Ms. Bottoms, who has walked with Black Lives Matter protesters, has gained a larger national profile as Atlanta became a focal point for the debate over race relations and policing after the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks.

The news of her infection prompted an outpouring of support for the mayor on social media, including from Susan Rice, a former national security adviser who is considered a potential vice president pick for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., along with Ms. Bottoms.

Here’s what else is happening around the country:

  • In Florida, schools will open for the fall after the state’s education commissioner issued an emergency order on Monday mandating them to do so. All schools must be open “at least five days per week for all students” upon reopening in August, said Richard Corcoran’s order. The move comes as Florida continues to see accelerated rates of coronavirus infections. In Miami-Dade County, Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez signed an executive order rolling back some business openings, including shuttering party halls and venues as part of an effort to crack down on graduation parties and other group events.

  • Early numbers found that Black and Latino people were being harmed by the coronavirus at higher rates, but new federal data — made available after The New York Times sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — reveals a clearer and more complete picture: Black and Latino people have been disproportionately affected across the United States, throughout hundreds of counties in urban, suburban and rural areas, and across all age groups.

Sports and Culture Roundup

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Major League Baseball triumphantly declared on Monday that it would announce a 60-game schedule. Around the same time, the two teams from last year’s World Series, the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros, were canceling their Monday workouts for safety reasons — and blaming M.L.B.

The reason for the holdup was a delay in receiving the results of the coronavirus tests both teams took on Friday. The Oakland Athletics’ tests, too, had not even been delivered to the M.L.B. laboratory in Utah as of Sunday night. The St. Louis Cardinals also canceled their workout Monday because of the testing delay.

“The season, it’s not on my radar, really,” Craig Counsell, the manager of the Brewers, told reporters in Milwaukee. “This is on my radar: It’s keeping everybody healthy and safe and doing the best we can at that job.”

M.L.B. is trying to find its way in the grim new reality of pandemic life. The coaches and some players wear masks, news media access is severely limited, and everyone practices social distancing as much as possible. There is no recent blueprint to follow, no foolproof protocol for administering nearly 4,000 tests last week.

Still, it is hard to excuse the delay, and it has given the players yet another reason to distrust Rob Manfred, the M.L.B. commissioner.

“We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families,” The Nationals general manager, Mike Rizzo said in a statement on Monday. “Without accurate and timely testing, it is simply not safe for us to continue with summer camp.”

Elsewhere in the worlds of sports and culture:

  • The National Hockey League and its players union announced on Monday that the two groups reached a pivotal agreement that paves the way for hockey to resume play amid the coronavirus pandemic. As part of the deal, the sides set dates for the so-called Phase 3 and 4 of a return to play protocol. The start of formal training camps is slated for July 13, with teams traveling to two hub cities starting July 26. The league reportedly selected Edmonton and Toronto as the two so-called hub cities that will host its proposed return to play, but is awaiting approval from the players union.

  • The Louvre, the world’s most-visited museum, reopened on Monday, ending a 16-week shutdown that resulted in a loss of more than 40 million euros, or about $45 million, in ticket sales. On Monday, about 7,000 visitors had booked tickets, compared with the 30,000 daily visitors who toured the Louvre before the pandemic.

  • Nick Cordero, a musical theater actor whose intimidating height and effortless charm brought him a series of tough-guy roles on Broadway, died Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, three months after he was hospitalized with Covid-19. The Broadway star died from the coronavirus, despite being just 41 and in apparent good health. Cases like his, experts said, are growing.

  • For the first time since the pandemic erupted, Actors’ Equity is agreeing to allow a few of its members to perform onstage. The union said it had given the green light to two summer shows in the Berkshires region of Western Massachusetts: an outdoor production of the musical “Godspell,” and an indoor production of the solo show “Harry Clarke.”

  • Britain’s arts sector, largely shuttered since March because of the pandemic, is being given a lifeline through what Prime Minister Boris Johnson described as a “world-leading” rescue package for cultural and heritage institutions, which will be given 1.57 billion pounds, about $2 billion.


Credit…Cassandra Klos for The New York Times

Harvard University announced Monday that only up to 40 percent of its undergraduates would be allowed on campus at a time during the next academic year, but that tuition and fees would remain the same.

The university said that all first-year students would be invited to campus for the fall semester, but would be sent home in the spring to allow seniors to return before they graduate. Some students whose home environments are not conducive to learning will also be invited to return to campus.

While room and board costs will be waived for students learning from home, the university said, tuition and fees will remain the same, whether students are studying on-campus or off. (It had previously announced that tuition for the year would be $49,653 and fees would be $4,314.)

But the university offered a summer term next year of two tuition-free courses for all students who had to study away from campus for the full academic year.

All classes will be online, even for those students living on campus.

Returning students will live in single bedrooms with a shared bathroom. The university said they will be required to sign a “community compact” agreeing to health measures like viral testing every three days.

Preference was given to first-year students so they could have “the opportunity to adjust to college academics and to begin to create connections with faculty and other classmates,” the announcement said.

