Covid-19 Live Updates: Michigan Governor Calls Trump Adviser’s Tweet Reckless as More...

Covid-19 Live Updates: Michigan Governor Calls Trump Adviser’s Tweet Reckless as More States and Cities Tighten Virus Rules


Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

The vitriolic reaction came swiftly after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan announced on Sunday evening that she was ordering the shutdown of some businesses and halting in-person learning at high schools and colleges in her state for three weeks to combat a rapid increase in coronavirus cases.

Some came from her usual opponents in the Republican-controlled State Legislature. Leaders of both the Senate and House repeated their complaints that Governor Whitmer, a Democrat, was making decisions on coronavirus restrictions without consulting them.

But when Dr. Scott Atlas, President Trump’s coronavirus adviser, wrote on Twitter Sunday night: “The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept,” Ms. Whitmer said the statement left her “breathless.”

“It’s just incredibly reckless, considering everything that has happened,” Ms. Whitmer told reporters Monday morning, alluding to an alleged right-wing terrorist plot against her. Fourteen people have been charged with planning to kidnap the governor and storm the state Capitol in Lansing over coronavirus shutdown orders.

Three hours after sending his “rise up” tweet on Sunday, Dr. Atlas walked it back, insisting that he “never was talking at all about violence,” but rather about peaceful protest.

The coronavirus has been exploding out of control across the United States in recent weeks, especially in the Great Lakes and Great Plains states. Michigan has recently averaged more than 6,600 new cases a day, five times as many as in early October, and hospitalizations and deaths have been climbing steeply as well.

The United States reported its 11 millionth confirmed case on Sunday, with a recent average of 150,000 new cases a day, and will probably reach 250,000 total deaths sometime this week. One million cases were recorded in the country over the past week alone. Cases are rising in 48 states.

In response, governors and mayors across the country are taking new steps to try and halt the unrelenting spread. In Chicago, a sweeping stay-at-home advisory went into effect on Monday. Philadelphia announced strict new rules starting Friday, banning indoor gatherings and cdining for the rest of the year. New Mexico is under a two-week lockdown, and North Dakota has imposed a new mask mandate. New Jersey has announced new limits on gatherings, effective Tuesday.

Experts like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, have warned that another 200,000 Americans could die of Covid-19 by spring if Americans do not more fully embrace public health measures, even if an effective vaccine is widely available soon. But such measures spurred anger and resentment in many places.

Ms. Whitmer’s first executive orders shutting down the state in April were met with large and raucous protests, which included armed protesters invading the state Capitol. Several men who were photographed in the State Senate gallery, dressed in camouflage and carrying military-style weapons, have since been charged in the kidnapping plot.

The governor’s action on Sunday prompted Representative Matt Maddock, a Republican state lawmaker from the Detroit suburbs, to take his frequent criticism of Ms. Whitmer a step further, saying he would try to remove her from office.

“Today, myself and a growing list of Michigan Legislators have decided that @GovWhitmer has crossed the line and will be calling for #ImpeachWhitmer hearings,” he wrote on Twitter Sunday. “The list of violations is long and the call is overdue.”

The restrictions the governor announced Sunday include closing indoor dining at restaurants and bars, shuttering casinos and movie theaters and restricting indoor gatherings.

“As hard as the first months were, the next few months are going to be even worse,” Ms. Whitmer said in her announcement. “We’re in the worst moment of the pandemic to date. We’re at the precipice and we need to take some action.”

Credit…Zoltan Balogh/EPA, via Shutterstock

Hungary and Poland on Monday blocked the European Union’s sprawling coronavirus stimulus package, protesting a provision that would withhold funding from member states that violate the bloc’s rule-of-law standards, an accusation regularly leveled against the two governments, which have spent years co-opting their nations’ judiciary systems.

The two countries, through their ambassadors to the E.U., said they would not approve of the mechanism to raise the 750 billion euros — roughly $890 billion — that would be used to fund recovery efforts in all of the 27 nations that are members of the union.

The move also threatened to derail the bloc’s long term budget, putting a total of 1.8 trillion euros on hold.

The bloc’s economies desperately need the cash: the E.U. is deep into the worst recession since the Second World War, and its poorer members especially rely on the communal funds to bolster their economies back into growth.

The move by Hungary and Poland highlighted the lengths to which the two nations are prepared to go to avoid scrutiny over their undemocratic practices at home, even if it means uniting the other 25 countries against them and deepening divisions in the bloc.

