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As the U.S. death toll nears 100,000, infections are rising in Latin America.
Since the initial outbreak of the coronavirus in China, the world has tracked a pandemic that rapidly spread west, proliferating across Asia and Europe, seeding hot spots across Africa and exploding in North America. For weeks, the United States has been the global epicenter, confirming more than 1.6 million cases, and the number of deaths nearing 100,000.
And now the pandemic appears to be arriving at new milestones. China on Saturday reported no new coronavirus deaths or symptomatic cases for the first time since the virus emerged. And surges of Covid-19 in several of South America’s most populous countries are raising concerns of a new front.
Brazil is home to several of the world’s largest metropolises, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. While other countries around the world began sounding the alarm as the virus arrived in February and March, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, largely played down the threat, urging people to continue working and keeping businesses such as gyms and beauty salons open.
Worldwide, the pace of new infections is still climbing with over 100,000 new cases reported daily since Thursday. These numbers are among the very worst since the pandemic began, second only to a single day in April, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
Over all, infection rates are slowing in the United States, but they remain steady in about 25 states. Six — North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, North Dakota, Maine and Wyoming — have reported rises in newly reported cases over the last 14 days, in part because some have recently ramped up testing.
Gaza reports its first pandemic death, underscoring its success and vulnerability.
Officials in Gaza announced on Saturday that a 77-year-old woman had died after contracting the coronavirus, becoming the first known pandemic death in the blockaded Palestinian enclave.
The woman, identified as Fadila Abu Raida, was found to have Covid-19 on Tuesday, said Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesman for the Health Ministry run by Hamas, the militant movement that controls Gaza.
She had diabetes and high blood pressure, and died while receiving intensive care at a field hospital on the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, Mr. Qidra said.
Gaza, just 25 miles long and less than eight miles across at its widest, is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, but so far has reported only 55 infections in a population of some two million.
That appears to be the result of tight Israeli and Egyptian restrictions on the movement of people in and out of Gaza, as well as Hamas’s decision to isolate all returning residents in quarantine facilities.
Hamas officials have said that all known carriers of the disease have been individuals returning from abroad and have not mixed with the territory’s broader population.
Still, the death underscored Gaza’s vulnerability were its outbreak to grow.
“It would be a very problematic situation,” said Gerald Rockenschaub, the head of the World Health Organization’s mission to the Palestinians. “The health system suffers from many chronic weaknesses.”
There are currently only 87 ventilators in Gaza, most of which are already in use, he said.
Trump goes golfing for the first time since shutdowns began.
President Trump spent Saturday at his members-only golf club in Virginia, his first outing there since the coronavirus pandemic led to government restrictions on business and social activity across the country.
The trip comes as the administration has encouraged reopening, and a day after Mr. Trump announced that he was ordering states to allow churches and other places of worship to reopen, threatening to overrule any governor who defied the order. Some of his health experts also appeared to give him the green light to carry on with his normal weekend activity, which has been suspended for weeks.
“You can play golf. You can play tennis with marked balls,” Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said at a news conference on Friday. “You can go to the beaches” if you maintain distance from other beachgoers, she told Americans heading into a holiday weekend.
The White House did not provide any details about what Mr. Trump was doing at his golf club, or whom he was playing with. Reporters spotted him leaving the White House residence dressed in a white polo shirt and a white baseball cap.
Black Covid-19 patients have more advanced cases, study finds.
As the coronavirus spread across the United States, sweeping through low-income, densely populated communities, black and Hispanic patients have been dying at higher rates than white patients.
Crowded living conditions, poorer overall health and limited access to care have been blamed, among other factors. But a new study suggests that the disparity is particularly acute for black patients.
The disparity remained even after researchers took into account differences in age, sex, income and the prevalence of chronic health problems that exacerbate Covid-19, like hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.
The finding suggests that black patients may have had limited access to medical care or that they postponed seeking help until later in the course of their illness, when the disease was more advanced.
Black patients were also far less likely than white, Hispanic or Asian patients to have been tested for the virus before going to the emergency room for care.
Black patients “are coming to us later and sicker, and they’re accessing our care through the emergency department and acute care environment,” said Dr. Stephen H. Lockhart, the chief medical officer at Sutter Health in Sacramento and one of the authors of the new study.
The study, which was peer reviewed, was published in Health Affairs.
Gatherings of up to 10 people are now allowed in New York.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York slightly loosened coronavirus restrictions, saying that gatherings of up to 10 people would be allowed “for any lawful purpose or reason” anywhere in the state — including New York City — provided that social-distance protocols were followed.
The revision, issued Friday night in an unexpected executive order, was swiftly condemned by Councilman Mark D. Levine, who represents Upper Manhattan and is chairman of the City Council’s health committee. He stressed that the order had not been made by health professionals.
“No one should interpret this as advice to change their behavior,” he added.