As with many other colleges, Harvard said that students would move out of their campus residence halls before Thanksgiving and complete the semester from home.

Harvard officials acknowledged that sophomores and juniors would be disappointed by the decision. The university said it had trained a special team to advise upperclassmen who were thinking of taking a leave of absence because of the disruption in their education.

The university said it had made the decision in light of the recent spike in Covid-19 cases in some states, particularly among young people.

Colleges and universities around the nation are grappling with when and how to reopen. Here’s a look at other developments

  • Immigration authorities announced Monday they would discontinue exceptions to visa requirements that are currently allowing international students studying at American universities to attend all of their classes online. As a result of the change in policy, foreign students whose college campuses will not reopen for the fall semester will be required to return to their home countries, as their visas will no longer be considered valid. More than a million international students were issued visas to study in the United States last year. Many come from families that sacrificed greatly — selling homes and skipping meals to pay for an American education that can dramatically change the trajectory of their lives.

  • More than 850 members of the Georgia Tech faculty have signed a letter opposing the school’s reopening plans for the fall, under which wearing face masks on campus would not be mandatory but only “strongly encouraged.” The Montana University System is also facing pushback from the faculty over its mask policy.

  • President Trump on Monday said that schools “must” reopen in the fall and asserted without proof that Democrats, including his presidential rival Joseph R. Biden Jr., wanted them to stay shuttered “for political reasons.”

  • A $222 million state program to help young South Carolina students catch up on their reading and math comes with a big string attached: school districts were told last week that they would only receive money for face-to-face programs, not online instruction. With the recent resurgence of coronavirus cases in the state, many school administrators are worried about the risk of spreading the virus among students and teachers. But few districts have the resources to hold virtual summer school without state aid.

Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said Monday that the state was cracking down on businesses that violate virus-related restrictions, inspecting nearly 6,000 businesses over the holiday weekend. More than 50 were cited, the governor said.

“The overwhelming majority of people were doing the right thing,” Mr. Newsom said.

With infections surging in the state, the governor last week reversed his reopening plan, closing down indoor operations of many businesses in the hardest-hit counties. The number of counties placed on the state’s “watch list” for their rising case loads increased to 23 from 19 last week, the governor said.

There have been at least 272,000 cases in California, according to a New York Times database, second only to New York State. As of Monday, 6,369 people there had died.

Testing has increased to more than 100,000 a day, but the overall positivity rate of those tested has also increased by more than a third, reaching an average of 7.2 percent positive tests over the past week, according to state data. Hospitalizations are up by 50 percent in California over the past two weeks, and in some southern counties, hospitals are at capacity.

But overall, California is using just 8 percent of its hospital beds for coronavirus patients.

“We still have ample hospital capacity in our system,” Mr. Newsom said.

The California Capitol building was closed Monday as a number of people, including one lawmaker, were confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus. Autumn Burke, an assemblywoman representing Los Angeles, reported on Twitter that she tested positive for the virus on July 4 and had no symptoms. The decision to close the Capitol was made a day earlier, on Friday, when the leadership of the legislature learned that two other people who work in the building were confirmed to have the virus.

Katie Talbot, a spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, said the Capitol would be cleaned and sanitized during the closure. “Additionally, to help protect health and safety at the Capitol, legislative recess has been extended until further notice,” she wrote in an e-mail.


Credit…Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

With the virus roaring back and positive test results reaching new heights, the Israeli government on Monday ratcheted up its restrictions, closing bars, gyms and public swimming pools, curtailing gatherings in restaurants, synagogues and buses and canceling summer camps for all but the youngest children.

Separately, Israel’s largest airline, El Al, agreed to a government bailout that will provide it with a $250 million infusion but could allow it to be nationalized depending on the proceeds of a separate public stock offering. The airline was barely still operating when it put its last 500 crew members on unpaid leave last week.

Israel had fared relatively well in the early days of the pandemic after closing its borders. But lax compliance and erratic action by a government rushing to revive the battered economy sent numbers spiking last week. The number of daily positive tests reached 781 on June 30, a new high, and 1,138 on Thursday.

The prime minister’s office said government offices would require at least 30 percent of their staff members to work from home. No more than 20 people will be allowed on public buses and in indoor restaurants. Outdoor restaurants may seat up to 30. Some of the measures require Parliament’s approval, but others can be imposed by fiat.

Israel news media reported that government ministers vigorously debated the new restrictions, with the health minister warning that the number of cases could double in a week given Israelis’ failure to follow instructions and an ultra-Orthodox minister demanding that synagogues be left alone. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel was “a step away from a full lockdown,” according to local reports.

In other news from around the world:

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on Monday he won’t attend a meeting in Washington this week with Mr. Trump and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, blaming his absence on scheduling conflicts. But since the coronavirus pandemic reached Canada, the prime minister has become the country’s model for following new medical guidelines on virus-spreading prevention, which include wearing a mask and avoiding travel. The meeting was meant to celebrate the official start of the new trade deal between the three countries — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (U.S.M.C.A.).

