The U.S. reels as July cases more than double the total of any other month.
The United States recorded more than 1.9 million new infections in July, nearly 42 percent of the more than 4.5 million cases reported nationwide since the pandemic began and more than double the number documented in any other month, according to data compiled by The New York Times. The previous monthly high came in April, when more than 880,000 new cases were recorded.
The virus is picking up dangerous speed in much of the Midwest and in states from Mississippi to Florida to California that thought they had already seen the worst of it.
Gone is any sense that the country may soon get ahold of the pandemic. The seven-day average for daily new infections has hovered around 65,000 for the past two weeks, more than doubling the peak average from the spring, when the country experienced what was essentially its first wave.
In many states, distressed government officials are re-tightening restrictions on residents and businesses, and sounding warnings about a rise in virus-related hospitalizations.
Across the country, deaths from the virus continued to rise after a steep drop from the mid-April peaks of about 2,200 a day. At the start of July, the average death toll was about 500 per day. Over the last week, it has averaged more than 1,000 daily, with many of those concentrated in Sun Belt states.
The Northeast, once the viruss biggest hot spot, has improved considerably since its peak in April. Yet cases are now increasing slightly in New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as residents move around more freely and gather more frequently in groups.
The picture is similarly distressing overseas, where even governments that would seem well suited to combating the virus are seeing surges.
New daily infections in Japan, a country with a long tradition of wearing face masks, rose more than 50 percent in July. Australia, which can cut itself off from the rest of the world more easily than most, is battling a wave of infections in and around Melbourne. Hong Kong, Israel and Spain are also fighting second waves.
None of those places has an infection rate as high as the one in the United States, which has the most cases and deaths in the world.
Top U.S. officials work to break an impasse over the federal jobless benefit.
Hours after unemployment benefits for tens of millions of Americans lapsed, administration officials arrived on Capitol Hill on Saturday morning for a rare meeting with top congressional Democrats to discuss a coronavirus relief package and work to break an impasse over new aid as the American economy continues to shudder.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who hosted the meeting with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York in her Capitol Hill suite, emerged after three hours and said the discussion was productive in terms of moving us forward, but they remained far apart on a number of issues. They declined to offer specifics, but said that staff would meet on Sunday and that the principal negotiators would again convene on Monday for another meeting.
Here we have this drastic challenge and what they were saying before is, Were going to cut your benefit, Ms. Pelosi said. Thats, shall we say, the discussions were having.
This is not a usual discussion, because the urgency is so great healthwise, financial health-wise, she added.
Also in attendance were Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary. (Mr. Mnuchin observed before entering Ms. Pelosis suite that it was just another working day in the Capitol.)
Among the largest sticking points in the discussion is a $600 weekly federal jobless benefit that became a lifeline for tens of millions of unemployed Americans, while also helping prop up the economy. The aid expired at midnight as officials in Washington failed to agree on a new relief bill, but Mr. Meadows and Mr. Mnuchin said there were signs that the two sides could begin to reach common ground, including on reviving a federal moratorium on evictions and funding for schools and child care.
Theres things we agree on. Theres things we dont agree on, Mr. Mnuchin said after the meeting. Were trying to narrow down the things we dont agree on. Obviously any negotiation is a compromise.
Joblessness remains at record levels, with some 30 million Americans receiving unemployment benefits. More than 1.4 million newly filed for state unemployment benefits last week the 19th straight week that the tally had exceeded one million, an unheard-of figure before the pandemic.
Nearly 11 percent of Americans have said that they live in households where there is not enough to eat, according to a recent Census Bureau survey, and more than a quarter have missed a rent or mortgage payment.
The benefits expiration will force Louise Francis, who worked as a banquet cook at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans for nearly two decades before being furloughed last spring, to get by on just state unemployment benefits, which for her come to $247 a week.
With the $600, you could see your way a little bit, said Ms. Francis, 59. You could feel a little more comfortable. You could pay three or four bills and not feel so far behind.
The aid lapsed as Republicans and Democrats in Washington remained far apart on what the next round of virus relief should look like.
Democrats wanted to extend the $600 weekly payments through the end of the year, as part of an expansive $3 trillion aid package that would also help state and local governments. Republicans, worried that the $600 benefit left some people with more money than when they were working, sought to scale it back to $200 per week as part of a $1 trillion proposal and have begun to push the prospect of doing a short-term package that deals with just a few issues, including the unemployment insurance benefit.
Theyve made clear that theres a desire on their part to do an entire package, Mr. Mnuchin said of Democrats. Weve made clear that were really willing to deal with the short-term issues, pass something quickly and come back to the larger issues so were at an impasse on that.