The new orders come as the daily number of coronavirus-related deaths dipped below 100 for the first time since late March. Mr. Cuomo reported 84 deaths on Saturday, the lowest daily death toll since March 24.
He called the number of new casualties on Saturday “a tragedy, no doubt,” but he said he could not ignore that the downward trend was a positive sign. “For me, it’s just a sign that we are making real progress.”
Minnesota, under pressure, is opening churches next week.
Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, said religious leaders could hold in-person services beginning on Wednesday, but that they would need to limit indoor crowds to 25 percent of their building’s capacity, up to a maximum of 250 people. The move follows pressure from the leaders of Catholic and Lutheran churches in the state, who said earlier this week that they planned to hold services in defiance of Mr. Walz’s orders.
In California, a federal appeals court, in a two-to-one decision on Friday, declined to block the restrictions on religious services in the state’s emergency orders. A Pentecostal church in San Diego had sued Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, arguing, among other things, that his orders had violated their right to freely practice their religion. Mr. Newsom has said he will provide more guidance regarding religious gatherings on Monday.
In Minnesota, Mr. Walz said Vice President Mike Pence had called him on Thursday to discuss reopening religious institutions and given him a heads up that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be releasing new guidelines for houses of worship this past Friday.
Even as he announced the looser restrictions at a news conference on Saturday, Mr. Walz seemed pained at the thought of the large gatherings that would be allowed under his new executive order, which also permits weddings, funerals, scripture studies and other planned events to be held at ceremonial venues, with restrictions.
“To be candid, the 250 terrifies me,” Mr. Walz said of the maximum number of people who would be allowed to gather for ceremonies under his new guidelines.
“The thing that frustrates me is when I see elected leaders stand in front of places, celebrating and demanding they be open,” Mr. Walz said. “They’re not with me when I have to open the new morgue.”
Jan Malcolm, the state’s health commissioner, said religious leaders must thoroughly clean their buildings and ensure that congregants stay six feet apart. She and Mr. Walz said that although the state was loosening restrictions, they still recommended that services be held remotely.
If you’re gathering for Memorial Day weekend, here’s how to do it safely.
Many of New York City’s beaches are open, but swimming, grilling and organized sports are prohibited. Strict social-distancing guidelines are being enforced across much of New Jersey’s coastline. Many California beaches are open only for “active uses” like running, swimming and surfing, but not sunbathing or extended stays.
Away from the shores, many parks across the country are open, but some are capping the number of people allowed inside and encouraging brief visits.
As many places continue to reopen, here is guidance on lowering the coronavirus risk and managing anxiety while being out during the pandemic.
The F.D.A. bars nearly 30 antibody tests, many made overseas, from the U.S. market.
The Food and Drug Administration has barred the sale of nearly 30 coronavirus antibody tests because the manufacturers, many of them based overseas, failed to prove that they were accurate.
A number of the manufacturers are based in China, including Bioscience (Chongqing) Diagnostic Technology Company, Hangzhou Clongene Biotech Company and Zhengzhou Fortune Bioscience Company. Other affected companies are LifeAssay, based in South Africa, and Promedical, based in Australia.
The tests are devised to detect whether an individual has antibodies to the virus, which would show whether they had been infected previously. Many people are getting tested on the assumption that the antibodies confer some immunity to the virus, though researchers are not yet certain how long any immunity might last or how strong it might be.
The volunteers included Diazyme Laboratories, BioMedomics and Shenzhen Landwind Medical Company.
Abhijit Datta, the vice president for operations at Diazyme Laboratories, said the company had never actually sold the rapid antibody detection test listed on the F.D.A.’s website, but was continuing to sell a high-throughput antibody test used in labs around the country.
The N.B.A. considers resuming its season at Walt Disney World Resort.
The N.B.A. is in the early stages of discussions with the Walt Disney Company to restart its suspended season in late July at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, a league spokesman said Saturday.
The restart would be at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which would act as “a single site for an N.BA. campus for games, practices and housing,” said the spokesman, Mike Bass.
“Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place,” Mr. Bass said in a statement.
The N.B.A. was among the first major sports leagues to suspend its season on March 11 as a result of the coronavirus, beginning a cascade of other leagues doing the same. Since then several players, including the Nets star Kevin Durant, have tested positive for the virus.
Several hurdles remain to a resumed season. One is testing. The league was criticized when some of its teams were able to obtain tests for their players even though there was a nationwide testing shortage, raising questions of greater accessibility for the wealthy.
On Tuesday, Mr. Bass said, “Regular testing will be key in our return to play,” and that the league wanted to ensure that it “does not come at the expense of testing front line health care workers or others who need it.”
Any return to play must also come with a green light from the players’ union. A union spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It is also unclear how many, if any, fans would be allowed into an arena for games.
As of Friday, unions representing athletes in major North American team sports were still negotiating specific plans for returning to play, including extra protection for the most vulnerable employees. For some athletes and team staff members with conditions that put them at greater risk from the coronavirus, balancing health needs against the zeal to play is an especially delicate matter.
