Rudy Giuliani Tests Positive for Coronavirus, Trump Says

Rudy Giuliani, the personal and campaign lawyer for President Trump, during an appearance before the Michigan House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
Credit…Jeff Kowalsky/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and President Trump’s personal and campaign lawyer, has tested positive for the coronavirus, Mr. Trump announced on Twitter on Sunday.

@RudyGiuliani, by far the greatest mayor in the history of NYC, and who has been working tirelessly exposing the most corrupt election (by far!) in the history of the USA, has tested positive for the China Virus. Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!!!” Mr. Trump wrote. It was unclear why Mr. Trump was the one announcing it.

Mr. Giuliani was at Georgetown University Medical Center, according to a person who was aware of his condition but not authorized to speak publicly. Mr. Giuliani, at age 76, is in the high-risk category for the virus.

Mr. Giuliani has repeatedly been exposed to the virus through contact with infected people, including during Mr. Trump’s preparation for his first debate against President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. in September, just before the president tested positive, as well as when he appeared with his son, Andrew, at a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters about two weeks ago. Andrew Giuliani, who works as an aide in the White House, said on Nov. 20 that he had tested positive, days after Donald Trump Jr. did.

Mr. Giuliani has been acting as the lead lawyer for Mr. Trump’s efforts to overthrow the results of the election. He has repeatedly claimed he has evidence of widespread fraud, but he has declined to submit that evidence in legal cases he has filed.

His infection is the latest in a string of outbreaks among those in the president’s orbit. Boris Epshteyn, a member of the Trump campaign legal team, tested positive late last month. The same day, Mr. Giuliani attended a meeting of Republican state lawmakers in Pennsylvania about allegations of voting irregularities. One of the lawmakers at that meeting was notified shortly after while at the White House that he had tested positive.

Mark Meadows, the president’s chief of staff, and at least eight others in the White House and Mr. Trump’s circle, tested positive in the days before and after Election Day.

Mr. Trump was hospitalized on Oct. 2 after contracting the coronavirus. Kayleigh McEnany, the president’s press secretary, Corey Lewandowski, a campaign adviser, and Ben Carson, the housing secretary, are among those in the president’s circle who have tested positive this fall.

Mr. Giuliani appeared on Fox News earlier on Sunday. Speaking with the host Maria Bartiromo via satellite, Mr. Giuliani repeated baseless claims about fraud in Georgia and Wisconsin on “Sunday Morning Futures.” When asked if he believed Mr. Trump still had a path to victory, he said, “We do.”

A nursing home in Redmond, Wash., in October. Widespread vaccination of the elderly could begin in days, an administration official said.
Credit…Grant Hindsley for The New York Times

Trump administration officials on Sunday laid out an ambitious timetable for the rollout of the first coronavirus vaccine in the United States, rebuking President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s criticism that there was “no detailed plan that we’ve seen” for getting people immunized.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief science adviser of Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s program to develop and deploy vaccines, said that residents of long-term care facilities will receive the first round of vaccinations by mid-January, perhaps even by the end of December. In some states, this group accounts for about 40 percent of deaths from the coronavirus.

The timing assumes that the Food and Drug Administration authorizes the vaccine, made by Pfizer, this week or shortly thereafter. An advisory committee to the agency will meet on Thursday to review the data on safety and efficacy.

If the agency authorizes the vaccine, distribution could begin as soon as the end of this week, Dr. Slaoui added. “By end of the month of January, we should already see quite a significant decrease in mortality in the elderly population,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Barring unexpected problems with manufacturing the vaccine, most Americans at high risk from coronavirus infection should be vaccinated by mid-March, and the rest of the population by May or June, he added.

President-elect Biden sounded a considerably more skeptical note on Friday, saying that there was “no detailed plan that we’ve seen, anyway, as to how you get the vaccine out of a container, into an injection syringe, into somebody’s arm.”

Dr. Slaoui said his team expected to meet Mr. Biden’s advisers this week and brief them on details of the plan for the vaccines’ distribution.

Britain has already approved the Pfizer vaccine and expects to begin immunizing its population this week. Like the F.D.A., European regulators are still examining data on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.

A second vaccine, made by Moderna, also has been submitted to the F.D.A. for emergency authorization.

Dr. Slaoui was optimistic about long-term protection from the vaccine. The elderly or people with compromised immune systems might need a booster in three to five years, he said, but for most people the vaccine should remain effective for “many, many years.”

Still, it’s unclear whether those who have been immunized may still spread the virus to others. “The answer to that very important question” should be known by mid-February, he said.

