Health & Fitness

Coronavirus Stay Updates: Urgent G.O.P. for Broader Repair, Pelosi Rejects Quick Jobless Help Extension

The U.S. nears a single-day record as infections show no sign of slowing.

The United States on Friday came just short of breaking its single-day record for new coronavirus cases, adding more than 73,400, the second-highest daily total, and signaling that infection rates show no signs of slowing.

The single-day record, set on July 16, is 75,697 cases. Since June 24, the seven-day average has more than doubled, from 31,402 to more than 66,100 on Friday.

Friday was also the fourth consecutive day with more than 1,100 deaths reported.

As the number of cases has continued to climb, so has the number of hospitalizations, which had skirted its own record in recent days.

On Friday, the number of people known to be hospitalized with the coronavirus in the United States was 59,670, according to the Covid Tracking Project, a few hundred short of the record of 59,940 reported by the database on April 15.

The national number of hospitalizations dipped briefly below 28,000 in mid-June. Since then, the situation has worsened across a number of states.

In South Texas, a rural, impoverished county near the border is a grim example of the type of hospital crisis that could arise elsewhere. In Starr County, which has more cases than its single hospital can handle, ethics committees have been formed to help determine which patients should be treated and which should be sent home to die.

County officials said there had been a rapid surge in both cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks. The county’s infection rate of about 2,350 per 100,000 people is far higher than in more populous parts of Texas, including Houston, a national virus hot spot.

The situation is so dire that Pentagon officials have dispatched Army and Navy personnel to the Starr County hospital and other medical centers in border cities to provide support, and state and federal officials have sent morgue trailers, ventilators, testing teams and surgical masks to the Rio Grande Valley.

Globally, the rise in cases is also affecting countries that had previously seemed to be models in reducing and controlling infections.

Vietnam on Saturday confirmed a new infection, its first reported case of community transmission in 100 days.

South Korea, which has been held up as a success story, on Saturday reported 113 new infections, many of them imported. It was the first time since April 1 that the daily caseload had broken 100.

And in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was praised for his initial success in handling the pandemic, has this week seen thousands of young people take to the streets, demanding that he quit over what they see as his flubbed response to the coronavirus. Their anger is presenting Mr. Netanyahu, who has been in power for 11 years, with a new political risk.

“We’ve learned that we have to look out for ourselves,” said Maayan Shrem, 25, a youth counselor and former combat soldier who came to the protest Thursday night from his hometown, Karmiel, a two-hour bus ride from Jerusalem. Holding a placard that read “We will not cease to fight for our country,” his friend, Oren Gery, 26, added, “Change has to come from the bottom up.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California again rejected on Friday the prospect of passing a short-term extension of extra unemployment benefits slated to lapse next week, slamming Republicans for failing to put forward a broader pandemic relief proposal that would include a continuation of the $600 weekly boost.

“No, no, no, no — pass the bill,” Ms. Pelosi said, dismissing repeated questions about whether she would consider approving the jobless aid on its own. “It’s a tactic in order to not honor our other responsibilities.”

Those other responsibilities, she said, included allocating trillions more in federal aid for states, cities, schools and coronavirus testing. Friday was the second-worst day in the country for new coronavirus infections, with more than 73,400 cases.

“I would be very much averse to separating this out and lose all leverage for meeting all of the other needs,” she said.

Administration officials had floated a short-term extension to avoid the legislative cliff on July 31 — when the unemployment benefits expire — and buy additional time to reach a compromise.

House Democrats approved a $3 trillion relief package in May that would extend the enhanced unemployment benefits through the end of the year, but Republicans want to scale them back considerably, arguing that the payments discourage people from returning to work.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and his top lieutenants scrapped plans to unveil their proposal this week and were instead planning to do so on Monday, but they were still working out details.

Officials familiar with the talks said that among the plans being discussed were a proposal that would reduce the $600-per-week supplement to a lower flat payment for two months, and then tie it to a percentage of a workers’ previous wages.

Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, have said they favor capping the total state and federal benefits a worker could receive at 70 percent of their previous wages, which would mean about $200 per week in federal benefits for a typical worker.

Both chambers are scheduled to leave Washington after the first week in August for recess. Mr. McConnell suggested at an event in Kentucky on Friday that a compromise may not come together until after that.