Democrats have rejected a short-term proposal.
Its outbreak untamed, Melbourne goes into even greater lockdown.
Officials in Melbourne, Australias second-largest city, announced stricter measures on Sunday in an effort to stem an outbreak that is still raging despite a lockdown that began four weeks ago.
For six weeks starting Sunday, residents of metropolitan Melbourne will be under curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. except for purposes of work or giving and receiving care.
As under the current lockdown, acceptable reasons for leaving the house include shopping for essential goods and services, medical care and caregiving, and necessary exercise, work and study. But food shopping is now limited to one person per household per day and outdoor exercise is limited to one hour per person per day, both within five kilometers of home. Public gatherings are limited to two people, including household members.
In explaining the new measures, Premier Daniel Andrews said that the high rate of community transmission, including 671 new cases reported in the state of Victoria on Sunday, suggested the virus was even more widespread than known.
Youve got to err on the side of caution and go further and go harder, he said.
Less stringent restrictions are being introduced in the rest of the state starting at midnight on Wednesday, and further measures regarding businesses will be announced on Monday.
Victoria has had a total of 11,557 cases, almost all of them in metropolitan Melbourne, and 123 deaths.
An estimated 17,000 Germans packed the heart of Berlin on Saturday, defying public health requirements to maintain a safe distance from one another, or cover their noses and faces, before Berlin police moved to break up the demonstration against the countrys efforts to fight the spread of coronavirus.
The protest, under the motto Day of Freedom a title shared by a 1935 Nazi propaganda film by Leni Riefenstahl was supported by known neo-Nazi groups and conspiracy theorists, along with Germans who say they are fed up with the government-imposed restrictions on public life. Germany enforced a strict lockdown from mid-March that has been lifted in stages since the end of April, but large public gatherings are still banned and requirements for wearing masks on public transportation and in all stores remain.
A majority of Germans support the measures, but public health officials worry that people are becoming more lax, as the past weeks have seen a rise in new infections. On Saturday, 955 new cases were reported, compared with 580 two weeks ago.
Protesters at the demonstration blew whistles, heckled and jeered anyone wearing a mask, and carried the red, white and black flag of the 19th-century German Empire. They also carried signs equating the government-imposed restrictions to the Nazis forcing Jews to wear yellow stars. One banner, emblazoned with images of Chancellor Angela Merkel, her health minister and leading German public health officials, as well as Bill Gates, demanded: Lock Them Up Already!
Here are some other developments from around the globe:
South Africa on Saturday surpassed 500,000 coronavirus infections, according to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, fifth most in the world. More than 10,100 new cases had been recorded, South Africas Department of Health said, adding virus-related deaths had risen to 8,153. South Africa in March quickly became Africas first epicenter and the first country on the continent to impose a severe lockdown, restricting travel between provinces.
Belgium on Saturday announced that its number of confirmed coronavirus infections had doubled in one week. On average about 448 people per day tested positive from July 22 to July 28, the Belgian health authorities said. The city of Antwerp was of particular concern, officials said.
Kuwait on Saturday began to resume some commercial flights after a five-month suspension. It announced that flights would remain suspended from 31 countries, including India, China and Brazil. Flights are also still barred from some countries that were once major hot spots, such as Spain and Italy, but not the United States, which remains a global epicenter. Kuwait, with its relatively small population, has one of the highest infection rates in the world. Its 1,618 cases per 100,000 people is the sixth highest globally, according to a New York Times database.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain announced that lockdown measures that were set to be lifted Saturday would continue for two more weeks, as case numbers in the country rise. Restrictions remain on indoor performances, casinos, wedding receptions and other gatherings, which Mr. Johnson said he knew would come as a real blow to some people. But it was necessary to apply the brake pedal, he said, in order to stem the spread of the virus.
In Vietnam, the city of Danang plans to test its entire population for the coronavirus, the local authorities said, after dozens of cases there showed how the disease can stalk even places that were thought to have eradicated the virus. As the country went more than three months without reporting any local transmission or even a single death from the virus, up to 800,000 domestic tourists flocked to Danang, a coastal city known for its golden beaches. Vietnam has now recorded three deaths and almost 600 cases, although many are returnees in quarantine.
As of Saturday night, Mexicos confirmed death toll of 47,472 was the worlds third highest behind the United States and Brazil. Britain ranked fourth, with 495 fewer deaths. The number of new reported infections in Mexico has been climbing since May and topped 9,000 for the first time on Saturday, bringing the countrys caseload to nearly 435,000.
