Coronavirus Live Updates: Teachers Unions Sue DeSantis Over His Order Pushing Florida Schools to Fully Reopen

0
420
Coronavirus Live Updates: Teachers Unions Sue DeSantis Over His Order Pushing Florida Schools to Fully Reopen

Top Republicans met with President Trump to smooth the way on negotiations for the next round of virus aid. India recorded at least 40,000 new infections on Monday, its highest single-day total.

Right Now

Minnesota reported 900 new cases on Monday, a single-day record, and also reported its first virus-related death of a child, according to the state’s health department.

Image

Credit…Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Teachers unions sue Florida’s governor over order requiring schools to reopen despite virus surge.

Teachers unions sued Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida on Monday over his administration’s emergency order pushing schools to fully reopen next month even as coronavirus cases in the state are surging.

The suit, which appears to be the first of its kind across the country, sets up a confrontation between unions and politicians that could change the trajectory of school reopening over the coming weeks. In other parts of the country, including California and parts of Texas, many large school districts have concluded in recent days that it is not safe to hold in-person classes. But Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, has been pushing for things to be different in Florida, which is home to five of the country’s 10 largest districts.

Earlier this month, Mr. DeSantis’s administration ordered schools across the state to reopen five days a week starting in August. His edict came as President Trump called for schools to reopen nationwide and threatened to cut federal funding for districts that did not teach in person.

The American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s largest teachers union, and its local affiliate, the Florida Education Association, accused Mr. DeSantis of violating a Florida law requiring that schools be “safe” and “secure.” The unions, along with parent and teacher plaintiffs, asked a state court in Miami to block the governor’s reopening order and allow local school superintendents and health departments to have full control over reopening decisions.

Mr. DeSantis distanced himself from the executive order on Monday, noting at a news conference that it had been issued by the state’s department of education, not by him. “You know, they have a board and they do different things,” he said.

The order was signed by Richard Corcoran, the state’s commissioner of education, a former Speaker of the Florida House who was tapped for the position by Mr. DeSantis when he was governor-elect and who was officially appointed by the board.

But Mr. DeSantis has urged schools to reopen for in-person instruction. “If fast food and Walmart and Home Depot — and I do all that so I’m not, like, looking down on it — but if all that is essential, then educating our kids is absolutely essential,” Mr. DeSantis said this month. “And they have been put to the back of the line in some respects.”

On Monday, Florida became the eighth state where at least 5,000 people with the virus have died after it added a daily tally of 90 deaths. The state also added 10,347 cases.

Public health experts have said districts should consider reopening only if they are in a region with a positive test rate at or below 5 percent. Miami-Dade County has recently reported positivity rates more than four times greater than that threshold, and the plaintiffs argue that it would be among the most dangerous places in the state to reopen schools.

Some local superintendents are skeptical that it will be safe to reopen so soon. “This is literally like sending people into battle, and without appropriate tools,” Robert W. Runcie, the superintendent of Broward County schools, said last week when recommending that his district teach online despite the governor’s order.

The unions will argue that no public school district in the state should reopen as scheduled next month. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said she was frustrated that Mr. DeSantis did not follow the governors of hard-hit California and Texas, who have said in recent days that schools can open remotely.

“It’s as if he is in this intense denial that his state is terribly at risk,” Ms. Weingarten said.

Trump announces he’s reviving the virus daily briefing as cases continues to surge.

Video

transcript

transcript

Trump Announces He Will Resume Virus Daily Briefings

On Monday, President Trump announced he would begin daily virus briefings again after halting them in April.

Well, we had very successful briefings — I was doing them, and we had a lot of people watching — record numbers watching. In the history of cable television and in television, there’s never been anything like it. And we were doing very well. And I thought it would be sort of automatic and a lot of positive things were happening and frankly, a lot of the country is doing well. A lot of people don’t say, as you understand. But we have had this big flare up in Florida, Texas, couple of other places. And so I think what we’re going to do is I’ll get involved and we’ll start doing briefings whether it’s this afternoon or tomorrow — probably tomorrow — and I’ll do briefings. And part of the briefing, I think much more so than last time because last time we were nowhere with vaccines or therapeutics and let’s say that ended six weeks ago, we’ll start them again. And I think it’s a great way to get information out to the public.

Video player loading

On Monday, President Trump announced he would begin daily virus briefings again after halting them in April.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump said on Monday that he is bringing back the daily coronavirus briefings that he halted in April, a tacit acknowledgment that the public health crisis that he has sought to put behind him is still ravaging much of the country.

