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The U.S. sets another daily record for new cases, surpassing 59,000.
As President Trump continued to press for a broader reopening of the United States, the country set another record for new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with more than 59,400 infections announced, according to a New York Times database. It was the fifth national record set in nine days.
The previous record, 56,567, was reported on Friday.
The country reached a total of three million cases on Tuesday as the virus continued its resurgence in the West and the South. At least five states — Missouri, Texas, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia — set single-day records for new infections on Wednesday.
As of Tuesday, the country’s daily number of new cases had increased by 72 percent over the past two weeks. And by Wednesday, 24 states had reported more cases over the past week than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic.
Texas reported more than 9,900 cases on Wednesday, the state’s third consecutive day with a record total of new infections. According to Dr. Deborah L. Birx, who is coordinating the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, the state’s rate of positive tests was hovering around 20 percent at the beginning of July, double what it was a month before.
In Arizona, a fast-spreading outbreak is putting pressure on hospital capacity, with the state having reported more deaths in recent days. New cases in Arizona have been trending upward since the beginning of June, and this week the state has been averaging more than 3,600 new cases a day, a record.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said in an interview Wednesday on a Wall Street Journal podcast: “Any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down. It’s not for me to say, because each state is different.”
Dr. Fauci spoke as medical facilities across the nation, under pressure from the surge in cases, continued to face a dire shortage of respirator masks, isolation gowns and disposable gloves that protect front-line medical workers from infection.
Schools, too, are at the center of conflicting messaging about how they can safely welcome back students. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday said that it would issue new guidelines, after President Trump assailed its previous ones.
A threat from Mr. Trump to cut off federal aid to schools that refuse to fully reopen comes as scientists grapple with rising concerns about transmission of the virus in indoor spaces. Most public schools are poorly ventilated and can’t afford to update their filtration systems.
As Tulsa cases surge, the top health official says Trump’s rally was probably a factor.
The top health official in Tulsa, Okla., suggested on Wednesday that a surge in cases in and around the city was probably connected to the contentious indoor campaign rally President Trump held there last month.
Tulsa County reported 206 new confirmed cases on Tuesday and 261 — a record high — on Monday.
“The past two days we’ve had almost 500 cases, and we know we had several large events a little over two weeks ago, which is about right,” Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, said at a news conference. “So I guess we just connect the dots.” Recent protests in the city were among the events.
Asked whether contact tracing had confirmed a link between the Trump rally and the increase in cases, Leanne Stephens, a spokeswoman for the health department, said the department “will not publicly identify any individual or facility at risk of exposure, or where transmission occurred.”
But Dr. Dart said the large gatherings of people in the city had “more than likely contributed to that.”
Dr. Dart was among those urging the Trump to cancel the rally at the 19,000-seat Bank of Oklahoma Center arena, citing the risk of infection. The rally did not come close to filling the arena to capacity; most in attendance did not wear masks.
As of Tuesday, Oklahoma’s seven-day average had risen to 495 new cases; a month before the average was 92. The state’s spike in cases has mirrored a resurgence elsewhere in the country’s South and West.
The C.D.C. says it will issue new guidelines for reopening schools, after criticism from Trump.
‘We’re Prepared to Work With Each School,’ Redfield Says
Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Dr. Robert R. Redfield of the C.D.C. and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, addressed plans to reopen schools.
“It’s absolutely essential that we get our kids back into classrooms for in-person learning. We can’t let our kids fall behind academically, but it’s important that the American people remember that for children that have mental health issues, for special needs children, for nutrition, for children in communities facing persistent poverty, the school is the place where they receive all those services.” “It would fail America’s students, and it would fail taxpayers who pay high taxes for their education. Ultimately it’s not a matter of if schools should reopen, it’s simply a matter of how. They must fully open and they must be fully operational, and how that happens is best left to education and community leaders.” “I want to make it very clear that what is not the intent of C.D.C.’s guidelines is to be used as a rationale to keep schools closed. We’re prepared to work with each school, each jurisdiction, to help them use the different strategies that we propose that help do this safely so they come up with the optimal strategy for those schools.” “We are worried now that as cases spread, that it’s getting to the older parents and the grandparents. And I call on again, every multigenerational household: Get tested and protect those in the household. And we do know that there are children with vulnerability.”
Hours after President Trump assailed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over its guidelines for reopening schools, Vice President Mike Pence, appearing with the White House coronavirus task force, announced that the agency would issue new recommendations next week, saying that administration officials didn’t want the guidance to be a reason for schools not to open.
“Well, the president said today, we just don’t want the guidance to be too tough,” Mr. Pence said. “That’s the reason why next week, the C.D.C. is going to be issuing a new set of tools, five different documents that will be giving even more clarity on the guidance going forward.”
Mr. Trump openly rebuffed the C.D.C. on Twitter on Wednesday morning, assailing current agency guidelines that recommend a slew of preventive measures to bring the nation’s children back to class. And he threatened to cut off federal aid to schools that refuse to fully reopen this fall.
Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the C.D.C. director, said Wednesday that the agency’s guidance should not be used to justify keeping schools closed. It was the most clarifying statement on the issue that the director has made in months, as schools try to make sense of conflicting messaging on how they can safely welcome students back to class.
“We are prepared to work with each school, each jurisdiction to help them use the different strategies that we proposed that help do this safely so they come up with the optimal strategy for those schools,” Dr. Redfield said.
Measures recommended by the C.D.C. include keeping classroom windows open, spacing desks at least six feet apart “when feasible” and not using cafeterias or playground equipment.
Mr. Trump’s threat comes as scientists grapple with rising concerns about transmission of the virus in indoor spaces. Most public schools are poorly ventilated and don’t have the funding to update their filtration systems. Children under 12 are thought to have only a low risk of getting sick, but they may still spread the virus to other students, or to teachers and parents.