  • The Dominican Republic, which has been slammed by the coronavirus pandemic, elected on Sunday a businessman who has never held elected office as president, ending a 16-year hold on the presidency by a center-left party. The president-elect, Luis Rodolfo Abinader, defeated Gonzalo Castillo of the Dominican Liberation Party, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Abinader spent most of the past month in isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus. The Caribbean nation of 10.5 million people has been hit hard by the pandemic, with at least 37,000 cases and nearly 800 deaths. Sunday’s elections had been postponed from May because of the disease.

  • Families in many Arab countries rely on millions of low-paid workers from Southeast Asia and Africa to drive their cars, clean their homes and care for their children and elderly relatives under conditions that rights groups have long said allow exploitation and abuse. Now, the pandemic and associated economic downturns have exacerbated these dangers. Many families will not let housekeepers leave the house, fearing they will bring back the virus, while requiring more of them since entire families are staying home, workers’ advocates say.

  • About 270,000 people in Spain have re-entered lockdown, after the country officially ended its state of emergency on June 21. Emergency measures went into effect over the weekend in the Galicia region of northwestern Spain, as well as in the northeastern region of Catalonia, around the city of Lleida. The Catalan authorities anticipated that the Lleida lockdown would last two weeks, while officials in Galicia said theirs would be limited to five days, which would also allow residents to vote on Sunday in regional elections.

  • Officials in India postponed the reopening of the Taj Mahal this week. The number of cases in the country started to rapidly rise several weeks ago after the government began lifting a lockdown imposed in March, and some cities have already reinstated tough rules to keep their caseloads down. India has reported about 700,000 confirmed infections and nearly 20,000 deaths as of Monday.

Credit…Gianni Cipriano for The New York Times

The economic repercussions of Italy’s lockdown nearly wiped out Anita Paris, a 75-year-old widow. Her son, a car mechanic who had provided financial support, couldn’t work. Her small pension didn’t suffice. The hoped-for government welfare checks didn’t materialize.

And so Ms. Paris turned to a shadow safety net that Italians have relied on for centuries, through plagues and sieges, wars and downturns. She rummaged through her home for “rings, necklaces, bracelets” and turned to the pawnshops that are an official, if anachronistic, part of the Italian banking system.

“I have bills to pay,” Ms. Paris said under a vaulted ceiling in the “Valuables Appraisal” hall of a baroque palace after pawning her things.

The picture does not look good for Italians in need of cash. Banks, laden with debt and wary of taking on toxic loans, are unlikely to extend credit. The government’s aid packages and job security measures are set to expire at the end of the summer.

But the managers of the collateral loan sector — that is the institutional name for pawnshops — aren’t complaining.

Anxiety may be palpable among Italians on pawnshop lines around the country, but for the pawnbrokers, business is good. Activity increased from 20 to 30 percent immediately after the lockdown, and they expect it to increase even more.

“In the autumn, we will see more financial problems than what we have seen,” Rainer Steger, the director general of the pawnbroker conglomerate Affide, said in his Rome office.

In the United States, pawnshops are associated with bulletproof-glass partitions and “Guns, Gold and Cash” lawn signs. Not so in Italy, where money changers in the Lombardy region worked with collateral in the Middle Ages.

Today, clients of pawn shops deposit valuables as collateral, and then pay interest over a set period. If the client fails to pay up, the item may be put up for auction. In that case, the pawnbroker recoups its loan, and if a profit is made at the auction, it goes to the client.

Credit…Nikolay Doychinov for The New York Times

The authorities in several European countries have harshly enforced strict lockdown measures on Roma communities, exacerbating the poverty and discrimination that they were already facing.

In Bulgaria, at least seven Roma settlements have been shut off from the rest of society at various points since March, despite low rates of confirmed infections in most of them. Officials in one town even sprayed disinfectant on a Roma settlement from a plane. In Slovakia, five Roma towns were cordoned off, according to Amnesty International.

Since Europe’s lockdowns began, there have been 15 incidents of police violence against Roma in Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, the Netherlands and North Macedonia, including against young children, according to research shared with The New York Times by the European Roma Rights Center, a Brussels-based watchdog.

In Belgium, two groups of Roma were made homeless in April after the police confiscated their four caravans on accusations of violating coronavirus restrictions.

“It’s a perfect storm,” said Jonathan Lee, a spokesman for the European Roma Rights Center. “The coronavirus measures have exacerbated the level of institutional racism that was already prevalent throughout institutions and police forces across Europe.”

At least 10 million Roma people, sometimes known as Gypsies, live in Europe, many of them in overcrowded, segregated areas, often with limited access to health care, education and basic amenities like water and electricity.

Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to reopen New York City’s 1,800 public schools this September, but what that will actually look like could vary greatly between schools, as Eliza Shapiro reports.

The city’s 1.1 million students will almost certainly not return to their classrooms full time.

Some might physically attend school a few times a week, or one week out of every two, and continue their classes online the rest of the time. Math and English classes could be held in cafeterias or gyms, where there is room to spread out. And students may be asked to keep their distance from one another in once-packed hallways and schoolyards.