A Missouri hair stylist may have exposed 91 people by working while sick.
A hair stylist in Missouri worked for eight days at a salon while sick with the coronavirus, health officials said, potentially exposing 84 clients and seven co-workers.
While symptomatic, the stylist showed up for eight shifts at the Great Clips hair salon in Springfield between May 12 and Wednesday, after getting sick following travel within the state, health officials said.
“I’ll be honest — I’m very frustrated to be up here today, and maybe more so I’m disappointed,” Clay Goddard, who leads the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, said at a news conference on Friday.
Mr. Goddard said that the 91 clients and co-workers who were potentially exposed would all be tested, and that health officials would begin contact tracing.
He said that while the stylist had not exercised enough personal responsibility, he hoped the salon’s strict enforcement of health policies had prevented many possible infections. The stylist and all of the clients had worn masks, he said, and Great Clips kept detailed records that allowed health officials to contact the clients who might have been exposed.
Mr. Goddard said that the stylist had also visited a fitness center, a Dairy Queen and a Walmart in the last 10 days.
“I’m going to be honest with you: We can’t have many more of these,” he said. “We can’t make this a regular habit, or our capability as a community will be strained, and we will have to re-evaluate what things look like going forward.”
Federal scientists finally publish remdesivir data.
Nearly a month after federal scientists claimed that an experimental drug had helped patients severely ill with the coronavirus, the research has been published.
The drug, remdesivir, was quickly authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of coronavirus patients, and hospitals rushed to obtain supplies.
But until now, researchers and physicians had not seen the actual data.
The long-awaited study, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared on The New England Journal of Medicine’s website on Friday evening. It confirmed the essence of the government’s assertions: Remdesivir shortened recovery time from 15 days to 11 days in hospitalized patients. The study defined recovery as “either discharge from the hospital or hospitalization.”
The trial was rigorous, randomly assigning 1,063 seriously ill patients to receive either remdesivir or a placebo. Those who received the drug not only recovered faster but also did not have serious adverse events more often than those who were given the placebo.
In a nervous America, the car becomes a safe space.
The role of the automobile has been reinvented in the coronavirus era.
Once simply a way of getting from one place to another, the car has become a mini-shelter on wheels, a cocoon that allows its occupants to be inside and outside at the same time.
When people pack up their families and friends, they can still adhere to social distancing rules. They remain under a roof, within closed doors, sealed off and separated from the rest of their fellow human beings.
Mobile safe distancing has generated a new way of life — a society on wheels.
Uproar in Britain grows over a polarizing official’s trip while infected.
Violations of the lockdown by prominent figures are a recurring theme in Britain, and the latest involves Dominic Cummings, an enigmatic figure who helped mastermind the Brexit campaign.
Mr. Cummings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s most influential adviser, has become the focus of outrage after reports that he had driven from London to northern England in April to see relatives while he was ill with the coronavirus, in violation of the country’s lockdown rules.
“The British people do not expect there to be one rule for them and another rule for Dominic Cummings,” said a spokesman for the opposition Labour Party. Leaders of two other opposition parties demanded that Mr. Cummings resign or be fired.
Mr. Cummings became ill in late March, days after Mr. Johnson and another top adviser tested positive.
Confronted by reporters outside his home on Saturday, Mr. Cummings said, “I behaved reasonably and legally.” Asked whether his decision had been “a good look,” he replied: “Who cares about good looks? It’s a question of doing the right thing. It is not about what you guys think.”
Mr. Johnson released a supportive statement on Saturday, saying that Mr. Cummings had made the trip because his sister and nieces had offered to help with child care.
He is also under pressure to reward the doctors and nurses of the country’s beloved National Health Service, with some Britons even urging that the weekly applause for health care workers end and that the government instead give them higher pay. Many have died during the outbreak, and they have cared for patients while short on protective equipment like masks, gloves and visors.
German church opens its doors to Muslims amid restrictions on Eid celebrations.
As Muslims around the world this weekend prepare to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, a church in Berlin has opened its doors to let Muslims hold Friday Prayer while observing strict social distancing because of the pandemic.
The Dar Assalam mosque in Berlin has been able to welcome only a fraction of Muslim worshipers during Ramadan because of national rules on social distancing. So the Martha Lutheran church in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, the German capital, stepped in to help.
Because of stay-at-home orders and social distancing rules, many Muslim and Christian services have moved online. Communal prayers, feasts and parties that usually mark Eid have been being restricted or scrapped.
In Indonesia, where the number of coronavirus cases has risen sharply in recent days, Islamic leaders have encouraged Muslims to celebrate the holiday without gathering for traditional iftar dinners to break their fast on Saturday evening. And the country’s largest mosque, Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, plans to offer televised prayers on Sunday.