Mr. Trump also tweeted that he believed that schools’ hesitance to reopen was politically motivated, citing European countries that have already reopened their schools.
“The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families,” he wrote.
Experts say several countries, like Germany, reopened their schools after getting the spread of the virus under control.
In much of the United States, virus infections are soaring and patients are quickly filling up hospital beds. Some cities and areas, in response to surging cases, have slowed reopening or imposed new antivirus precautions.
Other key education news today:
Thousands of Serbs demonstrate for a second consecutive night in response to the virus crisis.
It is the first major pandemic-related unrest in Europe since the virus hit, and the authorities have moved quickly to try to put it down. Thousands of Serbs demonstrated for a second consecutive night on Wednesday, partly in response to President Aleksandar Vucic’s handling of the crisis.
The protests were met by a violent police response that some analysts said they had not witnessed in Serbia since the era of Slobodan Milosevic, who governed Serbia during the 1990s.
Serbs first took to the streets on Tuesday, soon after Mr. Vucic announced that Belgrade would be placed under a new three-day lockdown because of a new wave of infections. Some protesters briefly entered the Parliament building before being forced out by the police.
Even after Mr. Vucic backed down, suspending the second shutdown, the protests continued. They quickly grew into a wider expression of frustration with Mr. Vucic.
After initially enforcing one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns in March, Mr. Vucic lifted social restrictions in early May, claiming his government had defeated the virus. But while other European countries eased their lockdowns gradually, Mr. Vucic opted for a faster process, soon allowing Serbs to gather in the tens of thousands at sports matches and to crowd into reopened nightclubs.
“We went from one extreme to another,” said Jelena Vasiljevic of the University of Belgrade.
Protesters said they were less angry about the return of the lockdown than about the governmental missteps that had led to it, including a decision to proceed with a general election last week.
In other news from around the world:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the United States and the European Union had made “real progress” toward reopening travel between the two allied regions, including developing a monitoring system that would protect travelers’ health while jump-starting trans-Atlantic economies.
United Airlines and American Airlines said they would suspend flights to Hong Kong after the authorities said they would test all airline workers for the coronavirus starting on Wednesday. Airline crew members were previously exempt from the mandatory deep-throat saliva tests that nearly everyone entering the Chinese territory must take, and a cargo pilot tested positive for the virus last week.
Tokyo recorded 224 new infections on Thursday, the Japanese public broadcaster NHK said, surpassing a record set in April. The city has more than 7,000 cases.
Australia stepped up its efforts to isolate the outbreak spreading through Melbourne on Thursday, as the state of Queensland shut its doors to people trying to flee the city’s six-week lockdown. Most of Australia is now off limits to people from the state of Victoria, where Melbourne is the capital, as the state authorities reported 165 new cases on Thursday, including six infections tied to a school where a cluster has now spread to 113 people.
The authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan on Thursday executed a man who had murdered two village officials tasked with combating the coronavirus, a local court and the state-run news media said. The killing was in February and the man was sentenced to death in March.
The Indonesian island of Bali, a popular tourist destination, began gradually reopening beaches and businesses on Thursday, despite a steady increase in the number of coronavirus cases on the island. Bali was never locked down, but residents were encouraged to stay home, practice social distancing and wear masks. Over the last three weeks, the number of reported infections there has more than doubled to 1,971, and the number of deaths has more than quadrupled to 25.
Italy on Wednesday blocked 135 Bangladeshis who had flown into Rome from Pakistan via Qatar from disembarking at the airport, and the Italian health minister asked the European Union to help coordinate safety measures for arrivals from outside Europe.
A hospital group in the Netherlands has pressed charges against a patient’s relative, accusing the visitor of exposing medical workers to the virus. The group, Alrijne Ziekenhuis, said the visitor took off protective gear and insulted the workers after a disagreement about treatment, and that four nurses later tested positive for the virus.
The White House proposes barring many migrants from obtaining asylum in the U.S.
The Trump administration on Wednesday proposed barring migrants from obtaining asylum in the United States if they traveled through or came from a country struggling with the coronavirus or other disease outbreaks.
If enacted, the proposed rule would lay a framework for the administration to continue to use a public health crisis to justify the sealing of the United States to nearly every person seeking protection at the southwestern border. Asylum officers would be able to cite any disease that the United States designates as having created a public health emergency.
The rule would allow an asylum officer to classify migrants coming from a country with an outbreak as a “danger to the security of the United States,” denying them protections and putting them on a fast track to deportation. It would also allow the homeland security secretary and the attorney general to classify outbreaks as threats to the United States, which would then be used as factors in denying protections to migrants seeking asylum.
The Trump administration has already effectively brought asylum to a halt by using health authorities granted to the surgeon general to immediately turn away most asylum seekers at the border, including children traveling alone. The administration also created a fallback in the event that such emergency restrictions were lifted or blocked by a potential lawsuit. It proposed regulations that would raise the standard of proof for migrants hoping to obtain asylum, and would allow immigration judges to deny applications for protection without giving migrants an opportunity to testify in court.
The proposal on Wednesday would add to the web of border restrictions that have closed the United States to families fleeing persecution and poverty. President Trump has signed accords with Guatemala and Honduras, for example, that allow the United States to divert migrants to the Central American countries to seek protections there.
Key data of the day
Pence said the rate of positive tests was flattening in hard-hit states. But it remains alarmingly high.
Mr. Pence said Wednesday that federal officials were “seeing early indications” that the percentage of positive tests was flattening in the hard-hit states of Arizona, Florida and Texas.
But to the extent that is true, they are flattening at alarmingly high levels.
While the World Health Organization said in May that maintaining a positivity rate of less than 5 percent for at least two weeks — with comprehensive testing — would indicate that the virus was under control, all three states that the vice president cited are reporting far higher levels than that.
