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Covid-19 Live Updates: Gun Violence Is Up as the Virus Hinders Programs to Stop It

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Credit…John Minchillo/Associated Press

Reported crime of nearly every kind has declined this year amid the pandemic. The exception to that has been stark and puzzling: Shootings and homicides are up in cities around the United States, perplexing experts who normally expect these patterns to trend together.

The president and others have blamed protests and unrest, the changing tactics of police officers, and even the partisan politics of mayors. But at least part of the puzzle may lie in sources that are harder to see (and politicize): The pandemic has frayed all kinds of institutions and infrastructure that hold communities together, that watch over streets, that mediate conflicts, that simply give young people something to do.

Schools, libraries, recreation centers and public pools have closed. Nonprofits, churches and sports leagues have scaled back. Mentors, social workers and counselors have been hampered by social distancing.

And programs devised to reduce gun violence — and that have proved effective in studies — have been upended by the pandemic. Summer job programs were cut this year. Violence intervention workers were barred from hospitals. Group behavioral therapy programs meant to be intimate and in-person have moved, often haltingly, online.

“This work is a pat on the shoulder, a touch on the hand, a handshake,” said Del McFadden, the director of the office of neighborhood safety and engagement for the District of Columbia. “All of those things are different now.”

Credit…Pool photo by Alexander Astafyev

European countries that have again restricted residents’ movement in an effort to contain a second wave of the coronavirus are confronting a lack of adherence to the new rules that the World Health Organization attributed to “pandemic fatigue.”

“Citizens have made huge sacrifices to contain Covid-19,” Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, the W.H.O.’s regional director for Europe, said in a statement to the news media on Tuesday. “It has come at an extraordinary cost, which has exhausted all of us, regardless of where we live, or what we do. In such circumstances it is easy and natural to feel apathetic and demotivated.”

Many have expressed their opposition to their countries’ restrictions through demonstrations. In Spain, where the capital Madrid has become the epicenter of a strong second wave, an initial selective lockdown brought out protesters and underscored the divisions between rich and poor.

In Germany, where cases are surging, thousands of people filled the streets over the weekend to protest the measures that have come into force.

Recognizing the apathy and backlash against some restrictions, Dr. Kluge recommended closer consultation with communities to understand their frustrations and said countries should be working with their citizens to form policies that will have their backing.

To combat the fatigue as the holiday season approaches, the W.H.O. advised balancing science, social and political needs and placing empathy at the heart of their approach.

Credit…Ken Cedeno/Reuters

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, are expected to continue negotiations over a new infusion of stimulus funds on Tuesday, following discussions a day earlier when the two agreed to exchange additional documents.

Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Mnuchin “discussed the justifications for various numbers” in a roughly hourlong phone call on Monday, before agreeing to exchange documents later, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi said.

Since approving nearly $3 trillion in economic relief this spring, Congress and the White House have failed to reach agreement on another package, despite widespread agreement that another round of relief is needed to maintain the country’s economic recovery.

Though talks all but collapsed in early August, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Mnuchin have resumed discussions in recent days as companies continue to furlough or lay off tens of thousands of Americans, and local governments, schools and industries across the country lobby for more congressional relief.

On the Senate side, the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, has been balancing competing interests among his fellow Republicans — some want a deal to bring home to constituents and others are worried about approving another large spending deal. Adding to the difficulties, the Senate has delayed its next sitting until Oct. 19, to account for positive coronavirus tests among Republican members.

Hanging in the balance are jobs and the economy. The longer people are out of the work, the harder it is for them to come back, suggesting that we may be entering a slow, grinding phase that puts the economy at risk for the indefinite future. There are still about twice as many people out of work now than before the pandemic. Without aid akin to what was in the first stimulus bill, weaker consumer spending, missed rent payments and other factors could ripple through the economy and the financial system.

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Trump Removes Mask Despite Coronavirus Infection

After President Trump arrived at the White House from the hospital on Monday, he climbed stairs to a balcony and took off his mask.

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After President Trump arrived at the White House from the hospital on Monday, he climbed stairs to a balcony and took off his mask.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Public health experts had hoped that President Trump, chastened by his own infection with the coronavirus and the cases that have erupted among his staff members, would act decisively to persuade his supporters that wearing masks and social distancing were essential to protecting themselves and their loved ones.

But instead, tweeting on Monday from the military hospital where he had been receiving state-of-the-art treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, the president yet again downplayed the deadly threat.

“Don’t be afraid of Covid,” he wrote. “Don’t let it dominate your life.”