Up to 15 percent of those receiving the shots experience “significant, not overwhelming” pain at the injection site, which usually disappears in a day or two, Dr. Slaoui told CBS’s “Face the Nation,” also on Sunday.

Vaccines have not yet been tested in children under 12, but Dr. Slaoui said that clinical trials in adolescents and toddlers might produce results by next fall.

Operation Warp Speed was expected to have 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by December, a number that has since been slashed by more than half.

Although the clinical trials were completed faster than expected because of the high level of virus transmission in the United States, manufacturing problems scaled down the expected number of available doses to 40 million.

Dr. Slaoui warned of possible further delays. “This is not an engineering problem. These are biological problems, they’re extremely complex,” he said. “There will be small glitches.”

Christmas trees for sale in New York on Monday. Americans seeking some holiday joy are buying trees at a faster rate than usual.
Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

Before this year, Wesley Yang had never celebrated with a real Christmas tree. Growing up, his family deemed it an inconvenience. But stuck at home this season, Mr. Yang and his roommate decided to do something different to mark the end of a tragic year, spending $90 on a tree and lugging it up three floors to their Los Angeles apartment.

“We’re just trying to keep the spirit going, even though we are locked down these days,” he said.

As many people stay home for the holiday season, planning smaller celebrations as they seek some joy during the coronavirus pandemic, Americans like Mr. Yang seem to be driving up demand for Christmas trees.

Families are trying to make the most of whatever experiences remain safe this holiday season, like going outside to pick out a tree together and decorating it, said Jennifer Greene, the executive director of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association, which represents a state that harvests more than 4.1 million trees a year.

“We didn’t realize that the Christmas spirit was going to help people with what we’ve heard called the ‘Covid blues,’” said Doug Hundley, a spokesman for the National Christmas Tree Association.

National sales data is hard to find, but across the country Christmas tree grower associations say that retailers are running through their tree supplies quickly and that growers are reporting a big increase in sales. In Michigan, farmers have seen as much as a 50 percent increase, said Amy Start, the executive director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association.

George Nash travels each year from Vermont to New York City to sell more than 15,000 trees at spots across Upper Manhattan. “The demand is crazy right now,” he said. “We are almost twice ahead of where we were last year at this point, in terms of sales. If the trend holds, it will be the best year we ever had.”

Even artificial tree companies like Balsam Hill say they are having a banner year. Mac Harman, the company’s founder and chief executive, said its Christmas in July sale had foreshadowed this year’s voracious holiday market.

“It just absolutely has not slowed down,” he said.

A survey conducted over the summer of more than 2,000 adults by TRUE Global Intelligence found that more than half of the respondents said the pandemic had strengthened their desire to spend money on experiences rather than gifts this year. Three-quarters of the respondents considered real Christmas trees to be an experience, rather than a product.

With such a high demand for Christmas trees, some worry that it may be harder for some Americans to find trees later in the month. The industry is still reeling from the 2008 economic recession, when customers bought fewer items. Growers then cut down fewer trees, which left less space for seedlings that would have made the market more abundant about a decade later.

“We’re having difficulty filling extra orders from the States,” said Shirley Brennan, the executive director of the Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association, whose office has fielded daily calls from south of the border. “That demand, we can’t keep up with.”

That doesn’t mean that Americans who waited to get a tree will end up without one, said Marsha Gray, the executive director of the Christmas Tree Promotion Board, a tree research and promotion program funded by growers.

“Some locations might close early, some locations may not have trees to sell,” she said. “But over all, there are enough trees and there aren’t communities going without.”

A playground was taped off with caution tape at a park in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Credit…Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

With stringent regional stay-at-home orders taking effect in much of California at midnight Sunday, parents, local officials and public health experts are objecting to one aspect of the orders: the closure of public playgrounds. They argue that playgrounds are a safe and essential way for families to get fresh air and exercise, and that children are better off there than cooped up indoors.

Experts say that the risk of contracting coronavirus at outdoor playgrounds is very low. The virus does not spread nearly as readily in the open air as it does in confined indoor spaces, and the risk of transmission through contaminated surfaces is minimal, particularly when people are using hand sanitizer, according to Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“When you step back and look at this from a real exposure-risk standpoint, these are the exact kind of activities we should be encouraging,” Dr. Allen said. “Get kids outside, get them playing, get them moving in these low-risk environments. Playgrounds should be open, there’s no question.”

A dozen state legislators said in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday that closing playgrounds would be especially hard on low-income families who “may have little to no outdoor space of their own available.”