The average positivity rate in Arizona has climbed to roughly 20 percent over the last seven days, according to a slide that Dr. Deborah L. Birx, who is coordinating the administration’s coronavirus response, showed at a briefing in Washington on Wednesday. The state’s own data shows that its positivity rate hit 25 percent on July 5. The fast-spreading outbreak is putting pressure on hospital capacity and is leading the state to record more deaths in recent days.
The positivity rate can help determine how widespread an outbreak is, but it can vary depending on how much testing is being done and who is being tested. Early in the pandemic, when testing in the U.S. was scarce and reserved for only the sickest patients or those who had come into contact with them, positivity rates were high. Ideally, the more testing that is done, the lower the rate would be.
The average positivity rate in Florida, which has had record numbers of cases in recent days, has climbed above 15 percent, according to a slide that Dr. Birx showed. The state announced that 16.27 percent of new cases were positive on July 6. On Wednesday, Florida reported more than 9,900 new cases, bringing the state’s total to 223,775 cases during the outbreak.
And in Texas, the positivity rate was hovering around 20 percent at the beginning of July, according to Dr. Birx’s slides, double what it was a month ago. The state’s own data currently show a far lower positivity rate, 13.51 percent. On May 5, the governor said that a positivity rate of more than 10 percent would be “a warning flag.” The state reported its highest daily death toll, 90, on Tuesday.
At the briefing, Dr. Birx said that in counties and states hit particularly hard by the virus, gatherings should be scaled back again to 10 people or fewer, as the White House had recommended back in March.
A study from England provides more evidence of the crucial risk factors for death.
An analysis of more than 17 million people in England — the largest study of its kind, according to its authors — has pinpointed a bevy of factors that can raise a person’s chances of dying from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The paper, published Wednesday in Nature, echoes reports from other countries that identify older people, men, racial and ethnic minorities, and those with underlying health conditions among the more vulnerable populations.
The study found that patients older than 80 were at least 20 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than those in their 50s, and hundreds of times more likely to die than those below the age of 40. The scale of this relationship was “jaw-dropping,” said Dr. Ben Goldacre of the University of Oxford, one of its authors.
Roughly 11 percent of the patients tracked by the analysis identified as nonwhite. The researchers found that these individuals — particularly Black and South Asian people — were at higher risk of dying from Covid-19 than white patients.
An increasing number of reports have pointed to the pervasive social and structural inequities that are disproportionately burdening racial and ethnic minority groups around the world with the coronavirus’s worst effects.
The new paper helps address “a real paucity of data on race,” said Julia Raifman, an epidemiologist at Boston University who was not involved in the study. “These disparities are not just happening in the United States.”
Twenty-six members of the Mississippi Legislature are infected.
The spread of the coronavirus has intensified so much in Mississippi that the State Capitol is now the center of an outbreak, Gov. Tate Reeves warned on Wednesday.
Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and the speaker of the state House, Philip Gunn, have both received diagnoses of Covid-19. In all, 26 state lawmakers have been confirmed as infected, health officials said. There are 174 total members of the legislature.
“It’s a real, live reminder that this virus will not stop with anyone,” Governor Reeves, a Republican, said at a news conference. He urged people across the state to wear masks and adhere to social distancing rules, and said that more restrictions could be coming.
During the recent session, which ended last week, visitors to the Capitol were screened for symptoms as they entered the building, but not everyone wore masks, including many lawmakers.
The recent surge in cases in Mississippi has alarmed officials. The state reported 674 new cases on Tuesday, and 30 deaths related to the virus.
“I want you to hear me loud and clear,” Governor Reeves said on Wednesday. “This is real. It is here, and it is here now.”
Brazil’s president, who has the coronavirus, again endorses a disputed drug.
The much-criticized stance of Brazil’s president toward the coronavirus appears little changed — even though he is now infected.
Since disclosing his illness on Tuesday, President Jair Bolsonaro has showed no sign that testing positive had made him any less dismissive of the merits of social distancing, mask wearing and other measures that have enabled other countries to rein in transmission and save lives.
And he has continued to endorse a malaria drug that has been disputed as a treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“I trust hydroxychloroquine,” Mr. Bolsonaro, 65, said in a video posted Tuesday that showed him washing down a dose of hydroxychloroquine with water. “I’m doing much better than I was,” he added. “It’s working.”
Most studies have found no evidence that the drug works on Covid-19 patients.
In the United States, the National Institutes of Health stopped a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine, saying it did not work, and the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that the medication can cause abnormalities in the heart rhythm of virus patients.
The virus has infected more than 1.7 million people in Brazil and killed more than 67,000, according to a New York Times database, and it does not appear to be slowing down. On Tuesday, the country reported 45,305 new infections and 1,254 deaths.
The president’s critics, including health experts, fear that his insistent endorsements of hydroxychloroquine will encourage many more people to use it, while not taking proven precautions to avoid infection.
A Dutch hospital presses charges against a visitor accused of exposing medical workers to the virus.
A hospital group in the Netherlands has pressed charges against a patient’s relative, accusing the visitor of exposing medical workers to the virus.
The group, Alrijne Ziekenhuis, said the visitor took off protective gear and insulted the workers after a disagreement about a treatment, and four nurses later tested positive for the virus.
The visitor, who was known to be infected, went to the hospital on June 6 and was escorted out by security guards after the incident, the newspaper De Volkskrant reported. The hospital filed charges of attempted aggravated assault.
While it is impossible to prove that the nurses were infected by the visitor, the hospital said in a statement that it believed there was reason to press charges, calling it a “shocking” event for the staff members. The group did not specify at which of its locations in the province of South-Holland the incident took place.
“It’s understandable that emotions can run high when it concerns the health of loved ones,” the hospital said in a statement, “but with this act a line was crossed.”
Hard-hit Houston cancels the state Republican Party convention, which was to have started next week.
The mayor of Houston said Wednesday that he had ordered the cancellation of the Texas Republican Party’s convention, which had been scheduled to be held there next week, as the city grapples with one of the worst outbreaks in the United States.