The systematic effort by the governing parties in Poland and Hungary to put their judicial systems under increasing political control has garnered widespread criticism from E.U. leaders, but it has rarely resulted in any real punishment.

The Hungarian and Polish governments said their opposition to linking matters related to their judicial systems to the recovery funds was a matter of national sovereignty and that they had been forced to take this step because they were being unfairly targeted by the other European Union members.

A frantic effort to unblock the funding will begin Tuesday, with hopes that an E.U. leaders’ teleconference on Thursday could force the two countries to change course. If instead, E.U. leaders choose to water down rule-of-law conditions for funding, it is likely the European Parliament, which needs to approve the final shape of the stimulus and budget bills, will block them.

Credit…Hans Pennink/Associated Press

The drugmaker Moderna announced on Monday that its coronavirus vaccine was 94.5 percent effective, based on an early look at the results from its large, continuing study.

Researchers said the results were better than they had dared to imagine. But the vaccine will not be widely available for months, probably not until spring.

Moderna is the second company to report preliminary data on an apparently successful vaccine that offers hope of reining in a surging pandemic that has infected more than 53 million people worldwide and killed more than 1.2 million. Pfizer, in collaboration with BioNTech, was the first, reporting more than 90 percent effectiveness one week ago.

Pfizer and Moderna were the first to announce early data on large studies, but 10 other companies are also conducting big Phase 3 trials in a global race to produce a vaccine, including efforts in Britain, China, Russia, India and Australia. More than 50 other candidates are in earlier stages of testing.

Researchers test vaccines by inoculating some study participants and giving others placebos, and then watching the two groups to see how many people get sick. In Moderna’s study, 95 people contracted Covid: five who were vaccinated, and 90 who received placebo shots of salt water. Statistically, the difference between the two groups was highly significant. And of the 95 cases, 11 were severe — all in the placebo group.

Moderna, based in Cambridge, Mass., developed its vaccine in collaboration with researchers from the Vaccine Research Center, part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the infectious disease institute, said in an interview, “I had been saying I would be satisfied with a 75 percent effective vaccine. Aspirationally, you would like to see 90, 95 percent, but I wasn’t expecting it. I thought we’d be good, but 94.5 percent is very impressive.”

Credit…Pool photo by Jeff Chen

Representative Don Young of Alaska, the longest-serving member of the House and its oldest member, said on Monday that he had been hospitalized over the weekend with the coronavirus but had since been discharged, as two other lawmakers also announced they had contracted the virus.

The trio of announcements underscored how, as the virus resurges across the country, it has also continued to affect members of Congress. Several more lawmakers were in quarantine on Monday after interacting with individuals who later tested positive.

“There has been much speculation in the media on my current condition, and I want Alaskans to know that their Congressman is alive, feeling better, and on the road to recovery,” Mr. Young, 87, said in a statement on Twitter.

Mr. Young, a Republican, had been publicly silent after announcing last week that he had tested positive for the virus, and complained in his statement about “speculation in the media that did not respect my privacy. He said he had been admitted to Providence Hospital in Anchorage for “treatment and monitoring,” without elaborating on the treatment he received or the symptoms he had experienced.

“Very frankly, I had not felt this sick in a very long time,” he said.

Minutes later, Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, the leader of House Democrats’ campaign arm, announced that she too had tested positive for the virus and was “experiencing mild symptoms” but still felt “well.”

And shortly after that, Representative Tim Walberg, Republican of Michigan, announced that he had the virus.

The three are the latest of two dozen or so members of Congress to test positive for the virus since the spring.

Only one other lawmaker, Representative Ben McAdams, Democrat of Utah, 45, has publicly disclosed being hospitalized as a result of contracting the virus.

Global Roundup

Credit…Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Seven months after he battled a serious case of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain announced on Sunday that he was quarantining after coming into contact with a lawmaker later found to be infected.

Mr. Johnson’s office said in a statement that he felt fine and was showing no symptoms.

Experts say it is still too early to know how long immunity to the coronavirus lasts, but reinfection with the virus is thought to be very rare for at least many months after the first illness.

Mr. Johnson went into isolation after the National Health Service’s test-and-trace program contacted him and said he had been exposed to the coronavirus. On Thursday, he spent about half an hour with a member of Parliament who tested positive after feeling ill.

