Live Coronavirus News Updates and Analysis

Live Coronavirus News Updates and Analysis

Herman Cain dies after being hospitalized with the virus.Herman Cain, who made a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2012 race and was a recent contender for a top Federal Reserve job, died after being hospitalized with the coronavirus, according to an announcement posted to his personal website and on his verified social media accounts.Mr. Cain, 74, was the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza. President Trump said in 2019 that he was planning to nominate him to the Federal Reserve Board, but Mr. Cain withdrew his name as he battled old accusations of sexual harassment, the same ones that had halted his earlier presidential campaign.“We knew when he was first hospitalized with Covid-19 that this was going to be a rough fight,” Dan Calabrese, editor of HermanCain.com, wrote on the website. “Although he was basically pretty healthy in recent years, he was still in a high-risk group because of his history with cancer.”In 2018, Mr. Cain formed the America Fighting Back political action committee, which had a mission of publicly rebutting what he believes is misinformation about Mr. Trump.“We’re offering a compelling, solid refutation to what you hear from the media and the rest of the left about President Trump and conservative ideas,” he said at the time.Mr. Cain was admitted to a hospital with the coronavirus at the beginning of July, and it looked initially like he would recover.“There were hopeful indicators, including a mere five days ago when doctors told us they thought he would eventually recover, although it wouldn’t be quick,” Mr. Calabrese wrote in the announcement of Mr. Cain’s death.Mr. Cain attended Mr. Trump’s indoor rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 20. A few hours before the event, the Trump campaign disclosed that six staff members who had been working on the rally had tested positive for the virus during a routine screening. Two members of the Secret Service also tested positive there, people familiar with the matter said.In a video on his website, Mr. Cain described the rally and he said he had worn a mask while in groups of people. But he also posted photographs of himself on social media that showed him without a mask and surrounded by people in the arena.The statement on Mr. Cain’s Twitter account in early July announcing he had tested positive said that there was “no way of knowing for sure how or where Mr. Cain contracted the coronavirus.”Mr. Cain, who was an official surrogate for Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, wrote an op-ed after the rally in which he defended the event, writing, “The media worked very hard to scare people out of attending the Trump campaign rally last Saturday night in Tulsa.”On July 8, the top health official in Tulsa said that a surge in cases in and around Tulsa was probably connected to Mr. Trump’s campaign rally.A new analysis of one of the most mysterious and dramatic virus outbreaks — aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship early this year — points to small, floating droplets as a primary driver of virus transmission.The analysis used computer simulations to model the outbreak on the ship, in the same way disease modelers have reconstructed the virus’s spread with computer modeling. It found that small, floating particles accounted for about 60 percent of new infections on the Diamond Princess.The new findings, if confirmed, would have major implications for making indoor spaces safer and choosing among a panoply of personal protective equipment.The computer modeling adds a new dimension of support to an accumulating body of evidence implicating small, airborne droplets in multiple outbreaks, including at a Chinese restaurant and among choir members in Washington State.“Many people have argued that airborne transmission is happening, but no one had numbers for it,” said Parham Azimi, an indoor-air researcher at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the lead author of the study. “In this paper, we provide the first real estimates for what that number could be, at least in the case of this cruise ship.”One researcher not involved in the study, Julian Tang, an honorary associate professor of respiratory sciences at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, said the paper was “the first attempt, as far as I know, to formally compare the different routes of coronavirus transmission, especially of short versus long-range aerosols.”If the presumptive Democratic nominee and former vice president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., wins the states won by Hillary Clinton four years ago, many combinations of any three of six swing states would be enough to defeat President Trump. In addition to the four swing states labeled “red zones,” the list includes Michigan and Pennsylvania, which have not seen major spikes in cases in recent weeks.Already many states are revisiting their mail-in voting policies, so that voters will not have to go to polling stations and risk infection. The six swing states have either always allowed relatively easy mail-in voting or have recently made it easier. Currently, eight states allow mail-in or absentee ballots only with an approved excuse. The issue continues to be a point of contention between Democrats and Republicans. Mr. Trump on Thursday raised the idea of delaying the election until people could “properly, securely and safely vote???”The president, however, does not have the authority to delay Election Day, which by law takes place the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.Republicans on Capitol Hill attempted on Thursday to distance themselves from President Trump’s latest tweet that tried to undermine the legitimacy of