Live Coronavirus Updates – The New York Times


KEY DATA OF THE DAY

The U.S. is still confirming more than 20,000 new cases a day, with counts rising in the South and West.

The United States reported 21,614 new infections on Thursday, and while that number is below its April peak, the daily average has been rising slightly in recent days as the continued improvement in Northeast is offset by new outbreaks in the South and parts of the West.

The uptick appears to represent a combination of increased testing, the coronavirus taking hold in more regions and outbreaks in localized hot spots. It comes during a convergence of two developments that health officials are watching warily: states and cities pressing ahead with plans to allow more businesses to reopen, and masses of people gathering around the country in large-scale protests against police brutality and racism.

More states have seen an increase in new virus cases over the past two weeks than have seen a decline, according to a New York Times database: 18 have seen a rise in new cases over that period, 17 have seen the count of new cases stay largely the same, and 15 have seen decreases. And there are continuing signs that the geography of the outbreak is shifting.

  • The hardest hit state in the nation, New York, reported 42 new virus deaths on Friday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday, the state’s lowest figure since March. Some localities elsewhere have reported greater death tolls in recent days: Los Angeles County reported 44 deaths on Thursday, and Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago, reported 66.

  • The death toll in Arizona passed 1,000 this week. Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, has been reporting a steady increase in new virus cases, which the public health department said showed “increased spread in the community.” There have been at least 22,818 cases in the state.

  • Texas, one of the earliest states to move forward with reopening, reported 1,784 new cases on Thursday, one of its highest tallies yet. Dallas County reported 285 new cases on Thursday, a new high. There have been at least 71,330 cases of the virus in Texas, and at least 1,793 deaths.

Seema Verma, the administrator of the C.M.S., said her agency was not able to require nursing homes to report infections and deaths from prior months, but that many nursing home operators had chosen to do so.

“We are prohibited to do retroactive rule-making, and so we couldn’t require them to do so, but we feel pretty comfortable that that’s what they’ve done,” Ms. Verma said.

Trump tells governor of Maine: ‘You better get the state open.’

Speaking to the employees of a production facility that manufactures swabs for Covid-19 test, President Trump continued a war of words with the state’s Democratic governor, Janet Mills.

“You have a governor that won’t let you open up,” Mr. Trump said Friday during a speech at Puritan Medical Products. “I might as well say it while I’m up here: You better get the state open, Governor.”

Ms. Mills had told the president earlier in the week that his planned trip to the medical swab factory north of Bangor “may cause security problems.” Mr. Trump responded by dismissing her caution and saying he was even more determined to go.

During his speech, Mr. Trump suggested Maine was missing out on crucial tourism dollars

“This is your time, this is your big month, this is your Christmas,” Mr. Trump said. “How can you be closed?”

Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump had applied similar pressure to all of the nation’s governors in a speech in the Rose Garden, telling Americans to “do social distancing, and you wear masks if you want.” He equated the pandemic to a “hurricane” that “goes away, and within two hours, everyone is rebuilding and fixing and cleaning and cutting their grass.”

The president was not subtle in his desire to move on from lingering questions about the pandemic. “Even you,” Mr. Trump said to reporters assembled there, “I notice you’re starting to get much closer together, looks much better, not all the way there yet but you’ll be there soon.” The White House Correspondents’ Association said later that White House officials violated federal social distancing guidelines by moving chairs in the Rose Garden closer together before the event.

“The health of the press corps should not be put in jeopardy because the White House wants reporters to be a prop for a ‘news conference’ where the president refused to answer any questions,” said Jonathan Karl of ABC News, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association.

Companies are trying to renegotiate their office and retail leases — and in some cases refusing to pay.

Faced with plunging sales that have already led to tens of millions of layoffs, companies are trying to renegotiate their office and retail leases — and in some cases refusing to pay — in hopes of lowering their overhead and surviving the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression during the coronavirus pandemic. This has given rise to fierce negotiations with building owners, who are trying to hold the line on rents for fear that rising vacancies and falling revenue could threaten their own survival.