In Bangladesh, the government has banned the huge communal Eid prayers that normally take place in open fields, saying worshipers must gather in mosques. It also asked people not to shake hands or hug after praying, and advised children, older people and anyone who was ill to stay away from communal prayers.
As for mosques, the government has said that they must be disinfected before and after each Eid gathering, and that all worshipers must carry hand sanitizer and wear masks while praying.
Moderna’s upbeat vaccine news fueled a stock surge — and a telling backlash.
Last Monday, when the Massachusetts biotech company Moderna announced positive results from a small, preliminary trial of its coronavirus vaccine, the company’s chief medical officer described the news as a “triumphant day for us.”
But the episode has become a case study in how the coronavirus pandemic and the desperate hunt for treatments and vaccines are shaking up the financial markets and the way that researchers, regulators, drug companies, biotech investors and journalists do their jobs.
The vaccine, the first to be tested in humans, appeared safe and stimulated antibody production in 45 study participants. Eight people had in further testing produced so-called neutralizing antibodies, which should prevent illness.
But there were no details — no charts, no graphs, no numbers, nothing published in a journal.
Still, Moderna’s stock price jumped as much as 30 percent, and the widely covered announcement helped lift the stock market.
Nine hours after the initial news release, Moderna announced a stock offering with the aim of raising more than $1 billion to help bankroll vaccine development. The company’s chairman, Noubar Afeyan, later said it had been decided only that afternoon.
By Tuesday, a backlash was underway. With no further data, scientists could not evaluate Moderna’s claim. The government agency leading the trial, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — led by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci — had made no comment. And there were concerns that the company might have timed things to jack up the price of its stock.
“You have these wild swings, based on incomplete information,” said David Maris, managing director of Phalanx Investment Partners and a longtime analyst covering the pharmaceutical industry. “It’s a crazy, speculative environment, because the pandemic has caused people to want to believe that there’s going to be a miracle cure in a miracle time frame.”
D.C. gauges reopening plans as regional cases surge.
Leaders in Washington this weekend are weighing whether to reopen the nation’s capital even as the region has emerged as one of the most concerning hot spots for the coronavirus.
Mayor Muriel E. Bowser said at a news conference on Thursday that the city was eyeing a gradual reopening beginning on Friday but that she would announce a final decision informed by the latest data on Tuesday.
The Washington metro area now has the highest percentage of positive test results nationwide, Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said at a news conference on Friday.
Virginia and Maryland, which both contain counties that serve as bedroom communities for Washington, have continued to have stubbornly high rates of new infections, according to data compiled by The New York Times. Prince George’s County in Maryland, which flanks Washington’s eastern border, has twice as many cases as Baltimore.
The mayor said she would make her decision independently, regardless of what neighboring states were doing in the coming weeks.
As of Friday, Washington had reported 7,893 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 418 deaths.
Under a proposal involving four phases, gatherings of up to 10 people would be immediately allowed, and a variety of parks and outdoor sports facilities could reopen. In the second phase, office spaces could open provided there are limits on capacity, with restaurants and bars following in the third phase.
The city’s proposed reopening guidelines hinge on a 14-day decrease in community spread. As of Thursday, public health advisers had noted an 11-day decrease, but cases continue to tick upward in the metro region.
An antigovernment rally protests Spain’s response to the pandemic.
Antigovernment protesters drove along the main avenues of Madrid and other Spanish cities on Saturday, hooting and calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez over his handling of the coronavirus.
The rally — organized by Vox, Spain’s far-right party — was the loudest protest against the Socialist-led coalition government since it declared a state of emergency in March to stem the virus’s spread.
“It’s time to throw out a government that wants to transform Spain into a Communist state,” said Pedro Fuentes, who wore a mask embroidered with the Spanish flag.
Saturday’s rally followed smaller protests this month, particularly in Madrid’s wealthier neighborhoods where residents vote mostly for right-wing parties. The conservative politicians that run Madrid’s City Hall and its region have been at loggerheads with the central government over how quickly Madrid should exit the lockdown.
While the government has allowed about half of the country to move into a more advanced phase of easing the lockdown, Madrid and Barcelona were the exception. Only on Friday did the central government recommend that the two cities ease some of their restrictions starting Monday.
Mr. Sánchez said on Saturday that the country would open to foreign tourists beginning in July, and that its globally popular soccer league La Liga would restart on June 8, part of the “de-escalation process” from its harshest pandemic restrictions.
The pandemic is colliding with another menace: climate change.
It’s a stark reminder that the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed 325,000 people, is colliding with another menace: changes in the global climate that threaten millions of people, especially the world’s poor.
In eastern India and Bangladesh, lockdowns had already left many people relying on food aid even before Cyclone Amphan hit. Then, high winds and heavy rains ruined newly sown crops that were meant to feed communities through next season.
“People have nothing to fall back on,” Pankaj Anand, a director at Oxfam India, said in a statement on Thursday.