With cases and deaths on the rise, Mr. Trump told reporters that he would probably hold the first of the new series of briefings on Tuesday at 5 p.m. He attributed his decision to revive them not to the increasing threat of the virus but to the fact that the briefings had high television ratings.

“I was doing them and we had a lot of people watching, record numbers watching in the history of cable television. There’s never been anything like it,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office during a previously unannounced meeting with congressional Republicans. “It’s a great way to get information out to the public as to where we are with the vaccines, with the therapeutics.”

The original briefings over the course of weeks from March to April were made-for-television events, with scientific information provided by public health experts often overshadowed by a confrontational president castigating governors, lawmakers, China, reporters and others he deemed insufficiently grateful to him for his leadership. He used them to defend his administration’s response to the virus and promote a pet drug as a possible treatment over the advice of his own experts.

He eventually quit holding the briefings after he was mocked widely for suggesting that people might be able to counter the virus by ingesting or injecting bleach, an offhand comment that sent public health agencies scrambling to warn the public not to try such an approach because it could be fatal. Singed, Mr. Trump declared that the briefings were “not worth the time & effort.”

But in recent weeks, the surge of cases, particularly in the South and West, has frustrated Mr. Trump’s effort to diminish the seriousness of the continuing pandemic. The United States now records more than twice as many cases each day as it did during the height of the daily briefings, and the number of deaths, which had fallen substantially, has begun to rise again as well.

The decision to revive the briefings offers a substitute of sorts for the campaign rallies that Mr. Trump had hoped to restart by now. His initial attempt at returning to the campaign trail fizzled when only a third of an arena in Tulsa, Okla., was filled and his second, a rally set for New Hampshire, was scrubbed amid concerns about low attendance, with the campaign citing weather as a reason to cancel.

White House officials have said in recent days both that the president is too busy to attend virus task force meetings and that he is working “around the clock” on the virus. But even as hospitals fill up and governors reverse decisions to reopen, Mr. Trump has continued to insist that the virus would simply vanish on its own.

“It’s going to disappear and I’ll be right,” Mr. Trump said in an interview aired on “Fox News Sunday” over the weekend. “Because I’ve been right probably more than anybody else.”

The virus appears to have caught up with the Villages, one of the biggest retirement communities in the U.S.

Image

Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

As Florida has worked to protect its oldest, most vulnerable residents from its surge in cases, the virus appears to have caught up with the Villages, a sprawling retirement community so big it has three ZIP codes, 12 golf courses and multiple libraries and movie theaters.

Since the beginning of July, hospital admissions of residents from the Villages have quadrupled at University of Florida Health The Villages, the hospital’s critical care doctors said. As of last week, the hospital admitted 29 Villages residents, all of them with the virus, said Dr. Anil Gogineni, a pulmonologist and critical care doctor there.

In Sumter County, where part of the Villages is located, there were 270 cases last week, up from 68 in the first week of June, according to the county’s health department.

Now many residents are confronting their new reality. “It’s seeping in, no matter what,” said Rob Hannon, 64. The golf course is still crowded, he said, as well as the hair salon where his wife, Michelle, 53, works. “The women are still coming in, but they’re a little more anxious,” Mr. Hannon said. “You can’t stop living. But you can stop being cavalier.”

In an email to residents last week, Jeffrey Lowenkron, the chief medical officer of the Villages, said cases were increasing and urged people to take “steps to reduce the risk of disease transmission.”

The virus poses special risks in Florida, where about a fifth of the population is 65 or older, who are especially vulnerable. While more than a third of the cases in the state, one of the worst hit in the nation, have been among people under 34, according to the Florida Department of Health, there have been signs that the age of those infected is shifting. Jackson Health System, Miami-Dade County’s public hospital, said last week that 18 percent of its coronavirus patients were 80 or older. Two weeks before, that figure was 9 percent.

Top Republicans met with Trump to smooth the way for their relief package.

The two top congressional Republicans met with Mr. Trump at the White House on Monday morning in an attempt to smooth over differences with the administration about what should be in the next round of federal relief.

The meeting, which included Mr. Trump, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin came after the administration moved over the weekend to block billions of dollars that Republicans had included in their draft proposal. Money had been allocated for testing and tracing efforts across the country, and to fund federal health agencies, and the move infuriated congressional Republicans.

