Coronavirus Updates: Latest News and Analysis


Florida and South Carolina break new-cases records for the third straight day.

For the third straight day, Florida and South Carolina broke their single-day records for new cases, while infection levels for Missouri and Nevada also reached new highs on Saturday.

And on Friday, the United States reported more than 30,000 new infections, its highest total since May 1, with cases rising in 19 states across the South, West and Midwest.

Florida reported 4,049 new cases on Saturday, breaking Friday’s record (3,822) and Thursday’s record (3,207). The state now has had 93,797 cases and 3,144 deaths.

South Carolina broke its record with 1,155 new cases; Nevada had 452 and Missouri had 375.

The new infections have skewed younger, with more people in their 20s and 30s testing positive, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said.

On Saturday, the Florida Department of Health issued an additional health advisory, recommending that people avoid crowds greater than 50 people, and encouraging social distancing and mask wearing for gatherings with fewer than 50.

President Trump is set to deliver his national convention speech on Aug. 27 in Jacksonville, Fla., inside an arena that holds 15,000 people.

Florida “has all the makings of the next large epicenter,” according to model projections by the PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Southern officials in particular are speaking out with increasing alarm about the large number of cases turning up in young adults.

At least 100 cases were linked on Friday to employees and customers of bars in the Tigerland nightlife district near the Louisiana State University campus. In South Carolina, cases among people who are 21 to 30 have grown 413 percent since April 4. And in Mississippi, state officials said several cases had been tied to fraternity rush parties in Oxford, home to the University of Mississippi. More than 80 percent of new cases in Oxford involved people 18 to 24.

“Early information suggests that they’re violating the law in the number of people who are at these parties,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s state health officer, who noted that indoor gatherings without social distancing were supposed to be limited to 20 people.

In South Carolina, officials warned that some young people had become seriously ill from the virus and that those without serious symptoms could still infect family members and friends.

“The increases that we’re seeing serve as a warning that young adults and youth are not immune to Covid-19,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. “They also tell us that younger South Carolinians are not taking social distancing seriously.”

The clusters may be especially worrying to colleges and universities that plan to bring students back to campus in the fall, when the coronavirus and the flu virus are expected to be circulating simultaneously.

Gradual reopenings are continuing globally this weekend, including the lifting of a state of emergency that Spain imposed nearly three months ago. But a return to public life has been accompanied by rises in coronavirus cases — and sometimes a return of restrictions to curb the virus’s spread.

The Palestinian prime minister, Muhammad Shtayyeh, announced on Saturday that the city of Hebron in the West Bank and its surrounding villages would be placed under lockdown for at least five days following a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus infections in those areas.

Medical professionals recorded 103 new virus cases in the Hebron region on Saturday, bringing the total number of infections in the area to 356 since the pandemic first emerged in the West Bank in March, according the health ministry of the Palestinian Authority.

Mr. Shtayyeh told a news conference in front of his office in Ramallah that movement into and out of the Hebron region would be barred with the exception of those transporting goods. He also said that people would not be permitted to move inside the city and its surrounding villages unless they are going to places such as supermarkets and pharmacies.

Since early March, there have been only three fatalities in the West Bank and 712 known cases of the virus. The prime minister also announced that movement into and out of the city of Nablus would be restricted for two days following an increase in cases there.

In Turkey, which has the world’s 12th largest known outbreak, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged losing ground against the virus two weeks after the country allowed businesses to reopen and people to travel.

The daily rate of infection has now rebounded from below 1,000 a day to about 1,500. The government announced new lockdown periods for this weekend and next while high school students take specially scheduled exams. Masks were made compulsory in three of the largest cities, Istanbul, Izmir and Bursa, which have been hit badly.

Here are other developments around the world:

  • More than 1,029 workers in one of Germany’s largest meatpacking plants have been infected, according to Sven-Georg Adenauer, a regional commissioner in North Rhine-Westphalia. The plant is closing for 14 days, and all 6,500 workers are in quarantine, while contact tracers try to identify chains of infection. Schools and day care centers in the area have been closed, angering families who had just begun to return to a cautious normalcy after more than two months into Germany’s lockdown.

  • In Italy, Pope Francis held one of his first audiences for a group since the country lifted its lockdown. In his comments on Saturday at the Vatican, the pope thanked the attendees, who included masked health care workers from the hard-hit Lombardy region, for their work. He also warned against reverting back to individualism once the crisis faded.