“We hope to pass something within the next few weeks,” he said.

The top U.S. public health agency issued a full-throated call to reopen schools in a package of new “resources and tools” posted on its website Thursday night that opened with a statement that sounded more like a political speech than a scientific document, listing numerous benefits for children of being in school and downplaying the potential health risks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the new guidance two weeks after President Trump criticized its earlier recommendations on school reopenings as “very tough and expensive,” ramping up what had already been an anguished national debate over the question of how soon children should return to classrooms. As the president was criticizing the initial C.D.C. recommendations, a document from the agency surfaced that detailed the risks of reopening and the steps that districts were taking to minimize those risks.

“Reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America’s greatest assets — our children — while taking every precaution to protect students, teachers, staff and all their families,” the new opening statement said.

President Trump, sinking in the polls and pummeled with criticism over his handling of the pandemic, sees reopening the nation’s schools this fall as crucial to reinvigorating the economy and to his re-election. While many public health experts and pediatricians agree that returning children to classrooms is critically important, they warn that it has to be done cautiously, with a plan based on scientific evidence. Many, along with teachers’ unions, have accused the president of putting children and the adults who supervise them at school at risk by politicizing the subject.

The package of materials began with the opening statement, titled “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools This Fall,” and repeatedly described children as being at low risk for being infected by or transmitting the virus, even though the science on both aspects is far from settled.

“The best available evidence indicates if children become infected, they are far less likely to suffer severe symptoms,” the statement said. “At the same time, the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant.”

While children infected by the virus are at low risk of becoming severely ill or dying, how often they become infected and how efficiently they spread the virus to others is not definitively known. Children in middle and high schools may also be at much higher risk of both than those under 10, according to some recent studies.

But the package is actually a hybrid of sorts. Beyond the political-sounding opening statement, it included checklists for parents, guidance on wearing face coverings, mitigation measures for schools to take and other information that some epidemiologists described as useful. This more technical guidance generally did not counter the agency’s earlier recommendations on school reopenings, such as keeping desks six feet apart and keeping smaller-than-usual groups of children in one classroom all day instead of allowing them to move around.

The guidance suggests schools take measures like keeping students in small cohorts, having one teacher stay with the same group all day and using outdoor spaces. It also suggests planning for how to handle when someone in a school tests positive, including developing plans for contact tracing. It also includes strategies to support students of various ages wearing masks. For parents, it suggests checking their children each morning for signs of illness before sending them to school and talking to them about preventive measures.

South Korea reported 113 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, including 36 South Korean construction workers who had returned from Iraq. It was the country’s largest daily caseload since March 31, when 125 new infections were confirmed.

The new cases also included 32 Russian sailors from a fishing vessel docked for repair at Busan at the southeastern tip of South Korea.

South Korea, which once had the biggest coronavirus outbreak outside China, has been largely successful in controlling the spread of the virus, having kept the daily number of new cases below 100 since April 1. Before Saturday, the daily caseloads this month had ranged from 26 to 63.

On Friday, two South Korean military cargo planes evacuated 293 South Korean construction workers from Iraq, where the virus has been rapidly spreading. Eighty-six of them showed potential Covid-19 symptoms before boarding, said Yoon Tae-ho, a senior official at the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Korea is testing hundreds of sailors on 13 Russian ships at Busan, after a South Korean repairman working on one of the ships came down with the virus. The 32 Russian patients whose cases were reported on Saturday all came from that ship.

In late February, South Korea was reporting more than 900 cases a day. But its aggressive campaign of testing, tracing and isolating has since paid off. Health officials continue to battle small but steady flare-ups.

Of the 14,092 cases reported in South Korea thus far, 2,244 have been imported, most of them involving South Korean nationals who were coming home.

Global Roundup

Thousands of young Israelis are protesting Netanyahu’s handling of the virus.

For three nights this week thousands of Israeli millennials, provoked by what they see as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s flubbed response to the coronavirus, blocked the streets outside his official residence and demanded that he quit.

Many were not even of voting age when Mr. Netanyahu took office in Israel 11 years ago. But their anger signaled that his storied political survival skills are confronting a new risk.