the November election as he trails badly in the polls, uniformly rejecting his suggestion that the election should be delayed.It was a rare instance of Republicans in Congress speaking out publicly against Mr. Trump, and a break with their usual approach of refusing to comment on his incendiary statements and actions.A recent New York Times analysis also suggests that the increasing number of virus-related deaths is damaging Republican support in some communities.On Wednesday, the country surpassed 150,000 deaths, and deaths have been on the rise in Arizona, Wisconsin and Florida, which on Wednesday reported more than 216 fatalities, according to a New York Times database, surpassing its previous high of 186, which was recorded the day before.And some states that are considered safe for Mr. Trump have been struggling to contain the virus in recent weeks and are among the 21 states labeled red zones: Alabama, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee.It has been a comforting refrain in the national conversation about reopening schools: Young children are mostly spared by the coronavirus and don’t seem to spread it to others, at least not very often.But on Thursday, a study introduced an unwelcome wrinkle into this narrative. Infected children have at least as much of the coronavirus in their noses and throats as infected adults, according to the research.Indeed, children younger than 5 may host up to 100 times as much of the virus in the upper respiratory tract as adults, the authors found.That measurement does not necessarily prove children are passing the virus to others. Still, the findings should factor into the debate over reopening schools, several experts said.“I’ve heard lots of people saying, ‘Well, kids aren’t susceptible, kids don’t get infected.’ And this clearly shows that’s not true,” said Stacey Schultz-Cherry, a virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.The researchers analyzed samples collected with nasopharyngeal swabs from March 23 to April 27 at drive-through testing sites in Chicago and from people who came to the hospital for any reason, including symptoms of Covid-19.They looked at swabs taken from 145 people: 46 children younger than age 5; 51 children ages 5 to 17; and 48 adults ages 18 to 65. Older children and adults had similar levels of genetic fragments of the virus, by one important measure. Children younger than 5 had significantly lower levels. Still, the upper limit of the range was comparable to that of older children and adults.The study is not without caveats: It was small, and did not specify the participants’ race or sex, or whether they had underlying conditions. The tests looked for viral RNA, genetic pieces of the coronavirus, rather than the live virus itself. (Its genetic material is RNA, not DNA.)Still, experts were alarmed to learn that young children may carry significant amounts of the coronavirus.“We are going to be reopening day care and elementary schools,” said Juliet Morrison, a virologist at the University of California, Riverside. If these results hold up, “then yeah, I’d be worried.”Economic output fell at its fastest pace on record in spring as the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses across the United States to close and kept millions shut in their homes for weeks.Gross domestic product — the broadest measure of goods and services produced — fell 9.5 percent in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday. On an annualized basis, G.D.P. fell at a rate of 32.9 percent.The collapse was unprecedented in its speed and breathtaking in its severity. By comparison, economic output fell 4 percent during the entirety of the Great Recession a decade ago — and took 18 months to sink that far. The only possible comparisons in modern American history came during the Great Depression and the demobilization after World War II, both of which occurred before the advent of modern economic statistics.What’s more, fears are growing that after rebounding strongly in May and June, the economy has run out of steam, with many states closing businesses again after coronavirus cases surged.At the same time, the $600 supplemental weekly unemployment payment from the federal government is ending, a potentially crippling financial blow to millions.Also on Thursday, the government reported that 1.43 million people filed new claims for state unemployment benefits.It was the 19th straight week that the tally exceeded a million, an unheard-of figure before the coronavirus pandemic. And it was the second weekly increase in a row after nearly four months of declines, a sign of how the resurgence in cases has undercut the economy’s nascent recovery.More than four months after the N.B.A. suspended its season because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league on Thursday night will stage a pair of real games — ones that actually count in the standings — inside its bubble at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla. To mark the occasion, the league made sure to include a bunch of headliners — including LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and maybe Zion Williamson — in its grand reopening.Who is playing: After the Utah Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans christen the festivities at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, they will clear the stage so that the two heavyweights from Los Angeles — the Clippers and the Lakers — can reacquaint themselves at 9 p.m. Eastern time in what could be a preview of the Western Conference finals.How to watch: The doubleheader will be broadcast by TNT.What are we watching: Twenty-two teams are participating in the league’s restart, and each will play eight seeding games before the playoffs are scheduled to begin on Aug. 17. Players have spent recent