Officials in Poland are considering new lockdown restrictions after the country reported record numbers of new coronavirus cases for three days in a row. The health minister told a local radio station this could include reducing the number of people allowed to attend weddings, according to Reuters. The country has reported 46,346 total cases and 3,650 deaths.
Thirty-six crew members aboard a Norwegian cruise ship tested positive for the virus, Hurtigruten, the ships operator, said in a statement over the weekend. None of those who tested positive showed any symptoms, the statement said. According to the company, 387 guests who may have been exposed to infected crew members during two trips on the ship in July will self-quarantine in accordance with Norways public health regulations.
Representative Ral M. Grijalva, Democrat of Arizona, has tested positive for the coronavirus three days after isolating because he came into contact with another lawmaker who had contracted it.
Mr. Grijalva, who has no symptoms, is the 11th lawmaker to test positive, according to a tally maintained by GovTrack.
It is unclear where he contracted the virus, but Mr. Grijalva has been in self-isolation since Wednesday, when Representative Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican who has frequently spurned wearing a mask during the pandemic, said he had tested positive. Mr. Grijalva said he had had extended contact with Mr. Gohmert during a congressional hearing held by the Natural Resources Committee, the panel that he leads.
While I cannot blame anyone directly for this, this week has shown that there are some members of Congress who fail to take this crisis seriously, Mr. Grijalva, 72, said in a statement on Saturday, in what appeared to be a veiled reference to Mr. Gohmert. Numerous Republican members routinely strut around the Capitol without a mask to selfishly make a political statement at the expense of their colleagues, staff, and their families.
A spokesman for Mr. Grijalva said he would quarantine for two weeks in Washington, and some of the representatives staff would also be tested.
Mr. Grijalvas diagnosis comes as lawmakers and the many aides and staff members who shuttle in and out of the Capitol daily are grappling with the lack of consistent procedures for protecting one another. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, have so far rejected enforcing a rapid-test system for Capitol Hill similar to the one used at the White House, particularly given testing shortages and delays around the country.
In addition to the lawmakers who have tested positive, the virus has spread among the workers who quietly power the Capitol. At least 27 Capitol Police employees, 33 contractors on a construction site and 25 employees of the Architect of the Capitol have tested positive, and dozens more have entered voluntary isolation because of exposure, according to a tally from Republicans on the House Administration Committee.
Florida, home to one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the United States, braced for the arrival of Isaias on Saturday.
The states battle with the virus could make evacuating homes and entering community shelters especially risky. Friday was the third consecutive day that Florida broke its record for the most deaths reported in a single day, according to a New York Times database.
Floridians spent Saturday preparing for wind gusts up to 80 miles per hour and dangerous coastal surf.
The storm was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm, after it raked parts of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and battered the Bahamas. State officials said Isaias would probably regain its strength as the evening progressed. Dont be fooled by the downgrade, warned Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference.
Mr. DeSantis said that the division of emergency management had been working at its most active level since March, allowing them to actively plan for hurricane season even while responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Early in the pandemic, he added, the division created a reserve of protective equipment for hurricane season, including 20 million masks, 22 million gloves and 1.6 million face shields.
Forecasters said Saturday that the storms projected path had shifted slightly eastward, and that the storm could potentially make landfall over Palm Beach, Jacksonville and other coastal cities.
Up the coast, officials in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina states where there has been a dramatic rise in new reported coronavirus cases since mid-June were closely monitoring the storm.
Earlier, the storm hit the Bahamas as it is grappling with a rapid increase in the number of coronavirus infections that has only accelerated in recent days, in what health officials are calling a second wave.
A golfer tests positive midway through a PGA Tour event, withdrawing while tied for second place.
Branden Grace wasnt feeling well on Friday night, after the second round of the Barracuda Championship in Truckee, Calif., so he contacted PGA Tour officials and arranged to be tested for the coronavirus on Saturday morning.
When the test came back positive, Grace had to withdraw from the tournament while he was tied for second place.
Given my position on the leaderboard it was a difficult decision, but nonetheless, the correct one for my fellow competitors & the volunteers, Grace, a 32-year-old South African who has won one event in his career on the tour, wrote in a statement he posted on Twitter.
Graces infection will prevent him from participating next weekend in the P.G.A. Championship in San Francisco, the first mens major tournament of the year, which was postponed for three months.
Since the PGA Tour resumed in early June after a three-month shutdown, several golfers including the highly ranked Brooks Koepka and Webb Simpson have had to withdraw from tournaments because they, their caddies or a close relative tested positive.