The decision by Mayor Sylvester Turner came after weeks of debate over the gathering, which had been expected to attract thousands of party officials. He acted after the city’s top public health official sent a letter to Mr. Turner and to the city-run organization hosting the convention, calling the gathering a “clear and present danger.”
Mr. Turner, speaking through a mask at a news conference, said that “as mayor I simply cannot ignore those words,” describing Houston as “a hot spot in a global pandemic.” He said the city would welcome conventions in the future, once it is safe again to visit.
Houston First Corporation, the city’s convention arm, held the contract with the state Republican Party. On Wednesday, the leaders of the corporation sent a letter to party officials informing them of the cancellation and citing the “force majeure” clause of the contract. “The term ‘force majeure’ is defined to include “epidemics in the city of Houston,” the letter said.
Newsom Says California Has the Capacity to Treat 50,000 Virus Patients
On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said he had been working with healthcare officials to ensure the state did not get overwhelmed with the increase in coronavirus hospitalizations over the past few weeks.
We now have capacity to treat 50,000 Covid-19 patients, well beyond that surge capacity at 20 percent. We have, as I said, built out these alternative care sites. The physical sites, we have secured hospitals like Seton and we have prepositioned a lot of these medical assets — those FMS sites — throughout the state of California and areas that were vulnerable to surges and spikes. This number should draw some attention. And that is one of the largest single day cohort number of positive cases that we’ve reported since the beginning of this pandemic. So I want to caution you for purposes of full disclosure before the press respectfully runs with that number: I hope you responsibly will condition a recognition of the note that we put on this slide that the number includes a backlog of reported numbers that we’re still working through.
Listen to ‘The Daily’: Counting the InfectedHow The Times got access to a federal database of 1.5 million coronavirus cases — and what it revealed.
Listen to ‘The Daily’: Counting the Infected
Hosted by Michael Barbaro, produced by Annie Brown, Clare Toeniskoetter, Michael Simon Johnson, and Adizah Eghan; with help from Robert Jimison; edited by M.J. Davis Lin
How The Times got access to a federal database of 1.5 million coronavirus cases — and what it revealed.
From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is “The Daily.”[music]
Today: For months, the U.S. government has been quietly collecting information on hundreds of thousands of coronavirus cases across the country. My colleague, Robert Gebeloff, on the story of how The Times obtained that data.
It’s Wednesday, July 8.
Robert, you live in a corner of The Times, the data team, that I’m not sure most people understand all that well. So when the pandemic starts, how do you all respond?robert gebeloff
So, by training, my goal is to find stories that can best be told through data, which is not every story, but there’s a lot of stories out there. So if you go back to early March, the pandemic is starting. And I know that our job as The New York Times is to really get our arms around what’s going on and, by that, to start collecting the data that is starting to come out about cases and deaths around the country. So my colleagues set up a team of people across different departments whose primary job would be to monitor all the states, all the major counties, and gather the information and start to build a database. Start to say, we’re getting information from New York over here and California over here, but let’s put it into one database just for the purpose of tracking where the cases were, where the deaths were.michael barbaro
You’re saying it’s not coming out on a national level. There’s no big clearinghouse that’s going to hand you data every day about exactly where the virus is all across the country.robert gebeloff
Correct. And at that point, we assume that some kind of federal system may be in the offing, but we weren’t going to wait for it. And part of our report every day, you’ll see on our website, are maps showing where the cases are, where new cases are, where deaths are, where the new hotspots are. That all emanated from these early days of creating this ground-level system for being able to collect this data.michael barbaro
And I wonder if you can take me into the process of that a little bit. I mean, what does it look like? Where exactly is the information coming from?robert gebeloff
Well, it’s really like a hive of activity. I mean, that’s the way I like to think of it. You have, at any given time, a team of clerks, reporters, editors, all assigned to monitor what gets announced in various parts of the country. So at one moment, you could have somebody wrestling with new data that was put out by California and trying to get it into a format that matches our data standards. And you could have somebody in Mississippi confused about whether the new data announced is cumulative, or is it new cases for the day? And often, that involves basic reporting of going back to the state and asking questions. Then, while all this is going on and people are collecting this data, we have other people trying to put the data into context. It’s, you know, truly this whole new full-time operation just devoted to trying to track what is really happening with the pandemic and to do some surveillance on the national picture.michael barbaro
Right. This sounds very tedious, incremental. You know, gathering up tiny bits of data, cleaning it, making sure it all lines up — not sexy.robert gebeloff
It is not sexy at all. You know, when you’re data journalists, the fun part is doing what we call the queries — asking questions of the data and seeing what it shows. But we all know, like, job one is to make sure your data is good. Otherwise, the questions you ask won’t mean anything.michael barbaro
Hmm. And what do you begin to learn through this data?robert gebeloff
Right. Part of what my personal job is to do is to look at this data and try and help understand what it tells us. So, for example, one of the early findings we had when we were looking at the pandemic in March was it seemed to be hitting mostly in big cities — New York, New Orleans, Detroit.michael barbaro
Seattle. It seemed to be in places with a lot of population density. But there was also another class of place that seemed to be popping up. And it was resort counties — places with ski resorts. And so that led us to this insight that it wasn’t just population density, that there are other possible explanations for why places got hit. Then, as the weeks went on, we began to see the fill-in, what I call the fill-in, which is — there were all of these new counties that were starting to get cases. And so by having this record, what we were able to then report is there are now hundreds of rural counties getting their first cases. And, you know, how were they preparing? And how were they talking to people? And then, another thing we’ve been monitoring is there seems to be this ideological difference — or at least there has been — about how serious a problem is it. How soon should government reopen or allow businesses to reopen? And —michael barbaro
Right. Kind of a red state-blue state divide over shutting down and reopening.robert gebeloff