weeks knocking off the rust at accelerated training camps, and teams played in a series of televised scrimmages. Some looked more prepared than others.But Thursday’s games are the culmination of an enormous gambit by the league, which desperately hopes to finish the season without any problems. (Looking at you, Major League Baseball.) So far, the N.B.A.’s highly restrictive campus has remained secure. On Tuesday, the league reported that none of the 344 players in the bubble had tested positive for the coronavirus since the results were last announced on July 20. Officials want to keep it that way.Europe had nearly 50 percent more deaths than normal at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, according to data compiled by Britain’s and France’s national statistics agencies, with tens of thousands more people dying the last week of March and the first week of April than in previous years.As Europe became the epicenter of the pandemic in the late winter and early spring, many countries implemented nationwide lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus, which was already killing thousands. Most of the excess deaths were in four big, hard-hit countries — Britain, Italy, Spain and France.In their worst weeks, Belgium, England, France and Spain all had more than twice as many deaths than was usual for the time of year.England had the second-highest peak mortality after Spain in Europe, and “the longest continuous period of excess mortality,” according to a report published by Britain’s Office for National Statistics on Wednesday. Britain had registered over 55,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths as of mid-July, and is the worst-hit country in Europe.Although European countries encountered wide discrepancies in their excess deaths, most saw a rise over the course of two deadly weeks, from March 30 to April 12. During the last week of March, the deadliest across Europe with 33,000 excess deaths, Spain alone registered over 12,500 more deaths than would be expected when compared with data from 2016 to 2019, a 155 percent increase, and Italy over 6,500, according to data provided by the French national statistics agency, INSEE. The following week, Belgium recorded over 2,000 excess deaths, an increase of nearly 110 percent compared with data from previous years.The coronavirus has depleted nursing homes across the continent, infected thousands of health care workers, and revealed how some of the most stable countries in the world were unprepared for a pandemic, although several national security agencies had defined it as one of the most critical threats that their countries could face.The surge in deaths was highest among elderly people, according to the statistics provided by Britain and France, with northern Italy and central Spain the hardest-hit areas across the continent.Outbreaks have swept through three Alaska fish-processing facilities and a factory trawler in recent weeks, stressing an industry already facing an unstable market for seafood.Roughly 26,000 processing workers head to plants in Alaska each year, the bulk of them in the summertime. Many work the red salmon season out of Bristol Bay, the largest red salmon fishery in the world and the source of most of America’s wild-caught salmon.Conditions in fish plants mirror those in meat-processing plants, with people living together and working long shifts in close quarters. Alaska put in place strict procedures and required monitoring, quarantining and testing out of concern that processing workers and fishermen, many who come from out of state, would spread the virus into Alaskan communities.Alaska’s case total stayed low until July. But as cases began to spike in recent weeks, resident workers — not those from other states — brought the virus into fish plants, said Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer. “It unfortunately has taken off pretty quickly,” she said. “It’s so hard to mitigate the spread once you get it in the plant.”Alaska has had 20 coronavirus deaths and about 3,500 cases, according to a New York Times database.At the Copper River Seafoods plant in Anchorage, 76 out of 135 people had tested positive as of Wednesday, Dr. Zink said. In Seward, a small town south of Anchorage, 139 out of 252 workers tested positive. And the American Triumph, a factory trawler that docked in Dutch Harbor, had 85 cases out of the 119 people on board, she said.Outbreaks at plants force production to cease while facilities are cleaned and workers are tested, further pressing a salmon industry that analysts say is facing decreased restaurant demand and a glut in the retail sector. GLOBAL ROUNDUPThe death toll rises in Australia, which once had the outbreak under control.Australia has recorded its deadliest day since the pandemic began, with 13 deaths reported on Wednesday, all in the southern state of Victoria, which also had 723 new cases. A total of 21 new cases were recorded in other states, as the authorities tightened borders and local restrictions.The record numbers are largely the result of outbreaks in nursing homes, as well as people going into work while symptomatic, the authorities said.“This is incredibly serious. And every time somebody doesn’t do the right thing, every time somebody contributes to the spread of the virus, then that means that another family will be having to plan a funeral,” Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.“Unless everyone plays their part, this lockdown will not end anytime soon,” he added.While Australia’s figures pale in comparison to the tens of thousands of new cases each day in the United States, they are significant in a country that had appeared to contain the virus to manageable levels before an outbreak in early July, which is thought to have spread from hotel quarantine facilities in Melbourne.Masks, which the health authorities had advised only for those experiencing symptoms, have since become mandatory in the city. Starting on Sunday they will be enforced across the state of Victoria, where restrictions on private gatherings have also increased.