Other than isolating himself, Mr. Johnson is conducting business as usual, officials said. “He will carry on working from Downing Street, including on leading the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic,” his office’s statement said.

The prime minister had a close call with the virus in April, when he was hospitalized and spent three days in intensive care.

Mr. Johnson has been accused repeatedly of taking a lackadaisical approach to the pandemic, but when he emerged from the hospital he appeared chastened.

In an emotional five-minute video, Mr. Johnson thanked the country’s National Health Service, declaring it had “saved my life, no question.”

Over three months in the summer, the portion of people in Britain with detectable antibodies to the coronavirus fell by about 27 percent. Experts say it’s normal for levels of antibodies to drop after the body clears an infection. However, when needed, immune cells already carry a memory of the virus and can churn out fresh antibodies.

In other developments around the world:

  • Five employees at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva have recently tested positive for the virus, the organization said in a statement on Monday. It is unclear if they were infected on the W.H.O. campus. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 65 staff members stationed in Geneva have tested positive for the coronavirus — 49 of them in the last eight weeks, amid Europe’s second wave of virus cases, the agency said.

  • Sweden will reduce the limit on public gatherings to eight people from 300, as part of a new approach that runs counter to the country’s previously lax virus restrictions. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said during a news conference on Monday that the tighter restrictions would last for at least four weeks and were the “new norm” for the country. “Don’t go to the gym. Don’t go to the library. Don’t have dinners. Don’t have parties. Cancel,” he said.

  • India will fly doctors into the region around New Delhi, double the number of tests it carries out and ensure that people wear masks, in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus in the capital, officials said on Sunday, according to Reuters. “Delhi has witnessed a huge surge in daily active cases which is likely to worsen over next few weeks,” the health minister, Harsh Vardhan, said in a tweet.




‘More People May Die, If We Don’t Coordinate,’ Biden Says

On Monday, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. delivered a briefing on his economic agenda, focusing on his plans for unveiling a vaccine and fighting the coronavirus.

We all agreed that we want to get the economy back on track. We need our workers to be back on the job by getting the virus under control. We’re going into a very dark winter. Things are going to get much tougher before they get easier. That requires sparing no effort to fight Covid so that we can open our businesses safely, resume our lives and put this pandemic behind us. It’s going to be difficult, but it can be done. When we build back better we’ll do so with higher wages, including a $15 minimum wage nationwide, better benefits, stronger collective bargaining rights — that you can raise a family. That’s how we build back the middle class better than ever. That’s how we make sure workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. More people may die if we don’t coordinate. Look, as my chief of staff Ron Klain would say — who handled Ebola — the vaccine is important. It’s of little use until you’re vaccinated. So how do we get the vaccine? How do we get over 300 million Americans vaccinated? What’s the game plan? It’s a huge, huge, huge undertaking to get it done, prioritize those greatest in need, working our way through it and also cooperate with the World Health Organization and the rest of the world in dealing with this.

Video player loading
On Monday, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. delivered a briefing on his economic agenda, focusing on his plans for unveiling a vaccine and fighting the coronavirus.CreditCredit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. warned that a “very dark winter” was ahead and called on Congress to pass an economic stimulus package immediately to help workers struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

In his first economic address since winning the election this month, Mr. Biden said he supported a national mask mandate to help curb the rise of the virus and that Congress should provide trillions of dollars in fiscal support to workers, businesses and state and local governments.

“For millions of Americans who’ve lost hours and wages or have lost jobs, we can deliver immediate relief and it need be done quickly,” Mr. Biden said. “Congress should come together and pass a Covid relief package” along the lines of the $3 trillion bill that House Democrats passed earlier this year.

Mr. Biden said that combating the virus remained the most urgent matter, however, and called on President Trump to begin the transition process quickly.

“More people may die, if we don’t coordinate,” he said.

Mr. Biden also said that he wanted to see a mask mandate in the United States, reiterating his request for state and local officials to require citizens to wear face coverings as cases surge during the cold winter months. Aiming fire at the Trump administration, he criticized the president and his advisers for attacking leaders of states like Michigan who have imposed new restrictions on businesses to contain rising case numbers.

“What the hell’s the matter with these guys?” Mr. Biden said. “It’s totally irresponsible.”

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, speaking before Mr. Biden, said they were focused on “opening this economy responsibly and rebuilding it so it works for working people.”

