Coronavirus Live Updates: As More People Go Outside, Pressure on Leaders Grows

Precautions are still needed, even at protests against precautions, Dr. Birx says.

The White House coronavirus response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, said she found it “devastatingly worrisome” that hundreds of protesters amassed at Michigan’s state Capitol last week to object to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to extend many business closures through the end of May to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s devastatingly worrisome to me personally, because if they go home and infect their grandmother or grandfather who has a co-morbid condition, and they have a serious or unfortunate outcome, they will feel guilty for the rest of their lives,” Dr. Birx said on Fox News. “So we need to protect each other at the same time we’re voicing our discontent.”

Pressed by the host, Chris Wallace, about whether some states were reopening too soon, Dr. Birx said it was important for individuals to keep track of coronavirus cases in their communities and keep following their own precautions through each phase of the gradual process that the task force recommends.

“You need to continue to social distance, you need to continue to practice scrupulous hand-washing,” she said. “And I think, most importantly, if you have any pre-existing condition, through Phase 1 and Phase 2 of any reopening, we have asked you to continue to shelter in place. We know who’s at very particular risk for a very difficult course for this virus.”

Visiting beaches that have reopened is all right, Dr. Birx said, but only “if it’s done with social distancing.” And while getting a haircut or massage is “safer” if both parties wear masks, she said, “We’ve made it clear that that is not a good Phase 1 activity.”

Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s top economic adviser, said the administration was in no rush to push forward with another financial aid package, saying the government was “in a pause period right now.”

Mr. Kudlow, speaking on the CNN program “State of the Union,” said the administration wants to see how the trillions of dollars already allocated are working before the government pushes anything more out the door.

“It’s a huge, huge package — let’s see how it’s doing as we gradually reopen the economy,” he said.

Congressional leaders are hotly contesting what should be included in the next economic aid bill. Democrats have said it must include help for hard-pressed states and municipalities but have met resistance from Republicans, especially in the Senate. Proposals to shield employers from liability if their workers contract the virus as the economy reopens have also proven controversial.

The Republican-led Senate is scheduled to reconvene on Monday, but the Democratic-led House, which opposes such a shield, scrapped similar plans to return to Washington after consulting with Congress’s attending physician.

On Sunday, Mr. Kudlow reiterated Mr. Trump’s previous comments that any future aid package could include restrictions on financing for states that allow “sanctuary cities” — areas that prevent local law enforcement from cooperating with immigration authorities.

And Mr. Kudlow said the White House would push for additional tax breaks for workers and businesses, including “some significant” breaks for entertainment and sports events.

“We want to see people able to write off new expenses in any area,” he said, adding that the write-offs could include expenses associated with investing in vaccines or retrofitting office space to ensure that it complies with “best practices” around the virus.

Warmer weather and fatigue over weeks of confinement lured millions of Americans outside this weekend, adding to pressure on city and state officials to enforce, or loosen, restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio pleaded with residents to resist the impulse to gather outdoors. In New Jersey, golf courses reopened and Gov. Philip D. Murphy said early anecdotal reports indicated that people were maintaining social distance.

“If we hear minimal reports of knucklehead behavior at our parks, then we know you all have taken to heart your responsibility to help us mitigate this pandemic,” Mr. Murphy wrote on Twitter.

“Frankly, knowing New Jerseyans, this is what I expect,” he said, though he warned: “If we hear reports of people not taking their health — or the health of other park-goers — seriously, I will not hesitate to close them yet again.”

Elsewhere, protesters pressing for the loosening of restrictions gathered in the capitals of Kentucky; Florida, where the governor has already announced a relaxing of restrictions; and Oregon, where Gov. Kate Brown has extended a state of emergency through July 6.

In Stillwater, Okla., officials abandoned a requirement that people wear masks in shops and restaurants after workers were faced with violent threats.

As businesses continued to shed jobs, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the government’s small business lending program said that its companies would return at least $70 million in loans. Ashford Inc. which oversees hotels and resorts, made the announcement as it became clear that it was benefiting from a program intended to help small businesses keep workers on the payroll.

The lifting of stringent rules across the nation signaled a new phase in the country’s response to the virus and came as confirmed cases nationally continue to grow.

Extremists in the United States are trying to turn the pandemic into a recruiting tool online and on the streets of state capitals by twisting the public health crisis to bolster a white-supremacist, anti-government agenda.