Simon Property Group, the biggest mall operator in the United States, this week sued Gap, the owner of retail chains that include Old Navy and Banana Republic, for nearly $66 million in unpaid rent for April, May and June, according to a lawsuit filed in Delaware this week.

In many cases, the strongest tenants — those most able to pay — are driving the hardest for a discount. They include brand-name companies like LVMH, the luxury goods conglomerate that owns Sephora and other outlets; and Starbucks, which had $2.6 billion of cash on hand at the end of March and would have little problem selling stock or bonds to raise more money.

Beyond the immediate impact of business closings on tenants’ revenue are larger questions, including the already-dire trends for malls and shopping centers, how office and consumer behavior might change after the pandemic, and the effects of recent looting and vandalism on retail corridors. Will companies need more space so that employees can spread out, or will they need less because they need fewer offices at all?

In New York City, concerns are growing that mainly peaceful protests are exposing many people to the possibility of infection, as many police officers and protesters, who are often in close quarters, were not wearing face coverings. Mayor Bill de Blasio emphasized on Friday that officers are supposed to be wearing face coverings.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has struggled to balance a pandemic response with the economic needs of a country in which over half of the population lives hand-to-mouth.

Early on, he played down the severity of the virus’s threat, allowing soccer tournaments, concerts and preparations for the busy spring tourist season to continue.

But the relaxation of restrictions comes at a moment when the disease appears to be peaking. On Wednesday, Mexico reported 1,092 deaths, its highest daily toll to date, though the López Obrador administration said the increase was caused by an administrative delay in reporting deaths. By Friday morning, the total number of dead in the country was 12,545. More developments from around the world:

  • The head of France’s government’s scientific council declared France’s epidemic “under control.” Many experts credit the government’s tightly enforced lockdown, mobilization of technology like high-speed trains to save patients, and closely followed counsel from scientists.

  • South Korea reported 39 new cases in and around Seoul, where a recent wave of infections had been traced to nightclubs and an e-commerce warehouse.

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia warned people against attending protests this weekend organized in sympathy with American protests against racism and police brutality, saying that a large gathering could sabotage the country’s efforts to control the outbreak. “Let’s find a better way, and another way, to express these sentiments rather than putting your health at risk, the health of others at risk,” he said.

  • China warned its citizens against traveling to Australia because of what it described as rampant racial discrimination and violence in the country related to the virus. The warning followed a series of economic actions by Beijing against Australia, after Australian officials led a call for an independent investigation into the origins of the pandemic, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

  • In Indonesia, mosques opened for midday prayer in the capital, Jakarta, for the first time in more than two months, with social-distancing protocols, temperature checks, face masks and plenty of hand sanitizer.

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey revoked a much-debated weekend lockdown, citing “social and economic consequences.” The country’s Interior Ministry had said residents would be confined to their homes during the weekend, but Mr. Erdogan said complaints from citizens had made him re-evaluate.

  • Switzerland expanded its border reopening plans, announcing that it will include all European Union countries and Britain on June 15. It had previously announced that it would lift border restrictions with neighboring Austria, Germany and France.

Roulette wheels spun. One-armed bandits coughed out payouts. Customers erupted in cheers at hot blackjack tables. But at Las Vegas’s famed casinos, which reopened for business on Thursday after a 78-day shutdown, it was anything but business as usual.

Showgirls in the gambling capital of the world strutted their stuff wearing face masks. Hotel guests had their temperatures taken at check-in. Plexiglass partitions separated dealers from players, and dice were doused in sanitizer between throws.

A huge neon sign on the Aria Resort and Casino summed up Sin City’s new ethos: “Think dirty thoughts but keep your hands clean.”

Under new social distancing guidelines, casinos across Nevada have cut their capacity in half. State regulators are not requiring guests to wear masks but some of the larger casino operators, including MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts, have mandated them in certain circumstances.