Earlier on Monday, Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris spoke with business and union leaders to discuss the recovery, including Mary Barra, the chief executive of General Motors; Sonia Syngal, the chief executive of Gap; Satya Nadella, the head of Microsoft; Richard Trumka of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and Rory Gamble, president of the United Auto Workers.

“They represent very different perspectives, but I’m convinced we can all come together around the same table to advance areas of common ground,” Mr. Biden said. He underscored the importance of unity between business leaders and unions and said that unions would have more power under his watch.

Mr. Biden said he supported a robust stimulus package such as the $3 trillion bill that House Democrats passed earlier this year, and he insisted that funding for states and cities needs to be included in such legislation. The president-elect said that sick leave and money for child care were also priorities, arguing that people should not have to choose between working and caring for others.

His speech came at a perilous moment for the recovery.

Credit card data and other indicators suggest that consumers began to pull back spending this month as infection, hospitalization and death rates from the virus surge nationwide. States have begun to impose new restrictions on economic activity in an effort to tamp down the spread.

But stock markets were rising again on Monday, encouraged by news that Moderna’s vaccine for the virus appears to be highly effective.

Still, widespread distribution of a vaccine that would allow Americans to resume anything close to normal levels of travel, dining out and other types of spending on services that have been crushed by the pandemic is likely months away.

Economists continue to call for a new and immediate round of aid from Congress to help people and businesses weather the difficult time before the rebound is complete.

Credit…Amy Sancetta/Associated Press

The N.C.A.A. will consolidate its usually sprawling men’s college basketball tournament to a single city in 2021 instead of holding the games at 13 sites across the United States, in hopes of limiting travel during the pandemic.

The N.C.A.A. announced Monday that it was in preliminary talks with local and state government officials to have Indianapolis host the 68-team Division I men’s tournament, the centerpiece of what hoops fans affectionately call March Madness.

The men’s basketball committee that oversees the tournament determined that a singular location would be more conducive to the “safety and well-being” of the event.

The tournament is usually spread throughout the country in March and April. The 2020 men’s and women’s tournaments were among the first major sporting events in the United States to be canceled as the pandemic took hold in March.

The Final Four was already scheduled for April 3-5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, the city where the N.C.A.A. is headquartered.

The committee is not currently conversing with representatives from other cities, said the N.C.A.A. press officer, David Worlock, but he noted that could change. Officials are not planning to hold the entire tournament at a single, highly restricted site.

“We can’t operate in a bubble like, for example, the N.B.A. did this year with its postseason, though we will have similar protocols in place to protect the health and safety of those involved,” he said.

Discussions concerning the Division I women’s basketball tournament are continuing, said Lynn Holzman, the N.C.A.A.’s vice president for women’s basketball. That tournament generally uses more sites than the men’s tournament, with 16 teams hosting first- and second-round games that feed into regional sites and eventually the Final Four, which is scheduled for April 2-4 in San Antonio, Texas.

Credit…Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Philadelphia will enact new restrictions in an attempt to stem rapidly rising case numbers, including banning indoor gatherings and shifting high schools and colleges to remote learning for the remainder of the year, Mayor Jim Kenney announced at a news conference on Monday.

“There is no doubt these changes are necessary,” Mr. Kenney said. “I believe we will get through this if we act with urgency, like we did in the spring.”

Dr. Thomas Farley, Philadelphia’s health commissioner, said the virus was spreading among households, at social gatherings, in nursing homes and at care facilities.

“The bottom line is this: If we don’t do something to change the trajectory of this epidemic, the hospitals will become full, they’ll have difficulty treating people, and we’ll have between several hundred and a thousand deaths by just the end of this year,” Dr. Farley said.

Public and private indoor gatherings involving people from different households are banned entirely; outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people for every 1,000 square feet of space. No food or drink can be served at outdoor gatherings, so that masks can be worn at all times, Dr. Farley said.

The order also bans indoor dining at restaurants, and restricts outdoor dining to four people per table, who must be from the same household. Retail stores and religious centers are allowed to remain open, but are limited to 5 people per 1,000 square feet, or 5 percent of maximum occupancy.

Youth, community and school sports will be canceled. College sports will be allowed to continue, but without spectators. Only employees who cannot work remotely will be allowed to work in offices. Many other indoor facilities, including gyms, libraries and museums, will be closed.

Child care facilities can remain open. Last week, Philadelphia’s school district announced that virtual learning would continue indefinitely, reversing an earlier decision that would have brought students back to the classroom this month.