“Public playgrounds provide a shared outdoor resource for families without having to travel far, pay entrance fees, or need additional gear,” the letter noted.

New York City faced a similar problem in the spring, when an order to close playgrounds led to scenes of crying children shaking locked gates.

In California, where daily caseloads have tripled in the last month, the new measures are its strictest since the beginning of the pandemic. Two regions, Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley, have crossed the state’s I.C.U. capacity threshold of 85 percent, triggering stay-at-home orders and other tough measures at 11:59 p.m.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, local officials announced Friday that the region would adopt the new limits before hitting the threshold.

Los Angeles County also closed its playgrounds before the state restrictions were announced. “There has been a lot of gathering at playgrounds for extended periods of time, unfortunately without any distancing,” the county’s public health director, Barbara Ferrer, said at a news conference. “It’s been so difficult for there to be compliance at these sites.”

Experts note that the young children who are the main intended users of playgrounds are less likely to contract the virus, suffer severe symptoms or transmit it to others than adults are.

“The idea that playgrounds can be closed doesn’t make sense when you think about who uses playgrounds and their lower risk factors,” Dr. Allen said. “We need this relief.”

Safety signage for students at the University of California, San Diego, on Thursday.
Credit…John Francis Peters for The New York Times

After a tough fall semester battling the varied ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic, many university officials are preparing to do something a lot of experts considered unthinkable a few months ago: bring even more students back onto campus in January and February. They say lessons learned from the fall will allow them to offer a more traditional college experience in the next semester.

The University of California, San Diego, is making room for more than 11,000 students in campus housing — about 1,000 more than it housed in the fall. The University of Florida is planning to offer more face-to-face classes than it did before the pandemic. And Princeton University, which let only a few hundred students live on campus last semester, has offered space to thousands of undergraduates.

“What makes me optimistic is we had the virus in our community, and each time we did, we were able to stop transmissions dead,” said David Greene, president of Colby College in Maine, which brought its whole student body back in the fall using aggressive health measures, and plans to do the same again next semester.

Many institutions are choosing not to bring back more students, planning instead to hunker down over the winter as infections mount and the nation awaits a vaccine. The University of Michigan, which spent a rocky fall trying to keep thousands of students on campus, has told most of its students to stay home and study remotely next semester.

But the alternative has been particularly compelling for schools that managed the fall with relatively minimal infections, and the schools that watched and learned from them.

Students have proved more conscientious than the public may think, administrators say. The culture of fraternities, big sports and big parties remains a challenge, but at many schools, students themselves reported the majority of health violations.

Many university officials say they are also increasingly confident that the virus is not being transmitted in classrooms, where professors are enforcing mask wearing and social distancing rules.

“The spread is in teacher break rooms, in fraternities and sororities,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, who ran the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the Obama administration and is now president of a global health initiative to prevent heart disease and epidemics. “It’s not even in organized sports but in locker rooms before and pizza parties after.”

Parents and students arriving at a public school in Queens last month.
Credit…Anna Watts for The New York Times

About 190,000 students in New York City are set to return to classrooms this week, starting with elementary school students on Monday, following a monthslong roller coaster of changes to the most closely watched school reopening effort in the country. Students with complex disabilities will be able to return to school buildings on Wednesday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio became the first big-city mayor in the country to reopen public schools this fall. But he closed the system briefly last month after virus cases surged in the city, before announcing that classrooms would again open for about 20 percent of the overall school system. It is not yet clear when middle and high schools will reopen.

The vast majority of the city’s roughly 1.1 million students have chosen to learn from home indefinitely.

Classrooms are reopening amid an alarming increase in virus transmission in New York City: The city reported on Sunday that the average test positivity rate has exceeded 5 percent; it was below 3 percent just a few weeks ago.

Mr. de Blasio’s decision to reopen schools for young children is the most high-profile example of a national and international trend of welcoming elementary school students back into classrooms, while their older peers learn remotely. Public health experts and educators generally agree that in-person learning for young children is relatively safe and particularly crucial for their development.

The mayor has said he will try to keep the school system open even if virus cases continue to rise, though it is likely that many classrooms and schools will temporarily close in the coming weeks as positive cases are confirmed in individual schools.

With cases of coronavirus steadily escalating during the traditional flu season, the Food and Drug Administration has authorized the first at-home test that can distinguish between the two viruses.

Early symptoms of infection with the coronavirus are easily mistaken for the flu. The new test offers a safe and convenient way for people — especially those at high risk from the coronavirus who may be afraid to go to a clinic — to test themselves at home.