Mr. de Blasio is expected to announce more details of his plans in the coming days, but the specifics for each school will largely be worked out by principals, who will have to determine the best approach based on their institution’s physical limits and staffing. An extremely overcrowded school in Queens, for example, could have three or more cohorts of students who cycle in and out of the building on alternating days or weeks.

Political, logistical, staffing and budgetary issues loom, and some parents, students and teachers dread returning to the classroom.

Still, most city parents — about 75 percent — are tentatively willing to send their children back to school in some capacity, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Education. But only 28 percent of the roughly 400,000 parents who answered the survey said they were “very” comfortable with doing so. Families who do not wish to return could opt for full-time remote learning.

Although New York’s task is enormously complex, other school districts and colleges across the country are grappling with many of the same questions about how to safely reopen.

On Monday, the city took a tentative yet symbolic step toward normalcy, when personal-care services and some outdoor recreation were allowed to resume.

The businesses allowed to reopen include tanning salons, massage centers and spas. The city is also reopening outdoor basketball, tennis, volleyball and handball courts, providing new recreation opportunities during the summer. Public beaches are now open for swimming, and dogs will get their opportunity for more exercise as dog runs reopen.

For the city, the third phase of the state’s reopening plan was narrower in scope than previous stages, but it marked the return of nonessential services that promised to bring some jobs back and offer a balm to New Yorkers unnerved by virus-related fears and economic woes.

But concerned by the rising caseload in other states that have eased restrictions, New York officials decided last week to delay the resumption of indoor dining in the city, even though restaurants elsewhere in the state can welcome diners inside, with occupancy limits, during Phase 3.


Credit…Callaghan O’Hare for The New York Times

Researchers around the world are working on the next generation of coronavirus tests that give answers in less than an hour, without onerous equipment or highly trained personnel.

The latest so-called point-of-care tests, which could be done in a doctor’s office or even at home, would be a welcome upgrade from today’s status quo: uncomfortable swabs that snake up the nose and can take several days to produce results.

The handful of point-of-care devices now on the market are frequently inaccurate. Up-and-coming tests could yield more reliable results, researchers say, potentially leading to on-the-spot testing nationwide. But most of the new contenders are still in early stages, and won’t be available in clinics for months.

Some of the tests in development swap brain-tickling swabs for plastic tubes that collect spit. Others dunk patient samples into chemical cocktails that light up when they detect coronavirus genes. Another type of test identifies coronavirus proteins in minutes, using a cheap device that’s easy to produce in bulk and deploy in low-resource settings.

“To combat this virus, we need to test widely and frequently, and get the results back quickly,” said Dr. Zev Williams at Columbia University, who is developing a coronavirus spit test that can run in about 30 minutes. “That requires a genuine paradigm shift in the way we go about testing for it.”

In other science news:

  • The W.H.O. reported Monday that 73 countries are in danger of running out of essential H.I.V. medications and 24 are already facing critical shortages. The agency warned that a six-month disruption in the supply could lead to a doubling in the number of AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa this year. The main reasons for the shortages include disruptions in transportation of medical provisions by air and sea, and a decrease in access to health care facilities as countries went into lockdowns earlier this year.

  • The drug manufacturer Regeneron said Monday that it would begin late-stage clinical trials of its experimental treatment for Covid-19 after an initial safety study showed good results. The company is testing whether the treatment, a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies, will work in people with mild and severe forms of the disease, and also whether the product — an injection — might also prevent people from getting infected.

  • A stretch of DNA linked to Covid-19 was passed down from Neanderthals 60,000 years ago, according to a new study. Scientists don’t yet know why this particular segment increases the risk of severe illness from the virus. But the new findings, which were posted online on Friday and have not yet been published in a scientific journal, show how some clues to modern health stem from ancient history.

Listen to ‘The Daily’: Four New Insights About the Coronavirus

A look at what scientists have learned about how the virus takes hold in the body and where the risk of infection is highest.



Listen to ‘The Daily’: Four New Insights About the Coronavirus

Hosted by Michael Barbaro, produced by by Alexandra Leigh Young and Austin Mitchell, and edited by Larissa Anderson

A look at what scientists have learned about how the virus takes hold in the body and where the risk of infection is highest.

michael barbaro

From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is “The Daily.”


Today: As infection rates break new records across the U.S. this July 4 weekend, four new insights into the virus from my colleague, science reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. It’s Monday, July 6.

Let me start by, Donald, saying happy 4th of July.

donald g. mcneil jr.

Thank you.

michael barbaro

How did you spend it?

donald g. mcneil jr.

Saturday, I played softball in the morning — socially distant softball.

michael barbaro


donald g. mcneil jr.


michael barbaro

In New York City?

donald g. mcneil jr.

In New York City. Yeah, Riverside Park. And then we went to dinner last night in a friend’s backyard on Long Island, where we all sat as couples together, but six feet apart from each other, and sort of took turns going up to the table to get to the food, and sat, and had a really nice time.

michael barbaro

I have to imagine that even a socially distanced meal with you is challenging, in that I think I would feel quite seen and judged, given your role.

donald g. mcneil jr.


donald g. mcneil jr.

