The Latest on Covid-19: Live Updates – The New York Times

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Thousands attend a Trump rally indoors as others ask why he played down the virus threat.

President Trump on Sunday held a campaign rally indoors for the first time since late June, when he appeared at an event in Tulsa, Okla., that was later blamed for a surge in coronavirus cases in the area. The rally on Sunday night, held at a manufacturing plant outside Las Vegas in defiance of a state directive limiting indoor gatherings to under 50 people, was attended by thousands of the president’s supporters, the vast majority of whom did not wear masks.

Steve Sisolak, the Democratic governor of Nevada, said on Twitter that Mr. Trump was “taking reckless and selfish actions” that endangered the lives of people in the state. “This is an insult to every Nevadan who has followed the directives, made sacrifices and put their neighbors before themselves,” he said. “It’s also a direct threat to all of the recent progress we’ve made, and could potentially set us back.”

The Trump campaign had vetted several outdoor venues, but they were all blocked by the governor, according to an administration official familiar with the planning. Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman, defended the indoor setting, saying in a statement, “If you can join tens of thousands of people protesting in the streets, gamble in a casino, or burn down small businesses in riots, you can gather peacefully under the First Amendment to hear from the president of the United States.”

Earlier in the day, White House and Republican officials struggled to respond to sharp questioning by Sunday morning news show hosts about why Mr. Trump knowingly played down the coronavirus in the crucial early months of the pandemic, as revealed by the journalist Bob Woodward in his new book, “Rage.”

The White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro, claimed on the CNN program “State of the Union” that “nobody knew” how dangerous the virus was at the time the president spoke to Mr. Woodward in February and March. In fact, Mr. Navarro himself wrote a memo in late January warning Trump administration officials that the virus could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans at risk of illness or death.

Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, provided a different defense of the president, saying that Mr. Trump had understood the serious threat the virus posed by early February, but was “calm and steady and methodical” because he did not want to cause a panic.

The host, Chuck Todd, characterized the president’s defenders as saying, “You don’t yell fire if you’re in a crowded movie theater.”

“It’s true,” he said. “But you do if the theater is actually on fire.”

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under Mr. Trump, suggested on the CBS program “Face the Nation” that the president may have chosen to underplay the seriousness of the virus in part because he was getting bad information early on from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health agencies.

“I had a lot of conversations with the White House over this time period because I was concerned it was spreading,” Dr. Gottlieb said, “and they were telling me over and over they were hearing from top officials from the agencies that they were pretty confident it wasn’t spreading here.”

In an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday night, Mr. Woodward discussed interviews he recorded with the president. He said Mr. Trump was warned about the danger at a Jan. 28 meeting by a deputy national security adviser, Matthew Pottinger.

“Pottinger said his contacts in China told him, ‘This is going to be like the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that killed 675,000 people in this country,’” Mr. Woodward said.

Scientists are alarmed by companies’ secrecy around vaccine clinical trials.

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Independent scientists and public health experts are criticizing vaccine companies for a lack of public transparency, and particularly their refusal to release their criteria for deciding whether to stop a trial for safety concerns.

The outcry grew after news that AstraZeneca’s chief executive had disclosed the reason his company recently halted its vaccine trial — a subject given the vaccine experienced serious neurological symptoms — at a closed meeting organized by J.P. Morgan, the investment bank.

AstraZeneca said on Saturday that an outside panel had cleared its trial in Britain to begin again, but the company still has not given any details about the test subject’s medical condition. And it has not released a transcript of the executive’s remarks to investors, which were reported by the news outlet STAT and later confirmed by an analyst for J.P. Morgan.

Another front-runner in the vaccine race, Pfizer, made a similarly terse announcement on Saturday: The company wants to expand its clinical trial to include thousands more participants, but it gave few other details about its plan.

Critics say American taxpayers are entitled to know more since the federal government has committed billions of dollars to vaccine research and to buying the vaccines once they’re approved.

Greater transparency could also help bolster faltering public confidence in vaccines at a time when a growing number of Americans fear President Trump will pressure federal regulators to approve a vaccine before it is proved safe and effective.

“Trust is in short supply,” said Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist and health care researcher at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., who has spent years prodding companies and academic researchers to share more trial data with outside scientists. “And the more that they can share, the better off we are.”

A refugee camp in Greece on virus lockdown was burned to the ground. Now officials are trying again.

It was Europe’s largest refugee camp. Its squalid conditions made it one of the most notorious. Then the virus found its way in.

If the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos was a tinderbox, the virus was the spark.

When the authorities tried to quarantine the residents to contain the outbreak, a small group of asylum seekers, angry that their living situations were about to get even worse, began setting blazes, officials and aid workers say.