The F.D.A. on Friday granted the test, the RC COVID-19 +Flu RT-PCR Test, made by Quest Diagnostics, an emergency use authorization.

“With the authorization of this test, the F.D.A. is helping to address the ongoing fight against Covid-19 while in the middle of the flu season, which is important for many, including the most vulnerable of Americans,” Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the agency’s commissioner, said in a statement.

The test “allows patients to continue to quarantine while awaiting results,” he said. “This efficiency can go a long way to providing timely information for those sick with an unknown respiratory ailment.”

Adults over 18 with respiratory symptoms can obtain the test with a prescription from a health care provider. They swab themselves and mail the samples to Quest Diagnostics via an enclosed FedEx bag.

But the test may produce negative results if the specimen is not collected properly, the agency cautioned.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu vaccine for anyone older than six months.

Global roundup

Greek Orthodox clergy attended the funeral of Bishop Ioannis of Langadas, who died of Covid-19 last month.
Credit…Sakis Mitrolidis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The coronavirus has dealt a double blow to the powerful Greek Orthodox Church, with the disease spreading through its ranks even as the clergy fends off criticism that it has been stoking the pandemic.

The church’s leader, Archbishop Ieronymos II, declared from the outset of the pandemic that he was committed to supporting the conservative government’s public health campaign to halt the spread of the virus. On Nov. 30, the 82-year-old archbishop left an Athens hospital after 12 days of treatment for the infection, urging Greeks to “restrict yourselves, discipline yourselves, follow the rules.”

But defiance by Orthodox hard-liners and the church’s unflinching commitment to the tradition of holy communion, in which worshipers consume sacramental bread soaked in wine from a common spoon, appears to have undercut those good intentions. Several clergy members have even gone so far as to insist that faith in the communion sacrament can shield people from the virus.

As the Greek authorities struggle to contain a second wave, some of the fiercest criticism of the church now is coming from within its ranks. One bishop, Anthimos of Alexandroupolis, condemned those who, with “criminal sermons,” have urged Greeks to ignore public health restrictions.

At least six of the church’s 82 bishops in Greece have caught the virus, including the 62-year-old Bishop Ioannis of Lagadas in northern Greece, who died of Covid-19 on Nov. 15. But the actual number of infected clerics is not known, as some have not made their illnesses public.

In other global developments:

  • Like the Greek Orthodox Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt is struggling with a surge of coronavirus infections. Beginning Monday, the church will suspend religious services for a month in Cairo and in the province of Alexandria, following an outbreak of coronavirus cases among worshipers and leaders. Services like funerals and baptisms will continue on at a limited capacity, but the church cautioned its adherents to follow anti-coronavirus measures. Egypt, the most populous country in the Middle East, has reported a rise in infections, with a daily average of about 400 cases in the last week. In all, the country has recorded at least 118,014 cases and 6,750 deaths.

  • Indonesia’s minister of social affairs was arrested on Sunday for receiving more than $1.2 million in bribes from companies that distribute government coronavirus food aid to the needy. The minister, Juliari Batubara, turned himself in to the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission, which had announced the arrest of six people involved in the scheme and the confiscation of $1 million in cash packed in 10 suitcases and backpacks. The food aid, including staples such as rice and cooking oil, was intended for residents of Greater Jakarta, a megacity with a population of about 30 million that has been hard hit by the pandemic. The commission accused the minister of assigning two staff members to collect the equivalent of a dollar for every $30 in aid. Indonesia has reported 575,796 coronavirus cases and 17,740 deaths, the most in Southeast Asia.

  • Officials in South Korea, which is struggling to contain a third wave of coronavirus cases, said on Sunday that social distancing regulations in the Seoul capital region would be raised to the second-highest of five levels for the next three weeks. Under the new restrictions, karaoke rooms and indoor gyms are shut down, and people are encouraged to stay home as much as possible. On Sunday, South Korea reported 631 new infections, most of them in Seoul and surrounding areas.

  • The Australian state of Victoria, which had one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, is further loosening restrictions after 37 days with no locally transmitted coronavirus cases. As of 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, nightclubs may reopen, public gatherings may be increased to 100 people, and weddings, funerals and religious services may be held without limits on the number of attendees. Masks must be carried at all times but are mandatory only on public transit and in large retail outlets. Dan Andrews, premier of Victoria, said that barring a new surge in cases, the new rules would apply until at least the end of January.