I mean, I do tend to say six feet, six feet, six feet, a lot at people.

michael barbaro


donald g. mcneil jr.

Because masks give people a false sense of security. I mean, this is a big thing on the softball field, is that people would both put on masks and they’d sit next to each other in the dugout, making up the batting order and stuff like that. And I’d go, no! Air leaks out of the side of your masks. And you’re not always wearing masks. Sometimes you’re wearing it as a sort of a Captain Ahab blue beard under your chin. So it’s better to stay six feet apart. That way if your mask —

michael barbaro

Do your remember a couple seconds ago how you asked me why it might be challenging to have a —

donald g. mcneil jr.


michael barbaro

— a meal with you?

donald g. mcneil jr.

All right. [LAUGHTER]

michael barbaro

Ask and —

donald g. mcneil jr.

All right, touche, touche.

michael barbaro

So everything you just described, of course, is occurring in New York, where the infection rate has been generally declining or at least stabilizing. So let’s talk about the state of the pandemic in the rest of the country. I wonder if you can give us a quick status update on this end of July 4 weekend.

donald g. mcneil jr.

OK. I think it’s 39 states now have cases going up. And it’s hitting hardest in the South and in the West. Texas, Florida, Arizona, California, a number of other states. And it’s exactly what was predicted back in May when states were debating opening by Memorial Day. All public health experts said, if you open up when your case counts are rising, they’re going to continue rising and start rising even faster. And now we’re seeing that.

For example, in Houston, doctors who knew the situation in New York are saying that what’s happening there looks like what happened in New York in early April. Finding new beds, finding ventilators, lots of patients who were sick, patients who were on oxygen. Not as many dying yet, but with people on oxygen and on ventilators they may find themselves in the situation where they have to park refrigerated trucks behind hospitals to hold the bodies, as they did in New York.

michael barbaro

So Donald, correct me if I’m wrong. I think the U.S. is at about 50,000 infections a day right now. Dr. Anthony Fauci said we could get up to 100,000. And if that’s the case, what do we expect the attendant death count to start to look like in the U.S.? I assume that’s going to catch up with that.

donald g. mcneil jr.

Yeah, it’ll catch up with it. I mean, but there’s no reason to believe that 100,000 is the upper limit. It all depends on how much social distancing we practice. I mean, this is the dance. And do you close bars and restaurants? Do you open or close schools? Do you wear masks? How much attention do people pay to the directions you give them? How much do they practice good social distancing. That very much affects the rate of spread of the virus.

michael barbaro

Well, with that in mind, those big questions of kind of how we proceed through the rest of this pandemic, you have been doing a lot of reporting about the latest learnings and insights into the virus that will very much guide how we answer those questions. And we want to talk through those with you. So where do you think we should start?

donald g. mcneil jr.

Some of these insights are really more theories with some evidence to them. And some there’s quite a bit of confidence in. So we probably ought to start with something that there’s a pretty high degree of confidence in among doctors.

michael barbaro

And what is that?

donald g. mcneil jr.

When this all started, we thought of it as a lung disease, a respiratory disease, because the first cases we heard about, people got pneumonia. And that of course reminded us that the model for this disease was the 1918 influenza epidemic. But we’re learning that this coronavirus is very different from an influenza virus.

The influenza viruses attach to receptors in the lungs and the airway. This gets into the body through the airway, through the lungs. But it really attaches to the insides of the blood vessels. And so that makes it a vascular disease, a blood vessel disease.

michael barbaro

And what are the implications of a virus like this being a vascular disease, a blood vessel disease, and not just a respiratory disease?

donald g. mcneil jr.

It means it affects every organ in the body that has lots of fine blood vessels in it, and not even just organs.

I mean, so it affects the lungs, which are the filter where the air gets into the blood, and you have lots of little fine blood vessels surrounding the little sacs at the ends of your breathing tubes. It attacks the kidneys, because that’s the filter where the urine comes out of the blood. So you have very fine networks of blood vessels there. It attacks the gut, because you have a network of blood vessels in your gut where food gets into your body. It attacks the brain, because you have lots of fine blood vessels in the brain. It doesn’t attack the nerve cells in the brain, which most of the brain is made of. It doesn’t attack the muscle cells in the heart. But it attacks the blood vessels that go through all those other parts.

And so when they do autopsies they find thousands of tiny little blood clots all over the body. We have lots of people who have strokes. And as those blood clots clot up blood vessels to small areas of the brain, you may get dementia or disorientation. And then in kids, when you have ‘Covid toes’ in teenagers and young adults, this is the little capillaries in the hands and feet getting blocked, and getting this inflamed, painful, red or purple toe and finger syndrome. So it’s more complicated to deal with a disease that can travel to any organ in the body.

michael barbaro

So how does this new insight about the coronavirus, how does it change the way we are going to approach the pandemic?

donald g. mcneil jr.