  • In Australia, which has been widely praised for containing the virus, the state of Victoria said on Saturday that it was bringing back tighter restrictions on gatherings. The state, which includes Melbourne, on Wednesday recorded 21 new cases, its largest single-day increase in over a month. Premier Dan Andrews said in a statement that “the numbers are largely being driven by families — families having big get-togethers and not following the advice around social distancing and hygiene.” At least three cases also involved protesters who participated in recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

  • Beijing is scrambling to track and contain a new outbreak that has raised fears of broader contagion. While some limits are being reimposed in the Chinese capital — which reported 22 new confirmed infections on Sunday for a total of 227 since June 11 — the authorities have not turned to the kind of widespread strict lockdowns introduced in January after the coronavirus emerged late last year in the city of Wuhan. The change is in part a recognition that it is not feasible to shut down societies for the duration of the pandemic, which shows no signs of disappearing.

  • In Afghanistan, which is grappling with a rapidly growing outbreak and a raging war, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy said on Saturday that infections had spread among diplomats, contract workers and local employees. The spokesman offered no numbers, but The Associated Press reported up to 20 cases.

  • Spain has ended its state of emergency, meaning visitors from Britain and almost all E.U. member states can enter the country without undergoing quarantine. (Neighboring Portugal has asked to keep the land border closed until July 1, when Spain is expected to open to most other international visitors). Travel between Spanish regions has also resumed but other restrictions remain, including the compulsory use of masks in public places nationwide. Spain registered 40 coronavirus deaths and about 1,500 new infections in the past week, a huge drop from early April, when deaths rose by more than 900 a day.

  • Saudi Arabia is set to lift a nationwide curfew on Sunday morning, allowing “all economic and commercial activities” to restart, the state-run SPA news agency reported on Saturday, despite a resurgence in infections since the kingdom began reopening over the last several weeks. Nearly 4,000 new cases were reported on Saturday, bringing the total to 154,233. Large gatherings, international flights and land entries are banned.

President Trump, ignoring the health guidance of local officials in Tulsa, Okla., held his first campaign-style rally in several months Saturday night. Speaking to a sparse, mostly mask-free crowd in a 19,000-seat indoor arena that he had hoped to pack, Mr. Trump claimed he wanted to slow down testing of the virus that has killed 121,000 Americans.

Mr. Trump tried to blame the news media for the low turnout, because of its reporting on health concerns ahead of the indoor rally, and campaign advisers claimed that their supporters had trouble entering the arena because of protesters. But in reality, there were few protests across the city.

Mr. Trump had originally been scheduled to address an overflow crowd of supporters outside before the rally, but those plans were scrapped at the last minute. The campaign did not make it clear why, although the outdoor area was also lightly populated.

The president falsely claimed that the United States was reporting a high number of coronavirus cases because more people were being tested, saying that “when you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases.” Mr. Trump said that he asked officials to “slow the testing down,” joking that a young man with the “sniffles” would be falsely considered a positive Covid-19 case.

Concerns that the event could spread the coronavirus were amplified hours before Mr. Trump took the stage when his campaign acknowledged that six staff members working on the rally had tested positive.

In Oklahoma, there have been at least 10,037 cases of the coronavirus, according to a New York Times database. As of Saturday night, at least 368 people had died. The state recorded 331 new cases on Saturday, its third-highest daily total, behind totals reached on Thursday and Friday.

Tulsa health officials have expressed concerns that the rally, in a large, indoor arena, has the potential to become a “superspreader” event. But Trump supporters gathered in Tulsa appeared less worried about the virus and more exuberant over the president’s return to the campaign trail.

“If it is God’s will that I get coronavirus, that is the will of the Almighty,” said Robert Montanelli, a resident of a Tulsa suburb. “I will not live in fear.”

The campaign stressed that all rally attendees were receiving temperature checks before going through security, and were then given wristbands, face masks and hand sanitizer. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said on Friday that using the masks would be optional.

The pandemic has devastated economies around the globe, shutting businesses and slowing spending. But unlike in the United States, where the jobless rate has soared, workers in Japan have weathered the pandemic with striking success, staying employed in large numbers.

Pro-labor attitudes in Japan, reinforced by strong legal precedents, make it uniquely difficult for Japanese companies, except under severe strain, to fire workers. And a constellation of social and demographic factors, including Japan’s aging population and shrinking work force, have allowed workers to largely hold on to their jobs and benefits, even as the economy has taken big hits over all.