  • Austria paused a mass coronavirus testing campaign in parts of the Alps after fierce snowfall elevated avalanche warnings this weekend. The danger was greatest in the province of Tyrol, where officials warned people to stay home. Some parts of Tyrol expected as much as 43 inches of snow on Sunday, according to Austrian news agencies. Austria began a free nationwide testing program on Friday ahead of the end of a lockdown on Sunday.

People waiting for assistance at a hospital in Wuhan, China, in January. The city was the site of the first major outbreak of the coronavirus.
Credit…Hector Retamal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Facing global anger over their initial mishandling of the outbreak, the Chinese authorities are now trying to rewrite the narrative of the pandemic by pushing theories that the virus originated outside China.

In recent days, Chinese officials have said that packaged food from overseas might have initially brought the virus to China. Scientists have released a paper positing that the pandemic could have started in India. The state news media has published false stories misrepresenting foreign experts as having said the coronavirus came from elsewhere.

The campaign seems to reflect anxiety within the ruling Communist Party about the continuing damage to China’s international reputation brought by the pandemic. Western officials have criticized Beijing for trying to conceal the outbreak when it first erupted.

The party also appears eager to muddy the waters as the World Health Organization begins an investigation into the question of how the virus jumped from animals to humans, a critical inquiry that experts say is the best hope to avoid another pandemic. China, which has greatly expanded its influence in the W.H.O. in recent years, has tightly controlled the effort by designating Chinese scientists to lead key parts of the investigation.

By spreading theories that foreigners are responsible for the pandemic, the party is deploying a well-worn playbook. The Chinese government is rarely willing to publicly address its own shortcomings, often preferring to redirect attention elsewhere and rally the country against a common enemy.

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has led a vigorous effort this year to play down his government’s early failures in the crisis, instead arguing that the party’s success in containing the virus shows the superiority of its authoritarian system.

While recent studies have indicated that the coronavirus may have infected people in the United States and elsewhere earlier than previously thought, researchers still believe the most likely explanation is that it started circulating in China.

Edward Holmes, a professor at the University of Sydney who has studied the coronavirus, said the idea that the virus originated outside China seemed to be gaining traction for political purposes. “It lacks scientific credibility and will only further fuel the conspiracy theories,” he said.

Chris Buckley contributed reporting. Albee Zhang contributed research.

The black-steel span of the Pulaski Skyway and smokestacks from a power plant across the Hackensack River dominate the horizon at the site.
Credit…Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

Of all the toxic dumps in New Jersey, perhaps none was more infamous than PJP Landfill, which sat at the edge of the Hackensack River in Jersey City and was polluted by hazardous chemicals. For more than a decade there, underground fires erupted spontaneously, belching acrid smoke so thick it could snarl traffic on an adjacent bridge, the Pulaski Skyway, a key link for commuters heading to and from New York City.

Now the site, which was designated a Superfund priority by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1983, is being converted into a public park with one of the nation’s first memorials to victims of Covid-19.

As part of a $10 million makeover, more than 500 trees will be planted in a grove of the newly named Skyway Park — one for every Jersey City resident who has died of the coronavirus, the mayor, Steven M. Fulop, announced on Thursday.

Each person’s name will also be included on a memorial wall, giving relatives of the dead a place to mourn. Many families were unable to observe traditional funeral rituals as the pandemic ravaged the Northeast.

“We wanted to do something significant for those families that didn’t get to grieve properly, and we’re taking a step forward in that direction,” Mr. Fulop said. “It has been a tough year for the city.”

For Mr. Fulop, the pain is personal. His grandmother died of Covid-19, and the City Council lost one of its members, Michael Yun, to the virus in April.

The site of the former industrial landfill has been remediated and capped to make it safe for visitors, but extra soil will be brought in for planting.

Vernon Richardson, who was an aide to Mr. Yun, said the park would “represent the resiliency of the city — everyone from those who died to those who loved them to those who just had a bad 2020.”

Kevin Armstrong and

At the end of last month, Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia extended an executive order banning gatherings of more than 50 people unless individuals remain six feet apart.

You wouldn’t have known such an order existed Saturday night in Valdosta, Ga., where President Trump held a rally for the two Republican senators engaged in a runoff, his first since losing re-election.

One day after Georgia set a record for new Covid-19 cases, with 6,226, according to a New York Times database, thousands of people crowded close together onto the tarmac of Valdosta’s regional airport to see Mr. Trump. Some brought masks, but few wore them during the event. And Mr. Trump, fixated on his defeat, scarcely mentioned the raging pandemic.