“We’ve learned that we have to look out for ourselves,” said Maayan Shrem, 25, a youth counselor and former combat soldier who came to the protest Thursday night from his hometown, Karmiel, a two-hour bus ride from Jerusalem. Holding a placard that read “We will not cease to fight for our country,” his friend, Oren Gery, 26, added, “Change has to come from the bottom up.”

Mr. Netanyahu was praised for his initial success in handling the pandemic. As coronavirus wards closed for lack of patients, he abruptly reopened the economy in late May to try to resuscitate jobs and commerce, telling Israelis in a televised victory address to get some air, grab a coffee or a beer and, while taking the necessary precautions, to “Go out and have a good time.”

Within weeks, everything went awry.

Children were sent back to school to finish the semester before summer break, which caused new outbreaks. The government zigzagged on the opening and closing of restaurants, swimming pools and beaches, leaving Israelis bewildered. Nearly a million people were left unemployed out of a population of nine million. And daily infections rapidly spiked, from double-digit figures in May to about 2,000 per day now.

In other news from around the globe:

Prime Minister Jean Castex of France announced Friday that travelers from 16 countries arriving in France would have to present a recent negative test or be tested upon arrival. Countries affected by this new measure include the United States, Turkey, India, Israel and Brazil, according to French media, some of which are already barred by the European Union from traveling into the bloc.

Nearly 300 Nicaraguans were stranded on the border with Costa Rica this week after they were refused re-entry into their own country until they could prove they had tested negative for the coronavirus, the authorities in Costa Rica said.

Germany will offer free tests to citizens returning from abroad as part of new measures agreed to on Friday to curb the virus’s spread. Those who fly in from countries considered to be high-risk can undergo tests directly at the airport upon arrival, Jens Spahn, Germany’s health minister said.

The Supreme Court rejects a Nevada church’s challenge to shutdown restrictions.

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request from a church in Nevada to block enforcement of state restrictions on attendance at religious services.

The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four more liberal members to form a majority.

The court’s brief order was unsigned and gave no reasons, which is typical when the justices act on emergency applications. The court’s four more conservative members filed three dissents, totaling 24 pages.

Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley in Dayton, Nev., argued that the state treated houses of worship less favorably than it did casinos, restaurants and amusement parks. Those businesses have been limited to 50 percent of their fire-code capacities, while houses of worship have been subject to a flat 50-person limit.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., in a dissent joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett M. Kavanaugh, wrote that the distinction made no sense.

“The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion,” Justice Alito wrote. “It says nothing about the freedom to play craps or blackjack, to feed tokens into a slot machine or to engage in any other game of chance. But the governor of Nevada apparently has different priorities.”

“A public health emergency does not give governors and other public officials carte blanche to disregard the Constitution for as long as the medical problem persists,” Justice Alito wrote.

The court considered a similar objection from a California church in May, rejecting it by a 5-to-4 vote.

Newly enrolled international students whose classes are online will not be allowed to come to the U.S.

Newly enrolled international students will not be able to come to the U.S. to study in the fall if their classes are taught entirely online, according to guidelines issued Friday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The new guidance draws a harsh line between international students who are already studying in the U.S., and those who were going to arrive for the first time in the fall.

It says that students who were already actively studying in the U.S. last spring as the pandemic shut down campuses would be allowed to stay, even if their courses would be entirely online. But those who had not yet arrived would not be permitted to come to the U.S. unless they took at least one in-person class.

The guidance comes after the Trump administration threatened to send international students home and strip them of their student visas if they were going to study entirely online in the fall. The administration backtracked on that threat after Harvard, M.I.T. and other universities and a number of states sued, saying the move to bar international students was cruel, reckless, arbitrary and capricious.

Normally, international students are required to take most of their classes in person. But the rule had been lifted in the spring because of the pandemic. In-person classes are going to be scarce this fall, even at those universities that are offering a mix of in-person and online classes.

On Tuesday, Harvard anticipated the latest guidance, and said that it would not be able to welcome about 200 first-year undergraduates to campus. About 250,000 international students plan to enter the U.S. for the coming academic year, either as new or returning students, according to the American Council on Education, a trade group.

President Trump’s springtime confidence that he could cheerlead the country back to a semblance of normalcy in time to kick-start the moribund economy and power himself to a second term in November’s election has proved unequal to the grim summertime medical and autopsy reports emerging from the South and West. With 60,000 new cases and 1,000 more deaths being registered each day, Mr. Trump has been forced this week to retreat from the rose-colored assessment of the health of the nation, Peter Baker, The Times’s chief White House correspondent, writes in a news analysis.