Right. But our reporting showed that there was this additional element involved, which was, for the first six to eight weeks of the pandemic, there were hardly any red counties with high infection rates. And most of the hard-hit places were in blue counties. And so we were able to raise the specter of, if you live in a place that doesn’t have first-hand experience with the virus, you don’t have your emergency rooms being overflowed. Maybe that also contributes to your belief that, you know what, we should open the economy. This is not worth shutting down the economy for.michael barbaro
And all of these types of stories are, again, driven by the idea that in the first place, we had good county-level data that we couldn’t get anywhere else. That allowed us to look at the world through these different prisms and ask different questions about how the pandemic was playing out.michael barbaro
Mm-hmm. You’re laying out clear examples of why data like this is important and what it lets us understand. But I’m curious what the limitations of this kind of a database are. What does it not tell us?robert gebeloff
Yeah. So think of it this way. A data set we think of like any other source that we’re going to interview. And we think of what might this source be able to tell us about something. And so we think of questions that we’re going to ask the source. So the problem became — we had this data set, and we knew where the cases were and the deaths were, but we couldn’t ask it any other questions. We couldn’t ask, who were the people actually becoming infected in these counties? Were they old? Were they young? Where they rich? Were they poor? Were they front-line workers? Were they white? Were they Black? Were they Latino? So all these questions we had we couldn’t really ask the data set we had.michael barbaro
So what did you end up doing?robert gebeloff
So, along the way, we learned that the C.D.C. actually had some information that would be helpful in this, in that every time a person was confirmed to have a coronavirus infection, the local health agency would fill out a report that would have characteristics of the case — the person, the age, the race. And the form actually asked dozens of questions. You know, was the person at work? Was the person staying home? What were the symptoms? And that these forms ultimately ended up at the C.D.C.michael barbaro
And if we could get our hands on this data, we could ask a lot more questions about how this pandemic is playing out. And so we decided to approach the C.D.C. and request access.
And here’s why we needed that data. So many people in this country are getting sick. So many people are dying. And our job is to try and explain, who is it that is getting sick? Who is dying and why? And if we had any chance of getting answers to those questions, we need the best data. And if the C.D.C. had the data, we wanted to get a copy ourselves.michael barbaro
And so how do you go about trying to get it?robert gebeloff
Well, in this case, we ended up suing them.[music]
We’ll be right back.
So, Robert, why did The New York Times sue the C.D.C.?robert gebeloff
So suing the C.D.C. sounds very dramatic. But in fact, many, many times in the course of a year, we go to court to establish our rights to get public information. It’s somewhat more routine than most people would realize. And sometimes it’s because the government out and out refuses to give up the information. But in this case, it was more to do with the timing. Without going to court and putting pressure on the agency, we were looking at the prospect of waiting months to get our hands on this information.michael barbaro
But by going to court, it sort of put the clock on. And we had the agency’s full attention.michael barbaro
And so what ends up happening once this clock is ticking and a judge is looking over the shoulders of the C.D.C.?robert gebeloff
So the C.D.C. tells us that they will comply. They just need to do a little more research as to what they can possibly produce, taking into consideration the privacy of people who are in the database and stripping out personally identifiable information. But ultimately, the day comes where they say, OK, New York Times, here is a database of 1.45 million cases —michael barbaro
— that we have collected from state and local authorities. And we were then free to have a new interview subject and be able to ask it a whole lot of more interesting and detailed questions.michael barbaro
Right. I mean, this quite literally sounds like the motherlode of data on this pandemic in the United States.robert gebeloff
Well, in many ways it was. What we were able to see from this was detailed information about individuals who had become infected and died. And for each individual, we were able to look at their age, the county they lived in, their race and their ethnicity. And that is far more information than we had before. And in the end, we ended up being able to break down cases for nearly 1,000 counties covering more than half of the U.S. population.michael barbaro
And this number — 1.5 million Americans — how big a proportion of all cases of the virus is that?robert gebeloff
So for the time period covered by the data — it was all cases through the end of May — it was about 88 percent of all cases that we had some information about.michael barbaro
So when you get this massive data dump, what do you do? What do you find?[music]
So when we finally had our hands on this data, we were checking what types of information were included, how complete the information was, and just looking at the data in many different ways to see what it could tell us. And eventually, three main trends emerged.michael barbaro
And so what were those trends?robert gebeloff
So the first was just how pervasive the racial disparity was with this pandemic.michael barbaro
Whatever knowledge people had that African-Americans and Latinos were becoming infected at a higher rate, a lot of that was tied to big cities that had released data. But what we found is that this racial disparity pervades everywhere, whether you go from cities to suburbs, even into rural places.michael barbaro
In fact, any place we found where there was a significant African-American population, almost all of them, African-American infection rates were higher than the rate for Whites. Same thing with Latinos. Any place we found where there was a significant Latino population, for almost all of them, the infection rate was higher for Latinos.michael barbaro
The second big takeaway is what is driving these racial disparities. So most of the earliest explanations of the racial disparity were focused on death rates. And one of the explanations for the disparities in death rates that is commonly offered is something called comorbidities — the idea that African-Americans might be dying at a higher rate because they were more likely to have preexisting conditions or to be in poorer health to begin with. But in our analysis, we focused mostly on the actual infection rates. And the reason for that is that gets us out of the question of whether comorbidities is driving it and puts us more on the question of who is most at risk to become infected in the first place. And so when we see disparities in the infection rates, we can then raise the question of, why are people in certain groups more likely to become infected?michael barbaro
And that led us to looking at, where do people work? Where do people live? And what is their housing situation? And if you look at where people work and look at what the data shows, it shows that African-Americans and Latinos in the U.S. are far less likely to have the kind of job where you can do it at home. They are more likely, instead, to have a job in the production sector, in a factory or in the service sector. All of that combined would increase your risk of becoming infected. And with housing, what we found is that Latinos in particular are far more likely to live either with more people in the household or with less space in the household, both of which would also increase the odds of a person might become infected.michael barbaro