The president’s comments drew outrage from scientists, ethicists and doctors, as well as from some people whose relatives and friends were among the more than 210,000 people who have died in the United States.

“I am struggling for words — this is crazy,” said Harald Schmidt, an assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania. “It is just utterly irresponsible.”

Fiana Garza Tulip, 40, who lives in Brooklyn and lost her mother to the virus, wrote in a text message that she was “reeling” after reading Mr. Trump’s tweet, which she described as a “slap in the face” and a “painful reminder that our president is unfit for office and that he does not care about human life.”

“My mom, a respiratory therapist, couldn’t get tested at her hospital where she worked, she had to look for two days for a testing site while feeling the effects of Covid, she didn’t want to go to a hospital because she said it was worse there and she didn’t want to call an ambulance because it was too expensive. So she stayed home for a week and lost her pulse as soon as the medics put her on a gurney.”

Shane Peoples, 41, whose parents, Darlene and Johnny Peoples, died of the coronavirus on the same day in September, said the president’s comments were frustrating.

“Is he actually trying to put more lives at risk?” Mr. Peoples said. “He needs to be held accountable for the deaths that could have been prevented if he never downplayed it.”

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical School in Tennessee, called the president’s message “dangerous” because it encouraged his followers to ignore basic recommendations to keep themselves safe.

“It will lead to more casual behavior, which will lead to more transmission of the virus, which will lead to more illness, and more illness will lead to more deaths,” Dr. Schaffner said.

Mr. Trump has often ignored the recommendations of public health experts, repeatedly mocking people for wearing masks, for example.

“I don’t wear masks like him,” he said of the Democratic presidential candidate, Joseph R. Biden Jr., at their debate in Cleveland last week. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”

Upon Mr. Trump’s return on Monday evening from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he climbed the steps of the White House, turned to face the TV cameras that were carrying the news live, and removed his mask.

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

After months of crowded events and often maskless encounters, a growing number of top government officials, including President Trump, and their close contacts have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The fault for the outbreak lies in no small part with an ill-conceived disease-prevention strategy at the White House, health experts said: From the early days of the pandemic, federal officials have relied too heavily on one company’s rapid tests, with little or no mechanism to identify and contain cases that fell through the diagnostic cracks.

“It seems the White House put all their eggs in one basket: testing,” said Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency medicine physician at Brown University. “But there is no single strategy, no single thing we can do to be safe. It has to be multimodal.”

Other health experts noted that the tests deployed by the White House, manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, were given emergency clearance by the Food and Drug Administration only for people “within the first seven days of the onset of symptoms.” But they were used incorrectly, to screen people who were not showing any signs of illness. Such off-label use, experts said, further compromised a strategy that presumably was designed to keep leading officials safe from a pandemic that so far has killed more than 210,000 Americans.

“It’s not being used for the intended purpose,” said Syra Madad, an infectious disease epidemiologist based in New York. “So there will be potentially a lot of false negatives and false positives.”

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the F.D.A., described these procedures as a misguided attempt at a “zero-fail testing protocol” in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, saying that officials “weren’t taking any precautions beyond testing people who are going to be in contact with the president.”

Although Abbott’s products are not cleared for asymptomatic testing, the company has told experts that it thinks such use is likely to pan out.

On Saturday evening, Andrea Wainer, Abbott’s executive vice president of rapid and molecular diagnostics, emailed a document to several public health experts containing preliminary results outlining the test’s performance in people without symptoms. Among an unspecified number of individuals, the test picked up about 88 percent of the infections found by laboratory P.C.R. tests, the company statement said.

“By studying the test in the asymptomatic people, Abbott knows it works in that population,” the document said. “It can’t say that for itself, because the test isn’t approved for that, but that data has been shared with others and the F.D.A. too.”

Credit…Federica Narancio/Associated Press

Top White House officials are blocking strict new federal guidelines for the emergency release of a coronavirus vaccine, objecting to a provision that would almost certainly guarantee that no vaccine could be authorized before the election on Nov. 3, according to people familiar with the approval process.

Facing a White House blockade, the Food and Drug Administration is seeking other avenues to ensure that vaccines meet the guidelines. That includes sharing the standards with an outside advisory committee of experts — perhaps as soon as this week — that is supposed to meet publicly before any vaccine is authorized for emergency use. The hope is that the committee will enforce the guidelines, regardless of the White House’s reaction.

The struggle over the guidelines is part of a monthslong tug of war between the White House and federal agencies on the front lines of the pandemic response. White House officials have repeatedly intervened to shape decisions and public announcements in ways that paint the administration’s response to the pandemic in a positive light.