Now, with the camp destroyed, some 8,000 adults and 4,000 children, among them hundreds of infants, are stranded without shelter or sanitation.

“We escaped from fire, but everything is black,” said Mujtaba Saber, sitting on a thin blanket spread on a street, next to his napping 3-year-old son. His 20-day-old baby slept nearby in her mother’s arms.

The Times’s Matina Stevis-Gridneff, who is on Lesbos, reports that the Greek army has been setting up tents for a new camp. The authorities said they hoped to relocate the migrants, nearly two-thirds of whom are Afghans, into 2,000 tents over the next few days.

For now, they’ve been sleeping on tombstones and on the side of the road, in parking lots and among dried weeds on the hillsides. Some have pitched makeshift tents with bamboo poles and blankets. They’ve used the few clothes they have to make mattresses so their babies don’t sleep on tarmac.

“I think sleeping on the street is bad, but Moria is bad-bad,” said Mahbube Ahzani, 15, who had been in the camp with her family for 10 months. But what will be worse, she said, is the “new Moria.”

A record surge in new cases has hit the Midwest.

Credit…Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen, via Associated Press

As cases fall in most parts of the United States, they are on the rise in the Midwest, prompting alarm in places that had until now avoided the worst of the pandemic.

“Our community is experiencing its first sustained, significant surge of illness since this terrible pandemic began,” said Joe Parisi, the county executive in Dane County, Wis., which includes Madison. “We will have some incredibly difficult and sad weeks ahead if we don’t rally together now and stop this deeply disturbing trend.”

Through Friday, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri and Iowa had added more recent cases per capita than all other states.

Case numbers are not the only sign of trouble. Testing positivity rates, which measure the percent of positive findings among all people tested, are high across much of the Great Plains, a sign of uncontrolled spread and insufficient monitoring.

The rise of infection in the Midwest is different from what New York experienced in March or South Texas in July. So far, hospitalizations have not spiked. Morgues have not been overrun. Lockdowns have not been ordered.

Young adults, who often have milder cases of the virus, are helping to drive the current surge. Thousands of infections have been linked to Midwestern universities, some of which have struggled to enforce social distancing rules.

“We knew this was coming,” said Mayor Brandon Bochenski of Grand Forks, N.D., where more than 600 infections — or roughly one of every 24 cases in the state — have been linked to the University of North Dakota.

“If we could control college students,” the mayor said, “we would have figured that out about 200 years ago. We did the best we could.”

Many cases across several states have also been linked to a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., which attracted thousands of people from around the country. Hundreds of people were infected at a jail in Wichita, Kan. And in parts of rural Iowa and North Dakota, case numbers have risen with no obvious link to a college.

As Britain’s surge gains ground, a government adviser urges action to prevent ‘exponential growth.’

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Infections in Britain have reached levels not seen since May, leading a member of the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group to warn that the country will have to act fast.

“I think everyone is in agreement that we really need to act very quickly now in order to prevent this from growing exponentially,” the adviser, Professor Peter Openshaw, told Sky News.

He warned that failure would send the country “right back in hard lockdown in short order.”

In an effort to curtail the virus’s spread, the British government dropped the limit on the number of people allowed to meet to six from 30, as of Monday.

Despite various costly mistakes made in rolling out testing systems and contact tracing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has at various points in the pandemic boasted of Britain’s performance. Recently, Mr. Johnson introduced “Operation Moonshot,” a plan for mass testing that aims to carry out 10 million tests a day — enough to test each individual in the country once a week — by early next year, at a cost of $130 billion.

But the current testing rate falls far below that.

The government says it has processed about 200,000 coronavirus tests each day in the past week, and officials claim testing capacity is the highest to date. However, people all over England have reported that they cannot obtain tests in their local areas or have been asked to travel hundreds of miles to be tested. A spokeswoman from the Department of Health acknowledged in a statement that there was significant demand for tests.

The Sunday Times reported that Britain’s laboratories are so overstretched that there is a backlog of 185,000 swabs, and the country is sending swabs to laboratories abroad to be processed.

Other European countries are also seeing an increase in cases.

France has reported a record daily increase, with 10,561 cases newly diagnosed and a rise in the number of people admitted to hospitals and intensive care. Spain and the Czech Republic have also had new outbreaks.


Israel is heading back into a nationwide lockdown.

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Israel will be returning to a nationwide lockdown for at least three weeks, starting on Friday, the eve of the Jewish New Year holiday.