So the second discovery very much helps understand the first. There are kind of structural issues around how Black and Latino Americans work and live that contribute to this racial disparity in the pandemic.robert gebeloff
That’s correct. And the third takeaway from this is what you learn by looking at the pandemic through the prism of age.michael barbaro
Right now, most of what we know about the disparity is all cases of people of all age groups. And that’s how the rates are calculated. But if you realize something about this pandemic, it’s that older people are far more likely to get sick and die.michael barbaro
And in the U.S. right now, the older population is very disproportionately white, non-Hispanic.michael barbaro
So if you don’t account for age, you’re by definition almost understating the disparity. So what we did — what some epidemiologists call “age adjusting” — is looked at infection rates across age groups. And when you look at, say, what the infection rate is for people who are in their 40s or in their 50s, the disparity is much bigger than you’ll ever see in numbers without age adjustment.michael barbaro
So when you accounted for the fact that so many older people have died from the coronavirus, and that the older population in this country skews white, you found that the racial disparity actually gets even greater.robert gebeloff
Correct. In fact, if you look at some of the younger age groups, the death rate for Latinos is about 10 times higher that for whites.michael barbaro
Now, the caveat to that, of course, is you’re much, much less likely to die at those age groups. But it’s still, among the people who do die in those age groups, it’s very heavily Black and Latino.michael barbaro
Mm-hmm. I mean, these insights, once again, seem to highlight just how important it is to have this kind of information. Because from what you’re saying, we have been, in some sense, misunderstanding the racial disparities of this virus — the causes of the racial disparities — because we haven’t had access to this data.robert gebeloff
Well, at minimum, you could say we didn’t know the extent to which these problems existed. And getting data like this helps us sort of define what the ground truth is about how this pandemic is playing out. That being said, there’s still a lot more that we would like to know.michael barbaro
The database had 1.45 million records. And it had, for each record, more than 100 columns or 100 pieces of information. Most of those were blank. And that leaves us in the dark about a lot of questions that we’d like answered, like how many people are contracting the virus at work? Or how many are getting it from traveling or being at bars? So still a lot of room for improvement. And hopefully, knowing what can be done, the power of having this data to answer questions will help inspire the C.D.C. to collect the information better.michael barbaro
Mm-hmm. And perhaps release it more quickly. I have to think that suing the C.D.C., getting this data and reporting out these insights on race has increased pressure on the federal government to make this information more available. Is that true?robert gebeloff
I would like to think so. There is still some mystery as to what will ultimately happen. Our case is still pending. The status is, the C.D.C. at this point believes they satisfied our request.michael barbaro
Our lawyers are still investigating whether or not there was more information that should have been released — or more types of information. And, you know, once that is resolved, the question will be what does the C.D.C. do going forward. And a lot of people, in reaction to the story that published, were asking me, do you think they’ll just start posting this on their own? And I would think that whether or not the information is complete, it’s still better than anything else out there. And so hopefully we will see more of this type of information made public.[music]
That would definitely be beneficial to not just us, but to researchers around the nation and the world to have access to more complete and better information. But until that happens, we’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing.
We’re going to go out every day, go to every state and collect data on coronavirus cases and deaths.michael barbaro
Rob, thank you very much.robert gebeloff
On Tuesday, the latest updates to The Times’s database found that the virus has infected more than 3 million Americans and has killed more than 130,000 of them. Globally, it recorded nearly 12 million infections and nearly 542,000 deaths, including 65,000 in Brazil, where the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly downplayed the pandemic and avoided wearing a mask, announced that he had tested positive for the virus.
We’ll be right back.[music]
Station, this is Houston. Are you ready for the event?chris cassidy
Hello, Houston. We’re ready for the event.michael barbaro
38 days ago, NASA and SpaceX launched two U.S. astronauts into space on a mission to the International Space Station, where they joined a fellow American. It was the first time that a manned spacecraft has left American soil in nearly a decade.mission control
The New York Times, this is mission control Houston. Please call station for a voice check.michael barbaro
On Tuesday, I spoke with the three U.S. astronauts now aboard the space station.chris cassidy
Hello, New York Times. New York Times, this is the International Space Station. How do you hear us?michael barbaro
Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who arrived a few weeks ago, along with Chris Cassidy, who has been there since April.michael barbaro
We hear you loud and clear. How do you hear us?chris cassidy
We hear you loud and clear as well. Good afternoon. Welcome aboard, and we’re happy to talk to you.michael barbaro
Of course, their time in space is precious. And so NASA gave us six minutes on the dot.michael barbaro
If I might boldly call you by your first names — Doug, Chris and Bob — thank you very much for making time for us. I wonder if you can start by telling us exactly where you are in space, relative to us right now.chris cassidy
Well, while I kick things off, Bob’s going to pull up our mapping program. Right at the moment, we didn’t have it on the computer. Sorry about that. But we’re orbiting 250 miles above the Earth. And it looks like we are abeam of Baja California, just a little bit out into the Pacific Ocean.michael barbaro
Mm-hmm. So over America — the U.S.-Mexico border.chris cassidy
Right. Yeah. We’re just over the Pacific Ocean. We just past California heading south.michael barbaro
If you’ll indulge me for a minute, I want to talk a little bit about feelings. Knowing I was going to be talking to you, I have been thinking a lot about this moment back on Earth and wondering, with so much turmoil here, and you looking down on all of it from such a distance, what that feels like to look down on a planet that’s truly in the midst of some really challenging, tumultuous times.doug hurley