Protests across the country have drawn a wide variety of people pressing to lift stay-at-home orders. But the presence of extremists cannot be missed, with anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic signs and coded messages aimed at inspiring adherents, say those who track such movements.

Embellishing Covid-19 developments to fit their agenda, extremists spread disinformation on the transmission of the coronavirus and disparage stay-at-home orders as “medical martial law” — the long-anticipated advent of a totalitarian state.

“They are being very effective in capitalizing on the pandemic,” said Devin Burghart, who runs the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, a Seattle-based research center on far-right movements.

What success the groups have had in finding recruits is not clear, but new research indicates a significant jump in people consuming extremist material while under lockdown. Various violent incidents have been linked to white-supremacist or anti-government perpetrators enraged over aspects of the pandemic.

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security warned law enforcement officials across the United States of the mobilization of violent extremists in response to stay-at-home measures, according to a senior law enforcement official and a congressional staff member.

A department memo dated April 23 noted the recent arrests of people who had threatened government officials imposing coronavirus-related regulations.

A protest in Sacramento urging California’s governor to reopen the state resembled rallies that have appeared elsewhere in the country, with crowds pressing leaders to undo restrictions on businesses and daily life.

But its organizers were not militia members, restaurant owners or prominent conservative operatives. They were some of the loudest anti-vaccination activists in the country.

The people behind the rally, held on Friday, are founders of a group called the Freedom Angels Foundation that is best known for its opposition to efforts to mandate vaccinations. And the protest was the latest example of overlapping interests that have connected a range of groups — including Tea Party activists and armed militia groups — to oppose measures that governors have taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Activists known for opposing vaccines have been involved in protests in New York, Colorado and Texas, where they have found a welcome audience for their arguments for personal freedom and their suspicion of government. And their growing presence at the protests worries public health experts who fear that such messaging could harm the United States’ ability to turn a corner after the pandemic if Americans do not accept a future vaccine.

“One of the things that we’re finding is that the rhetoric is pretty similar between the anti-vaxxers and those demanding to reopen,” said Dr. Rupali J. Limaye, who studies behavior around vaccines at Johns Hopkins University.

“What we hear a lot of is ‘individual self-management,’” she said, “this idea that they should be in control of making decisions, that they can decide what science is correct and incorrect, and that they know what’s best for their child.”

As more states take steps toward reopening businesses and reviving economies stalled by the coronavirus, governors from across the country are apprearing on television on Sunday to discuss the latest in the response.

Two governors who have been fixtures of the Sunday morning talk show circuit in recent weeks, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Larry Hogan of Maryland, are guests on “State of the Union” on CNN. In Michigan, protesters, some of them armed, have swarmed the State Capitol to denounce the restriction on commerce and movement imposed by Ms. Whitmer, a Democrat. In Maryland, Mr. Hogan, a Republican who has raised concerns about testing capacity, is expected to discuss testing in his state and the tests obtained from South Korea that he put under the watch of the Maryland National Guard.

“It was like Fort Knox to us,” he said of the tests in a recent interview with The Washington Post, “because it’s going to save the lives of thousands of our citizens.”

Gov. Tate Reeves, the Mississippi Republican who has been pushing to reopen his state and has been in a showdown with state lawmakers over the authority to spend million in federal emergency funds, will appear on “Fox News Sunday.” Also on the program will be Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey as his state has started reopening parks and golf courses in what he described as a “huge test” and “an important sign for how we move forward.”

Gov. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Republican who has sketched out plans for reopening his state as he eased his statewide stay-at-home order, is appearing on ABC’s “This Week.”

“Face the Nation” on CBS will have Daniel O’Day, the chairman and chief executive of Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, the antiviral drug that received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for patients severely ill with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backed President Trump’s assertion that the coronavirus originated in a research laboratory in Wuhan, China, though the nation’s intelligence agencies say they have reached no conclusion on the issue.

Speaking on the ABC program “This Week,” Mr. Pompeo, the former C.I.A. chief and one of the senior administration officials who is most hawkish on dealing with China, said, “there’s enormous evidence” that the coronavirus came from the lab, though he agreed with the intelligence assessment that there was no evidence the virus was man-made or genetically modified.

