Covid-19: Live Updates

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Credit…Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune, via Associated Press

The University of Notre Dame announced on Tuesday that it would move to online instruction for at least the next two weeks in an attempt to control a growing coronavirus outbreak and would shut down the campus entirely if those measures failed to stop the spread.

“If these steps are not successful, we will have to send students home, as we did last spring,” Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, said in a video address to students, noting that he had been inclined to take that step before consulting with health officials.

The school will also close public spaces on campus and restrict dormitories to residents.

On Tuesday, the school reported that at least 147 people on campus had tested positive since students began returning on Aug. 3 for the start of classes a week later. Eighty of those confirmed cases were added on Tuesday.

“The virus is a formidable foe,” Mr. Jenkins said. “For the past week, it has been winning.”

On Monday, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill became the first large university in the country to shut down classes after students had returned. The school moved all undergraduate courses online after 177 students tested positive and another 349 students were forced to quarantine because of possible exposure.

U.N.C., with 30,000 students, started classes on Aug. 10, the same day that courses resumed at Notre Dame, a campus of 8,600 students near South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame tested all of its students before they returned to campus, with 33 positive results.

On Tuesday, Ithaca College in upstate New York said that it would extend remote learning through the fall semester, despite initial plans to bring students back to campus in waves starting this month. In a statement, Shirley M. Collado, the president of the college, called the reversal “an agonizing decision” but said that “bringing students here, only to send them back home, would cause unnecessary disruption in the continuity of their academic experience.”

Michigan State’s president sent a letter Tuesday telling undergraduate students who had planned to live in campus housing to stay home. He said the university would make all of its courses available online before school starts in two weeks, with exceptions for some colleges and graduate students. And Virginia Tech’s president, Tim Sands, sent a letter to students pleading with them to be responsible or risk outbreaks like those on other campuses.

Across the United States, Greek life has come under particular scrutiny amid reports of outbreaks at fraternities and sororities. On Tuesday, health officials in Riley County, Kan., reported a new outbreak of cases associated with the Phi Delta Theta fraternity at Kansas State University — 13 members tested positive — and recommended quarantine for anyone who had been in contact with those infected.

In the last few days, widely circulated images of young people congregating without masks near campus in Tuscaloosa, Ala., home of the University of Alabama, and around Dahlonega, Ga., home of the University of North Georgia, have raised concerns about students’ cavalier attitudes to social distancing measures

A Notre Dame spokesman said a significant number of its cases were connected to two off-campus parties where students, mostly seniors, did not wear masks or practice social distancing. Most of those who have tested positive live in off-campus housing, the spokesman, Paul Brown, said.

Both North Carolina and Notre Dame said athletic teams were unaffected. Notre Dame is ordinarily an independent in football but is planning to play this fall in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which also counts North Carolina as a member. Unlike the Pac-12 and the Big Ten, the A.C.C. has not yet abandoned its fall season.

Beyond the immediate matter of whether sports like football should be played this autumn, this week’s approach by North Carolina could ultimately factor into debates over players’ rights and whether the hyphen in “student-athlete” might be more properly replaced with “or.”

“The optics aren’t very good, if you take the principle that all college athletes are students first,” said Walter Harrison, a former president of the University of Hartford who once was chairman of the committee that evolved into the N.C.A.A.’s top governing body.

Teachers in at least six Tennessee public school districts who may have been exposed to coronavirus can be required to teach in person anyway, under policies approved by their districts.

The districts, located in six counties in eastern and central Tennessee, are adapting C.D.C. guidelines for essential workers, according to Beth Brown, president of the Tennessee Education Association, a teachers’ organization. District officials did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Under C.D.C. guidelines, most people are supposed to go into quarantine for 14 days after possible exposure. But the school districts say teachers may be expected to forego quarantine and keep working as long as they do not show symptoms, provided that “additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.”

Researchers have found that people who have caught the virus can spread it before they show symptoms, or without ever developing them.

John C. Bowman, executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, another teachers’ organization, said he expected more districts to adopt the same policies, because of a shortage of substitute teachers to cover for any who are quarantined. And he said he expected to see some teachers quit their jobs because of the policies.

“Teachers are afraid,” Mr. Bowman said. “You can open up the school buildings all day long — that’s the easy part. But without healthy educators and staff available, they’re just buildings.”

Some schools in Tennessee have been open for almost three weeks, and a few have seen virus-related disruptions. In Putnam County, at least 80 students have been quarantined because of a potential coronavirus exposure, and a middle school and a high school in Maury County postponed reopening by a few days because teachers were in quarantine.