“We are seeing enthusiastic and excited guests who appreciate all the visible changes that were made to the property to keep them safe,” said Debra DeShong, a spokeswoman for MGM. “We’ve kept our occupancy low for opening weekend so that we can do this slowly and safely. But what is clear is that the demand is there.”

ECONOMIC Round up

The U.S. unemployment rate fell unexpectedly, but tens of millions remain out of work.

The job market unexpectedly reversed its pandemic-induced free fall in May as employers added 2.5 million jobs. But tens of millions of people remain out of work, and the unemployment rate, which fell to 13.3 percent from 14.7 percent in April, remains higher than in any previous postwar recession.

The improvement came as government relief checks helped consumers and companies, and President Trump took a victory lap on Twitter and declared during an event at the White House that the jobs report signaled “the greatest comeback in American history.” He signed a bill to give small businesses more time to use loans from the Paycheck Protection Program to help them stay afloat during the pandemic.

But the trillions of dollars in government assistance that have helped keep the economy on life support may be nearing their end, many economists warn that the economic comeback will not be swift, and the prospects for a new round of stimulus — desperately sought by state and local governments that have seen tax collections plummet — dimmed after the report.

Here is a look at the economic news driving the day.

  • Restaurants that rehired employees after restrictions on dining out eased around the country played a large part in lifting payrolls. About 1.4 million people gained or took back their restaurant jobs, and health care employers and construction were among the sectors that drove the May job market improvement, based on the Labor Department’s report.

  • There are millions of people who are not working and want a job whom the unemployment rate leaves out. To be officially counted as unemployed, workers who are not on temporary layoff must indicate that they have looked for work in the past four weeks.

  • Stocks jumped on Wall Street, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite nearing a record high and the S&P 500 close to wiping out its losses for 2020.

  • Prospects on Capitol Hill of another virus stimulus bill dimmed after the news of the upswing in unemployment numbers. Republicans had already thrown substantial cold water on the idea of another package on top of the nearly $2.8 trillion already enacted, warning of soaring deficits and arguing that they wanted to see how the economy responded to before doling out more money. But a number of sectors are still suffering, and state and local governments are warning of layoffs and cuts to essential services absent federal aid.

  • Many businesses are still reeling. Brooks Brothers, the oldest apparel brand in continuous operation in the United States, plans to lay off nearly 700 employees this summer at its factories in Massachusetts, New York and North Carolina. The company is also trying to find buyers for the factories by mid-July, and expects to close them if it can’t.

Behind the N.B.A.’s plan to restart play: Money trouble and tight relationships.

The N.B.A. players’ union is discussing a first-of-its-kind reboot, a plan that the league’s owners overwhelmingly approved on Thursday.

The league has been hopeful that the National Basketball Players Association will approve the plan, which calls for 22 of the league’s 30 teams to live and play from July to mid-October in one carefully maintained safety bubble: Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando.

Marc Stein, a Times sports reporter, and Brooks Barnes, who covers the entertainment industry for The Times, write that the path to putting the game back on hardwood materialized in large part through the strong relationship between the union’s president, Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul, and the N.B.A. commissioner, Adam Silver, and also their shared close ties to Robert A. Iger, the executive chairman of Disney.

They also report on the scale of the financial pressure on the N.B.A. The league faces what The Athletic recently estimated would be a revenue loss approaching $1 billion if it fails to provide playoff games to its primary television partners, Disney and Turner Sports.

In October, a tweet by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey in support of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong did damage in “the hundreds of millions of dollars” to the N.B.A.’s business relationships in China, according to Mr. Silver’s estimate in February. And the far more lucrative revenue stream from ticket purchases and other in-arena fan expenditures is unavailable indefinitely.

The N.B.A. has said it is working with infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government officials to establish safety guidelines to minimize the chances that the coronavirus can infiltrate its “campus” at the Florida resort. Negotiations with the players’ union on the depths of the restrictions are underway, and will not be publicly revealed until next week at the earliest.

The epidemic in Britain has killed more than 40,000 people, sickened hundreds of thousands more, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and paralyzed the economy. Now it may claim another casualty: a trade agreement between Britain and the European Union.