Mr. McConnell had planned to unveil his opening offer soon before entering what is expected to be a grueling set of negotiations with Democrats. The focus of the plan, Mr. Mnuchin said, would be on “kids and jobs and vaccines.”

“We want to make sure that people who can go to work safely can do so,” he told reporters at the White House. “We’ll have tax credits that incentivize businesses to bring people back to work.”

The two parties remain far apart on a number of critical issues that need to be resolved before August: expanded unemployment benefits for millions of Americans that are set to expire at the end of the month, additional funding for state and local governments, money for schools, and liability protections for workers and businesses that remain open during the pandemic. The Republican offer is likely to be a package of about $1 trillion. Mr. McConnell said on Monday that they will begin “socializing” the discussion among Republicans on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Democrats say their starting point remains a far more expansive package , and they are signaling that they are willing to block the Republicans’ bill if they consider it insufficient to meet the country’s needs. Their proposal would send aid to state and local governments and provide another round of direct $1,200 payments to taxpayers.

United States ›

On July 19

14-day change

Trend

New cases

62,198

+35%

New deaths

412

+64%

Where cases are rising fastest

SPORTS AND CULTURE ROUNDUP

N.F.L. players say #WeWantToPlay but question training camp safety.

On Monday, rookies from the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans became the first of thousands of N.F.L. players to report to training camp.

The league’s insistence on sticking to the pledge to start its season on time comes as infections from the coronavirus are rising in dozens of states, including California, Florida and Texas, which together are home to eight N.F.L. teams.

The owners and the N.F.L. Players Association have worked for months to find ways to bring players back together as safely as possible.

But the two sides have still not agreed on several other crucial issues, including how frequently players will be tested, implications for players who opt out of the season, mandates on equipment that would limit the potential for spreading the virus like face shields on helmets, and the length of the preseason (owners passed a proposal for two games per team, but players want none).

These open questions have prompted some of the league’s biggest stars — including Patrick Mahomes and J.J. Watt — to start a social media campaign using the hashtag #WeWantToPlay to get the league to adopt the more stringent proposals that the players prefer, including daily testing and no preseason games.

In other sports and culture developments:

  • With cases still on the rise in the U.S., Warner Bros. announced on Monday that it was abandoning its release date for Christopher Nolan’s film “Tenet” of Aug. 12, the one-time marker for when Hollywood hoped moviegoing would return in earnest.

  • Juan Ángel Napout, a former vice president of soccer’s governing body, FIFA, who is serving a nine-year sentence for corruption, has tested positive for the coronavirus inside a Miami federal prison. The positive result came days after a federal judge denied his appeal for compassionate release.

  • The usually tourist-packed Berkshires confronts a season without Tanglewood, the music festival that anchors its summers.

Potential vaccines from Oxford and a Chinese company have triggered immune responses, studies find.

Two potential vaccines against the virus from Oxford University and the Chinese company CanSino have triggered immune responses in hundreds of humans without dangerous side effects, according to two studies published on Monday in the British medical journal, The Lancet.

Although short of proving efficacy at preventing infection, the results are the most promising indication yet of progress toward a vaccine that could end the pandemic.

A third potential vaccine, from the American biotechnology company Moderna, has also elicited immune responses in 45 people who have received it, according to a study released last week.

All three potential vaccines are now moving into larger tests, known as Phase III trials, aiming to show their effectiveness at preventing the diseases.

The Oxford vaccine, which is being produced in partnership with the British-Swiss drug giant AstraZeneca, is already in large Phase III tests in Britain, Brazil and South Africa. Another Phase III test involving 30,000 participants in the United States is set to begin next week, along with a parallel test of the Moderna vaccine. The CanSino vaccine has also passed safety tests and is heading for an efficacy trial in Brazil.

Exactly when any of those tests might deliver results remains hazy.

“Seeing these responses means that people should be optimistic that this vaccine will be useful,” said Prof. Adrian Hill of Oxford, one of the scientists developing the vaccine. “But there is no guarantee until you have shown efficacy in humans because you can’t know what you don’t know.”

U.S. ROUNDUP

A record six million Americans signed up for food stamps in the first three months of the pandemic.

Image

Credit…Charlotte Kesl for The New York Times

More than six million people signed up for food stamps in the first three months of the pandemic, an unprecedented expansion that is likely to continue as jobless people deplete their savings and billions in unemployment aid is set to expire this month.

Among them was Joseph Baker, 48, a firearms instructor laid off from an Orlando pawnshop and firing range, who exhausted his savings and watched his shelves dwindle as he waited two months for unemployment aid. But when Mr. Baker, a single father raising two big-eating teenagers, turned to food stamps, they arrived in a week — a safety net beneath the safety net.

“Oh my God, dude, I didn’t have to worry about whether I can feed my kids,” Mr. Baker said, recalling his relief. “I don’t want to be dramatic and say it saved my life, but it saved my mental life, ’cause I was stressed out, man.”

From February to May, the program grew by 17 percent — about three times faster than in any previous three months, according to state data collected by The Times. That is testament both to the hardship of the times and the importance of the program.

Among the 42 states for which The Times collected data, caseloads grew in all but one. The rolls have surged across Appalachian hamlets, urban cores like Miami and Detroit, and white-picket-fence suburbs outside Atlanta and Houston.

And they rose faster in rich counties than in poor ones, as the downturn caused by the virus claimed the restaurant, cleaning and gig economy jobs.

Food stamps — formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP — support young and old, healthy and disabled, the working and the unemployed.

Elsewhere in the U.S.:

  • Minnesota, which reported 900 new cases on Monday, a single-day record, also reported its first virus-related death of a child, according to the state’s health department. The department said the child was 5 years old or younger, but did not list the exact age.

  • Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, is rolling back some of the city’s reopening rules tohelp limit further community spread,” she said Monday. Starting Friday, bars will once again be banned from serving alcohol indoors; services like shaves and facials that require people to take off their masks will be banned; indoor fitness classes will be limited to 10 people; and property managers will be asked to limit guests to five per unit to prevent parties.

  • The largest school district in Georgia, Gwinnett County Public Schools, said that classes will begin on Aug. 12 with online-only instruction.

  • The annual Marine Corps Marathon will be canceled this year because of virus concerns. The organization that runs the event said there will be a “virtual” marathon in place of the October race.

  • Delta Air Lines said it would require passengers unable to wear face masks because of health conditions to undergo a medical clearance at the airport before boarding — or the passengers should “reconsider travel” altogether. United Airlines said that starting next week it would leave its high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filtration systems running as passengers get on and off most planes — a move intended to maximize air flow.

GLOBAL ROUNDUP

India announces a record 40,000 cases in one day.

Image

Credit…Arun Sankar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

India recorded at least 40,000 cases on Monday, its highest single-day total.

In recent weeks, as Indian officials began lifting a nationwide lockdown, infections have jumped sharply. Many states, from Tamil Nadu in the south to Uttar Pradesh in the north, reimposed partial lockdowns.

But new hot spots have emerged, and researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology now estimate that India will be the worst-hit country in the world by the end of next year. India, with 1.1 million confirmed cases, now falls behind only the United States, with 3.7 million, and Brazil, with two million.

In recent days, the number of India’s new daily cases has started to surpass Brazil’s, with about 34,000 new cases a day over the past week compared with 33,000 in Brazil, according to a New York Times database.

In other pandemic related developments around the world:

Video

transcript

transcript

Wearing a Mask? It May Come From China’s Controversial Labor Program

Our visual investigation reveals that several Chinese companies are using Uighur labor from a contentious government program to produce P.P.E. during the pandemic. We track some of that equipment to the U.S. and around the world.

If you are one of the millions of people around the world wearing a face mask because of the coronavirus pandemic, this footage may concern you. It shows a group of Uighurs arriving at a textile company that started producing masks in response to the pandemic. The Uighurs are a long-persecuted, largely Muslim ethnic minority. This slickly produced video from Chinese state TV appears to show grateful workers getting ready for their new jobs. But behind this propaganda is a hidden story about a longstanding and highly controversial government labor program that experts say often puts people to work against their will. We reviewed hundreds of videos, photos, government documents and shipping data to reveal how the surging demand for face masks is linked to this problematic program. We identified several Chinese companies that use Uighur labor to produce P.P.E. And we tracked some of their shipments to consumers in the U.S. and around the world. “The rural poor that are being put into factory work are not going by choice. There are these coercive quotas that cause people to be put into factory work when they don’t want to be. And that could be considered forced labor under international law.” This is all driven by supply and demand. Chinese companies have been rushing to produce masks as the pandemic spread across China and the rest of the world. In Xinjiang, where a majority of Uighurs live, only four companies produced medical-grade protective equipment before the pandemic. Now, that number is 51. We found that at least 17 of those participate in the labor transfer program. “Any company that is procuring masks or other personal protective equipment that wants to avoid forced labor content in those products should not be sourcing them from Xinjiang.” Let’s take a closer look at one factory in Xinjiang: the company we showed you earlier, where Uighurs were arriving for their first day. It’s called Tianshan Textile. China proudly promotes the transfer program as a way to reduce poverty. So we are able to follow the workers to their new living quarters at the factory, thanks to reports on state media. It all started here. In mid-March, the government moved almost 2,000 Uighurs from Hotan, in the south of Xinjiang. Their destination is Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital city in the north. Fifty were sent to Tianshan Textile for a very specific task. Tianshan didn’t respond to our request for comment. But it’s a clear example of how Uighur workers are fulfilling the increasing need for P.P.E. Now, let’s look at companies that use the labor program to make products that are shipped to the United States and around the world. We are first going to look at a company called Hubei Haixin. It uses Uighur workers from the labor transfer program. Its factory is located here, almost 2,000 miles away from Hotan, where the Uighur workers were transferred from. We tracked one of Hubei Haixin’s face mask shipments from its port of departure in Shanghai to the United States. It arrived at the port of Los Angeles in late May. Then, the shipment was received by MedWay US, a medical supply company in Suwanee, Ga. Although MedWay US wouldn’t respond to questions from The Times about the origins of their products, we can see they do sell face masks online. Protective gear made by Hubei Haixin is also readily available to U.S. consumers on popular online shopping websites. Images of the Uighurs’ living conditions at the Hubei Haixin factory, proudly broadcast on state media, help explain why the labor transfer program is so controversial. They are required to attend a weekly national flag-raising ceremony to pledge loyalty to China. They also must learn to speak Mandarin. This form of political indoctrination is common, and we see it in even greater detail at another exporting company we identified. This is Medwell Medical Products. According to state media, Uighurs make up over 25 percent of the company’s labor force. Although an employee who answered the phone at Medwell told The Times that they have no workers from Xinjiang, we know there are Uighurs at Medwell’s factory. In satellite imagery, we can clearly see their segregated living quarters. They have an assigned area on the factory grounds. They’re surrounded by government indoctrination and take mandatory Mandarin language classes three times a week. In the government’s view, fluency in Mandarin and skills in factory work are key to assimilating to Chinese society. It’s unclear how many masks Medwell sends abroad. But a Medwell representative openly promoted its robust export business in an interview on state TV. And we found that it’s also shipping to current virus hot spots in Latin America. A Brazilian company called MedTrace received a shipment of face masks from Medwell but told us they were unaware that it uses Uighur workers. The labor transfer program is part of a larger system of repression and mass incarceration. Over one million Uighurs and mostly Muslim minorities have been detained in recent years, some simply for their religious practice. The Chinese Communist Party says its tight control over Xinjiang is necessary to fight what it says is religious extremism. It’s virtually impossible to know who in the transfer program was forced to participate. Speaking out is incredibly risky. And the government is shaping the narrative. “In Xinjiang, it is not a practical possibility at this moment to do effective worker interviews because no worker can be expected, whether onsite or offsite, to feel comfortable speaking candidly and openly with an interviewer, particularly if the matter under discussion is the issue of forced labor, which is the burning issue in Xinjiang from a labor rights standpoint.” But we do know that the transfers are widespread and often coercive. Authorities provide regions with subsidies for each worker that they take in. They also impose quotas on the number of workers that must be transferred. “That puts enormous pressure on those government officials to find those workers. And that increases the risks that those workers are not working willingly.” Those who refuse to work in the program can be penalized. A local government directive from 2018 describes a system that grades workers on their level of cooperation. Those with low scores are subject to more indoctrination, and their movements are restricted. Since 2017, almost three million people per year have been put in the program. The spokesman for China’s embassy in the U.S. told The Times that the rights of Uighur workers are protected and that the measures, quote, “help local residents rise above poverty through employment and lead fulfilling lives.” Earlier this year, an Australian think tank identified 83 major international brands whose supply chains were connected to the Uighur labor transfers, including Nike and Apple. The situation has become so troubling that the U.S. government in July 2020 warned U.S. companies of the risk of forced labor from Xinjiang. And U.S. lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill to restrict imports from the region. “It’s injected forced labor into American and global supply chains.” “We know that many U.S., international and Chinese companies are complicit in the exploitation of forced labor.” But despite the concern, we found that protective gear from problematic supply chains is continuing to make its way into the U.S. and around the world. “Hey, it’s Haley here, one of the reporters on this video. Our team spent months investigating companies in China that use Uighur labor to produce P.P.E., but we only realized how widespread the issue really is when we tracked a shipment of face masks from one of those companies to the U.S. If you want to see more work like this, let us know what we should investigate next, and don’t forget to subscribe for more Visual Investigations.”

Video player loading

Our visual investigation reveals that several Chinese companies are using Uighur labor from a contentious government program to produce P.P.E. during the pandemic. We track some of that equipment to the U.S. and around the world.CreditCredit…Jingzhou TV, via Haokan Video
  • The World Health Organization expressed alarm on Monday over the growing number of cases among Indigenous communities throughout the Americas. As of July 6, more than 70,000 cases have been reported among them, and more than 2,000 deaths. Indigenous communities in both urban and remote areas are at risk, said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director general.

  • The Bahamas, one of the international destinations where U.S. citizens could still travel, will ban commercial flights or vessels from the United States starting this week. The ban does not include commercial flights from Canada or the European Union or private planes. Yachts and other pleasure craft will also be permitted.

  • The pandemic has forced some Beefeaters, the ceremonial guards of the Tower of London, to lose their jobs, quite possibly for the first time in their long history. The British charity that manages the castle said that a voluntary separation program had been put in place for the 37 Beefeaters, officially known as Yeoman Warders of the Tower London because of loss of revenues from the attraction’s closing.

  • Hong Kong once seemed like a model for controlling the virus but now its hospitals are seeing more cases a day than they ever have during the pandemic. On Monday officials reported 73 cases. More important, health officials are unable to determine the origin of many of these cases, despite having a robust contact tracing system in place.

  • Tati, the discount department store that was a once-thronged wonder of Paris more visited than the Eiffel Tower, is shutting. The pandemic has dealt the store a final blow after a long decline, its owners say.

  • Without tourists on beaches, workers in Bali are returning to farming and fishing.

Europe thought it was ready. Pride was its downfall.

Image

Credit…Lucas Barioulet/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

When European health ministers met in February to discuss the virus emerging in China, they commended their own health systems and promised to send aid to poor and developing countries.

Barely a month later, the continent was overwhelmed. Officials once boastful about their preparedness were frantically trying to secure protective gear and materials for tests, as death rates soared.

This was not supposed to happen. Many European leaders felt so secure after the last pandemic — the 2009 swine flu — that they scaled back stockpiles of equipment and faulted medical experts for overreacting.

But their pandemic plans were built on a litany of miscalculations. Though European leaders boasted of the superiority of their world-class health systems, they had weakened them with a decade of cutbacks.

When Covid-19 arrived, those systems were unable to test widely enough to see the peak coming. National stockpiles of medical supplies were revealed to exist mostly on paper, consisting in large part of “just in time” contracts with manufacturers in China. European planners overlooked the fact that a pandemic could disrupt those supply chains.

Britain most embodies Europe’s overconfidence. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was so certain of his country’s forecasts about the virus, records and testimony show, that he delayed locking down until two weeks after British emergency rooms began to buckle under the strain.

With the number of infections doubling every three days at the time, some scientists now say that locking down a week sooner might have saved 30,000 lives.

A British company says a potential treatment is promising, but scientists urge caution.

A small study of hospitalized virus patients in Britain has identified a promising new treatment for the illness, a Britain-based biotechnology company said on Monday, with initial results showing that an inhaled form of a commonly available drug can reduce the odds of patients requiring intensive care.

But the trial, which sent shares of the company, Synairgen, soaring, caused some consternation among scientists, who demanded to see more detailed data and faulted the company for failing to make clear exactly how helpful the drug was or how long its benefits lasted.

Synairgen said that an inhaled form of interferon beta, a protein that the body produces in response to viral infections, could significantly reduce the odds of patients becoming severely ill and accelerate their recoveries.

Critically, the double-blind trial involved only 101 patients, Synairgen said, and scientists stressed the need for more details about the trial, which has not yet been peer reviewed or published.

“It looks promising,” said Simon Maxwell, a professor of clinical pharmacology and prescribing at the University of Edinburgh. “But the report is of an outcome in a relatively small number of patients, and so it is too early to draw reliable conclusions.”