The Tennessee Departments of Health and Education issued a joint letter to school superintendents in the state on Tuesday requiring that school districts adhere to mandatory measures for “critical infrastructure” school staff who have been exposed to the coronavirus. The measures include wearing a face covering at school, maintaining six feet of distance from others, and quarantining when not attending school.

U.S. Roundup

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Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

Earlier this summer, Trump administration officials hailed a new strategy for catching coronavirus infections: pooled testing.

The decades-old approach combines samples from multiple people to save time and precious testing supplies. Federal health officials like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and Adm. Brett Giroir said pooling would allow for constant surveillance of large sectors of the community, and said they hoped it would be up and running nationwide by the time students returned to school.

But now, when the nation desperately needs more tests to get a handle on the virus’s spread, this efficient approach has become worthless in many places, in part because there are simply too many cases to catch.

Pooled testing only works when the vast majority of batches test negative, among other drawbacks with the procedure. If the proportion of positives is too high, more pools come up positive — requiring each individual sample to then be retested, wasting precious chemicals.

Nebraska’s state public health laboratory, for example, was a pooling trailblazer when it began combining five samples a test in mid-March, cutting the number of necessary tests by about half.

But the lab was forced to halt its streak on April 27, when local positivity rates — the proportion of tests that turn up positive — surged past 10 percent. With that many positives, there was little benefit in pooling.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Dr. Baha Abdalhamid, the assistant director of the laboratory. In combination with physical distancing and mask wearing, pooling could have helped keep the virus in check, he added. But the pooling window, for now, has slammed shut.

Still, the strategy has made significant headway in some parts of the country. In New York, where test positivity rates have held at or below 1 percent since June, universities, hospitals, private companies and public health labs are using the technique in a variety of settings, often to catch people who aren’t feeling sick, said Gareth Rhodes, an aide to the governor and a member of his virus response team. Last week, the State University of New York was cleared to start combining up to 25 samples at once.

Elsewhere in the U.S.:

  • Democrats officially made Joe Biden their 2020 presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night. Former President Bill Clinton accused President Trump of downplaying the coronavirus crisis, and of collapsing under the pressure of a real management challenge. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center,” said Mr. Clinton, 74, speaking from his mansion in the northern suburbs of New York City. “Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos. Just one thing never changes — his determination to deny responsibility and shift the blame. The buck never stops there.”

  • After an outcry over cost-cutting moves at the Postal Service that prompted allegations that the Trump administration was trying to disenfranchise voters who planned to mail in their ballots for the 2020 election, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said Tuesday that those operational changes would be suspended until after the 2020 election. Mr. DeJoy, a major donor to President Trump, said in a statement that he was suspending the changes “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.” The changes included reducing post office hours, removing postal boxes and eliminating overtime for mail carriers.

  • Officials in Kentucky reported 19 new deaths on Tuesday, a single-day record. The previous single-day record was 17 new deaths, reported on April 21st.

  • The S&P 500 closed at a record high on Tuesday, a remarkable display of investor optimism despite an economic decline that has sent unemployment soaring. Technology stocks played a big role in the gains, which were also fueled by the trillions of dollars pumped into financial markets by the Federal Reserve and enormous spending by the government to protect American workers and businesses from the worst of the downturn.

  • Senate Republicans on Tuesday began circulating text of a narrow coronavirus relief package that would revive extra unemployment benefits at half the original rate, shield businesses from lawsuits related to the virus and provide funding for testing and schools. The draft measure appears to be an effort to break through the political stalemate over providing another round of economic stimulus to Americans during the pandemic. But it is unlikely to alter the debate in Washington, where Democrats have repeatedly rejected previous Republican offers as insufficient. The new bill would spend less money, in fewer areas, than those earlier offers.

  • Covid-19 strike teams apply an emergency response model traditionally used in natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires to combating outbreaks in long-term care facilities. Composed of about eight to 10 members from local emergency management departments, health departments, nonprofits, private businesses — and at times, the National Guard — the teams are designed to bring more resources and personnel to a disaster scene.

Key data of the day

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Credit…Eric Risberg/Associated Press

The number of known deaths in prisons, jails and other correctional facilities among prisoners and correctional officers has surpassed 1,000, according to a New York Times database tracking deaths in correctional institutions.

The number of deaths in state and federal prisons, local jails and immigration detention centers — which stood at 1,002 on Tuesday morning — has increased by about 40 percent during the past six weeks, according to the database. There have been nearly 160,000 infections among prisoners and guards.