The restrictions will take effect on Friday and extend until Jan. 1. While officials acknowledged that the ban on private gatherings will not be enforced, they urged residents to comply.

Philadelphia has averaged more than 700 new cases a day in the last two weeks, according to a Times database, and has had more than 52,000 cases since the pandemic began in March, and 1,935 deaths.

Credit…Stephanie Keith for The New York Times

Tourism in New York City will need at least four years to recover from the free-fall triggered by the pandemic, according to a new forecast from the city’s tourism promotion agency, a somber assessment that reflects the major obstacles to the city’s economic recovery.

The return of international visitors, who stay longer and spend much more than domestic visitors, will be even slower, the agency forecasts.

“It’s going to be a very slow build initially,” said Fred Dixon, the chief executive of the agency, NYC & Company.

The industry is critical to the city, providing as many as 400,000 jobs and drawing $46 billion in annual spending, by NYC & Company’s estimates. Its wipeout has devastated several sectors of the economy, including hotels, restaurants and Broadway theaters.

Mr. Dixon said the rebound hinges on the distribution of an effective vaccine, which public health officials have said could happen by late spring or early summer. Until then, the flow of visitors will remain at a trickle, he said.

New York drew a record 66.6 million visitors in 2019 and was on pace for even more this year, Mr. Dixon said. NYC & Company estimates that 12 million people visited the city this year before the shutdown and the total in the ensuing nine months may reach only 10 million, a figure that includes all of the nurses and other essential workers who arrived in response to the coronavirus crisis.

In the city, coronavirus infections have continued to rise. On Friday, 75,000 people were tested — the highest number of tests in a single day, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio. The city recorded 1,057 positive virus tests the next day; Mr. de Blasio contributed the uptick in cases in part to the large testing that occurred. The citywide seven-day average positive rate is 2.77, as of Monday.

Credit…Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times

With the drugmakers Moderna and Pfizer both announcing strong data from clinical trials, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to soon review safety and efficacy data for what may be the first Covid-19 vaccine in the United States, in hopes of immunizing some Americans soon after.

But about a half-dozen states and the District of Columbia have planned an extra layer of scrutiny: committees that would vet any vaccine reviewed by the F.D.A., a step many public health experts and officials deem unnecessary given a federal review process they describe as meticulous.

The committees — most of them in states led by Democratic governors — are in part a response to the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic and concerns that political considerations would influence vaccine approvals.

“The people of this country don’t trust this federal government with this vaccine process,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said in September when announcing his state’s vaccine committee.

The reviews are intended to help persuade a hesitant public to get shots once they are approved. Recent polls show that between a third and half of Americans would be reluctant to get a coronavirus vaccine.

But some health officials and experts worry that the state reviews could instead create inconsistency and sow doubt about a crucial tool in stopping the global contagion.

Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said state leaders were undermining the expertise of the F.D.A., which he called the “most rigorous organization in the world.”

“We want shots in arms within 24 hours,” Mr. Mango said at a news briefing last month for Operation Warp Speed, the federal effort to secure a vaccine. “Any delay that the state wants to impose will be a delay in getting its citizens — its most vulnerable citizens — vaccines. We think it is actually counterproductive for them to talk about this.”

The tension between states and the federal government illustrates a heightened politicalization of vaccines and their approvals, a process routinely accepted by physicians and public health departments across the country.

Credit…Ariana Drehsler for The New York Times

At the Marine Corps basic training facility in San Diego, recruits are taught that every weapon must be clean enough to eat with, every bed must have exact creases, every bootlace must be flawless.

And now, every face must wear a mask.

The military can’t work from home, so when the coronavirus pandemic hit, leaders decided they had no choice but to fight through it. Nowhere is that harder than at basic training installations like Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, where hundreds of new recruits from around the country arrive each week.

A few missteps early on led to quarantines, but since then a strict but simple strategy of hygiene and social distancing has been strikingly successful at keeping the virus out of the ranks: As of Saturday, the Marine Recruit Depot had no known cases.

The U.S. military as a whole has had only 777 Covid-19 hospitalizations so far since the pandemic began, out of 1.3 million active-duty troops — and only nine have died.

Marine recruits spend their first two weeks quarantining in a hotel, doing mandatory exercise in their rooms. After that, their interactions with the outside world are strictly limited. They eat, sleep and train in isolated platoons so the virus can be contained if an outbreak does occur.