That pattern has dismayed a growing number of career officials and political appointees involved in the administration’s fight against a virus that has killed more than 210,000 people in the United States.

The vaccine guidelines carry special significance: By refusing to allow the F.D.A. to release them, the White House is undercutting the government’s effort to reassure the public that any vaccine will be safe and effective, health experts fear.

“The public must have full faith in the scientific process and the rigor of F.D.A.’s regulatory oversight if we are to end the pandemic,” the biotech industry’s trade association pleaded on Thursday, in a letter to President Trump’s health secretary, Alex M. Azar II, asking for release of the guidelines.

GLOBAL ROUNDUP

Credit…Andrew Medichini/Associated Press

Italy’s government is considering making face masks mandatory outdoors all over the country to curb a steady increase in coronavirus cases, the country’s health minister, Roberto Speranza, told the Senate on Tuesday.

“Together with Germany, we are the country that is better withstanding the second wave,” Mr. Speranza said. “But we should not be misled. It would be deeply wrong to think that we are out of it.”

The Lazio region, which includes Rome, made face masks mandatory outdoors last week.

Mr. Speranza said cases had been growing for nine consecutive weeks across the country, and were not limited to one area as they were early in the pandemic, when Italy became the first European country to lock down in the face of a strong first wave in the northern regions. “Today, no region can feel not at risk,” he said.

For the moment, intensive care units are seeing a manageable number of Covid-19 cases. Patients are on average in their 40s, not their 70s, like in the spring.

In the southern region of Campania, mostly spared by the first wave, cases have been growing so rapidly in recent weeks that the regional president has limited business hours for bars and restaurants, which must close by 11 p.m. Other regions may consider similar measures.

The government is drafting “measures of prudence” for the next month, Mr. Speranza said. Soldiers and policemen will patrol the streets to prevent gatherings of people outdoors, while dance halls and nightclubs remain closed in Italy. The government is also considering limiting the number of guests allowed to attend private parties or ceremonies.

In other news from around the world:

  • A top World Health Organization official said Monday that about 10 percent of the world’s population may have already contracted the coronavirus. That estimate — which works out to about 760 million people — far exceeds the confirmed global caseload of about 35 million. “This varies depending on country, it varies from urban to rural, it varies between different groups,” the official, Dr. Mike Ryan, said at a special session of the agency’s executive board in Geneva. “But what it does mean is that the vast majority of the world remains at risk.” Another agency official said Monday that the 10 percent estimate had been calculated based on an average of antibody studies from around the world.

  • The leader of Scotland’s government, Nicola Sturgeon, said the country was facing “the most difficult decision point yet” as cases rise, but she ruled out another national lockdown on Tuesday. As Cabinet discussions continue over what new measures to implement, Ms. Sturgeon said the government must strike a balance between the public health toll and the wider costs of a lockdown to the economy and people’s lives. Scotland has recorded 5,108 cases over the last seven days, which works out to 94 cases per 100,000.

  • There’s a shortage of remdesivir, the anti-viral drug that is being used to treat the virus, in the Netherlands. On Monday, the government said that the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment had run out of the drug, which meant hospitals could not request doses. A new shipment was expected on Tuesday, the Dutch broadcaster NOS said, but it was unclear how much of the medicine was being delivered. Case numbers continue to climb in the Netherlands, with more than 25,000 cases in the last seven days, a rate of 149 cases per 100,000 people, according to a Times database.

Credit…Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Miami-Dade Public Schools welcomed its youngest students back to classrooms on Monday, beginning a phased process that by the end of the week will make it the largest district in the country to reopen for five-day-a-week in-person instruction for all students who want it.

District officials said the first day of school for about 22,000 pre-kindergartners, kindergartners, first graders and students with special needs at about 300 schools went smoothly. Just over half of the district’s roughly 345,000 students signed up to attend school in-person this fall, with the rest continuing to learn remotely.

Last week, New York City, the nation’s largest district, began hybrid schooling for about half of its 1.1 million students. But unlike in Miami, the nation’s fourth largest district, students in New York receive a mixture of in-person and remote instruction.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican and a Trump supporter, mandated that all of the state’s schools reopen fully this fall, despite a surge in coronavirus cases over the summer that has only partially abated, leaving the state with a lingering high volume of cases. The state allowed only the three largest counties — Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach — to continue offering fully remote instruction past Aug. 31.

The Miami-Dade school board originally planned to begin a phased reopening on Oct. 14, but moved up its opening date under pressure from the state, despite concerns from some board members and the teachers union that schools were not fully prepared.