Before, the main thing you’re looking for when you’re looking to see if somebody is having a problem is their blood oxygen level. Because you’re assuming that their problem is going to be pneumonia. But if you realize that the problem could be kidney damage, heart damage, you do a whole different battery of blood tests.

michael barbaro

So what you’re saying is that doctors who previously were diagnosing Covid-19 through a set of well-established symptoms now need to expand that set of symptoms pretty broadly. Because it turns out this is looking to be vascular, not respiratory.

donald g. mcneil jr.

Yeah, that’s right. It means that virtually anybody who comes into a doctor’s office feeling sick might have the coronavirus. If they come in with symptoms of a stroke, it might be Covid. If they come in with symptoms of a heart attack, it might be Covid. If they come in with what seems like arthritis in their feet, it might be Covid toe.

And because we often don’t have enough tests, or it takes a long time to get test results, the patient’s at a real disadvantage. Because if you don’t know your patient has coronavirus, whatever symptom they’ve got now might become greater, might spread to other organs. So the problem in your toes might literally spread to your kidneys or your brain. And you want to know that that patient has a disease that can spread throughout the body.

michael barbaro

In other words, more testing, fast testing becomes more imperative once we have learned that so many symptoms may actually be a sign of Covid-19.

donald g. mcneil jr.


michael barbaro

OK. So what is the next big new insight we have into the coronavirus?

donald g. mcneil jr.

Well, people are always asking, is the virus mutating? Is it becoming different? And the answer is yes. This virus always mutates. It makes one mutation about every two weeks.

michael barbaro


donald g. mcneil jr.

The question is are any of those mutations important. And most of them aren’t. Most of them don’t change the function of the virus at all. But there has been one mutation that has become the object of a great deal of interest. We know for sure that there are sort of two general clades of the virus, the Wuhan strain and the other one called the Italian strain or sometimes a European strain. Now, the Wuhan strain is obviously the original one. That’s where the virus started. But it went around Asia. Then it went to Iran. Then it went to Italy. And in Italy sometime in February, presumably, this mutation took place. Now, it has definitely not made the virus more dangerous, more lethal, more likely to kill you. But it appears to have made it more transmissible.

michael barbaro

How so?

donald g. mcneil jr.

Well, it appears that it transmits between people five to 10 times more easily. Now, this is in dispute. But there’s been work done in cells in the laboratory where they infected them with the two different strains. And the mutation in the Italian strain seems to make the spikes on the outside of the virus — the spikes of the corona — more stable. Better able to infect. And so that they appear to be five to 10 times more capable at infecting cells as the old Wuhan version.

michael barbaro

So the strain of this virus that has a better spike — the Italian strain — and is therefore more transmissible, is crowding out the previous strain, because it’s just doing a better, more effective job of infecting people.

donald g. mcneil jr.

Yeah, that’s right. It’s the natural progression for a virus. It’s the way they tend to go.

michael barbaro

What do you mean?

donald g. mcneil jr.

Well, viruses, over the course of infecting lots of hosts, tend to become less lethal to those hosts and more transmissible. Like, for example, if I have the virus and it mutates inside me, and it turns into a more deadly strain, I’ve now got two strains. And I pass on that virus to two people, the person who gets the more deadly strain is more likely to go home, go to bed and die. Whereas the person who gets the less lethal, more transmissible strain is going to go out to a disco and infect 40 people.

And if you do that enough times in the course of the virus, the virus always sort of naturally moves in the direction of the more transmissible, less lethal one, because that’s the one that spreads whenever it’s given that kind of fork in the road.

And so this is what happened in 1918. The virus started off extremely deadly. It blew through an enormous chunk of the population, probably 60 to 70 percent of all the people in the world. And then it disappeared for a while. Then it turned up in pigs, and it was a pig virus for a while. And then when enough humans who’d never had the virus were born, it reappeared in people. But it reappeared as the H1N1 seasonal flu, the one that we know about as one of the seasonal flus every year. But that became less lethal and more transmissible. And basically all viruses do that. And we might be beginning to see the very first hints of that happening with this virus.

michael barbaro

So if I’m in Texas or Arizona right now and I’m testing positive for Covid-19, it sounds quite likely that I’ve gotten the Italian mutation of this virus, right? And that means I’m quite likely to spread it to somebody else and not have the most horrible symptoms. So does that partly help explain why infection rates are rising so rapidly in the U.S.?

donald g. mcneil jr.

Well, infection rates are rising rapidly in the U.S. more because of human behavior than because of any changes in the virus. I think it’s wishful thinking to think that this virus is not dangerous. It’s really dangerous, and it’s highly transmissible.

michael barbaro

But because the Italian version of the virus spreads more effectively, that does suggest that the virus is becoming better at doing the thing it was designed to do, which is to infect lots and lots of people.

donald g. mcneil jr.

Yes. But I mean, the Italian version versus the Wuhan version isn’t the dead end. There are going to be many more mutations. It mutates every two weeks. There may be other mutations turning up in the virus that turn out to be important. And we may call those the Texas strain or the California strain, or whatever.