Lockdowns around the world have resulted in a sharp drop in greenhouse gas emissions, but the decline has been nowhere near enough to shake loose the thick blanket of gases that already wraps the planet.
And lockdowns have put an end to the main alternative to farming and fishing — heading to urban areas for work. Traditional sources of protection during storms are also now more dangerous, with the risk of the coronavirus spreading quickly in shelters.
Will the coronavirus kill what’s left of Americans’ faith in Washington?
Long before the coronavirus crisis, another one was brewing: a drop in how many Americans trust the federal government.
It has been declining for decades, through Democratic and Republican administrations. And last year it reached one of the lowest points since the measure began: Just 17 percent of Americans trusted the federal government to do the right thing “just about always” or “most of the time,” according to the Pew Research Center.
That doesn’t necessarily mean people want no government at all. Polls consistently show much more faith in local government, and some governors are getting high marks for their handling of the pandemic.
But in a week of more than 20 interviews, Americans said that the government in Washington was not rising to meet the challenge.
Many noted that corporations seemed to be getting the lion’s share of federal relief money while small businesses suffered. They expressed bafflement that people had been asked to stay home but were not given enough financial support to do so. Some said it made no sense for entire states to be locked down when some places within were affected far more than others.
And while answers did follow a partisan pattern — Democrats tended to be more skeptical of Washington because they disapprove of President Trump — Americans also expressed a dissatisfaction that has been building for years.
“I don’t trust these people, I don’t believe them,” said Curtis Devlin, 42, an Iraq War veteran who lives in California, referring to national political leaders of both parties. “The people whose interests they represent are donors, power brokers, the parties.
The novelist Haruki Murakami gives Japanese radio listeners sounds to beat the blues.
The celebrated Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami is taking to the airwaves to “blow away some of the corona-related blues.”
Mr. Murakami, 71, who for several years ran a jazz cafe, is known for his passion for jazz and has also featured music in his literary works.
His “Murakami Radio” show typically airs every two months, and his program on Friday was recorded not in a flagship studio in Tokyo but from his home, in a nod to the stay-at-home requests issued by the authorities in Japan’s major cities.
“I wish music or novels could comfort you even a little bit,” he told listeners, saying that he understood the struggle to meet high rents and pay employees when his cafe had to close for months.
He opened the “Stay Home Special” with the song “Look for the Silver Lining” by the Modern Folk Quartet, and over two hours treated listeners to the likes of Bruce Springsteen’s “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day” and “Sun is Shining” by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Mr. Murakami, whose critically acclaimed novels include “Norwegian Wood,” “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” and “1Q84,” also challenged the warlike language used by some politicians to describe efforts to end the pandemic.
“Hostility and hatred are not needed there,” he said. “I don’t want them to refer it to a war. Don’t you think?”
How to sell a lockdown in New Zealand: straight talk and mom jokes.
Pandemics are often described as crises of communication, when leaders must persuade people to suspend their lives because of an invisible threat. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand excels at that — by brightening epidemiology with empathy, and leavening legal matters with mom jokes.
It’s been strikingly effective.
Ms. Ardern helped coax New Zealanders — “our team of five million,” she says — to buy into a lockdown so severe that even retrieving a lost cricket ball from a neighbor’s yard was banned. Now the country, despite some early struggles with contact tracing, has nearly stamped out the virus.
Still, at a time when Ms. Ardern, a 39-year-old global progressive icon, is being widely celebrated, some epidemiologists say that New Zealand’s lockdown went too far and that other countries suppressed the virus with less harm to small businesses.
But behind Ms. Ardern’s success are two powerful forces: her own hard work at making connections with constituents, and the political culture of New Zealand, which in the 1990s overhauled how it votes, forging a system that forces political parties to work together.
“You need the whole context, the way the political system has evolved,” said Helen Clark, a former prime minister who hired Ms. Ardern as an adviser more than a decade ago. “It’s not easily transferable.”
In New York, a neighborhood that stifled gangs and guns confronts a new killer.
Not long ago, the main public health threat facing people living in an area of Queens in New York was one that had taken too many young lives: gangs armed with guns.
When a 14-year-old was killed accidentally in October by a bullet fired in a gang dispute, the death galvanized the neighborhood to take action. Community leaders negotiated a cease-fire, and shootings had dropped significantly by earlier this year.
“We are losing the matriarchs and patriarchs in our neighborhood,” said Erica Ford, who founded LIFE Camp, a nonprofit that tries to stem street violence. “We had just managed to bring shootings down. Then the virus made its way here.”
During the peak of the crisis in early April, nearly 70 percent of residents in the ZIP code who were tested for the coronavirus were found to be positive, according to city Health Department data.
At least 144 people from the ZIP code have died in the pandemic.
Can antibodies from recovered patients help those who are sick? For now, it’s unclear.
Scientists are scrambling to learn whether antibodies drawn from the blood of patients who have recovered from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, might help those who are severely ill.