Output in Japan shrank by 2.2 percent in the first three months of the year, pushing the country into a recession. Data from April suggests that conditions will most likely continue to get worse.

Despite it all, the unemployment rate in Japan has ticked up just two-tenths of a percentage point since February, to 2.6 percent. And the low rate has helped Japan largely avoid the sense of anxiety that workers in other countries experienced as companies shed employees, leaving millions without benefits in the middle of a public health crisis.

According to a New York Times database, Japan has had 18,495 coronavirus cases and 959 deaths.

The National Institutes of Health said on Saturday that it had stopped two clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine, the antimalarial drug that President Trump has promoted to treat the virus with scant evidence of its efficacy.

One trial, which had enrolled close to 500 patients, ended because the drug was unlikely to be effective and the other did not have enough patients enrolled. Both are the latest indications scientists are increasingly concluding that the drug’s promise has fallen far short of early expectations.

“In effect, the drug didn’t work,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said of the first trial, which the medical community had been watching closely because it was federally funded, placebo-controlled and run by respected investigators. “I think we can put this drug aside and now devote our attention to other potential treatments.”

Mr. Trump had called the drug a “game changer” and said he had been taking it.

The N.I.H. said Saturday that an oversight board that monitors safety met Friday and “determined that while there was no harm, the study drug was very unlikely to be beneficial to hospitalized patients with Covid-19.” Later on Saturday, the N.I.H. said it had closed another trial — of hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin — because only about 20 patients had enrolled in the planned study of 2,000 people.

The initial trial, which was being run by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a division of the N.I.H., was one of several placebo-controlled studies that had been organized to test the drug after a series of small, poorly controlled trials showed early signs of a benefit.

Since then, several other large trials have been halted or have not shown the drug to be effective against the virus.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration revoked the emergency authorization it had given hospitals to give hydroxychloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, to hospitalized patients. The agency said that the drugs were “unlikely to be effective” and could carry potential risks.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said it was stopping the hydroxychloroquine arm of a large clinical trial that was testing several treatments against the virus because evidence showed it did not reduce mortality rates of hospitalized patients.

And on Friday, the Swiss drugmaker Novartis said it was halting its clinical trial because it could not recruit enough patients to sign up.

As Latin America has emerged as an epicenter of the pandemic, with deaths and infections soaring, efforts to contain the virus have been undermined by several corruption scandals.

Investigations into fraud have reached the highest levels of government. The former Bolivian health minister is under house arrest awaiting trial on corruption charges after the ministry paid an intermediary millions more than the going rate for 170 ventilators — which did not even work properly.

Dozens of public officials and local entrepreneurs are accused of exploiting the crisis for personal enrichment by peddling influence to price-gouge hospitals and governments for medical supplies including masks, sanitizer and ventilators.

In Brazil, which has the second-highest number of coronavirus deaths after the United States, government officials in at least seven states are under investigation over the misuse of more than $200 million in public funds during the crisis.

Peru’s police chief and interior minister resigned after their subordinates bought diluted sanitizer and flimsy face masks for police officers, who then began dying of infections from the virus at alarming rates.

In Colombia, the attorney general is investigating reports that more than 100 political campaign donors received lucrative contracts to provide emergency supplies during the pandemic.

“People are dying in the streets because the hospital system collapsed,” said Diana Salazar, Ecuador’s attorney general. “To profit from the pain of others, with all these people who are losing their loved ones, it’s immoral.”

Even as states like Texas and Florida have seen considerable spikes in new coronavirus cases in recent days, other corners of the United States where the virus has so far been mostly contained are planning to let patrons eat in restaurants again.

On Friday, the mayor of Baltimore said the city would join the rest of Maryland in allowing restaurants and bars to open for indoor dining with certain restrictions. Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., are enacting similar plans on Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers restaurants that allow indoor dining to be one of the riskier environments among those establishments that have opened so far. As scientists’ understanding of the virus has evolved, crowded indoor spaces with poor airflow have been identified as one of the likeliest situations in which the virus can spread, particularly as people laugh, talk and take off their masks to eat.

Businesses will still have to comply with restrictions. In both Massachusetts and Washington, dining establishments will have to keep tables six feet apart, and parties at any table cannot exceed six people. Washington will also limit restaurants to seating people at 50 percent capacity.

The C.D.C. has warned that even with these restrictions, indoor dining still brings together in tight spaces people who may not live with one another, and has urged individuals to take extra precautions.