The theories are not mutually exclusive: Some officials who have examined the intelligence reports, which remain classified, say that it is possible an animal that was infected with the coronavirus was destroyed, and in the process a lab worker was accidentally infected.

Mr. Pompeo repeatedly accused China’s Communist Party, headed by President Xi Jinping, of covering up evidence and denying American experts access to the research lab, the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“We’ve seen the fact that they kicked the journalists out,” he said, referring to orders that American correspondents from The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal leave the country. “We saw the fact that those who were trying to report on this, medical professionals inside of China, were silenced. They shut down reporting — all the kind of things that authoritarian regimes do, the way Communist parties operate.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement on Thursday saying it was continuing to “rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence” to determine whether the outbreak began with infected animals, or whether “it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”

On Thursday, the same day that the intelligence director’s statement came out, President Trump said he had a high degree of confidence that the laboratory was the source of the outbreak, but when pressed for evidence said: “I’m no allowed to tell you that.” Mr. Trump is the final authority on declassifying evidence, and he has done so when it suited his purposes, including making public a classified satellite photograph of an Iranian rocket launch site last summer.

In chaotic emergency rooms and intensive care units, coronavirus patients struggle to survive in isolation, with masked doctors and nurses keeping their distance and family visits barred. Alarms, monitors and overhead announcements blare incessantly.

But at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital in Manhattan, the music of Bach, Brahms and even the Beatles has begun wafting through patient rooms, played by accomplished performers — recently out-of-work chamber music players, winners of international competitions and prizes, teachers at prestigious music schools.

They perform from California, Kentucky, Maine, Virginia, Massachusetts and New York, where they are sheltered in place. The music plays through an iPhone or iPad placed at the bedside of patients who indicated that they wanted to hear a performance.

“I’m hoping to offer a brief moment of comfort or distraction or beauty,” said Michelle Ross, a violinist in Manhattan who has performed for the patients.

At times, the 200-bed hospital has had as many as 170 coronavirus patients, and Dr. Rachel Easterwood, who works the night shift in the I.C.U., had despaired at how little could be done for some patients.

A former professional clarinetist, Dr. Easterwood ended up arranging several performances. And she said last week that she hoped to continue them for patients and the staff.

“We go into this profession to help people,” she said. “And this music had the ability to at least help a little bit.”

Scott Connell, a Missouri weatherman, was trying to record a tease last month, but Maple, his Cavalier King Charles spaniel, had other plans.

“Three, two, one: More cold air ——” Mr. Connell, the chief meteorologist for KSDK in St. Louis, manages to say on the video before the dog’s barks interrupt him.

“Cold air continues across the area tonight; potential for some frost and freeze for some of us,” he starts again, and Maple barks again. Mr. Connell claps his hands and calls the dog over. He is finally able complete the tease, but not before Maple gets a few more barks in.

Like many people working from home because of the pandemic, television reporters and meteorologists have had to adapt to a new normal, including unfamiliar professional settings. So have their pets, who sometimes join them, crashing their reports and mugging for the cameras.

Also among them is Kim Powell, a reporter for the Phoenix broadcaster Arizona’s Family, who was delivering a news report about coronavirus testing in March when Zipper, her cat, strolled in front of the camera.

“Hi, this is my cat,” she said with a laugh during the segment. “That is the perks of working from home.”

Former President George W. Bush is calling on Americans to put aside partisan differences, heed the guidance of medical professionals and show empathy for those affected by the coronavirus and the resulting economic impact.

In a three-minute video message, Mr. Bush, who rarely speaks out on current events, struck a tone of unity that contrasted with the more combative approach taken at times by President Trump, and recalled the sense of national solidarity that Mr. Bush sought to summon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“Let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat,” Mr. Bush said in the video, which was set against music and photographs of medical workers helping coronavirus patients and of Americans wearing masks.

“In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants,” he said. “We are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together, and we are determined to rise.”

Mr. Bush’s message was part of a series of videos aired as part of a 24-hour livestreamed project, “The Call to Unite,” that also featured Oprah Winfrey, Tim Shriver, Julia Roberts, Martin Luther King III, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Quincy Jones, Naomi Judd, Andrew Yang and others.

Former President Bill Clinton also delivered a message, speaking into a camera in what appeared to be a video chat from his home.