Credit…Stephanie Keith for The New York Times

Less than a week after New York City completed the reopening of its public school system, officials on Tuesday shuttered all private and public schools in nine city ZIP codes that they have deemed to be virus hot spots.

The move represented the city’s first significant setback after a milestone: the in-person reopening of the largest school system in the country that was completed last week.

With the closures also came some confusion, after conflicting messages on Monday from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Mr. de Blasio had initially sought to close schools on Wednesday, but Mr. Cuomo accelerated that plan.

“I’ll never let a New Yorker send a child to a school that I wouldn’t send my child to,” he said on Monday.

Mr. de Blasio also sought to close non-essential businesses in the affected ZIP codes, which are in Brooklyn and Queens. On Tuesday, he said the state had not yet given approval to that plan. Mr. de Blasio suggested that the governor’s office was still reviewing the plan, in part to determine whether to use a different geographical boundary than ZIP codes for those shutdowns.

In addition to the nine ZIP codes, which have all seen positive test rates above 3 percent for more than a week, city officials were also weighing less severe restrictions on 13 ZIP codes that the mayor said had seen rising virus cases.

Most of the schools that were ordered to close this week were nonpublic schools, many of them yeshivas in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods that have been open for weeks.About 200 private schools were ordered to close, as well as 100 public schools, officials said. Mr. de Blasio said that the order would be in effect for at least two weeks.

On Monday, Mr. Cuomo worried about the possible spread of the virus in schools and expressed the need to see more testing data. He also said more testing was needed to weigh whether the mass closure was necessary.

On Tuesday, Mr. de Blasio said that during testing at 35 schools in the nine ZIP codes, just two of 1,351 tests returned positive results between Sept. 25 and Oct. 5. But recent estimates of the spread of infections in city schools suggested that the city’s ambitious testing plans may be insufficient to catch outbreaks before they spread beyond a handful of students.

The decision to close schools was criticized in a statement by the New York State Catholic Conference, which objected to the Catholic schools in the region being closed despite having “no significant Covid-19 outbreaks to date.”

Some parents and students, already frustrated by previous delays to the start of in-person learning, were also distressed by the decision.

“Nothing has been consistent,” Susan Chan, 42, said, outside her son’s school in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Hours after the governor’s announcement, she had to drop everything so she could pick up her son’s books for remote learning.

“I was hoping my kids would get at least two weeks in the building,” she added.

Separately, officials in Orange County, N.Y., ordered the closure of all schools in Kiryas Joel, a predominantly Ultra-Orthodox Jewish village located in a ZIP code seeing some of the highest seven-day average positivity rates in the state in recent days. Schools in other parts of the ZIP code were not ordered to close.

According to the order, issued Monday night and effective Tuesday morning, the schools will remain closed until the seven-day average positivity falls below 9 percent. On Monday, the state reported it was at 17.2 percent.

Credit…Jim Urquhart/Reuters

After Saul Sanchez tested positive for the coronavirus at a hospital in Greeley, Colo., he spoke to his daughter on the phone and asked her to relay a message to his supervisors at work.

“Please call JBS and let them know I’m in the hospital,” his daughter Beatriz Rangel remembered him as saying. “Let them know I will be back.”

The meat-processing company JBS had employed Mr. Sanchez, 78, at its plant in Greeley for three decades. He was one of at least 291 people there who tested positive for the coronavirus, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

On April 7, Mr. Sanchez became one of at least six employees at the plant to die of Covid-19.

Now Ms. Rangel, 53, is in the middle of a new struggle. Hers is one of several families of JBS employees in Greeley seeking compensation for a death caused by Covid-19. The company has denied her family’s claim, as well as at least two others, according to lawyers representing the families who are now taking those claims to court.

Those denials, first reported by Reuters, offered a view of the difficulties faced by families of essential workers who have fallen ill or died because of the coronavirus, many of whom are struggling to cover medical or funeral costs.

“We just have a stack of bills, and I think it’s really taken a toll on my mom, because my dad used to be the one handling all the finances,” Ms. Rangel said.

Credit…Matt Masin/The Orange County Register, via Associated Press

The California megachurch pastor Greg Laurie is the latest prominent attendee at the Sept. 26 Supreme Court nomination ceremony at the White House to test positive for the coronavirus. He announced the test results Monday and said he was in isolation.

“If the president of the United States can get it, obviously anybody can get it,” Mr. Laurie said in a video posted on social media. In an interview with Christianity Today, Mr. Laurie said he was not sure he was infected at the Rose Garden event, and urged Americans not to blame the White House for his infection.