“It’s not that hard — it’s discipline,” said Nelson Santos, a drill instructor. “Just follow instructions, attention to detail. Wash your hands, wear a mask. Don’t go anywhere you don’t need to.”

The precautions have also sharply reduced the incidence of other diseases among recruits, like influenza. Military leaders say they plan to retain many of the new safety practices even after the pandemic recedes.

Credit…Mark Ralston/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Navajo Nation on Monday reinstated a stay-at-home order for the next three weeks after health officials warned of “uncontrolled spread” of Covid-19 in dozens of communities across the vast reservation.

The move on the country’s largest tribal reservation points to one of the most aggressive efforts anywhere in the United States to fight the coronavirus.

After a devastating outbreak early in the pandemic, Navajo officials made inroads over the summer with vigorous mitigation efforts, only to face a resurgence in cases in recent weeks.

During the time the new order is in effect, residents must shelter in place, all roads in the Navajo Nation are closed to visitors and most government offices will be closed. Essential businesses such as gas stations and grocery stores are allowed to open, but only from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Myron Lizer, the vice president of the Navajo Nation, pleaded with citizens in a Facebook video to avoid driving to towns bordering the reservation, such as Farmington, N.M., and Winslow, Ariz., to reduce transmission risks.

“There are those who have been traveling abroad, going to our border towns for shopping and what not, buying hay, food, feed — one thing that we can do is limit that, maybe cut it in half,” Mr. Lizer said.

The Navajo Department of Health listed at least 34 communities at heightened risk of the virus, including places like Sheepsprings, Chichiltah and Tuba City. Officials said the reservation’s death toll from the virus stands at 602 after four new deaths were reported on Sunday, while the number of known cases has reached more than 13,300.

Credit…Justin Lane/EPA, via Shutterstock

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to reach record highs in the United States, nervous businesses are reacting by cutting services and tightening rules on mask mandates and purchase limits.

In the past week, an astonishing one million cases were recorded in the country, and states have responded to the growing crisis by enforcing stringent measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. News of Moderna’s encouraging results on a vaccine on Monday gave some relief to Wall Street investors, but business are bracing for what could be a long winter as strict lockdown orders are put into effect.

  • American Airlines slashed flights between the United States and London in December by about two-thirds as coronavirus cases surge on both sides of the Atlantic, threatening already anemic international travel. The schedule adjustment leaves just one daily American flight to London next month, out of Dallas, after the airline dropped limited service from New York, Chicago and Charlotte, N.C.

  • Kroger, the grocery chain, has started to limit items that were in high demand during earlier surges in the pandemic, including bath tissue, paper towels, disinfecting wipes and hand soap. Customers can purchase only two of each of those products. The policy, enacted earlier this month across all Kroger stores and its website, was put in place “to ensure all customers have access to what they need,’’ the company said in a statement.

  • Wegmans added new items to the list of products with purchase limits. As of this past weekend, customers at the regional grocery chain can buy only one package of facial tissues and two packages of napkins. Since the spring, the company has restricted other items that have been in short supply during the pandemic, including disinfecting wipes and toilet paper. There are also limits on antacids and Wegmans brand peanut butter. To prevent shortages, the company said, it had been working to “build up our own holiday and winter reserves, in our own warehouses as well as at our suppliers.”

  • On Monday, Costco began requiring all members, guests and employees at all locations to wear a face mask or face shield. Previously, members who could not wear a mask because a medical condition were exempt; now, they must wear a face shield if they cannot wear a mask. “This updated policy may seem inconvenient to some, however we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience,” Craig Jelinek, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement.

Credit…Lena Mucha for The New York Times

Chancellor Angela Merkel came to an agreement with Germany’s 16 state governors on Monday to recommend stricter virus protocols — but put off a decision on whether to prolong the country’s partial lockdown, which is set to expire at the end of the month.

The new — but nonbinding — recommendations focus on gatherings. Germans are being asked to limit their interactions to only one other household as much as possible. People with cold symptoms were also asked to quarantine, even if they had not been exposed to the virus.

“Every contact that can be avoided is a good one when it comes to the fight against the pandemic,” said Ms. Merkel in a news conference.