The president who shunned masks and pressured states to reopen and promised a return to the campaign trail finds himself canceling rallies, scrapping his grand convention, urging Americans to stay away from crowded bars and at long last embracing, if only halfheartedly, wearing masks.

Not that he has admitted a change. As he revived his coronavirus briefings this week, he still insisted that most of the country was doing well and offered upbeat predictions about conquering the virus.

Even so, the decision to begin holding the briefings again was itself an admission that the crisis he wanted so desperately to be over in fact is accelerating even as he falls behind former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. by double digits in the polls.

“This is a case when you line it all up, it’s the last season of ‘The Apprentice,’ we’ve got 100 days left and the reality TV star just got mugged by reality,” said Rahm Emanuel, who served in Congress and as White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama before becoming mayor of Chicago.

Speaking before the cameras this week, White House officials insisted that Mr. Trump had not changed his view of the virus at all and that he always took it seriously. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, however, senior Republican officials expressed exasperation that the president in their view mishandled the virus, leaving the party vulnerable to losing not only the White House but also the Senate.

In other U.S. political news:

Mr. Trump’s abrupt cancellation of the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Fla. — a big celebration in a battleground state that he hoped would buoy his re-election campaign — surprised some allies, donors and even aides who weren’t expecting the announcement then, which he attributed to Florida’s soaring rate of coronavirus cases. But the timing of the decision was influenced by the imminent need for the Republican Party to book an enormous number of hotel rooms in Jacksonville and sign other costly service agreements, according to multiple Republicans familiar with the plans.

A survey conducted in early July for The New York Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey showed that opinions about the pandemic increasingly fall along partisan lines. Republicans are less worried about the virus; a majority said they would feel comfortable flying on an airplane, eating indoors in a restaurant or seeing a movie in a theater. Large majorities of Democrats and political independents said they would not feel safe doing such activities.

The owners of a laundry shop in central Taiwan have become Instagram stars for posing in garments left behind.

At Wansho Laundry in central Taiwan, most dirty clothes dropped off to be steamed or washed or dry-cleaned end up right back in the hands of their rightful owners, cleaner than when they arrived.

Abandoned garments, however, can end up on Instagram.

The blouses, skirts and trousers adorn the bodies of the laundry’s owners, Chang Wan-ji, 83, and Hsu Sho-er, 84, who have become globally famous for modeling outfits curated from the hundreds of forgotten items left behind by absent-minded customers.

No one is more shocked by the couple’s newfound fame than their 31-year-old grandson and unofficial stylist, Reef Chang. “I was really surprised,” the younger Mr. Chang said recently. “I had no idea so many foreigners would take interest in my grandparents.”

He originally came up with the idea for the Instagram account, he said. Their business had slowed during the coronavirus pandemic, and his grandparents were wary about going outside even as Taiwan took highly effective measures to fight the virus. With nearly 24 million people, Taiwan has reported only 458 cases, 55 local transmissions and seven deaths.

A rural, impoverished county in the South Texas border region with more cases than its one hospital can handle has gone into a grim crisis mode, forming ethics committees to help determine which patients should be treated and which should be sent home to die.

Officials in Starr County said their cases and hospitalizations have rapidly increased in recent weeks. The county’s infection rate of 2,350 per 100,000 people far exceeds the rate in more populous parts of Texas, including Houston.

The hub of the county’s response has been the 29-bed Covid-19 unit at Starr County Memorial Hospital in Rio Grande City, which is struggling to keep up. Two or three patients are flown daily by helicopter out of the county, and sometimes out of the state, for treatment.

“Our backs are to the wall,” the county’s top elected official, Judge Eloy Vera, told reporters in a video news conference. “We are literally in a life-and-death situation.”

Given the county’s scarce medical resources, hospital officials said they had formed ethics and triage committees to determine which patients would be treated based on their chances of survival. Those discussions will involve health care providers, the patients and their relatives, officials said.

“If we believe with scientific data that the patient does not have any chance to survive with a lifesaving medical device or treatment, we will have that conversation with the family,” said Dr. Jose Vasquez, the board president of the county Hospital District. “And we will give our honest point of view and perhaps make them understand that sometimes it’s better if that loved one goes home and dies within the love of a family, rather than going thousands of miles away and dying alone in a hospital room.”