On Friday, the two sides announced that they had made little headway in their efforts to strike a post-Brexit trade deal. With a deadline at the end of the year, and the last chance to ask for an extension looming at the end of this month, Mr. Johnson’s government argues that it would rather walk away without a deal than prolong the talks.

That may be posturing. Britain now says it wants to step up the pace of negotiations next month. But the pandemic has scrambled the government’s calculations, and a no-deal outcome, which once seemed both disastrous and all but impossible, now seems entirely plausible.

On the European side, the trade talks have fallen down the list of priorities, dwarfed by the need to respond to the pandemic. And the disruptions to the global economy has led some to question whether an agreement with Europe still makes sense for Britain.

Mujtaba Rahman, a former European Commission economist now at the political risk consulting firm, Eurasia Group, said, “The economy after the crisis is going to look fundamentally different than before the crisis, and the government wants a freer hand in reshaping that economy.”

And with Mr. Johnson under fire for his chaotic handling of the virus, the compromises he would have to make with Brussels might be too great for his embattled government.

But, to the disappointment of some health care experts, the W.H.O. did not budge from its previous recommendations for medical workers, saying that respirator masks are only needed if such workers are involved in procedures that generate virus-laden aerosols — droplets smaller than 5 microns.

Ideas for apps to track the virus abound, but there are trade-offs.

Each case takes about 90 minutes, according to George Rutherford, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco who is leading training of 10,000 California contact tracers. Tracers spend 60 minutes interviewing a person who tests positive and 30 minutes to call or send texts to all the people the sick person remembers being in contact with.

The audience of one arrives with no knowledge about the music that awaits him or her, or the performer or instrument that will provide it. The person simply is asked to sit down opposite the musician, and to lock eyes with the player for 60 seconds.

Then the musician plays for 10 minutes — sometimes squeezing in two or three pieces. They tend to arrive having rehearsed a handful of potential pieces, but change the final selection for each performance. Ms. Brusdeylins was subsequently treated to part of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1.

Finally, the concertgoer stands up and leaves without applauding, usually wordlessly. There is no ticket fee, but attendees can donate instead to a fund for freelance musicians left without an income by the crisis.

Pandemic lockdowns have given nature a breather around the world, bringing animals to unexpected places. Cougars toured the deserted streets of Santiago, the Chilean capital. Wild boars have strolled through the lanes of Haifa, Israel. Fish catches off Vietnam are teeming again.

In Thailand, Khao Yai National Park, the country’s oldest, has been closed to human visitors for the first time since it opened in 1962. The upshot? Its 300 or so elephants have been able to roam freely, venturing onto paths once packed with humans.

With few cars around, the elephants, the park’s dominant species, stroll along roads, chomping on foliage without needing to retreat to dangerous corners of the forest where cliffs meet waterfalls. Rarely spotted animals, like the Asian black bear or the gaur, the world’s largest bovine, have emerged, too.

“The park has been able to restore itself,” said Chananya Kanchanasaka, a national park department veterinarian. “We are excited to see the animals are coming out.”

The reprieve is notable in part because Thailand is a country where the bond with nature has long been framed as one of domination — as the jungle consuming people or vice versa.

Beyond the pillaging of its own rainforests, Thailand is a key way station on global wildlife trafficking routes, with horns, tusks and scales from as far away as Africa making their way to China.

Reporting was contributed by Jo Becker, Hannah Beech, Ben Casselman, Stephen Castle, Michael Cooper, Ellen Gabler, Dana Goldstein, Eileen Sullivan, Andrew Jacobs, Patrick Kingsley, Isabella Kwai, Mark Landler, Apoorva Mandavilli, Brent McDonald, Raphael Minder, Andy Newman, Richard C. Paddock, Roni Caryn Rabin, Nada Rashwan, Kaly Soto, Safak Timur, Declan Walsh, Noah Weiland, Mitch Smith, Danielle Ivory and Robert Gebeloff.



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