But we don’t know them yet. There’s a lot of disagreement about this among scientists as to whether or not it really is more transmissible. And there’s zero agreement that it — not even really any thought that it’s less dangerous. That completely remains to be seen.

michael barbaro

We’ll be right back.

So Donald, what is the next big new understanding we have into the virus at this point?

donald g. mcneil jr.

Well, there’s more and more confirmation that you are much safer outdoors than you are indoors. There’s a study in China that looked at 318 clusters of transmission. And only one case involved outdoor transmission. And that was between two neighbors who had a long conversation with each other. And there’s recently been another study from Japan that suggests that your chances of getting the virus indoors are 20 times as high as it would be outdoors.

michael barbaro

And what are these studies finding about why exactly that is? I think we all have some understanding that when you’re outside the virus is just going to disperse and become more diffuse. Is that as complicated as it is?

donald g. mcneil jr.

Well, there’s always a little bit of wind outside. Humidity also makes droplets fall out of the air. But mostly it’s the wind. And when people talk within a few feet of each other, especially when they talk loud, or when they laugh, or when they sing or shout or do anything like that, you put out this kind of invisible mist of little tiny droplets that spews out of your mouth and sort of hangs around your head. But it also drifts towards the other person. And so you’re sitting inside each other’s droplet cloud. And those little tiny droplets, even if you’re not feeling the other person in effect spitting on your face, that droplet cloud can hold enough virus to transmit the disease from one person to the other.

And indoors when there’s no windows open, it can sort of drift through the room, more or less at head level, and go past one person after another at a cocktail party or inside a bar like that. And each person inhaling a little bit of that droplet cloud, until the disease has spread to 20, 30, 40 people. Whereas outdoors, the breeze just blows that away. So standing six feet away outdoors, even without masks, is considered safe.

michael barbaro

This is the idea that the virus becomes aerosolized. And you’re saying that indoors, that poses a very significant danger. Outdoors, because of wind, nowhere near as much.

donald g. mcneil jr.

Yeah, that’s right.

michael barbaro

So if being outdoors is less risky, and it’s now been clinically shown, I wonder if that explains something you mentioned the last time that we spoke, which is that you did not have a tremendous amount of fear that these protests that have occurred all over the United States over race and policing, that they would be a major source of infection. And is that because they occurred outdoors? And is it so far the case that they haven’t led to a meaningful spike in infections?

donald g. mcneil jr.

We have not seen any big spike in infections in the cities where most of the protests took place. So it looks like they didn’t lead to a lot of transmission. That doesn’t imply that everything is safe just because it’s outdoors. The important thing is how far apart people are when they’re outdoors. So sitting right next to somebody else in front of a stage at Mount Rushmore, for example, where the chairs are zip tied together, is not safe. Masks or no masks, you still really want to try to keep six feet distance.

michael barbaro

Donald, a couple of moments ago you mentioned the danger of being indoors because of this aerosolized virus mist that is not as great a danger outdoors. But I want to linger on this question of the indoors for a moment. Because the more we think about it, that aerosolized mist would seem to make any indoor activity inherently dangerous. I wonder if that’s an accurate assessment?

donald g. mcneil jr.

Yes. I mean, we’ve seen transmission of virus to large numbers of people in funerals, in choir practices, at birthday parties, inside bars, in business meetings. Virtually any kind of indoor environment you can imagine, there have been super spreader events. There may be ways to eventually make indoor spaces safer. There’s going to be no way to make them completely safe.

And all this talk about what’s safe to do indoors brings us to really the most important question, which is the most important indoor space we want to get functioning again, which is schools. Can kids go to school safely? And again, the science isn’t firm yet. But there are more and more hints that it may be safe, or pretty safe, to open the schools in the fall, especially for very young kids.

There’s growing evidence that kids are not big transmitters of the virus to adults. Denmark opened its schools in April. Did not see a big spike up in cases. Finland opened its schools in May. Did not see a big spike up in cases. Even from the beginning in China, the Chinese said, every time they looked at clusters in families, almost never did they see a case where the child, particularly the youngest child, was the one who introduced the virus into the family. Usually it was parent infecting the kids, not the other way around.

We know that kids are big transmitters of flu viruses. And they do it because they cough and sneeze like crazy. But if the biggest symptom that they’re getting is inflammation, rather than coughing and sneezing, — and that’s the case; kids tend to get more sort of cranky, inflammatory, unpleasant manifestations of the disease, rather than something that looks like a cold. Then it would make sense that that might be a reason why they’re not big transmitters.

michael barbaro

And what is this new insight about kids being less likely to transmit mean for the teachers who are going to stand or sit in front of them all day? Does it mean that an adult teacher in a school is pretty safe teaching? Or does it not mean that at all?

donald g. mcneil jr.

I don’t think we know the answer to that yet. I mean, schools — you’re bringing together a lot of kids. But schools also bring together a lot of adults. Teachers, staff, parents picking up the kids, things like that. So schools are not going to be completely safe under any circumstances.