The outdoor venue may have offered some protection, since the virus spreads more easily indoors. But after the rally, thousands lined up without masks to board buses taking them back to remote parking lots set up for the rally.

Hundreds of people, few of them wearing face coverings, took part in the funeral of Ali Abu Aliya, a Palestinian teenager, in the West Bank on Saturday.
Credit…Alaa Badarneh/EPA, via Shutterstock

Even as coronavirus infections in the occupied West Bank soared over the past week, large numbers of Palestinians in the territory continued to flout social-distancing requirements.

Though the authorities late last month established nightly closures for weekdays and general lockdowns from Thursday night to Sunday morning, many Palestinians have continued to gather without wearing masks.

On Saturday, hundreds of people, few of them wearing face coverings, took part in the funeral of Ali Abu Aliya, a Palestinian teenager who was killed by Israeli gunfire on Friday during clashes involving stone throwing at Israeli security forces.

The Israeli Army said it would investigate the events. Nickolay Mladenov, a senior United Nations envoy, called the boy’s death “shocking” and “unacceptable,” and the European Union’s representative office in Jerusalem accused Israel of using excessive force.

At the funeral procession in al-Mughayir, a Palestinian village near Ramallah, participants crowded around Ali’s body as it was carried through the street.

On Wednesday, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, made a rare appeal to Palestinians to follow social-distancing guidelines and wear masks.

“I ask you to take care of yourselves,” Mr. Abbas said in a short televised speech. “At every moment, there’s a danger.”

Over the past seven days, Palestinian officials in the West Bank recorded an average of 1,319 positive virus tests daily — more than triple the amount from a month ago, according to the health ministry of the Palestinian Authority. As of Sunday, there were more than 13,800 active cases in the territory, ministry data showed.

Palestinian officials were expected to meet in the coming days to discuss the possibility of introducing new restrictions, officials said Saturday.

Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, predicted a few more “days of drama” before the deal gained enough support to pass both chambers.
Credit…Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

A bipartisan group of senators on Sunday made the case for a $908 billion stimulus proposal that they argued would break the stalemate in Congress over delivering additional economic relief to Americans battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and one of the lawmakers who created the plan, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the number of senators backing the proposal “goes up every day.”

“It would be stupidity on steroids if Congress doesn’t act,” Mr. Warner said, adding that he predicted a few more “days of drama” before the deal gained enough support to pass both chambers.

The proposal, spearheaded by two centrist senators, Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, has yet to be endorsed by Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, has been more encouraging, saying it should serve as the “basis” for negotiations.

Intended as a stopgap measure to last until March, the plan would restore federal unemployment benefits that lapsed over the summer, but at half the rate, providing $300 a week for 18 weeks, and would provide $160 billion to help state, local and tribal governments facing fiscal ruin — a fraction of what Democrats had sought. Also included was $288 billion to help small businesses and a short-term federal liability shield from coronavirus-related lawsuits. The proposal does not include another round of $1,200 checks for most Americans.

Mr. Warner pushed back against criticism from the left over the liability provision, which was meant to last just four months while states come up with their own proposals. Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, had criticized the plan as a “get-out-of-jail-free card” for corporations, but Mr. Warner said Mr. Sanders was “not involved in these negotiations, and his characterization is just not accurate.”

On “Fox News Sunday,” Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana and one of the plan’s architects, also said the immunity provision — which Mr. McConnell has championed — was “one of the sticking points right now.”

Mr. Cassidy said he believed both Mr. McConnell and President Trump would end up backing the plan.

The bill is an attempt to find a middle ground between the dueling stimulus proposals that Democrats and Republicans have haggled over for months. Its cost is less than half of what Democratic leaders had pushed for in the weeks leading up to the election, but nearly double the latest proposal from Republican leaders.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Manchin emphasized the plan was not supposed to be a long-term solution for the American economy, but an immediate boost that could avert the impending lapse at the end of the year of a series of relief programs that were established in the $2.2 trillion stimulus law enacted in March. He said President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. could offer a more comprehensive proposal, but waiting until Mr. Biden took office “might be too late for so many people and small businesses.”

Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, said on ABC’s “This Week” that there were “a few remaining issues,” but he thought they could be worked out.

When asked about the lack of direct payments in the package, Mr. Durbin held that the given limit was $900 billion. He estimated that the program to distribute $1,200 checks would cost $300 billion alone.

“This is our last chance before Christmas and the end of the year to bring relief to families across America in the midst of a public health crisis,” Mr. Durbin said. “It’s time to put the partisan labels aside.”