The treatment has been around for more than a century, but it mostly has been given to patients without thorough testing. Now, blood banks around the world are collecting samples from people who have these antibodies, hoping they will turn out to be an effective remedy.
A study released on Friday night has yielded disappointing results. The research has not yet been peer-reviewed nor published in a scientific journal, but it is said to be the largest examination of the use of so-called convalescent plasma in severely ill Covid-19 patients.
Thirty-nine hospitalized patients were given intravenous infusions of antibodies. The course of illness in patients who received the convalescent plasma was compared to that of similar patients identified through electronic health records who did not receive the treatment.
Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York reported that 18 percent of those who got the plasma of convalescent serum became sicker, compared with 24.3 percent of the patients who did not receive the treatment.
The death rates were 12.8 percent among those who got the antibodies, compared with 24.4 percent among the patients who did not get the treatment.
But the number of participants was small, and the patients who did not receive antibodies may not have been exactly like those who did, making comparisons unreliable.
Still, convalescent plasma did not appear to be the silver bullet that scientists have been hoping for. At the moment, only the antiviral drug remdesivir has been shown to be modestly effective in treating patients severely ill with Covid-19.
Even without evidence, however, the Food and Drug Administration has authorized the use of convalescent plasma in very sick Covid-19 patients.
“That train has left the station,” said Dr. Arturo Casadevall, an immunologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.
South Korea is closing bars and karaoke parlors after new infections.
The authorities in South Korea’s major cities have shuttered thousands of bars, nightclubs and karaoke parlors after identifying them as new sources of infection.
The measures are a response to a new coronavirus cluster — 215 cases as of Friday — traced to nightlife facilities this month. The outbreak is believed to have started in Itaewon, a popular nightclub district in Seoul.
Anyone who visits the venues, as well as the owners who accept them, can face fines, and the government can also sue them for damages amid an outbreak. And unlike other patients, those who contract the virus in these facilities while they are barred must pay their own coronavirus-related medical bills.
South Korea is not the only the place in the region to crack down on nightlife in the pandemic.
Hong Kong closed its night clubs and karaoke establishments in April after a “bar and band” cluster was identified in a popular nightlife district. They are scheduled to reopen next week.
And in Japan, an association representing entertainment workers issued guidelines on Friday that cover nightclubs and hostess bars. The guidelines suggest that hostesses tie up their hair and avoid sitting directly in front of customers.
The association, Nihon Mizushobai Kyokai, also said that microphones in karaoke parlors should be disinfected regularly and that customers should keep their masks on while singing.
Europe’s military plan becomes a victim of the pandemic.
The coronavirus has upended the best-laid plans and priorities of many, including the European Union. And one of the biggest casualties may be European efforts to build a more credible and independent European military.
For several years — especially since President Trump came to office with his skepticism about NATO, European alliances and multilateral obligations — leaders like President Emmanuel Macron of France have pushed for the continent’s ability to defend itself and act militarily in its neighborhood without so much reliance on the United States.
But even before the virus hit, and despite loud calls that the bloc was in greater peril from new technologies and a more aggressive Russia and China, the European Commission was slashing projected European military spending in the next seven-year budget.
Now, with the pandemic having cratered the economy, there will be an even fiercer budgetary battle. Recovery and jobs will be the priority, and Brussels continues to emphasize investment in a European “Green Deal” to manage the climate crisis.
“We Europeans truly need to take our fate in our own hands,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany after Mr. Trump’s election. In February, Mr. Macron called again for “a much stronger Europe in defense.”
Brazil overtakes Russia in confirmed cases as the pandemic spreads in South America.
With the World Health Organization warning that South America is becoming the “new epicenter” of the pandemic, Brazil has overtaken Russia in its number of coronavirus cases, registering 330,890 infected people — a figure second only to that of the United States.
Brazil registered 1,001 daily coronavirus deaths on Friday, raising the country’s total to 21,048, according to the Health Ministry. And the true toll is probably higher as Brazil, Latin America’s top economy, has been slow to ramp up testing.
The coronavirus toll has been rising sharply in Brazil, where the country’s health minister resigned this month just four weeks into the job, having replaced a predecessor who was dismissed by President Jair Bolsonaro.
Despite having robust public health care system, the country’s response to the pandemic has been chaotic and contradictory, and it is not the only Latin American nation facing a surge in coronavirus cases.
Data from Ecuador indicate that the country is suffering one of the worst outbreaks in the world. And in Argentina, the pandemic threatens to push the country into even further financial difficulty.
On Friday, Argentina missed a bond payment and inched closer to another crushing default that would plunge it into a new period of economic isolation and deepen a recession that has been made worse by the pandemic.
China reported no new coronavirus deaths or symptomatic cases.
China reported no new coronavirus deaths or symptomatic cases on Saturday, the first time that both tallies were zero on a given day since the country’s outbreak began.