“Unfortunately, the coronavirus has become very politicized,” he said. “I wish we could all set aside our partisan ideas and pull together to do everything we can to defeat this virus and bring our nation back.”

Mr. Laurie was one of many high-profile Christian leaders who attended the ceremony. Another — the Rev. John I. Jenkins, the president of the University of Notre Dame —  announced on Friday that he tested positive.

Several of the attendees have since preached in person at church services or have been photographed at other public events, suggesting that they are not following C.D.C. recommendations for quarantine after their exposure in the Rose Garden.

Jerry Prevo, the acting president of Liberty University, announced on Friday that he and his wife had both tested negative. He posted photographs the next day in which he and his wife are seen mingling closely indoors with people not wearing masks.

A representative for Robert Morris, a Dallas-area megachurch pastor who preached in person last weekend, said on Monday that he “does not have any Covid-related symptoms,” but he declined to say whether he had been tested.

Another Dallas-area pastor, Jack Graham, also preached in person at his church on Sunday morning. “I am ridiculously healthy,” he told his congregation, who responded with applause. “I don’t have Covid, let’s just put it that way.”

Mr. Graham said during the service that he flew to Atlanta last Wednesday to meet with Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke at an indoor event hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition that was attended by some of the same evangelical leaders.

In photographs of the Rose Garden event, Mr. Graham is seated next to Mr. Laurie and in front of Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor, who later tested positive for the virus.

Credit…Roslan Rahman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Singapore has been trying for years to bolster its low birthrate by offering new parents a “baby bonus” of more than $6,000 for each child. Now the country of 5.7 million people says it plans to further sweeten the incentive with a one-time payment to help couples “have more babies” during the pandemic.

“We have received feedback that Covid-19 has caused some aspiring parents to postpone their parenthood plans,” Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said in a statement on Monday. “This is fully understandable, especially when they face uncertainty with their income.”

The amount of the newly introduced payment had not been announced as of Tuesday evening.

Singapore had initial success against the coronavirus, but its caseload soared in April, fueled by an outbreak among migrant workers. It has reported 27 deaths and at least 57,000 infections since the start of the pandemic, including 104 new cases over the past week.

Singapore’s economy posted its worst-ever performance in the second quarter and is expected to contract by 6 percent this year.

Over the years, Singapore’s government has organized speed dating and other matchmaking services in a mostly futile attempt to encourage procreation. It also provides dollar-for-dollar matching services for savings accounts that are set up for newborns.

But the city-state’s fertility rate has continued to fall anyway over the past four decades — from 1.82 to 1.14 births per woman. That does not include modest fertility spikes that coincide with the lunar Year of the Dragon, which comes every 12 years and is widely thought to be auspicious.

Singapore’s birthrate of 8.6 per 1,000 people ranked 214th in the world in 2017. Of the 12 countries that scored lower, three were in Asia: Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Monaco scored last.

Credit…Jackie Molloy for The New York Times

The pandemic has laid bare gender inequities across the country, and women in academia have not been spared. The outbreak erupted during universities’ spring terms, hastily forcing classes online and researchers out of their laboratories.

Faculty with young or school-aged children — especially women — had to juggle teaching their students with overseeing their children’s distance learning from home.

Many universities struggled to put meaningful policies in place to help faculty, especially caretakers and women. During the summer break ahead of this fall semester, administrators at some institutions began to reassess and develop strategies that experts say are a palatable start to stymieing crises stemming from the pandemic.

But the issues that women in academia are facing are not new. Instead, they are more severe versions of longstanding gender gaps that already cause universities to hemorrhage female faculty, particularly women of color, and will require measures that go beyond institutional responses to the pandemic.

Multiple studies have already shown that women have written significantly fewer papers than their male counterparts during the pandemic. Reports showed that at least one-third of working women in two-parent households exclusively provided child care after schools and day cares closed and babysitters quit or were let go.

Years of research have proven that female faculty struggle to balance work and family, often causing them to exit academia — or what experts refer to as “leaking from the academic pipeline.” For those who stay, anecdotal reports and Twitter outcries during the pandemic indicate that female faculty are suffering reduced productivity, which could affect their ability to get tenure.

Some women faced harsher student evaluations during the outbreaks, too. Research shows that gender bias is rampant in end-of-term evaluations, with women and people of color more likely than men to get comments related to “their appearance or the tone of their voice — things that are less closely related to the ability to successfully teach,” said Jenna Stearns, an economist at the University of California, Davis.



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