Other cities are experimenting with novel ways to allow people to dine together more safely, such as encouraging them to stay in designated areas outside. This weekend, Grand Rapids, Mich., put in place four new “social zones,” where it planned to grant permits allowing people to congregate and eat outside on demarcated streets and sidewalks.

“The idea is simply to let restaurants serve more customers while allowing those who don’t want to go indoors yet to feel safe,” Lou Canfield, the city’s acting assistant director of design, development and community engagement, said in a news release. “It’s a new concept for us and will be experimental in some ways.”

Here are other developments around the United States:

  • The favorite Tiz the Law won the Belmont Stakes, traditionally the last leg of the Triple Crown, as the race kicked off the series for the first time in history. But the only people there to see it were the staff members needed to get the horses and their jockeys through the day.

  • As cases in Florida continue to rise, the Yankees and Mets are moving their preseason training out of the state and back to their home stadiums in New York. All of Major League Baseball’s spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona have been temporarily closed for deep cleaning after players in both locations tested positive for the coronavirus.

Early virus diagnostic tests failed because of contamination at C.D.C. labs, federal health officials say.

Federal health officials on Friday confirmed that the first batch of tests devised to diagnose the coronavirus and sent to 33 state public health offices were likely contaminated in laboratories at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the coronavirus began to spread.

The report by the Department of Health and Human Services echoed the findings of the Food and Drug Administration, which inspected the C.D.C. labs in late February after learning that the tests did not work. The F.D.A. reported in April that C.D.C. laboratories in Atlanta had violated their own manufacturing standards, rendering the test unusable. Researchers entered and left the laboratories without changing their coats, and assembled ingredients for the tests in the same room where researchers handled positive coronavirus samples, the F.D.A. reported.

The H.H.S. report released Friday confirmed the F.D.A.’s finding that one of the ingredients used in the test was likely contaminated in the Atlanta labs. The department said that because the state labs could not validate the tests, the tests were not used to diagnose patients.

In a statement, Michael Caputo, a department spokesman, acknowledged that the contamination might have delayed the C.D.C.’s ability to supply tests to public health labs, but added, “We never had a backlog of tests in this country.” His assertion is contradicted by the experience of state health officials around the country who complained for months about a shortage of diagnostics tests.

A French official affirms that a kiss will still be a kiss — in the movies.

Rest assured, France’s culture minister says: The kiss has not been banished from movies.

Franck Riester, the minister, said on Friday that as movie and television shoots in France slowly started up again after months of lockdown, actors were working out ways of safely smooching again.

“Kissing has started again, if I may say so, on movie sets,” Mr. Riester told RTL radio, although he did not refer to any specific films or actors. “Some artists got tested, waited a bit, and then did that kiss that is so important in cinema.”

Last month, the body that oversees health and hygiene conditions on French film sets issued a guide on how to keep the virus at bay, including measures for scenes that require physical intimacy.

Those included adapting or rewriting the action, postponing filming, or asking actors to get tested or regularly take their temperature. Wearing masks was also recommended, camera angles permitting.

The government has created a 50-million-euro guarantee fund to help producers who are forced to cancel a film shoot for coronavirus-related reasons, but some worry that insurers will balk at the slightest deviation from the guidelines.

Marina Foïs, an actress, expressed frustration on French television last week that “insurances are going to have an opinion on how we make a movie” and said she would find it hard to follow social distancing guidelines with her co-stars while filming.

“If I want to act well, I need to abandon something, I need to let happen what will happen,” she told France 5.

Movie theaters are one of the few businesses still closed around France. They are scheduled to open next week, but will only be allowed to fill up half of their seats, with distancing between viewers. Masks will be recommended, but not required, though individual theaters may set their own rules.

The many uses for food scraps.

Feeling crafty? Want to have less waste? There are many things that can be done with the bottoms of carrots, beets, egg shells and even meat waste. Or start a compost bin. We’ll show you how.

Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Aurelien Breeden, Nancy Coleman, Joe Drape, Melissa Eddy, Tess Felder, Ben Fenwick, Carlotta Gall, Matthew Haag, Maggie Haberman, Astead Herndon, Sheila Kaplan, Tyler Kepner, Natalie Kitroeff, Iliana Magra, Mujib Mashal, Patricia Mazzei, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Raphael Minder, Zach Montague, Adam Rasgon, Mitch Smith, Mitra Taj, Katie Thomas, Anton Troianovski and Vivian Yee.

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