The authorities reported 28 asymptomatic cases, two of which were imported.
The announcements came as the authorities in Wuhan, where the global outbreak began, are aiming to test all of the city’s 11 million residents. In what is knows as a “10-day battle,” begun on May 14, the government initiative aims to obtain a truer picture of the epidemic in the city — most crucially of people who have the virus but show no symptoms.
Some public health experts are watching the campaign to see whether it can serve as a model for other governments that want to return their societies to some level of normalcy.
And while China’s Hong Kong security laws are attracting wide attention outside the country, its domestic news media outlets are keeping the focus on President Xi Jinping. He is using China’s biggest political event of the year, the annual session of the National People’s Congress, to project strength at a time when external criticism of his government’s handling of the pandemic is growing.
Some coronavirus patients in Portugal recognized their doctor from the soccer field.
He swapped his blazer and tie for personal protective equipment and left the boardroom for the emergency room at Lisbon’s military hospital.
There, as a doctor pressed into service in the pandemic, he faced feverish, coughing patients and helped line up their care. But some of them had a curious question. “From just looking at my eyes,” he said, “they would say, ‘Hey, are you not the Sporting president? Can I have a selfie?’”
Frederico Varandas is the president of Sporting Clube de Portugal, one of the country’s biggest soccer teams. He is also Dr. Frederico Varandas, a reserve military physician who completed a tour in Afghanistan a decade ago before switching his career.
Dr. Varandas, 40, was recently on call at the hospital for about six weeks, treating military staff members and their families. His main task was to test and evaluate patients as they arrived, before handing off the more serious ones to his colleagues in the intensive care unit.
He is not the only sports figure pressed into medical service in the pandemic. In Canada, Hayley Wickenheiser, a four-time Olympic gold medalist in hockey turned medical student, has been gathering protective equipment for workers and helping with efforts to track the spread of the coronavirus.
In Dr. Varandas’s case, he said, “Sports had stopped in Portugal, and I thought that I am more important to the country working as a doctor.”
In Britain, a call to end weekly clapping for health care workers.
The woman credited with starting the weekly applause for health care workers fighting the coronavirus in Britain has suggested that the “Clap for Carers” should end on Thursday, the 10th week after it started.
Her logic? The public has shown its appreciation enough and it is now up to the government to reward doctors and nurses. Many have died during the outbreak, and they have cared for patients while short on protective equipment like masks, gloves and visors.
The woman, Annemarie Plas, told BBC Radio 2 that the clapping could be replaced by an annual remembrance. “Next week will be 10 times,” she said. “I think that would be beautiful, to be the end of the series.”
Ms. Plas is not the only one seeking to end the tribute: A doctor, writing in The Guardian, said: “Enough with the rainbows. When this ends, people need to show their value of key-working staff in practical ways; pay them enough to be able to live in our cities, and recognize, support and welcome immigrant staff who prop this country up.”
While the British government has been accused of mishandling the pandemic — such as announcing only on Friday, months after a lockdown began, that international travelers to the country would be required to self-isolate for 14 days — its National Health Service has been seen as a rallying point.
Britons started clapping at 8 p.m. on March 26, weeks after Italy, France, Spain and other countries in Europe had begun showing support in a similar fashion. New Yorkers also step out to applaud daily at 7 p.m.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this week that his government was considering how to reward health care professionals — weeks after other governments in Europe announced bonuses. Under pressure, he also ordered the end to the extra medical fee that non-British workers at the N.H.S. must pay to use the service.
The moves come as pressure grows for Mr. Johnson’s top adviser, Dominic Cummings, to resign after news outlets reported that he had visited his parents at their home in March while he had coronavirus symptoms.
According to The Guardian and The Mirror newspapers, Mr. Cummings traveled to Durham, 270 miles north of his home in London, a week after he had begun to self-isolate, flouting guidance from Mr. Johnson for people to stay home to help curb the virus’s spread.
The government defended Mr. Cummings on Saturday, saying that he had not violated the lockdown guidelines, and suggested that the purpose of the trip had been to secure child care.
The virus doesn’t spread easily on surfaces, the C.D.C. says.
The virus does not spread easily via contaminated surfaces, according to the agency — a relief for people worried about wiping down grocery bags or disinfecting mailed packages.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from one person to another, typically through droplets when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks at close range — even if that person is shows no symptoms.
The C.D.C.’s website also says that “touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes” is a possible way for people to become infected. But those transmissions are “not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”
Separated by Plexiglas: A correspondent on what it’s like to visit a nursing home in France.
Elian Peltier covered the pandemic in Spain before returning to his home country, France. We asked him to tell us about a visit to his grandparents.
When France went under lockdown in March, my mother was relieved. Her parents were in a nursing home, and with travel restrictions in place, she and her sister could no longer drive the 80 miles south of Paris every weekend to visit them.
At least in the home, my grandparents would get the care they needed. Then the virus slipped inside nursing homes, and relief turned to alarm.
