Honduran President Tests Positive

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Juan Orlando Hernández, the president of Honduras, announced late Tuesday that he, the first lady and two aides had tested positive for Covid-19.

In a televised statement, Mr. Hernández said he began feeling unwell over the weekend, and the diagnosis was confirmed on Tuesday. He said he is well enough to continue working remotely and will be examined to determine the next steps.

He urged Hondurans to follow social-distancing guidelines, as he clearly had not.

“Because of my job I have not been able to stay 100 percent at home,” he said.

He said he had been receiving treatment and was feeling better. Doctors recommended rest, he said.

His wife, Ana García, also tested positive but was asymptomatic.

“I feel enough strength and energy to continue forward and beat this pandemic,” he said. “We are going to get ahead of this. I trust in God, Honduran doctors and medicine.”

More than 9,000 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Honduras, with 322 deaths, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

Honduras began reopening its economy last week after nearly three months of a shutdown. About half a million jobs were lost or suspended, according to business sector estimates.

He joined a small group of world leaders who have announced that they have contracted Covid-19. Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain tested positive in March and later spent three nights in intensive care. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin of Russia said he tested positive in April, and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia said he and his family caught the virus in early June.

Several wives of top leaders have also caught the virus, including Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada; Olena Zelenska, the wife of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine; and Begoña Gómez, the wife of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain.


Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

The virus continued its steady spread across the Sun Belt on Tuesday, with state officials in Arizona, Florida and Texas all reporting their largest one-day increases in new cases yet.

Florida reported 2,783 new cases, Texas 2,622, and Arizona 2,392.

The new daily highs came as all three states have increased testing and moved swiftly to ease social distancing restrictions and allow more businesses to reopen. They were among 20 states that have seen the number of newly reported cases grow over the last two weeks, according to a New York Times database.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican, attributed the uptick to more widespread testing, noting at a news conference Tuesday that the state was not only testing far more people than it did earlier in the spring, but was also going into high-risk environments, testing farm workers and migrant workers, and finding new cases.

But epidemiologists have said that the numbers recorded in the state in recent days suggest increased transmissions, and the governor acknowledged that community transmission remained a factor.

“There’s been community spread the whole time,” Mr. DeSantis said at the news conference, saying that there were pockets of the state with higher rates, particularly lower-income areas.

He dismissed the idea that the recent infections stemmed from the reopening of businesses including bars and restaurants and said the state would not shutter activity again.

“We’re not shutting down,” he said. He added: “You have to have society function.”

Epidemiologists have said that even taking into account the increase in testing, the rise in confirmed cases in several Sun Belt states suggested increased transmissions, and they pointed to other measures, including the percentage of positive tests and hospitalizations. In Florida more than 4.5 percent of those who tested between May 31 and June 6 had the virus, compared with about 2.3 percent of people who sought tests in mid-May. Rates in Arizona and Texas have also risen in recent weeks.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said that Tuesday’s new high reflected several anomalies, and that some counties may have reported a backlog of cases that were not reported in recent days. But he also put some of the blame for Texas’s increase in cases on people under 30, suggesting that they were being too casual about wearing masks and social distancing. He said that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission had issued a warning this week to bars and restaurants that they face the suspension of their liquor licenses if they violate protocols.

Tension between the state and local governments over escalated again on Tuesday as nine Texas mayors, including those for the state’s largest cities, asked Mr. Abbott to give them the authority to mandate the use of face masks for their communities. The governor’s statewide policies do not require the wearing of face masks, although he strongly encourages them.

In Arizona, interest in the new one-day high was so great that the state’s health department’s website reported problems that it attributed to increased traffic. The state said that its daily increase of positive cases was 2,392, bringing its total to 39,097, and that another 25 people had died, bringing the state’s death toll to 1,219.


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Health care workers in France and Italy, hailed as heroes for their dedication during the coronavirus pandemic, have been demanding improvements such as better pay.CreditCredit…Charles Platiau/Reuters

European health care workers, feted with daily applause from balconies in Milan, Paris and London during the coronavirus pandemic, are taking to the streets to demand that the praise be matched by real improvements in their working conditions.