Well, it certainly is challenging to hear, either by secondhand or when we get the opportunity to see some news up here, all the turmoil that’s going on. The challenges with the pandemic and the strife in the cities and all the different challenges that people are going through on a day-to-day basis. It is — you know, emotionally it does take a toll on us, certainly. And I think the other thing that really resonates with me, personally, is just when you look out the window, when you see the planet below, you don’t see borders. You don’t see this strife. You see this beautiful planet that we need to take care of. And hopefully, as technology advances and as this commercial space travel gets going, more people will get that opportunity. Because I think if you get the chance to look out the window from space and look back on our planet, it will change you. It will change you for the better. And you’ll realize that this is one big world, rather than all these different little countries or cities or factions that we have on the planet. And I think it will make it a better place.michael barbaro
Well, that’s really interesting. And I wonder if you could say a little bit more about that, because in the time since I believe you’ve all last been in space, there actually have been changes on Earth. You know, major ice shelves have broken off in Antarctica. Huge fires have swept across Australia, California. The Great Barrier Reef has essentially died. And when you look down at Earth, can you actually see some of those changes to the Earth, compared with when you last saw it?bob behnken
Well, I think one of the things that we see from up here is that the Earth is not a stagnant place. It continues to change, whether it’s a fire, whether it’s the seasons, whether it’s different things happening further out. You know, we just saw a comet become visible in the predawn era. So it’s definitely a lot of things happening with the Earth and —michael barbaro
— that continuous change.michael barbaro
I have to apologize. Now I need for you to tell me what it means for a comet to become visible in the predawn era and what that actually looks like.bob behnken
The comet that I’m referring to was really close to the sun. And so it needed to get far enough away from the sun that we could actually, you know, look at it and see its dim little light that was visible in darkness, but kind of blinded by the sun, if you will, if you look too closely at it. And so if we got to a situation at dawn, right before the sun came up, that comet became visible during that short period of time when it was still close to the sun, but the sun was still hidden by the Earth. It was just an awesome sight to be able to see and something that we try to capture. In the few moments that we do have to look out the window, we try to capture those changes. Capture the exciting things that we can see to try to share our view with the folks back home, the folks that are still down on Earth, and just try to give them an appreciation for just how beautiful our planet is and how important it is that we do our best to take care of it.[music]
But in terms of that turmoil —mission control
Station, this is Houston ACR. That concludes The New York Times portion of the event. Please stand by for a voice check from Fox News.michael barbaro
Thank you all. We appreciate it.bill hemmer
Bill Hemmer with Fox News. How do you hear me? (ECHOING) Bill Hemmer with Fox News. How do you hear me?chris cassidy
Hi, Bill. Loud and clear. Welcome to the Space Station.bill hemmer
Excellent. Thank you.[music]
That’s it for “The Daily.” I’m Michael Barbaro. See you tomorrow.
Here’s a look at the deaths in New York’s nursing homes, and whether an order from Cuomo made things worse.
More than 6,400 residents have died in New York’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities, more than one-tenth of the reported deaths in such facilities across the country.
What went wrong? Reporters for The New York Times explored the issues and explained what they know about New York’s nursing home death toll.
The effort to answer that question has become politically charged, with Republicans pointing to the deaths to criticize Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, who has largely been praised for helping New York rein in the outbreak.
At issue is a directive that Mr. Cuomo delivered in late March, effectively ordering nursing homes to accept virus patients from hospitals.
The goal was to free up hospitals’ beds at a time when those facilities were being overwhelmed by fresh waves of virus patients. But family members and nursing home staff feared that sending those patients to nursing homes may have created a dangerous environment that allowed the virus to quickly spread.
That possibility has fueled calls by lawmakers from Washington to Albany for hearings and investigations to determine if the state’s actions played a role in the high death toll.
On Monday, the Cuomo administration fired back: The state Department of Health issued a 33-page report meant to dispel the notion that its March directive fueled the spread. The report found that infected nursing home workers had transmitted the virus to residents.
Researchers are looking for volunteers to test vaccines.
A network of more than 100 clinical trial sites has been set up to test coronavirus vaccines in people in the United States and abroad, with the first large study to begin this summer, the federal government announced on Wednesday.
Each study is expected to enroll 10,000 to 30,000 people. Different studies are expected to follow the same protocol so that the results and the vaccines can be compared to one another.
The collection of trial sites, called the Covid-19 Prevention Network, is being paid for by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. Sites in South Africa and several countries in South America are being considered for inclusion in the network.
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which has long experience in testing H.I.V. vaccines, is overseeing the network.
The first study, planned for later this month, is expected to involve the vaccine candidate developed by researchers at the infectious diseases institute and produced by the biotechnology company Moderna. Dr. Corey said a trial of the potential vaccine made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University was planned to begin in August, and tests of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate were expected in September.
United Airlines says it may furlough up to 36,000 workers in October.
United Airlines said on Wednesday that it may furlough as many as 36,000 workers, or nearly 40 percent of its staff, starting Oct. 1 if travel remained weak and if too few employees accept buyout or early retirement packages.
Airlines have been warning workers for months that there could be significant cuts after federal stimulus funds expire. United received about one-fifth of the $25 billion that Congress authorized in March to help airlines pay employees. The money came with the condition that the companies not make significant cuts through Sept. 30.
The Oct. 1 furloughs at United would include about 15,000 flight attendants, 11,000 customer service and gate agents, 5,500 maintenance employees, and 2,250 pilots, among others. Those numbers could be smaller if ticket sales pick up significantly, or if many thousands of workers apply for reduced work hours or leave the company voluntarily before a mid-July deadline, the airline said in a memo to its employees. United is also cutting almost one-third of its management and administrative employees.
Most workers will know whether they are being furloughed by the end of August and would be eligible to return to their jobs, in most cases, when business picks up, the company said.
In other business news:
Technology stocks led Wall Street higher on Wednesday, but trading was unsteady as investors considered the spreading coronavirus outbreak and growing friction between the United States and China. The S&P 500 rose less than 1 percent. The technology heavy Nasdaq composite fared better, rising nearly 1.5 percent.