The public sector and some private businesses will continue to work under tight limitations, and citizens will only be allowed to move within 500 yards of their homes. Schools, which reopened for the new school year on Sept. 1, will also close on Friday for the duration of the lockdown. No decision has been made yet on whether the airport will remain open to international travel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the drastic and unpopular measures in a televised address on Sunday evening after Israel’s per capita coronavirus infection rate rose to among the highest in the world. More than 1,100 people in the country have died from the virus.

The announcement, which came barely four months after the country emerged from the last lockdown, was the clearest sign yet of the government’s failure to contain the spread of the virus.

Earlier Sunday, an ultra-Orthodox minister resigned from Israel’s government over the lockdown plans. Yaakov Litzman, the minister of housing and construction, was furious that it was coinciding with Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the day of fasting and atonement, and that worshipers would be allowed in synagogues only in limited numbers.

Dr. Ronni Gamzu, the country’s virus czar, argued that a lockdown over the Jewish holidays would do less economic damage and would prevent large family gatherings where the virus could spread. But Mr. Litzman said the government had delayed acting earlier for fear of spoiling Israelis’ summer vacation plans.

Mr. Netanyahu said Dr. Gamzu and other health professionals had “raised a red flag,” warning of a jump in the number of serious cases and deaths, of hospital teams becoming worn out and of the double danger of the virus and influenza that winter would bring.

Other developments around the world:

  • New Zealand is likely to end coronavirus restrictions across the country on Sept. 21, with the exception of its largest city, Auckland, where an outbreak occurred last month. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that current alert levels would be maintained for another week and then be lowered if case numbers stayed the same. She also said physical distancing rules on planes and other public transportation would be dropped immediately, allowing more passengers to travel at the same time, though they are still required to wear masks. New Zealand reported one new case on Monday linked to the Auckland cluster, bringing the country’s total to 1,798.

  • India reported 92,071 new cases on Monday, the fifth consecutive day that new cases exceeded 90,000 in the country, according to a New York Times database. India has the world’s second-highest number of cases after the United States. On Monday, members of Parliament are gathering for a session with social-distancing precautions.

  • Ireland is backing a proposal that all E.U. countries adopt shared rules on international travel restrictions. If the measures are approved, Ireland’s quarantine requirements will be replaced with a focus on testing and a system rating countries from low to high risk. The initiative would require some travelers to be tested for the virus before entering Ireland, Prime Minister Micheal Martin told the state broadcaster, RTE, on Sunday.

  • Officials in South Korea said on Sunday that social-distancing measures would be eased in metropolitan Seoul for the next two weeks, even though daily new cases remain in the triple digits. The easing includes lifting a ban on on-site dining after 9 p.m. and reopening gyms and internet cafes. Stronger measures are to return on Sept. 28, ahead of the Chuseok fall harvest holiday, during which many people travel.

Ethiopia opens a test-kit factory in partnership with a Chinese company.

Credit…Pool photo by Michel Euler

Ethiopia, which has some of the highest numbers of virus cases and deaths in Africa, has formed a partnership with a Chinese company to increase testing capacity across the country.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed presided over the opening of a commercial test-kit production facility in the country’s capital that he said would produce kits for both the local market and for export, with a focus on African nations.

The facility — which is being run by BGI Health Ethiopia, a subsidiary of the genome sequencing company BGI Group based in Shenzhen, China — is also expected to provide laboratory services for travelers at Ethiopia’s Bole International Airport, one of the biggest and busiest airports in Africa.

Mr. Abiy said that after the pandemic the facility was expected to produce other types of testing kits for diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis. He also highlighted a field hospital in the country that can hold as many as 200 Covid-19 patients.

China has in recent years been extending its influence around the world, including in Africa, through commercial enterprise. Now the virus is offering new opportunities. The country has also used the promise of a vaccine as a diplomatic carrot to repair strained ties and bolster engagement, an effort that helps it project itself as a responsible player as the United States retreats from global leadership.

Although Ethiopia lags behind South Africa — the hardest-hit African country — it has so far reported more than 63,000 cases, with almost a thousand deaths, according to a New York Times database. Experts say those numbers are low for a nation with over 110 million people, and the authorities recently detected a rising number of cases after starting a testing campaign nationwide.

The collection of virus data in Texas has been inconsistent.

Credit…Christopher Lee for The New York Times

Inconsistencies and problems with data collection in Texas have clouded the picture of the pandemic’s trajectory in that state, the latest of many examples of how states’ reporting of data in real time has complicated efforts to understand the virus.

Texas has overlooked thousands of coronavirus cases, only to report them weeks after infection. It has made major adjustments to its case and death counts, defining them one way and then another, sometimes suddenly reporting figures for some counties that were vastly different from those posted by the local health department.