French doctors, nurses and other health workers demonstrated on Tuesday to put pressure on the government, which has promised major investments in the health care system.

In Paris, their protests were punctuated by a series of violent clashes with the police, who fired tear gas. Some protesters, who included people outside the health care sector, set trash cans ablaze and threw stones at the police as throngs moved near the Eiffel Tower.

More than 200 other demonstrations were planned around the country. Unions representing the caregivers say they want pay raises, increased hiring, and a moratorium on plans to downsize or shut down hospitals.

One group of unions said in a statement on Tuesday that “the applause at 8 p.m.,” the government’s “assuaging speeches,” “the chocolate medals” and the promises of “hypothetical and random bonuses” were not enough.

In Italy, hundreds of nurses protested in more than 30 cities on Monday, demanding better pay and greater recognition for their professional skills in a country where they say they are not valued.

Ferdinando Iacuaniello, a Rimini-based nurse who edits the website Nurse24.it, said nurses were chronically underpaid. “During the emergency the government hailed nurses as heroes,” he said. Now, he added, “they felt abandoned.”

Credit…Pool photo by Steve Parsons

In an unexpected glimmer of hope amid the expanding pandemic, scientists at the University of Oxford said on Tuesday that an inexpensive and commonly available drug reduced deaths in patients with severe Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus.

If the finding is borne out, the drug, a steroid called dexamethasone, will be the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in the sickest patients. It might save hundreds of thousands of lives, eventually even millions, altering the course of the pandemic.

Three-quarters of hospitalized Covid-19 patients receive some form of oxygen. The drug appears to reduce deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of other patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

Until now, hospitals worldwide have had nothing to offer these desperate, dying patients, and the prospect of a lifesaving treatment close at hand, in almost every pharmacy, was met with something like elation by doctors.

“Assuming that when it goes through peer review it stands — and these are well-established researchers — it’s a huge breakthrough, a major breakthrough,” said Dr. Sam Parnia, a pulmonologist and associate professor of medicine at the Grossman School of Medicine at New York University.

But the report also comes quick on the heels of a series of blunders and retractions in the scientific literature, as scientists rush to publish research about the virus. While hospitals in the United Kingdom were able to begin treating severely ill Covid-19 patients with dexamethasone on Tuesday, many experts in the United States demanded to see the data and the study itself, which have not yet been peer reviewed or published.


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Mass cancellations of flights. Abrupt farewells among students whose classes have been called off. Frustration about work and food in sealed-off neighborhoods. And unnerving uncertainty about plans for exams, work, vacation and travel.

With a fresh outbreak of coronavirus infections tied to a market — 137 cases after an additional 31 were reported on Wednesday — Beijing has started living through a milder, and so far limited, version of the disruptive restrictions that China enforced earlier this year to stifle its first tidal wave of infections. Residents in the capital have been sharply reminded that even in China — with its array of authoritarian powers — the coronavirus can leap back to life, triggering new rounds of limits on their lives.

The new outbreak of the coronavirus in Beijing has brought embarrassment and a tough response from the Chinese Communist Party. Officials had been proud to the point of gloating in recent weeks about their success in stifling the pandemic in the country. Now the virus is back.

The Communist Party officials in charge of the city, including the party secretary, Cai Qi, sounded slightly penitent in a meeting on Tuesday.

“This group outbreak at the city’s Xinfadi market has already spread to multiple districts of the city and led to associated cases outside the city,”read an official summary of the meeting in The Beijing Daily. “The lessons run very deep, the situation for epidemic control is very grim, and this has sounded a warning to us.”

So far, the scale of the infections in Beijing, and the ensuing controls, is far from the levels that gripped Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the virus first slipped out of control late last year. Most Beijing streets flowed with traffic on Wednesday, though less than usual. Restaurants were still open for business, though the government has ordered them to disinfect and to check employees.

But the flight cancellations from Beijing airports — about 60 percent, or more than 1,200 flights — and other signs of disruption have underscored how easily even a limited flare-up can ripple across society. The bulk of the flights in and out of the city were canceled, and so were many trains.