In Britain, the chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced further steps to support businesses, homeowners and young workers, including proposals for a fund to create six-month work placements for people ages 16 to 24 who are at risk of long-term unemployment.
Walt Disney World in Orlando will welcome back visitors on Saturday, even as virus cases in Florida remain high. In doing so, Disney is stepping into a politicized debate surrounding the pandemic and efforts to keep people safe.
The federal budget deficit in June was $863 billion, compared with a deficit of $8 billion in the same month last year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated. It attributed the increase to the pandemic, which drove down tax collections as spending for the month tripled, driven largely by virus relief programs.
Brooks Brothers, founded in 1818, files for bankruptcy.
Brooks Brothers, the clothier that traces its roots to 1818, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, as the brand buckled under the pressure of the pandemic. Its sales have been declining for years as customers embraced more casual apparel and shopping shifted online.
The company, founded and based in New York, filed for Chapter 11 restructuring proceedings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Claudio del Vecchio, the Italian industrialist who bought the brand in 2001, told The New York Times in a May interview that he would not rule out Chapter 11 as a possibility for the company.
Brooks Brothers, the oldest apparel brand in continuous operation in the United States, which has dressed all but four U.S. presidents, said earlier this year that it planned to close its three U.S. factories.
The company is the latest retailer to file for bankruptcy since the pandemic forced widespread store closures and pushed the economy into a deep recession. Others include the department store chains Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney, as well as the clothier J. Crew.
Britain still lags behind in mask use, expert says.
England and Scotland made mask wearing mandatory on public transportation last month, but the British government has so far resisted calls to make masks mandatory in public settings like shops, pubs or restaurants.
A leading scientist, Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society, said Tuesday that the country was behind “in terms of wearing masks and clear policies and guidelines about mask wearing for the public” and that the public remains skeptical about masks.
“There are no silver bullets but alongside hand washing and physical distancing, we also need everyone to start wearing face coverings, particularly indoors in enclosed public spaces where physical distancing is often not possible,” he added in a statement.
The World Health Organization has said that the use of masks is one of the measures that can limit the spread of respiratory diseases, including the coronavirus, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also recommended the use of face coverings in public.
When the pandemic started, Britain urged the public to save masks for the front-line workers who needed them most, while government officials argued that there was little evidence that masks could prevent transmission while worn by the general public.
But earlier this month, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said on Twitter that “face coverings should be compulsory in all public and enclosed spaces” to reduce the spread of the virus, a point he reiterated on Wednesday.
A man faces charges in New Zealand after a ‘Covid-19 escape’ from quarantine.
Even New Zealand’s response to the coronavirus — lauded as one of world’s most effective — has holes. And sometimes those holes are literal.
A man who tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday will face criminal charges in New Zealand’s largest city after he sneaked out of a hotel quarantine site through a gap in fencing during a smoke break, the public broadcaster RNZ reported.
He ventured out into central Auckland on Tuesday night for a little over an hour and visited a supermarket. RNZ called the escapade a “Covid-19 escape.”
After reviewing security footage, the authorities said that the risk to the public from the man’s temporary escape was low. But they said they were looking at measures like identification bands to strengthen quarantine protocols and prevent further breaches.
The man, who had returned to New Zealand from India, could face up to six months in prison or a $2,600 fine. The supermarket that he visited was closed for cleaning.
New Zealand, which had recorded 1,537 coronavirus cases and 22 deaths, has essentially returned to normal life after emerging from a strict lockdown last month.
Megan Woods, the minister in charge of the country’s isolation and quarantine measures, told RNZ on Wednesday that no one in quarantine had tried to “climb fences or slip through gaps” during early days of the lockdown — and that the recent escape underscored how attitudes toward the rules had shifted.
“Things have changed, even in the last week and a half, in terms of the range of incidents we are seeing, in terms of noncompliance,” Dr. Woods said. She added that the smoking policy for state-managed isolation and quarantine sites was being reviewed.
The top U.K. financial official details plan to preserve and create new jobs.
The U.K. government’s top financial official announced a host of tax and spending measures on Wednesday to preserve and create jobs in Britain as the country anticipates a wave of layoffs caused by the pandemic.
Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the Exchequer, unveiled to Parliament a 30 billion pound ($37.7 billion) proposal that included tax cuts, employment coaching and even a 50 percent discount for diners who go to restaurants and pubs. The proposal also aims to create green jobs by providing funding for vouchers for home-insulation and making public buildings more energy efficient.
But Mr. Sunak said Britain’s furlough program, which has paid up to 80 percent of the wages of 9.4 million workers since March, would end in October, as previously announced. Keeping it longer, he said, would provide “false hope” to workers. Instead, employers will receive £1,000 for each employee they bring back to work through January.
How to find diversions for children in a summer of social distance.
Many of the usual options for summer activity aren’t available this year. Here are some tips to help your children enjoy the season in new ways.
Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Brooks Barnes, Pam Belluck, William J. Broad, Damien Cave, Maria Cramer, Niraj Chokshi, Kate Conger, Michael Cooper, Jill Cowan, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Jacey Fortin, Michael Gold, J. David Goodman, Peter S. Goodman, Abby Goodnough, Denise Grady, Erica L. Green, Amy Julia Harris, Anemona Hartocollis, Jack Healy, Mike Ives, Andrew Jacobs, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Patrick Kingsley, Ernesto Londoño, Iliana Magra, Sapna Maheshwari, Apoorva Mandavilli, Tiffany May, Claire Moses, Aimee Ortiz, Richard C. Paddock, Andy Parsons, Elisabetta Povoledo, Adam Rasgon, Frances Robles, Rick Rojas, Alejandra Rosa, Eliza Shapiro, Natasha Singer, Mitch Smith, Megan Specia, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan, Lucy Tompkins, Allyson Waller, Noah Weiland, Elaine Yu and Karen Zraick.