The actual number of deaths is almost certainly higher because jails and prisons perform limited testing on inmates, including many facilities that decline to test prisoners who die after exhibiting symptoms consistent with the coronavirus.

A recent study showed that prisoners are infected at a rate more than five times the nation’s overall rate. The death rate of inmates is also higher than the national rate — 39 deaths per 100,000 compared to 29 deaths per 100,000.

The Times’s database tracks coronavirus infections and deaths among inmates and correctional officers at some 2,500 prisons, jails and immigration detention centers.

The nation’s largest known virus cluster is at San Quentin State Prison in California, where more than 2,600 inmates and guards have been sickened and 25 inmates have died after a botched transfer of inmates in May. “It’s the perfect environment for people to die in — which people are,” said Juan Moreno Haines, an inmate at San Quentin.

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Credit...Geoff Crimmins/The Moscow-Pullman Daily News, via Associated Press

Idaho, one of the states where new cases peaked this summer, is doing the least amount of testing in the country necessary to understand and contain the virus across the state, according to a New York Times database. Testing is critical to reducing the spread of the virus.

Harvard researchers developed a formula to determine how many daily tests a specific state should be doing to slow the spread of the virus. The researchers said that, at the very least, there should be enough daily tests to assess anyone with flulike symptoms, plus an additional 10 people for any symptomatic person who tests positive.

The United States is testing only 52 percent of what it should be to slow the spread of the virus, according to the Harvard model, and Idaho is hitting just 16 percent of the daily testing it needs to be doing. The state also has a 16 percent positivity rate, and the World Health Organization has said a positivity rate has to be under 5 percent for at least two weeks to signal that a spread is under control. (That figure is based on the assumption that the state or region is meeting their testing target.)

Idaho is also among the states that have reported the highest number of new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, even as the number of new cases there has slowed.

The state’s response to the virus, led by Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, came under fire in the earliest days of the pandemic for not doing enough to stop the spread of the virus. In late March, Idaho saw an average of about 16 new cases a day, compared with the current average, over a seven-day period, of more than 400 a day. Idahoans were told on March 25 to stay at home, and the state started reopening in phases on May 1.

But cases started to mount in mid-June, as happened across several states. The amount of testing in Idaho has increased since the onset of the virus, but delays in getting results have hurt efforts to contain the spread

New York Roundup

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Credit...Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

New York City will require that hotels and short-term rental companies make travelers from dozens of states fill out forms with their personal information before they can have access to their rooms, or provide proof they had already done so, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday. Those travelers were already required by the state to quarantine for 14 days and to fill out the state’s health form, but the new measure, which goes into effect Friday, is another attempt at ensuring compliance with the rules that many are flouting in the city.

Both hotels and guests could be subject to fines of up to $2,000 for ignoring the rule, according to a spokeswoman for the mayor. People who had recently traveled to areas outside the city accounted for 15 to 20 percent of cases in the city over the past month, according Dr. Jay Varma, one of the mayor’s health advisers. Mr. de Blasio urged New Yorkers to avoid traveling to places restricted by New York State unless it was necessary.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday that travelers from Alaska and Delaware will now also be required to quarantine for 14 days, joining a list of 31 other states as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“If you have a choice in travel, don’t go where the problem is,” Mr. de Blasio said, adding that “because, of course, if you go there there’s a chance you bring that disease back.”

New York State’s list changes each week, which has forced some college students to abandon longstanding travel plans and quickly find accommodations to serve out the quarantine. More than 59,000 private-college students in New York come from states on the list as of Tuesday, according to the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities.

Elsewhere in the New York area:

  • The number of apartments for rent in New York City has soared to the highest rate in more than a decade, a sign that a notable number of residents have left the city because of the outbreak, at least temporarily, potentially creating a new obstacle to reviving the local economy. The surge in supply has driven down rental costs across the city and forced landlords to offer generous concessions, including up to three months’ free rent and paying the expensive fees brokers command.

  • New York City will not open gyms before Sept. 2, the mayor said Tuesday as the city needs more time to complete the inspections required under new state guidance. The state had said that gyms could open as early as Aug. 24, but the mayor said that city officials have been focused on reopening schools and child care centers. The state’s guidance on gyms also clarified that rules on capacity and mask wearing applied in apartment building gyms, and said that buffs, bandannas and gaiters could not be used as face coverings in gyms statewide.

  • The compensation packages of museum directors are drawing scrutiny as their institutions try to fill budget holes with cutbacks that have included layoffs and furloughs of lesser-paid staffers.

  • Travelers to Connecticut and New Jersey will now be subject to a 14-day quarantine if they are coming from Alaska and Delaware, as well as dozens of other states and two territories, though compliance is voluntary in New Jersey. Connecticut also removed Washington State from its list.

GLOBAL ROUNDUP

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Credit...Charles Platiau/Reuters

Faced with a recent resurgence of cases, officials in France have made mask wearing mandatory in business spaces across the country, pleading with people not to let down their guard and jeopardize the hard-won gains made against the virus during a two-month lockdown this spring.

The government on Tuesday announced the mandate for mask wearing in business spaces, building on mask policies that had been in place. France “cannot wait for the health situation to get worse,” Elisabeth Borne, the French labor minister, wrote on Twitter. “With our business partners, we want to take every precaution to avoid the propagation of the virus, to protect workers and guarantee the continuity of economic activity.”

The signs of a new wave of infection emerged over the summer as people began resuming much of their pre-virus lives, traveling across France and socializing in cafes, restaurants and parks. Many, especially the young, have visibly relaxed their vigilance.

In recent days, France has recorded about 3,000 new infections every day, roughly double the figure at the beginning of the month, and the authorities are investigating an increasing number of clusters.

Thirty percent of the new infections are in young adults, ages 15 to 44, according to a recent report. Since they are less likely to develop serious forms of the illness, deaths and the number of patients in intensive care remain at a fraction of what they were at the height of the pandemic. Still, officials are not taking any chances.

“The indicators are bad, the signals are worrying, and the situation is deteriorating,” Jérôme Salomon, the French health ministry director, told the radio station France Inter last week. “The fate of the epidemic is in our hands.”

France has suffered more than 30,400 deaths from the virus — one of the world’s worst tolls — and experienced an economically devastating lockdown from mid-March to mid-May. Thanks to the lockdown, however, France succeeded in stopping the spread of the virus and lifted most restrictions at the start of summer.

The course of the pandemic in Europe has followed a somewhat similar trend, with Spain also reporting new local clusters. But important disparities exist among countries. In the past week, as France reported more than 16,000 new cases, Britain reported 7,000, and Italy 3,000, according to data collected by The Times.

In other developments around the world:

  • While Hong Kong’s latest outbreak appears to be tapering off generally, testing has revealed a new cluster among the port city’s dock workers, who often live in cramped dormitories. As of Monday, 57 dockside laborers were among 65 cases linked to the city’s Kwai Tsing Container Terminals. On Monday, the Union of Hong Kong Dockers called on container companies to expand their accommodation for employees and to hire workers directly instead of outsourcing recruitment to smaller firms.

  • Sweden has temporarily recalled its diplomats from North Korea, citing increasing difficulties with travel and diplomatic postings, in part because of the pandemic. The Swedish embassy remains open with local staff, and “Sweden is engaged in dialogue with North Korea on these subjects,” a spokesman for the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs said.

  • Officials in New Zealand on Tuesday pushed back against Mr. Trump’s assertion that it was “having a big surge.” New Zealand, where the national election has been delayed from September to October because of a growing cluster in Auckland, has reported 22 deaths and fewer than 1,700 cases during the entire pandemic. “I’m not concerned about people misinterpreting our status,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

  • After a surge in infections in the past week, South Korea tightened social-distancing rules in the Seoul metropolitan area, banning all gatherings of more than 50 people indoors and more than 100 outdoors and shutting down high-risk facilities such as nightclubs, karaoke rooms and buffet restaurants. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun also said that churches must switch to online prayer services.

  • Greece has locked down two facilities for migrants where new infections have been traced, after another overcrowded reception center was put under lockdown last week, the government said. The infections are part of a recent spike in the number of cases in Greece, which has weathered the pandemic relatively well so far, with just over 7,200 confirmed cases and 230 deaths. But the authorities this week introduced new restrictions to address local outbreaks and have warned of more measures if the upward trend continues.

  • Countries putting their own interests ahead of others in trying to ensure supplies of a possible coronavirus vaccine are making the pandemic worse, the director general of the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. “No one is safe until everyone is safe,” the agency’s leader, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said during a briefing in Geneva. The organization also said the pandemic was now being driven by young people, many of whom were unaware they were infected, posing a danger to vulnerable groups.

  • A series of photographs and videos posted by Agence France-Presse captured a moment on Saturday night when hundreds of people attended a pool-party rave that would have been unthinkable only months ago. It was in Wuhan, the city in central China where the coronavirus pandemic began late last year. Life appears to be slowly returning to normal in China, even in its hardest-hit city, as other countries struggle with new outbreaks. Shanghai Disneyland reopened in May, while movie theaters reopened across China last month.

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Credit...Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

With more than 400 shops, the Singapore Changi Airport would be the fourth-largest mall by the number of tenants if it were in the United States.

The combination of an often affluent and captive audience has made airport commercial square footage some of the most lucrative in the world. But the pandemic has crushed the commercial calculus at airports, and no one is sure what comes next.

The leading airport for concession and retail sales in the United States is Los Angeles International, with revenue of $3,036 a square foot, according to a 2018 report from Airport Experience News. By comparison, the average mall retailer is around $325 per square foot, according to 2017 data from CoStar.

But that’s all gone now, said Alan Gluck, a senior aviation consultant at ICF. “In general, sales are in the toilet,” he said.

The very amenities that once made airports a standout for profit are the same things that are proving to be challenging.

So far, the pandemic has not paused terminals planned or in progress in the United States. Projects already underway, including at La Guardia Airport in New York and in smaller markets like Lafayette, La., are moving ahead, but taking a wait-and-see approach on adjustments.

New terminal construction should focus on space not just for the coronavirus but other respiratory illnesses, said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

New terminals needed to allow enough space for people to spread out, offer high-efficiency particulate air filtration and distribute free masks. He would also like to see more health screening at airports.

“You can’t throw up your hands and say it is impossible,” Dr. Fauci said.

STUDIES ON HIGH-RISK WORK PLACES

Workers in factories, warehouses and building sites are at especially high risk of infection as American businesses reopen, according to a new report from government public health researchers.

The new analysis, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helps clarify which economic sectors pose the greatest danger, at a time when states are bracing for a possible new phase of the epidemic in the fall.

The C.D.C. report, along with two other just-published findings — one analyzing Covid-19 hospitalizations, the other deaths — also sheds light on racial disparities in the shape and the impact of the U.S. epidemic.

Black and Latino people were far more likely than non-Hispanic white people to be hospitalized for Covid-19, one study found. But ethnicity was not related to the risk of later dying of the disease, the other study concluded. Both were posted by the medical journal JAMA.

REMDESIVIR

A large federal study that found an experimental antiviral drug, remdesivir, can hasten the recovery of hospitalized Covid-19 patients has begun a new phase of investigation.

Researchers will examine whether adding another drug — beta interferon, which has already been approved to treat multiple sclerosis and mainly kills viruses, but can also tame inflammation — would improve remdesivir’s effects and speed recovery even more.

In a large clinical trial, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, remdesivir was shown to modestly shorten recovery time by four days on average, but it did not reduce deaths.

RARE IMMUNE SYNDROME

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome, the severe illness that strikes some children with the coronavirus, is distinct from both Kawasaki disease and from Covid-19 in adults, according to a new study.

Most children infected with the coronavirus have mild symptoms, if any at all. But on very rare occasions, some develop so-called MIS-C, characterized by widespread inflammation in the heart, lungs, brain, skin and other organs. In the United States, there were 570 confirmed cases of the syndrome and 10 deaths as of Aug. 6.

The study, published Tuesday in Nature Medicine, analyzed immune cells in 15 boys and 10 girls, aged 7 to 14 years, with the syndrome.

When the children were acutely ill with MIS-C, their immune cells behaved differently than they did in adults with Covid-19. The pattern also differs from that seen in Kawasaki disease, a similarly rare inflammatory condition in young children.

As of Aug. 3, children account for 7.3 percent of U.S. coronavirus cases, but make up about 22 percent of the overall population. The actual proportion of infected children is likely to be higher, because testing is still focused primarily on adults with symptoms.

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Reporting was contributed by Alan Blinder, Alexander Burns, Stephen Castle, Choe Sang-Hun, Troy Closson, Nick Corasaniti, Hannah Critchfield, Brendon Derr, Jacey Fortin, Claire Fu, Thomas Fuller, Trip Gabriel, Michael Gold, Rebecca Griesbach, Amy Harmon, Ethan Hauser, Ann Hinga Klein, Jennifer Jett, Niki Kitsantonis, Gina Kolata, Théophile Larcher, Jonathan Martin, Tiffany May, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Constant Méheut, Steven Lee Myers, Norimitsu Onishi, Elian Peltier, Robin Pogrebin, Frances Robles, Eliza Shapiro, Michael D. Shear, Daniel E. Slotnik, Mark Walker, Kevin Williams, Timothy Williams and Karen Zraick.