The flight cancellations were triggered by passengers pulling out of travel because of worry over infections or fear of being caught up in quarantine, Chinese news reports said. Zhao Gang, a Chinese businessman, said the cancellations illustrated how plans — like studying abroad — could be thrown into doubt by sudden restrictions because of the coronavirus.

“Maybe you’re all set to go, but before departure some sudden incident indefinitely delays the flight. What can you do?,” the businessman and aviation writer said in a video comment online. “These flip-flopping hassles.”

Elsewhere around the globe:

  • Olena Zelenska, the wife of the president of Ukraine, has been hospitalized after testing positive last week, officials in Kyiv said on Tuesday. Ms. Zelenska has pneumonia in both lungs “of moderate severity” and is not in need of oxygen support, the office of President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a statement.

  • Public health officials are flagging coronavirus outbreaks cropping up in several border regions, particularly the one between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Many Haitians live and work in the Dominican Republic, but after the outbreak there, thousands lost their jobs and moved back to Haiti. Some may have brought the virus with them.

  • After declaring the pandemic eradicated last week, the New Zealand authorities on Tuesday confirmed two new cases in travelers who had returned from Britain, ending the country’s 24-day streak without new infections. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the development “unacceptable” and said the military would now oversee quarantine facilities and strengthen border requirements.

  • The Eiffel Tower announced that it would reopen June 25 after being shut for three months — its longest closure since World War II — and that visitors would have to take the stairs at first, and wear masks if they are over 11 years old.

  • Hong Kong will relax some social-distancing restrictions on Thursday, allowing wedding banquets and live music to resume and lifting the limit on public gatherings to 50 people from eight, the city’s secretary of health said on Tuesday.

Credit…Blair Gable/Reuters
  • Canada and the United States will keep their border closed to nonessential travel until July 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday. Mr. Trudeau, whose long, moppish hair has become an object of fascination and escape for Canadians during the pandemic, showed off his post-quarantine haircut on Tuesday.

  • Kenya is investigating the attempted theft of personal protective equipment donated by the Chinese government, including masks, gowns, thermometers and protective suits. After the equipment arrived in Nairobi, fraudsters working with government officials and Chinese businessmen hatched an unsuccessful plot to steal the donations, the authorities said.

Credit…Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

A laboratory in suburban Dallas has run some of the most expensive coronavirus tests in America.

Insurers have paid Gibson Diagnostic Labs as much as $2,315 for individual coronavirus tests. In a couple of cases, the price rose as high as $6,946 when the lab said it mistakenly charged patients three times the base rate.

The company has no special or different technology from, say, major diagnostic labs that charge $100. It is one of a small number of medical labs, hospitals and emergency rooms taking advantage of the way Congress has designed compensation for coronavirus tests and treatment.

“We’ve seen a small number of laboratories that are charging egregious prices for Covid-19 tests,” said Angie Meoli, a senior vice president at Aetna, one of the insurers required to cover testing costs.

How can a simple coronavirus test cost $100 in one lab and 2,200 percent more in another? It comes back to a fundamental fact about the American health care system: The government does not regulate health care prices.

This tends to have two major outcomes that health policy experts have seen before, and are seeing again with coronavirus testing: high prices over all, and huge price variation, as each doctor’s office and hospital sets its own charges.

Patients are, in the short run, somewhat protected from big virus testing bills. The federal government set aside $1 billion to pick up the tab for uninsured Americans who get tested. For the insured, federal laws require that health plans cover the full costs of coronavirus testing without applying a deductible or co-payment.

But American patients will eventually bear the costs of these expensive tests in the form of higher insurance premiums.

In a statement last week, Gibson said the $2,315 price was the result of “human error.” The company also said that it had recently reversed a few of its $2,315 charges and, after an inquiry from The New York Times, would reverse the rest of those bills within 24 hours.

Credit…Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik, via Reuters

Keep your hydroxychloroquine, President Trump. Vladimir V. Putin has found an even more unorthodox way to fight off the coronavirus: a “disinfectant tunnel.”

Visitors coming to see the Russian president at the country retreat where he is sheltering must first pass through the tunnel and be sprayed with a fine mist of a chemical agent intended to kill pathogens.

The Russian-made device had been installed at the home outside Moscow, Novo-Ogaryovo, RIA Novosti, a state-controlled news agency, reported. The news agency posted a video of a man in a suit walking through a demonstration model of the tunnel.

Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, who recently returned to work after recovering from Covid-19, has said that anyone meeting the president in person is tested beforehand for the virus.

Like Mr. Trump, who says he has taken the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to try to ward of infection, Mr. Putin has eschewed wearing a mask during what have become extremely rare public appearances. But he nonetheless seems spooked by the virus.

For the past two months, he has stayed away from the Kremlin in the center of Moscow, the epicenter of the pandemic in Russia. He has instead governed the country via videoconference from a drab and apparently windowless room — dubbed “the bunker” by Russian journalists — at his country residence.

Physically, the Russian president appears to be in good health. Politically, it is another matter: His approval ratings have slumped to 59 percent, the lowest since he came to power 20 years ago.

While hospitals and doctors across the country say many patients are still shunning their services out of fear of the virus — especially with new cases spiking — Americans who lost their jobs or have a significant drop in income during the pandemic are now citing costs as the overriding reason they do not seek the health care they need.

“We are seeing the financial pressure hit,” said Dr. Bijoy Telivala, a cancer specialist in Jacksonville, Fla. “This is a real worry.”

Nearly half of all Americans say they or someone they live with has delayed care since the onslaught of the virus, according to a survey last month from the Kaiser Family Foundation. While most of those individuals expected to receive care within the next three months, about a third said they planned to wait longer or not seek it at all.

While the survey didn’t ask people why they were putting off care, there is ample evidence that medical bills can be a powerful deterrent. “We know historically we have always seen large shares of people who have put off care for cost reasons,” said Liz Hamel, the director of public opinion and survey research at Kaiser.

And, just as the Great Recession led people to seek less hospital care, the current downturn is likely to have a significant impact, said Sara Collins, an executive at the Commonwealth Fund, who studies access to care. “This is a major economic recession,” she said. “It’s going to have an effect on people’s demand for health care.”

Credit…Shannon Vanraes/Reuters

Mexico will stop sending temporary workers to Canadian farms that have been hit by the virus and do not have proper worker protections, the Mexican labor ministry said on Tuesday.

Canada depends heavily on migrant laborers to plant and harvest its crops, now Mexican workers planning to travel to farms that had corona outbreaks or do “not have a strategy of prevention and care for workers” will be reassigned, the ministry said.

The decision, reported by Reuters, came after outbreaks hit at least 17 farms in Ontario, killing two Mexican workers.

Canadian farmers bring in about 60,000 short-term foreign workers, predominantly from Latin America and the Caribbean. This year, Mexico’s Temporary Agricultural Workers Program has sent more than 16,000 people on short-term contracts to Canada, including 10,600 people since the pandemic began, the labor ministry said.

Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said he had expressed condolences to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico. “We are going to make sure that we’re following up,” Mr. Trudeau said.

Credit…Andy Rain/EPA, via Shutterstock

Bowing to public pressure, Britain has agreed to keep providing food aid to low-income families over the summer school break.

When Britain went into lockdown in March, many families that depend on school meals to help keep their children fed — more than a million a year — were suddenly in trouble.

The government set up a nationwide program to keep getting food to the children, but last week announced that it would not be extended through the summer.

The decision was greeted with off outrage. Among those denouncing it was the soccer superstar Marcus Rashford, who urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s conservative government to reverse course.

Mr. Rashford, a striker for Manchester United, was raised by a single mother and relied on free school meals and food provided by his club when he was younger. He pleaded with members of Parliament to “protect the vulnerable.”

According to estimates by the Food Foundation, a British think tank, 200,000 children have had to skip meals during the pandemic because their parents couldn’t afford enough food.

On Tuesday, the prime minister announced a £120 million — $152 million — “Covid summer food fund” that will provide families £15 vouchers once a week for the six-week summer break.

“Brilliant news!” the Food Foundation declared.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Officials in Tulsa, Okla., are warning that Mr. Trump’s planned campaign rally on Saturday — his first in over three months — is likely to worsen an already troubling spike in infections and could become a disastrous “super spreader.”

  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 16, 2020

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

They are pleading with the Trump campaign to cancel the event, slated for the BOK Center, a 20,000-person indoor arena — or at least move it outdoors.

“It’s the perfect storm of potential over-the-top disease transmission,” said the Tulsa health department’s executive director. “It’s a perfect storm that we can’t afford to have.”

Tulsa County, which includes the city of Tulsa, tallied 89 new cases on Monday, its one-day high, according to local officials. The number of active cases climbed from 188 to 532 in a one-week period, a 182-percent increase; hospitalizations with Covid-19 almost doubled.

The Trump campaign, which has required attendees to agree not to sue should they contract the virus at the rally, said Monday that it would take body temperatures and distribute masks and hand sanitizer. Those requirements may not be sufficient to stop the virus’s spread.

On Tuesday, four plaintiffs sued ASM Global, which manages events at the BOK Center, labeling the rally a public nuisance and seeking an injunction that would require it to enforce the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for large gatherings.

U.S. roundup

Credit…Scott Olson/Getty Images

Reports of new cases continue to decrease across much of the Midwest and Northeast, leading officials there to forge ahead with reopening, even as other regions see troubling surges.

Outdoor sports and popular recreation sites are reopening in New Jersey and Chicago, areas previously overwhelmed. In Chicago, bars and breweries will also start to reopen, as well as the popular trail along Lake Michigan.

“We still have a long way to go before life fully returns to normal,” the Chicago mayor, Lori Lightfoot, said.

Kwame Raoul, the Illinois attorney general, said Tuesday that he had tested positive, with mild symptoms. Reports of new cases have been trending downward in Illinois in recent weeks, but hundreds of additional infections are still being identified daily. Illinois has more cases per capita than any state not on the East Coast.

While officials are enthusiastic about moving forward, some states that were among the first to ease restrictions are now seeing spikes, including Texas and Arizona.

Nearly half of the known cases in Maricopa County, Ariz., have been reported since the start of June. At least 300 new cases have been identified in Dallas County, Texas, on each of the last six days, and the Houston area has also seen a sharp increase. Elsewhere in the U.S.:

Credit…Apu Gomes/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

When Dr. Nichole Quick, the health officer in Orange County, Calif., issued an order requiring all residents to wear masks when in public last month, the backlash was swift — and personal.

Angry speakers flooded a public meeting calling for her firing. Protesters defaced her photo, comparing her to Hitler. The situation got so heated, local officials said, that she was placed under police protection.

By last week, Dr. Quick had resigned as county health officer, and county officials had reversed the order, making face coverings optional in the county of 3 million, where new reported cases and hospitalizations have trended slightly upward. The county has a total of nearly 9,000 cases so far, the fourth most in the state, and new reported cases are also rising overall in California.

The abrupt turnaround is perhaps one of the most pronounced examples of the backlash facing officials who promote face mask requirements, as face masks increasingly become a flash point. Support for face masks has often fallen along partisan lines, despite federal health recommendations and recent research that suggest that face masks could be critical to stopping the spread of the virus. Mr. Trump has largely declined to wear a mask in public.

Officials and business owners alike have faced pushback. In the Houston area, the county judge was sued over an order requiring face masks. Costco faced threats of boycotts over a similar requirement for its stores. And in Stillwater, Okla., north of Oklahoma City, an order requiring residents to wear face masks inside stores and restaurants was quickly rescinded last month, after an uprising among customers.

Arts and Sports Roundup

Credit…Pool photo by Julian Finney

For the uninitiated, this dispatch from last year on Royal Ascot, its millinery and its social mores, provides a useful, or at least amusing, primer.

Here is a look at the some of the latest developments in the worlds of sports and culture:

  • New York’s governor announced Tuesday that the U.S. Open tennis tournament could go ahead as scheduled from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13 in Queens, but without spectators. The lack of fans will be a financial hit for the tennis association, but the organization still has the support of its primary sponsors and ESPN, which pays more than $70 million annually in rights fees mainly to televise the tournament.

  • The San Francisco Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, two of the nation’s premier opera companies, both announced Tuesday that they were canceling their fall seasons. The Metropolitan Opera already announced that it was canceling its fall season.

  • A day after the Oscars ceremony was pushed back, the Emmy Awards announced that it would go ahead on Sept. 20 with Jimmy Kimmel as its host. “I don’t know where or how or even why we are doing this, but we are and I am hosting it!” he wrote on Twitter.

  • The N.F.L.’s players’ union on Monday told agents there were still no guidelines established for testing protocols or rules on distancing and equipment for players’ mandatory return to training camps in July, according to a source who participated and spoke on condition of anonymity. The lack of guidance has left many in football unsure about safety in an environment with a lot of close contact.

As cities around the world navigate reopening, more people will need to use public or shared restrooms — and new research raises concerns that flushing the toilet can generate a cloud of aerosol droplets.

Scientists have found that such clouds can rise nearly three feet. The droplets may linger in the air long enough to be inhaled by the toilet’s next user, or land on surfaces in the bathroom.

That isn’t just gross.

Simulations show that the plume can carry infectious particles that are already present in the surrounding air, or that were recently shed in stool. The research, published Tuesday in the journal Physics of Fluids, adds to growing evidence that the virus can be passed not only through respiratory droplets but through feces, too.

While it remains unknown whether public toilets are a major point of transmission, the research highlights the need to rethink some of the common spaces people share.

Researchers have found viable virus particles in patients’ feces, as well as traces of viral RNA on toilet bowls and sinks in hospital isolation rooms, the material appears less likely to be infectious than virus that is coughed out.

A computer simulation of flushing showed that when water pours into the toilet, it generates a vortex and displaces air in the bowl. As the vortex rises, centrifugal force pushes out about 6,000 tiny droplets — and even tinier aerosol particles.

People can also block the plume with a simple piece of equipment: a toilet lid. If only so many public bathrooms didn’t lack them.

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

At least four members of Congress or their relatives received money under a stimulus loan program created to help small businesses keep paying their workers amid the pandemic, even as Congress intensifies pressure on the administration to release information about who has benefited from the program.

It is not illegal for members of Congress or their families to apply for or accept the loans under the newly created Paycheck Protection Program. But after approving about $2.8 trillion in economic relief, lawmakers are facing additional scrutiny over whether they have tailored the rescue programs to benefit themselves.

Representative Susie Lee, Democrat of Nevada, helped lobby for casinos to be included in the Paycheck Protection Program, and shortly after the Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department began administering it, her husband’s casino company received millions of dollars from the program. A spokesperson told the Daily Beast, which first reported details of the loan, that the congresswoman had no involvement in the company’s decision to accept the loans.

Representative Vicky Harzler, Republican of Missouri, and her husband, who own a farm and other businesses, also received aid through the program, citing “the realities of this uncertainty” and the need “to ensure the continued ability to maintain the employment of all team members during this time.”

Fiesta Restaurant Group, the parent company of Pollo Tropical, a Miami restaurant chain where the husband of Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Democrat of Florida, is an executive, received $15 million in loans. The money was ultimately returned.

A car dealership owned by Representative Roger Williams, Republican of Texas and one of the wealthiest members of Congress, also received a loan, though it is unclear how much the loan was. A representative for the car dealership told the Dallas Morning News that the loan helped “keep over 100 employees on payroll and prevent their families from experiencing further hardships during this unprecedented pandemic.” Mr. Williams was singled out by Representative Katie Porter, Democrat of California, in a news release calling for transparency surrounding the funds.

The Trump administration has resisted calls for disclosure of how it is distributing the money and who is benefiting. House Democrats launched an investigation on Monday.

Kenya is investigating efforts to steal medical equipment donated to stop the virus, the latest graft case in a nation where corruption has for years remained commonplace.

The incident involved an attempted theft of personal protective equipment donated by the Chinese government, including masks, gowns, thermometers and protective suits. After the equipment arrived in Nairobi, fraudsters working with government officials and Chinese businessmen hatched an unsuccessful plot to steal the donations, the authorities said.

“These are thieves and I can’t speak for them, and I will assume that the law is going to take its course and they are going to be arrested,” said the Kenyan health minister Mutahi Kagwe. The attempt came as infections continued to rise in Kenya, which has reported more than 3,700 cases and 100 deaths, according to a Times database.