The daily tally of new cases has started to stabilize under the partial lockdown, which began two weeks ago. The rules outlined on Monday were designed to lower infections to such a point that authorities can efficiently track and trace new infections. The government also pledged to supply free FFP2 masks, similar to N95s, to people especially vulnerable to Covid infections.

Ms. Merkel acknowledged that the governors had pushed back on making the new recommendations legally binding. Stricter measures affecting schools, which remain open, were also dropped after the governors rejected a proposal from the federal government to cut class sizes by half.

She and the governors will meet again in a week to consider new binding rules, and whether the partial lockdown can be ended by the end of the month as planned.

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Japan became the latest major economy to bounce back from the devastation of the coronavirus, as lockdowns eased and pent-up demand led to surging domestic consumption and a rebound in exports.

But the recovery is unlikely to be long-lived, analysts warn, as a surge in new virus cases has led to a second round of lockdowns in the United States and Europe and threatens to dampen sentiment in Japan.

The country’s economy, the world’s third largest, surged 5 percent during the July-to-September period, for an annualized growth rate of 21.4 percent, after three straight quarters of contraction. The performance follows spurts of growth in the United States and China, the No. 1 and 2 global economies, after the initial hits caused by the pandemic.

Japan’s economy had contracted a revised 8.2 percent last quarter as the pandemic kept consumers home and devastated already weak demand for the country’s exports. The collapse in growth paralleled similarly disastrous numbers for most of the world’s major economies.

While the country appears to be on the road to recovery, severe economic damage remains, according to Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at the Meiji Yasuda Research Institute.

When the pandemic hit in February, Japan’s economy had already begun to shrink because of slumping demand from China, a tax increase on Japan’s consumers and a costly typhoon last October. That underlying weakness made it the first among major economies to fall into recession.

Japan declared a national emergency in mid-April, asking people to stay home and businesses to close, but by early summer case numbers had dropped to a few hundred a day nationwide, and life returned to something approaching normal.

Large government subsidies kept workers in their jobs and companies in business. To stimulate the service sector, officials provided discounts for those willing to travel and eat out.

Credit…Associated Press

A radical Islamic leader returned to Indonesia last week from self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia to spread his idea of a “moral revolution.” But health experts worry that he is doing more to spread the coronavirus.

The cleric, Rizieq Shihab, and his backers have held gatherings after his arrival Tuesday that attracted thousands of people, including a chaotic welcome at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport that clogged airport roads and the international terminal.

The events ignored social-distancing requirements and limits on the size of gatherings. They also demonstrated the influence of Mr. Rizieq, the founder of the Islamic Defenders Front, which was once best known for raiding bars and smashing alcohol bottles.

Mr. Rizieq, who claims to be a descendant of Muhammad, has maintained a large following despite fleeing the country in 2017 while facing a pornography charge over salacious text messages with a woman who was not his wife. The charge has since been dropped.

Mr. Rizieq hosted a wedding for his daughter Saturday that drew about 10,000 guests. The government’s coronavirus task force, rather than ordering that the wedding be canceled, donated 20,000 masks and gallons of hand sanitizer for the event.

On Monday, two high-ranking police chiefs were fired for their mishandling of the events. Mr. Rizieq was fined about $3,500 on Sunday for flouting coronavirus regulations at the wedding — a token amount for him and his organization.

The police also announced that they would question Jakarta’s governor, Anies Baswedan, an ally of Mr. Rizieq, about his role in allowing the wedding to take place. The two met last week after the cleric’s return.

“I want to emphasize that the safety of the people is the highest law,” Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, said in a statement released after the chiefs’ firings were announced. “During this pandemic we have decided on social restrictions, including the dispersal of crowds.”

Mr. Rizieq, who apparently left Saudi Arabia because the government did not extend his residence permit, said he planned to travel around Indonesia promoting his ideas of strict adherence to Islam. The possibility that he could draw large crowds was another concern for health experts.

Indonesia, which has the world’s fourth-largest population, reports nearly half a million cases and more than 15,000 deaths, the worst record in East Asia.

On Friday, it hit a new daily high of 5,444 cases.

But health experts say that Indonesia’s testing is too limited and that it is missing far more cases of the virus than it finds.

Pandu Riono, an epidemiologist at the University of Indonesia, says the total could be 10 to 20 times higher than the official number, putting it at five million to 10 million cases.

Dicky Budiman, an Indonesian epidemiologist at Australia’s Griffith University, estimated that the total is at least three times higher, about 1.5 million cases.