So began a long vigil of daily calls, weekly video chats and customized postcards created online.
When I told my grandfather about reporting in Spain, I didn’t mention the bodies taken out of apartment buildings in Barcelona and the health care workers in hazmat suits disinfecting nursing homes in isolated villages. It felt better to update him on European soccer leagues and reminisce about our penalty-kick practices in his garden in Beaugency, where I spent my summers as a child.
The coronavirus has killed about 14,000 residents of France’s nursing homes — half of the country’s death toll. We are lucky that, so far, none of those deaths occurred at my grandparents’ home, where the caregivers were vigilant about social distancing.
As France began easing its lockdown last week, we were finally able to visit, or rather sit outside the home, as my grandparents sat inside, a few feet away. To allow us to hear each other, the staff opened the door, but placed a table with a Plexiglas partition in the doorway.
We could see my grandparents only one at a time, since they are in different parts of the home that can no longer socially mix. My grandfather, a former stone mason, misses many things that we cannot yet deliver, like shorts, because of the home’s strict rules. It is my grandmother’s company he misses most.
My grandmother, once a wonderful cook known for her poulet basquaise and cherry cakes, has Alzheimer’s. When she struggled to recognize me, I broke the rules and took down my mask for a second. A nurse gently caressed her hair as we spoke. My mother and I were a little envious that the nurse could do what we could not.
For now, I plan to finally read my grandfather’s journals of his military service in Chad when he was around my age. He gave them to me at Christmas; I thought I had plenty of time to read them. That was before he had a stroke, and before the pandemic created a new normal.
A British utility will pay its customers to keep the lights on.
The pandemic has played havoc with energy markets. Last month, the price of benchmark American crude oil fell below zero as the economy shut down and demand plunged.
And this weekend, a British utility will pay some of its residential consumers to use electricity — to plug in appliances and run them full blast.
These negative electricity prices usually show up in wholesale power markets, when a big electricity user like a factory or a water treatment plant is paid to consume more power. Having too much power on the line could lead to damaged equipment or even blackouts.
Negative prices were once relatively rare, but during the pandemic they have become almost routine in Britain, Germany and elsewhere in Europe. The reason is similar to what caused the price of oil to plunge: oversupply meeting a collapse in demand.
In Britain, Octopus Energy is offering to pay some customers 2 pence to 5 pence per kilowatt-hour for electricity that they consume in periods of slack demand, such as are expected on Sunday.
“This needs to become the normal,” said Greg Jackson, the company’s and chief executive, who said the pandemic was offering a preview of “what the future is going to look like.”
In recent weeks, renewable energy sources have played an increasingly large role in the European power system, and the burning of coal has decreased.
The virus’s ‘different pathway’ in Africa may be a function of the continent’s younger population.
The coronavirus is taking a “different pathway” in Africa compared with its trajectory in other regions, the World Health Organization said on Friday.
Mortality rates are lower in Africa than elsewhere, the W.H.O. said, theorizing that the continent’s young population could account for that.
The virus has reached all 55 countries on the continent, which recently confirmed its 100,000th case, with 3,100 deaths. When Europe’s infection count reached that point, it had registered 4,900 deaths.
“For now, Covid-19 has made a soft landfall in Africa, and the continent has been spared the high numbers of deaths which have devastated other regions of the world,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the organization’s regional director for Africa.
More than 60 percent of people in Africa are under 25, and Covid-19 hits older populations particularly hard. In Europe, around 95 percent of virus deaths have been among people 60 and older.
Many health experts have cast doubt on the W.H.O.’s numbers, however, saying that most African countries’ testing capability is extremely limited — partly because they struggle to obtain the diagnostic equipment they need — and that deaths as a result of Covid-19 are undercounted.
Reporting was contributed by Julfikar Ali Manik, Ian Austen, Peter Baker, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, José María León Cabrera, Stephen Castle, Damien Cave, Michael Cooper, Steven Erlanger, Tess Felder, Jacey Fortin, Jeffrey Gettleman, Abby Goodnough, Denise Grady, Maggie Haberman, Christine Hauser, Mike Ives, Jennifer Jett, Yonette Joseph, Sheila Kaplan, Annie Karni, Gina Kolata, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Mark Landler, Judith Levitt, Ernesto Londoño, Louis Lucero, Sarah Mervosh, Raphael Minder, Zach Montague, Sharon Otterman, Richard C. Paddock, Tariq Panja, Elian Peltier, Daniel Politi, Suhasini Raj, Adam Rasgon, Stanley Reed, Luis Ferré Sadurní, Edgar Sandoval, Choe Sang-Hun, Marc Stein, Matt Stevens, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sabrina Tavernise, Katie Thomas, Anton Troianovski, Hisako Ueno, Shalini Venugopal, James Wagner, Sui-Lee Wee, Noah Weiland, Jin Wu and Elaine Yu.
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