Kenya’s health ministry has been plagued by scandals, with tens of millions of dollars meant for health services, including free maternity care, diverted. In early May, Mr. Kagwe transferred at least 30 officers, mainly in the ministry’s procurement and finance departments, in a bid to bring down what he called “the cartels” operating from within.

In late March, German authorities said six million face masks that they had donated went missing at Kenya’s airport. After an investigation, the Kenya Airports Authority said “no cargo of this nature” had come through its terminals. Although officials insist that Kenya has enough protective equipment, the doctors’ union says that 81 of its members have contracted the virus, highlighting the need for adequate, high-quality gear to protect health workers.


Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Three months after New York asked hospitals to suspend visits in an effort to halt the spread of the virus, the state will now allow them to resume, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Tuesday.

As hospitals filled to the brim, thousands of relatives of dying patients were forced to say their last goodbyes over the phone, via a tablet screen or not at all.

Hospitals will be required to limit the time of visits, and visitors will need to wear personal-protective equipment and be subject to temperature and symptom checks.

Group homes for people with developmental disabilities may also accept visitors, while restrictions on visitors to nursing homes have not been lifted.



Cuomo Unveils Results of New Antibody Tests

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York provided the state’s latest coronavirus statistics and said hospitals would be able to allow visitors.

We just did another sample on antibody tests — 12,000-test sample, which is a very large sample, right, all across the state to find out where we’ve been. Twelve thousand, starting 5/1 to 6/13, so about six weeks. We did 12,000 samples to see where we are today versus where we were six weeks ago. Overall the number in the state has gone up about a point, positive. Last time we did the survey, was 12.3 statewide. It’s now 13.4. So statewide we’ve gone up a point. With these numbers, again, the numbers look very good. Statewide, they look very good for the regions. Some areas better than others, but there’s always been a variance. But from region to region, we’re going to allow hospitals to accept visitors at their discretion. Same thing with group homes, this Friday the group homes can allow visitors. It is up to the discretion of the group home.

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York provided the state’s latest coronavirus statistics and said hospitals would be able to allow visitors.CreditCredit…Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

Here are some other key developments from around New York.

  • After the governor warned that he might reimpose restrictions in New York City if officials did not control crowds outside Manhattan bars, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that city agencies would continue to enforce social distancing. “If there’s enforcement needed, there’ll be enforcement,” he said.

  • The mayor said restrictions needed to remain after reports that locks had been broken on shuttered parks and playgrounds.

  • Mr. de Blasio said he expects the city to reach 50,000 tests per day by early July, up from over 20,000 daily tests now. Statewide, there were an additional 25 deaths, the governor said.

  • Officials were preparing for the possibility of easing more restrictions in the city on Monday, two weeks after reopening began, but the mayor said that no decisions had yet been made by city and state officials. (He has said repeatedly he did not expect the city to enter Phase 2 until early July.)

  • Two months after a sample of 3,000 antibody tests indicated that one of every five New York City residents tested positive for antibodies, a study in June of a larger sample of 12,000 tests showed similar results, Mr. Cuomo said.

Reporting was contributed by Reed Abelson, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Dan Bilefsky, Keith Bradsher, Aurelien Breeden, Emma Bubola, Chris Buckley, Emily Cochrane, Michael Cooper, Michael Corkery, Abdi Latif Dahir, Thomas Erdbrink, Oskar Garcia, Rebecca Griesbach, Michael Gold, Christine Hauser, Jason Horowitz, Winnie Hu, Sarah Kliff, Sapna Maheshwari, Jonathan Martin, Tiffany May, Sarah Mervosh, David Montgomery, Benjamin Mueller, Aimee Ortiz, Elian Peltier, Elisabetta Povoledo, Frances Robles, Katie Rogers, Adam Satariano, Jeanna Smialek, Christopher F. Schuetze, Nate Schweber, Libbie Seline, Knvul Sheikh, Mitch Smith, Kaly Soto, Eileen Sullivan, Anton Troianovski, Daniel Victor, Amber Wang, Timothy Williams, David Yaffe-Bellany, Noah Weiland and Karen Zraick.

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