“We are already experiencing a silent outbreak in the community,” Dr. Budiman said. “We will face a serious problem when the most vulnerable get this virus.”

Credit…Nic Antaya/Getty Images

In Chicago, a sweeping stay-at-home advisory goes into effect on Monday. Philadelphia is expected to announce new restrictions on movement later in the day. In-person classes for high school and college students in Michigan have been canceled.

From a statewide, two-week lockdown in New Mexico to a new mask mandate in North Dakota, governors and mayors across the United States are taking increasingly stringent steps to slow the coronavirus after a staggering one million cases were recorded in the country over the past week alone. Cases are rising in 48 states.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, said on Sunday that 200,000 more people could die by spring if Americans did not more fully embrace public health measures, even with an effective vaccine.

As President Trump has refused to concede the election, Dr. Fauci said health officials had not begun working with the transition team for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. He also said Mr. Trump had not attended a meeting of his coronavirus task force in “several months.”

Dr. Fauci’s warning came as more states announced new measures to limit the spread of the virus.

Michigan will suspend all in-person learning for college and high school students and indoor dining for three weeks, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. Other indoor gathering places, like casinos and movie theaters, must also close as part of the order, which takes effect Wednesday.

“This is the worst public health emergency our nation has faced in over a century, and our response has got to reflect the same level of urgency,” Ms. Whitmer said on Sunday as she announced new restrictions.

Dr. Scott W. Atlas, Mr. Trump’s coronavirus adviser, responded to the news of Michigan’s tighter restrictions in a tweet, writing, “The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept.”

Dr. Atlas, a radiologist, is not an epidemiologist or an infectious disease expert. He has made contrarian arguments, including that the science of mask wearing is uncertain.

In October, officials in Michigan revealed a plot to abduct Ms. Whitmer, who has been the subject of criticism from right-wing protesters for earlier measures she imposed to try to control the virus.

Ms. Whitmer’s announcement came just after Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington said he was ordering fitness facilities and restaurants to stop serving customers indoors, shutting down museums and limiting retail stores to 25 percent of capacity indoors.

As new cases in New Jersey hit a sobering new high over the weekend, with nearly 9,000 reported infections over two days, Gov. Philip D. Murphy announced new gathering limits, bringing the state more in line with New York and Connecticut. No more than 10 people can gather indoors, effective at 6 a.m. Tuesday, down from 25. Outdoor gatherings should not exceed 150 people, starting next Monday. “Particularly with the holidays coming up, we’ve got to plead with people to not let their hair down,” Mr. Murphy said on Monday in an interview with MSNBC.

The governors’ announcements and blunt assessments echoed the stark warnings of Dr. Michael Osterholm, an adviser to Mr. Biden who said the virus was the most dangerous public health crisis since the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed an estimated 50 million worldwide, including some 675,000 Americans.

“My worst fear is we will see what we saw happening in other countries, where people were dying on the streets,” Dr. Osterholm said on the NBC program “Meet the Press.” “The health care system is breaking, literally breaking.”

Credit…Rebecca Cook/Reuters

As coronavirus cases surge in almost every part of the United States, researchers say the country is fast approaching what could be a significant tipping point — a pandemic so widespread that every American knows someone who has been infected. But, as reflected in the polarized response to the virus, the public remains deeply divided about how and whether to fight it, and it is unclear whether seeing friends and relatives sick or dead will change that.

Many who have seen people close to them seriously affected say they are taking increased precautions. Others, though, are focusing on how most people recover and are shrugging off the virus, and calls for concerted efforts to combat it.

The alarming numbers in the United States — the highest case numbers and death toll in the world — underscore a reality found in small towns, big cities and suburbs alike: The coronavirus has become personal.

Researchers estimate that nearly all Americans have someone in their social circle who has had the virus. About a third of the population knows someone who has died from the virus, researchers say. But not everyone is hunkering down in fear or taking precautions as simple as wearing a mask.

Nearly 2.2 million Americans have lost a close family member to Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, research has shown, with troubling emotional and financial effects for children, widows and parents. Kristin Urquiza, 39, of San Francisco, said she continues to have nightmares about her father’s death from the disease in late June in Arizona. Rosie Davis, a skin laser technician in Carrollton, Texas, has been attending remote grieving classes since her mother died in May at a hospital.

“I will never have closure because I was not able to be next to her when she passed,” Ms. Davis said.

Source link