But opening schools is so important to society, much more important than opening restaurants, much more important than opening movie theaters. It probably needs to be done really carefully. Not just all back into the classroom, 30 kids to a classroom, at all. But it looks like it could be done. And that’s really important. Because it’s important for the kids, for their development, for their feeding, for their socialization. And it’s also important for the parents. Parents can’t go back to work if they’re stuck at home with their kids. So it’s a crucial part of getting both the economy going and just the health of kids and health of parents.

michael barbaro

So of all the insights that you have shared today, this one seems like the silver lining. That reopening schools may be a somewhat safe undertaking.

donald g. mcneil jr.

Yeah. And that would be very good news for us.

michael barbaro

Because if I’m being candid, everything else you have said sounds pretty bad, right? I mean, it seems to be vascular, not respiratory. So it’s going to be easy to miss symptoms. It seems it’s becoming more transmissible through mutations. And the indoors presents very significant threats for non-kids because of this aerosolized mist. And once the temperature drops, which it will do in a few months, and tens of millions of us are suddenly stuck indoors, then we’re in for a lot of trouble.

donald g. mcneil jr.

Yeah, and the number of cases per day could rise well over 100,000 if we’re not careful. So yeah, I guess, it’s mostly bad news.


Sorry. I’m hoping that the fact that the virus is becoming more transmissible also means that it will become less lethal, which would be good news. But it hasn’t done that yet. So more transmission of a virus that’s already bad is not a good thing. No question about it.

michael barbaro

And all these things that we have just talked about would also seem to reinforce the need, not just for social distancing, but for these government-mandated lockdowns. I mean, specific requirements that say, don’t go to a bar. Don’t go to a restaurant. And those will become even more urgent as the warm weather yields to cold weather.

donald g. mcneil jr.

Yeah. We have to realize we are just in the opening phases of this pandemic. I mean, this is the second inning. And there’s still — there’s more than 120,000 people dead. So we are doing the dance in, dance out of various forms of lockdown. But we need to get to the point where we’re all basically dancing to the same music. Where all governors accept the notion that when they have a problem that’s getting out of control in their state, they react quickly.

And if they do that, they will save lives of their own citizens. And I think we’re beginning to see that.

In places like Texas, places like Arizona, places like Florida the governors have made major about-faces in the last couple of weeks. And they’re getting the science that the thing you do today doesn’t produce good effects until a month from today, because the people who got infected yesterday are the ones who are going to be in your hospital three weeks from now. So they’re beginning to catch on.

But we need to arrive at sort of a common understanding that we don’t all have to move in lockstep as a nation, but at the crucial moments we need to take similar steps to save lives.

michael barbaro

Thank you, Donald. We appreciate it.

donald g. mcneil jr.

Thank you. I was glad to be here.

michael barbaro

We’ll be right back.

Here’s what else you need to know today.

archived recording (donald trump)

In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance.

michael barbaro

In a pair of back-to-back speeches over the weekend, President Trump delivered harsh attacks against what he called the radical far-left forces who are protesting police brutality and tearing down monuments to America’s racist past, describing them as a threat to American values and heritage.

archived recording (donald trump)

If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted and punished. It’s not going to happen to us.

michael barbaro

The Times reports that the speeches, delivered in front of Mount Rushmore and the White House, signaled that Trump would seek, once again, to exploit racial and cultural divisions in an effort to win re-election.

archived recording (donald trump)

I am here as your president to proclaim before the country and before the world this monument will never be desecrated. These heroes will never be defaced. Their legacy will never, ever be destroyed. Their achievements will never be forgotten. And Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.

michael barbaro

Neither event enforced social distancing rules. And both were held despite pleas from public health officials that they be canceled to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

That’s it for “The Daily.” I’m Michael Barbaro. See you tomorrow.

Salons may be open in your area, but you don’t have to schedule an appointment there to give yourself a little pampering. Here are some ideas for adding a spa moment to your week.

Reporting was contributed by Liz Alderman, Luke Broadwater, Stephen Castle, Michael Cooper, Caitlin Dickerson, Louise Donovan, Boryana Dzhambazova, Manny Fernandez, Hailey Fuchs, Robert Gebeloff, Christina Goldbaum, Maggie Haberman, Anemona Hartocollis, Winnie Hu, Ben Hubbard, Tyler Kepner, Patrick Kingsley, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Ernesto Londoño, Apoorva Mandavilli, Alex Marshall, Constant Méheut, Sarah Mervosh, Raphael Minder, Zach Montague, David Montgomery, Michael Powell, Richard A. Oppel Jr., David M. Halbfinger, Patricia Mazzei, Aimee Ortiz, Michael Paulson, Catherine Porter, Motoko Rich, Rick Rojas, Kai Schultz, Mitch Smith, Kaly Soto, Eileen Sullivan, Katie Thomas, Lucy Tompkins, David Waldstein, Noah Weiland, Will Wright, Katherine J. Wu, Carl Zimmer and Karen Zraick.

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