Starr County is one of several communities along the Texas-Mexico border that have been struggling to contain the spread of the virus.

Pentagon officials have dispatched Army and Navy personnel to the Starr County hospital and other medical centers in border cities to provide support, and state and federal officials have sent in morgue trailers, ventilators, testing teams and surgical masks to the Rio Grande Valley.

U.S. ROundup

As cases mount, Mississippi limits gatherings and New Orleans bans cocktails-to-go.

With Mississippi averaging more than a thousand new cases a day — double what it was a month ago — Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, announced Friday that he would limit social gatherings to 10 or less indoors and 20 or less outdoors, ban alcohol sales at bars and restaurants after 11 p.m., and extend his mask-wearing order to six more counties.

“We are still in the middle of our most painful period of Covid-19 spread,” Mr. Reeves said at a new conference Friday, as the state reported more than 1,600 new cases.

In addition to banning alcohol sales after 11 p.m., Mr. Reeves said that bars would only be allowed to serve seated customers. “In Mississippi, our bars must look more like restaurants, and less like mobs of Covid-19 spread,” he said.

New Orleans also imposed new restrictions on its bars.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans, a Democrat, said Friday that bars, which were already banned by the state from allowing customers to drink alcohol on their premises, would no longer be allowed to sell alcohol to go. The move promised to transform nightlife and areas such as Bourbon Street. Louisiana has surpassed New York for the most identified cases per capita, according to a New York Times database.

At a Friday news conference, Ms. Cantrell noted the outsized role bars play in the city’s economy, but also in spreading the virus.

As parts of the Gulf Coast grappling with rising caseloads moved to try to curb the spread, parts of the East Coast that tamed earlier outbreaks took steps to try to avoid backsliding.

Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, a Republican, said that travelers from most states, who had already been asked to quarantine for 14 days, would now be subject to a fine of $500 per day, starting Aug. 1, if they fail to quarantine as required or produce a negative test taken within 72 hours of their arrival. Travelers can also face the fine if they do not fill out a required form with their personal information. The state will primarily rely upon the “honor system” for enforcement, Mr. Baker said.

And Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington, a Democrat, said Friday that, starting Monday, travelers from high-risk areas should quarantine for 14 days, though it was not immediately clear how the measure would be enforced. The measure will exclude Virginia and Maryland.

And Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont, a Republican, announced on Friday that the state would implement a mask mandate on Aug. 1. “Rather than waiting like other states have until it’s too late, I feel we need to act now to protect our gains, which has allowed us to protect our economy,” he said.

In other news around the nation:

McDonald’s announced on Friday that it would require customers to wear face coverings inside its U.S. restaurants, effective Aug. 1.

At least five states on Friday broke their single-day records for new cases: Indiana with more than 1,000; Oklahoma with more than 1,140; Utah with more than 880; Montana with 189; and Hawaii with 58.

New Jersey will allow parents to choose remote-only instruction for their children when schools reopen this fall, officials said Friday.

At least 19 cases have been traced to a county fair in Pickaway, Ohio, held late last month, according to a report by public health officials. Fair organizers rebutted in a post on Facebook that at the time the fair was held the state “did not require masks for volunteers.”

Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Dan Bilefsky, William J. Broad, Alexander Burns, José María León Cabrera, Julia Calderone, Ben Casselman, Niraj Chokshi, Emily Cochrane, Michael Cooper, Melissa Eddy, Manny Fernandez, Gillian Friedman, Michael Gold, Joseph Goldstein, Abby Goodnough, Rebecca Halleck, Maggie Haberman, Anemona Hartocolis, Hikari Hida, Chris Horton, Andrew Jacobs, Annie Karni, Josh Keller, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Adam Liptak, Patricia Mazzei, Patrick McGeehan, Jesse McKinley, Constant Méheut, Raphael Minder, Elian Peltier, Alan Rappeport, Motoko Rich, Frances Robles, Giovanni Russonello, Choe Sang-Hun, Nate Schweber, Mitch Smith, Megan Specia, Kaly Soto, Jim Tankersley, María Silvia Trigo, Daniel Victor, Lauren Wolfe and Will Wright.

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