If the results are confirmed, though, virologists said they would represent significant progress in the monthslong race to find treatments for Covid-19.

The company said that the drug reduced the odds of patients becoming severely ill — needing ventilation, for example, or dying — by 79 percent compared with patients who received a placebo.

N.Y.’s governor threatens to close bars and restaurants over the lax enforcement of crowds.

Video

transcript

transcript

New York City to Enter Phase 4 on Monday, de Blasio Says

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would allow some outdoor entertainment venues like zoos and botanical gardens to reopen with limited capacities but that restrictions would remain on indoor activities.

We are moving forward with Phase 4 on Monday. Now, the state of New York is finishing some work today into this afternoon on the specifics, and they’ll have a formal announcement later on. But I can give you the broad outlines now of what we’ve talked about with the state. Let’s focus first on outdoors, again, outdoors has proven to be the area where we’re seeing a lot of things work successfully. So, we’re going to restart the low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment activities. This means things like botanical gardens and zoos, for example. They can reopen but at reduced capacity, 33 percent capacity. Production of movies, TV shows — that can proceed. The, obviously, something that matters to a lot of us, sports coming back. But again — without audiences. Indoors is where we have concerns. Some indoor activities can exist with the proper restrictions. But there’s going to be care when it comes to indoors. Each and every situation is going to be looked at very carefully, very individually. So some will not resume in Phase 4, certainly not right away. That continues to be, first of all, indoor dining. That could have started earlier. We’ve said that’s not happening. That continues to not happen. That is very high risk. And we’ve seen that around the country. Museums, not yet. Malls, not yet. Still closed for now. We’ve got to strike a balance, and we’ve got time to look at the evidence, watch what’s happened around the country, watch what’s happening here in the city, and make further decisions on some of these pieces. And we’ll do that very carefully with the state of New York.

Video player loading

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would allow some outdoor entertainment venues like zoos and botanical gardens to reopen with limited capacities but that restrictions would remain on indoor activities.CreditCredit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

As New York City entered a limited fourth phase of reopening on Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo threatened to roll back the reopening of city bars and restaurants after a weekend that saw crowds partying outside in Astoria in Queens and elsewhere.

If lax local enforcement of social distancing and open-container laws continued, Mr. Cuomo said, he would step in, adding that his warning applied to parts of Long Island and upstate New York, too.

“We cannot allow those congregations to continue. If it happens, I’ll tell you what’s going to happen: We’re going to have to roll back the opening plan and we’re going to have to close bars and restaurants” he said at his briefing. “I’m telling you, we are right on the line.”

Last week, the governor announced that city bars and restaurants would be subject to a “Three Strikes and You’re Closed” rule: If they overlooked social-distancing violations or allowed customers to drink without ordering food, they could lose their liquor licenses after three violations.

Video

Video player loading

At his press briefing on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that an increase in large gatherings could increase coronavirus cases across New York.CreditCredit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Mr. Cuomo’s warning came as New York City became the last part of the state to move into Phase 4, which allows some outdoor institutions like zoos and botanical gardens to reopen, with limits.

Concerns about the threat of another outbreak moved officials to maintain the ban in the city on indoor businesses that have been allowed elsewhere in the state: gyms, malls, movie theaters, museums and indoor dining. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that the city did not have “a set timeline” on when these indoor activities could resume, nor a deadline on a decision.

Gatherings of up to 50 people are now allowed in the city, as well as indoor events at houses of worship operating at one-third of maximum capacity. Outdoor film production and professional sports without audiences can also resume.

Reporting was contributed by Geneva Abdul, Matt Apuzzo, Ian Austen, Peter Baker, Ken Belson, Alexander Burns, Emily Cochrane, Lindsey Rogers Cook, Michael Cooper, Monica Davey, Jason DeParle, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Lalena Fisher, Selam Gebrekidan, Maggie Haberman, Javier C. Hernández, Drew Jordan, David D. Kirkpatrick, Juliana Kim, Christoph Koettl, David Leonhardt, Eric Lipton, Iliana Magra, Jonathan Martin, Tiffany May, Jeffery C. Mays, Andy Newman, Adam Nossiter, Tariq Panja, Richard C. Paddock, Sean Piccoli, Natalie Reneau, Dana Rubinstein, Kai Schultz, Eliza Shapiro, Mitch Smith, Kaly Soto, Nicole Sperling, David Waldstein, Haley Willis and Muyi Xiao.

Read More

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here