“We have now been in this lockdown now for some weeks, and we are not getting the results we would hope for,” Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, told reporters in Canberra. The high rates of community transmission, he added, were of “great concern.”Here are other developments from around the globe:President Adama Barrow of Gambia is in self-isolation for two weeks, after the vice president, Isatou Touray, tested positive for the virus, Reuters reported.The Hong Kong government said on Thursday that it would again allow restaurant dining until 6 p.m., only a day after banning dine-in arrangements for breakfast and lunch. The measure had quickly triggered a backlash, with social media filled with images of people eating outside in the rain and summer heat. Hong Kong is seeing its most severe surge in infections, with more than 100 new cases daily for the past week.As cases spiked in Tokyo, with another daily high on Thursday of 367 new coronavirus infections, Gov. Yuriko Koike requested that karaoke venues and bars and restaurants serving alcohol close by 10 p.m. from Aug. 3 through the end of the month. Businesses that cooperate will be offered 200,000 yen, or about $1,900. The initiative comes as the country’s health ministry announced a record 1,264 new cases.Quarantines are the latest way to silence dissent in China, according to human rights activists. Activists in quarantine are often detained without their families’ knowledge, and are typically “not allowed to communicate with the outside world, held in a secret location and not given the option to self-isolate at home,” said Frances Eve, deputy director of research at Chinese Human Rights Defenders. “This treatment is de facto enforced disappearance,” she said.Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 in Britain will now have to isolate for 10 days instead of seven, as the authorities said they may take new measures to hold off a second wave of infections that has started to appear across Europe. More than 700 new coronavirus cases were detected in Britain on Wednesday, and earlier this week the authorities reimposed a 14-day quarantine period for anyone returning from Spain.An experimental vaccine from Johnson & Johnson protected monkeys from infection.An experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson protected monkeys from infection in a new study.Unlike many other vaccines in development that might require two injections, the Johnson & Johnson candidate shielded monkeys with just one dose, according to a study published on Thursday in the journal Nature.It is the second vaccine candidate this week to show promising results in monkeys.After a single injection of the vaccine, scientists waited six weeks and then infected the monkeys with the coronavirus. Six of the seven vaccine variants offered monkeys partial protection, but the seventh proved more powerful: Five out of six monkeys that received it had no detectable virus at all.It was this best-performing vaccine that Johnson & Johnson used last week to begin its first human safety trial, a so-called Phase 1 trial, in Europe. If it goes well, the company hopes by September to enter a Phase 3 trial, which tests not only whether the vaccine is safe, but also whether it works.“This week has been good — now we have two vaccines that work in monkeys,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University who was not involved in the studies. “It’s nice to be upbeat for a change.”But she cautioned that the new results shouldn’t be used to rush large-scale trials in humans. “We just can’t take shortcuts,” she said.On a day it reported a record number of coronavirus deaths, the Brazilian government decided to reopen its borders to foreigners, who have been barred since March.The decree published on Wednesday night said visitors were now allowed to fly to Brazil, as long as they could prove that they were covered by health insurance for the duration of their travels.Other countries in Latin America, like Argentina and Colombia, that are reporting far fewer cases than Brazil are keeping their borders closed to international flights.Travelers crossing the border through land and sea are still barred with some exceptions, and international airports in five of Brazil’s 27 states are still forbidden to most incoming foreigners. The government didn’t offer an explanation for its decision.Brazil has now reported more than 90,000 deaths and 2.5 million cases of Covid-19, the highest figures after the United States.The president of the council of state health departments, Carlos Eduardo de Oliveira Lula, told the newspaper O Globo that he didn’t believe the new decision would have much of an impact on the country’s raging public health crisis.“With the number of cases we have, the biggest risk is the opposite, to other countries,” he said. “I very much doubt any would want to come here at this moment.”Need help confronting the stress of school reopenings?If you’re dealing with uncertainty about school options this fall, here are some ideas to consider.Reporting was contributed by Manuela Andreoni, Maggie Astor, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Julia Calderone, Benedict Carey, Ben Casselman, Michael Cooper, Marie Fazio, Jim Glanz, Denise Grady, Annie Karni, Apoorva Mandavilli, Zach Montague, Julia O’Malley, Elian Peltier, Austin Ramzy, Motoko Rich, Jeanna Smialek, Nelson D. Schwartz, Mitch Smith, Eileen Sullivan, Noah Weiland and Carl Zimmer.

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