The disruption, however, has not been nearly as broad as the one in Major League Baseball, which on Saturday announced four more positive tests among members of the St. Louis Cardinals traveling party one player and three staff members and postponed the teams weekend series with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Cardinals, who also had two players receive positive tests on Friday, now have six positives in their traveling party and have become the second team, after the Miami Marlins, to experience an outbreak less than two weeks into the truncated M.L.B. season. The Marlins have had 20 people, including 18 players, test positive since last Sunday.
And the Boston Red Sox announced that starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, 27, who had been infected before the start of the season, will not play this year after developing myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart.
The hosts of a summer camp in Georgia said over the weekend that they regretted hosting the lakeside retreat in June, after health officials said more than three-quarters of tested campers and staffers had been infected.
The virus quickly spread through Camp High Harbour, which is run by the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta, in June, after a teenage counselor got chills and later tested positive. The camp began sending children home the next day, and shut down not long after, but at that point, about 260 campers and staff members had already been infected, according to a report issued Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report said that the C.D.C. had data for 344 campers and staffers who were tested, and that there were about 250 more whose data the C.D.C. did not have.
The C.D.C. did not name the camp, but the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta soon acknowledged that it was Camp High Harbour, which is held in northern Georgia.
Parrish Underwood, the YMCA branchs chief advancement officer, said the YMCA had hosted the camp at the request of some parents who hoped it would allow for normalcy in their childrens lives.
This weighed heavily in our decision to open, a decision in retrospect we now regret, Mr. Underwood said in a statement.
All campers passed screenings of some kind, he said, and the counselor who first tested positive for the coronavirus had provided a negative test and had no symptoms when he first arrived.
The C.D.C. said the camp had required staff members to wear masks but did not require the children to do so. The report found that the camp also did not open windows and doors to increase circulation and that campers stayed overnight in cabins, with an average of 15 people sleeping in each.
Georgia was one of the first states to reopen restaurants, movie theaters and other public gathering places in April. Gov. Brian Kemp has recently been urging districts to reopen their classrooms, and one high school opened on Friday, its scheduled start date.
Since mid-June, the state has had a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, and it is now reporting an average of more than 3,000 cases and 45 deaths each day.
One of the most important aspects of curtailing the spread of the virus is understanding where people are being infected. This week the Maryland Department of Health released new data from its contact-tracing program that provides an informative if limited view of the patterns of behavior of people who tested positive.
The numbers do not show where virus transmission occurred only what activities people had engaged in. After conducting contact-tracing interviews with people with the virus, the state found:
44 percent had attended a family gathering.
23 percent had attended a house party.
23 percent had dined indoors at a restaurant.
23 percent had dined outdoors at a restaurant.
54 percent worked outside the home.
25 percent worked in health care.
The health department did not say how many patients were interviewed, or when people had attended the events.
Im really excited to see that theyre putting data on this out, said Dr. Crystal Watson, an assistant professor in the department of environmental health and engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. But its a little hard to interpret.
Dr. Watson said it would help to know if people had worn masks at the family gatherings and practiced social distancing. She said she was struck by the fact that only 12 percent of the people interviewed were workers in the restaurant and food service industry, given the risks of exposure.
Here are some other developments from around the United States:
The cumulative death toll in Florida surpassed 7,000 on Saturday after a surge in deaths in the state over the past week. Florida recorded 257 deaths on Friday, a single-day record that also represented nearly one-fifth of all the deaths reported in the United States that day.
Three staffers and one player for the St. Louis Cardinals tested positive for the virus, prompting the team to postpone a game on Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers for the second day in a row. The team had announced that two other players tested positive on Friday.
Single-day records for cases were reported in Oklahoma and Puerto Rico, each with over 1,000.
The Navajo Nation Council passed a $651 million bill responding to the economic crisis created by the pandemic. The bill includes funding for water projects, power lines, broadband and casino employees who have been laid off. The funding for the bill comes from the Navajo Nations share of $8 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding that was designated for tribes. The situation has been stark in the Navajo Nation, where high infection rates have created a crisis in the largest reservation in the United States.
The Serum Institute, which started out years ago as a horse farm and is exclusively controlled by a small and fabulously rich Indian family, is doing what few other companies in the race for a vaccine are doing: mass-producing hundreds of millions of doses of a vaccine candidate that might not even work.
But if it does, Adar Poonawalla, Serums chief executive and the only child of the companys founder, will become one of the most tugged-at men in the world. He will have what everyone wants, possibly in greater quantities before anyone else.
Originally posted here:
Infections Swamp the U.S., Which Recorded 42% of All Its Coronavirus Cases in July - The New York Times