Other states have also grappled with data challenges, including glitches and backlogs in California and a debate over transparency in Florida. But Texas has been troubled by multiple issues.

Public health officials and researchers place the blame for the state’s data problems on Texas’ antiquated data systems and a reliance on faxed test results, which limit the state’s ability to track every infection and death in many of its 254 counties. They also say that the state’s decentralized structure — with many local governments, some of them tiny, running their own public health operations — is ill suited to coping with the crush of Covid-19.

“It’s a colossal undertaking, and because it’s happening in real time, there will inevitably be situations where we have to update or correct something,” said Chris Van Deusen, spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“Texas has these 57 strong, independent organizations that will do what they do,” he said, referring to the state’s local health departments. “That’s just the situation we’re in.”

Politics stall U.S. efforts to provide international pandemic aid, adding to evidence of White House interference.

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The coronavirus was spreading around the world, and officials at the United States Agency for International Development were anxious to rush humanitarian aid to nations in need. But first they had to settle a debate over branding on the packages.

Political appointees from the White House and the State Department wanted the aid agency’s logo affixed to all of the packages to show the world how much the United States was sending abroad, even as it grappled with its own outbreak.

Career employees at U.S.A.I.D. argued that the logo and other American symbols could endanger people who delivered or received the aid in countries that are hostile to the United States and where branding exceptions are usually granted.

At the end of the debate this spring, relief workers were allowed to distribute aid without the branding in a handful of countries in the Middle East and North Africa. But the discussion delayed assistance for several weeks to some of the world’s most vulnerable communities and served as a cautionary example of political intervention roiling an agency that prides itself as leading the humanitarian response to global disasters, conflict and other emergencies.

“As far back as I go, working on these programs, U.S.A.I.D. has really been an extraordinary, respected leader in global health and humanitarian responses,” said Representative Nita M. Lowey, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee. “To distort that mission is an insult, and it’s really outrageous to me.”

As President Trump campaigns for re-election and the virus has claimed more than 193,000 lives in the United States, evidence has been building of his administration’s interference across many agencies dealing with the virus crisis.

For instance, political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services repeatedly asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to revise, delay and even scuttle reports on the virus that they believed were unflattering to Mr. Trump.

And the president personally pressured the director of the National Institutes of Health to speed up the review of convalescent plasma as a treatment for Covid-19. Even though that agency’s vetting was not complete, Mr. Trump announced on the eve of the Republican National Convention that the F.D.A. had approved plasma therapy for wider use, and he vastly overstated what the data had shown about the benefits.

What will deter collegiate partying? British police try a £10,000 fine.

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As students return to colleges worldwide, eager to socialize after months under virus restrictions, they are paying a price for a previously common aspect of student life: parties.

In Britain, the police in recent days issued a fine of 10,000 pounds, or about $12,800, to a university student who had organized a party of more than 50 people at his off-campus housing. The fine — the maximum penalty possible for violating the country’s 30-person limit on gatherings — came as England and Wales prepared to sharply reduce the size of permitted gatherings to just six people, starting Monday.

In the United States, six Miami University students in a house near the campus in Oxford, Ohio, received citations with fines of $500 each over Labor Day weekend when they were found hosting a party at which many students present had tested positive for the virus.

Penalties for attending unlawful gatherings have been frequent, with 11 Northeastern University students dismissed for violating public health rules and hundreds of students at Ohio State University suspended, in addition to suspensions at Purdue University, Syracuse University and New York University.

Some institutions acknowledged that there would be little point in trying to clamp down on parties altogether. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a comprehensive plan to keep the virus under control factored into its model that the school’s more than 7,000 students would attend parties three times a week. What it did not calculate was that some would attend gatherings after testing positive.

Yet many are taking the virus restrictions seriously. Oxford University and other colleges have experimented with asking students to sign “responsibility agreements,” and Yale University set up hotlines for reports of risky activity.

Though many students have said the idea of blowing the whistle on their classmates makes them uncomfortable, more than 4,000 people signed a petition started by students to revoke the admission of a first-year student at Cornell University after she posted a video from a party mocking safety precautions.

Reporting was contributed by Christopher Cameron, Damien Cave, Abdi Latif Dahir, Tess Felder, Lazaro Gamio, Abby Goodnough, Lara Jakes, Jennifer Jett, Lisa Waananen Jones, Annie Karni, Isabel Kershner, Sarah Kliff, Dan Levin, Jennifer Medina, Eric Nagourney, Dan Powell, Roni Caryn Rabin, Anna Schaverien, Mitch Smith, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Kate Taylor, Katie Thomas, Pranshu Verma, Amy Schoenfeld Walker and Will Wright.


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