“We need each other, and we do better when we work together,” he said. “That’s never been more clear to me as I have seen the courage and dignity of the first responders, the health care workers, all the people who are helping them to provide our food, our transportation, our basic services to the other essential workers.”

As some sports begin putting events back on their calendars with heavy modifications, the question of whether or when to bring back boxing comes with a particular set of considerations.

Although the sport usually struggles to gain mainstream attention, its small scale can offer a rare opportunity for a brighter spotlight. And it may be able to come back on some level at a time when larger team sports cannot because they require dozens of athletes and support staff at minimum.

To Oscar De La Hoya, the boxing champion turned promoter, a comeback for boxing looks like this: a 10-fight card on the weekend of July 4 in any state that will allow it.

There probably won’t be any fans. No matter, Mr. De La Hoya said in a recent interview. There will be competition, two elite athletes trying to win something. He has told his stable of about 90 fighters to stay ready. They have listened. Now all he needs is to work out the logistics.

“People want to be entertained — they want to be distracted,” he said. “Boxing has always been a sport that can take you away, whether it’s for a moment or for an hour or so.”

Three movie theaters in the San Antonio area became some of the first in the country to reopen, a move that worried some infectious-disease experts but was applauded by those who bought tickets and attended.

The screenings came one day after Texas took a big step out of its coronavirus lockdown, allowing restaurants, malls, retail stores and some other businesses to resume operations, with strict limits on the number of patrons allowed inside.

The theaters showed older releases for $5. And at the Palladium, in an upscale shopping center, business was steady — low for a Saturday in May, but higher than what might be expected in a state grappling with a coronavirus outbreak that has killed nearly 900 people, 48 of them in Bexar County, which includes San Antonio.

To sit in a theater with dozens of strangers was a possible health risk. But as the movies played and the plots thickened amid the crunch-crunch of patrons chewing popcorn, Hollywood was doing what it has done for decades: providing an escape, albeit masked and at a distance.

Masks were recommended, but not required, for customers. In the lobby of the Palladium, a masked worker asked customers as they entered whether they or anyone they had been in contact with had experienced fever, chills or other symptoms in the past 14 days. Signs warned that anyone who answered yes would not be allowed to enter.

Tim Handren, the chief executive of Santikos Entertainment, which opened the theaters, said that the company did not expect make money off the low-capacity showings but that it recognized that people felt a need to get out of their homes and “just go somewhere else.”

The coronavirus has touched almost every country, but its impact has seemed capricious. Global metropolises like New York, Paris and London have been devastated, while teeming cities like Bangkok, Baghdad, New Delhi and Lagos have, so far, largely been spared.

And time may still prove the greatest equalizer: The Spanish flu that broke out in the United States in 1918 seemed to die down during the summer only to come roaring back with a deadlier strain in the fall, and a third wave the following year. It eventually reached far-flung places like islands in Alaska and the South Pacific and infected a third of the world’s population.

“We are really early in this disease,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Research Institute. “If this were a baseball game, it would be the second inning, and there’s no reason to think that by the ninth inning the rest of the world that looks now like it hasn’t been affected won’t become like other places.”

How to get your money back into balance.

Now is an ideal time to ask for refunds from canceled travel plans, for rent reductions and for more help with college payments. Here’s how.

Paul Cary, a retired firefighter who worked for three decades with the Fire Department in Aurora, Colo., was known for being a skilled paramedic who was willing to pitch in to cover co-workers’ shifts.

In March, he drove from Denver to New York City in an ambulance, arriving days before the authorities issued an emergency alert about the growing coronavirus pandemic: “Seeking licensed health care workers.”

For three weeks, Mr. Cary transported Covid-19 patients to hospitals by ambulance and helped dispatch 911 calls.

Mr. Cary’s two sons and four grandchildren said they were devastated.

“He risked his own health and safety to protect others and left this world a better place,” the family said in a statement. “We are at peace knowing that Paul did what he loved and what he believed in, right up until the very end.”

Reporting was contributed by Michael Corkery, Catie Edmondson, Deborah Solomon, Abby Goodnough, Manny Fernandez, Jenny Gross, Jeanna Smialek, Benjamin Weiser, Joseph Goldstein, Johnny Diaz, David Sanger, Michael Levenson, Neil MacFarquhar, Peter Baker, Rick Rojas, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, David Yaffe-Bellany, Tess Felder and Hannah Beech.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *