Covid-19 News: Latest Updates – The New York Times
As coronavirus cases across the United States climb toward a third peak, the country surpassed a total of eight million total known cases on Thursday afternoon, according to a New York Times database.
Epidemiologists warned of a new, worrisome phase as 17 states are seeing surges unlike anything they experienced earlier in the pandemic. States including Alaska, Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin reported more new cases during the seven-day stretch that ended on Wednesday than in any other week since the virus arrived in the country.
Reports of new cases are trending upward in 41 states over the last two weeks, while nine states are holding case numbers roughly steady. No state in the country is seeing a sustained decline.
Many of the 17 states seeing more new cases than ever — located mostly in the Midwest or in the Mountain West — had relatively few cases until recently. But cases are now steadily climbing. Intensive care unit beds in hospitals are few and far between in some rural communities, experts said, raising concerns about crowded facilities.
“What’s happening in the Upper Midwest is just a harbinger of things to come in the rest of the country,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious-diseases expert at the University of Minnesota.
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Already, signs of the uptick are appearing beyond the nation’s middle. In the Northeast, where cases have been relatively low since a spring surge, reports of new infections have started ticking upward again. In the South, where infections spiked this summer, the picture varies from state to state, with sustained progress in Florida and Georgia but worrisome trends in Arkansas and Kentucky.
The number of cases alone is not a full measure of the nation’s outbreak — it is difficult to compare the current numbers with earlier points in the U.S. outbreak when testing was less widespread — and deaths from the virus have been relatively flat in recent weeks, with an average of about 700 per day. But “we are headed in the wrong direction,” said Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University.
“That’s reflected not only in the number of new cases but also in test positivity and the number of hospitalizations,” said Dr. Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University. “Together, I think these three indicators give a very clear picture that we are seeing increased transmission in communities across the country.”
High levels of infection in colleges and universities, Dr. Osterholm said, are serving as one source of the spread. Transmission also has been prevalent at events such as funerals, family barbecues and birthday parties, he said, adding that the comeback of sporting events and dining has also added to the spread this fall.
“Pandemic fatigue has clearly set in for large segments of the population,” he said. “This is not even an uptick, this is a major surge of cases that is happening.”
He added, “It’s only going to get worse, we have to be prepared for that.”
Even as cases increased, President Trump continued to downplay the resurgence of this virus this fall during an appearance on Fox Business on Thursday morning. He added he did not support strictest restrictions by local officials to limit its spread. “We’re not doing any more lockdowns, we’re doing fine,” he said.
But Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, also warned on Thursday morning that the increase in cases across multiple regions of the country could have dire consequences over the coming months.
“The issue is that as we enter, as we are now, the cooler season of the fall, and ultimately the coldest season of the winter, you don’t want to be in that compromised position where your baseline daily infection is high, and you’re increasing as opposed to going in the other direction,” he said on “Good Morning America.” “So we’ve really got to double down on the fundamental public health measures that we talk about every single day, because they can make a difference.”
Prime Minister Jean Castex of France on Thursday extended to the entire country health restrictions that had so far been imposed only in areas hard-hit by the virus. The new rules were announced shortly after the French police searched the homes and offices of several current and former officials as part of an inquiry into the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Starting Saturday, all restaurants will have to follow a strict health protocol that includes keeping registers of customers for contact-tracing and keeping seating to no more than six per table. Private parties will be forbidden in public spaces, and rules to encourage social distancing, such as limiting the number of spectators or visitors in cultural venues or customers in shopping centers, will be enforced throughout the country.
The rules are part of the renewed state of emergency announced by President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday. Other measures include a nightly curfew around Paris and eight other major cities, for at least four weeks.
Residents of affected areas will be barred from leaving their homes between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and will have to carry a form explaining the reasons for travel during that time slot, Mr. Castex said. Permitted outings include work, dog-walking, trips for health reasons, and travel to and from train stations and airports.
Some 12,000 police officers will be deployed throughout the country to enforce the curfew, said Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.
The move is expected to deal a fresh blow to France’s restaurant and tourism industries, which make up nearly 10 percent of economic activity. The government said it would grant up to 1 billion euros in financial aid to businesses and extend an offer of cheap, state-backed loans. Officials will also direct money to theaters and other culture operations that can’t function under the new measures, and are encouraging people to continue taking vacations and patronizing hotels.
Mr. Macron highlighted the tension between economic and health concerns as he announced the curfew. A new lockdown for an already reeling economy would have been “disproportionate,” he said, yet the pressure on hospitals was intolerable. “Our caregivers are exhausted,” he said.
The seven-day average of new cases over the past week was 17,936 on Wednesday, and intensive care units were rapidly filling with virus patients. Mr. Castex said that slowing down the spread of the virus with targeted curfews was the “only real possible strategy.”
The police searches on Thursday included the homes and offices of France’s health minister, Olivier Véran, and Jérome Salomon, a top official at the health ministry, as well as the homes of former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, the former health minister Agnès Buzyn and a former government spokeswoman, Sibeth Ndiaye.
The inquiry was launched in July by the French Court of Justice, a special court that hears accusations of government mismanagement. Over the past few months, more than 90 complaints had been filed, accusing several government officials of willfully failing to take appropriate action to combat the virus, endangering people’s lives.
The French Court of Justice examined all of the complaints but finally decided to accept only nine of them, with the charge of failing from fighting a disaster. This offense is punishable by two years of imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros.
The French government has been harshly criticized for its handling of the first wave of the virus, from March to May, which resulted in about 30,000 deaths. A critical shortage of masks and testing kits led to the virus’s rapid spread and prompted France to impose one of the world’s strictest nationwide lockdowns.
After an ambitious expansion of the safety net in the spring saved millions of people in the United States from poverty, the aid is now largely exhausted and poverty has returned to levels higher than before the coronavirus crisis, two new studies have found.
The number of poor people has grown by eight million since May, according to researchers at Columbia University, after falling by four million at the pandemic’s start as a result of a $2 trillion emergency package known as the Cares Act.
Using a different definition of poverty, researchers from the University of Chicago and Notre Dame found that poverty has grown by six million people in the past three months, with circumstances worsening most for Black people and children.
“These numbers are very concerning,” said Bruce D. Meyer, an economist at the University of Chicago and an author of the study. “They tell us people are having a lot more trouble paying their bills, paying their rent, putting food on the table.”
Significantly, the studies differ on the most recent month: While the Columbia model shows an improvement in September, the Chicago and Notre Dame analysts found poverty continued to grow.
The recent rise in poverty has occurred despite an improving job market, an indiction that the economy has been rebounding too slowly to offset the lost benefits.
The Democratic-controlled House has twice passed multitrillion-dollar packages to provide more help and to stimulate the economy, but members of a divided Republican-led Senate, questioning the cost and necessity, have proposed smaller plans. President Trump has demanded that Congress “go big” before the elections and canceled negotiations.
While the job market may have gotten better since hitting bottom in April, it recently flattened and is now declining again. American employers continue to shed workers at a staggering rate as a resurgent virus and the absence of new federal aid take their tolls.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that 885,000 Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, an increase from the previous week. That figure is not adjusted for seasonal variations.
Over the past month, large employers including United Airlines, Disney and Allstate announced tens of thousands of layoffs, and more are expected as sectors like leisure and hospitality struggle. In some states, restaurants have salvaged some business by serving diners outside, but many will lose that option as temperatures fall.
London will join other big cities in Europe, including Paris and Berlin, in tightening restrictions to stem a rapidly rising second wave of coronavirus cases in the region.
Within London, the average number of cases now stands at 97 per 100,000 people, near the threshold for negotiating a move from medium to high risk alert level. Virus-related hospital admissions and deaths are on the rise.
People from different households will be barred from meeting indoors starting Saturday as the city shifts into England’s second-highest alert level, health secretary Matt Hancock announced in Parliament on Thursday. People will also be discouraged from using public transportation.
The increased measures will also apply to the city of York in northern England, as well as the Essex region and parts of central England.
The weekly number of new coronavirus cases in Europe is now at its highest point since the start of the pandemic, a top World Health Organization official said on Thursday, urging governments to impose tighter, targeted controls on social gatherings.
“We’re at a critical moment in our fight against Covid-19,” London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said during a meeting at City Hall on Thursday.
He sharply criticized the government’s virus testing program in a statement a short while later.
“I know these further restrictions will require Londoners to make yet more sacrifices, but the disastrous failure of the test, trace and isolate system leaves us with little choice,” he said in the statement.
While Mr. Hancock on Thursday said that testing capacity was up, the government’s test and trace system has been plagued with issues. In Birmingham, a local council was found to have distributed about 25 used swab-test kits to households by mistake.
Jonathan Ashworth, the opposition Labour Party’s lead lawmaker on health issues, also criticized the testing program, arguing that the measures announced Thursday would be insufficient to halt the spread of the virus. He reiterated his call for the government to impose a national lockdown — and to provide more financial support to mitigate the impact of virus restrictions.
Hospitality and travel industries were hit particularly hard by the impact of the new rules. Shares in Marston’s, a large chain of bars and pubs in Britain, fell as much as 8 percent and the company said it was looking to cut 2,150 jobs that are currently furloughed.
The announcement came after the government published data that showed the country’s jobless rate had already climbed to a three-year high and there were a record number of layoffs in August, adding to concerns that Britain will experience a sharp rise in unemployment this winter.
The head of the World Health Organization’s Europe office, Hans Kluge, said Thursday that restrictions on social gatherings were “absolutely necessary” and that more drastic action might be needed. The number of confirmed cases in Europe rose by a million to seven million in just 10 days, Dr. Kluge warned, and the number of daily deaths has passed 1,000.
British scientists have proposed that the government schedule a temporary “circuit breaker” lockdown for the last week of October and first week of November, when schools are closed for midterm break, to make it less disruptive. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resisted the idea, maintaining his position that targeted measures are best.
The Biden campaign announced Thursday that it was suspending Senator Kamala Harris’s campaign travel through Sunday after two people who had traveled with her tested positive for the coronavirus. Hours later, the campaign said a person who had been aboard Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s plane had also tested positive.
The announcements were the Biden campaign’s closest known brush with the virus. The two people who had traveled with Ms. Harris — her campaign communications director, Liz Allen, and a flight crew member — flew with her last Thursday, when Ms. Harris campaigned with Mr. Biden in Arizona.
The person on Mr. Biden’s flights who tested positive, an employee of the company that charters the plane, was aboard for trips to Ohio on Monday and to Florida on Tuesday, but was a great distance from Mr. Biden, the campaign said.
“Our campaign’s contact tracing remains ongoing, and my team will continue to share any significant developments with the American people,” Mr. Biden wrote on Twitter. “If anything, let this serve as an example of the importance of wearing masks and keeping a safe, social distance.”
Ms. Harris had been scheduled to campaign in North Carolina on Thursday and in Ohio on Friday. She will now return to the campaign trail on Monday. The campaign said she had tested negative for the virus on Wednesday and again on Thursday.
Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, said in a statement that Ms. Harris “was not in close contact, as defined by the C.D.C., with either of these individuals during the two days prior to their positive tests; as such, there is no requirement for quarantine.”
But Ms. O’Malley Dillon said Ms. Harris’s travel through Sunday was being canceled “out of an abundance of caution and in line with our campaign’s commitment to the highest levels of precaution.”
During a virtual fund-raiser on Thursday, Ms. Harris addressed the positive tests and the campaign’s response, and drew a comparison with President Trump. “We wanted to make sure that we were adhering to what has been, I think, a very appropriate and strict level of seriousness around the caution that we are exercising to make sure everyone is safe,” she said. “Obviously, it’s been in stark contrast to you-know-who.”
On Thursday afternoon, the campaign said that the person aboard Mr. Biden’s plane, an administrative employee with the charter company who had been contacted during contact tracing for the crew member who traveled with Ms. Harris, had also tested positive.
The employee was seated in the last row of Mr. Biden’s plane, a Boeing 737, on Monday and Tuesday, and was more than 50 feet away from Mr. Biden at all times, Ms. O’Malley Dillon said. “We have been advised by the vice president’s doctor and the campaign’s medical advisers that there is no need for the vice president to quarantine,” she said.
Mr. Biden will appear at an ABC News town hall event in Philadelphia on Thursday night. The campaign said that Mr. Biden had tested negative for the virus on Wednesday night.
Eleven members of the Swiss Guard have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a report in The Associated Press, prompting fears of an outbreak within the small corps charged with protecting the pope.
On Monday, the Vatican said four guards were infected with the virus and showing symptoms. Now, seven more have tested positive, according to The A.P.
The brightly clad Swiss Guards provide ceremonial guard duty during papal Masses and stand at the Vatican gates. They also serve as personal guards for the pope. Established in the early 16th century by Pope Julius II, the guard is considered the world’s oldest standing army.
Pope Francis, who is 83, is known for his relatively informal, friendly relationship with the guards. He has made a custom of shaking hands with them as he leaves his suite in the morning.
The Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported on Oct. 12 that Matteo Bruni, a spokesman for the Holy See, said “all the guards, on duty and not, wear masks — outdoors and indoors — and observe prescribed health measures.”
Last week, Francis was photographed maskless at a large indoor gathering at the Vatican, speaking closely with attendees and kissing the hands of newly ordained priests.
Surgery in his early 20s left Francis missing part of one lung, a “pulmonary deficiency,” as one biographer put it, that might make it difficult to breath through a mask.
An early center of the pandemic, Italy kept the virus mostly under control through the summer. But the country has seen a sharp rise in new cases lately, with recent daily infection rates matching the country’s peak in April, according to a Times database.
On the afternoon of Feb. 24, President Trump declared on Twitter that the coronavirus was “very much under control” in the United States, but hours earlier, senior members of the president’s economic team, privately addressing board members of the conservative Hoover Institution, were less confident.
Tomas J. Philipson, a senior economic adviser to the president, told the group he could not yet estimate the effects of the virus on the American economy. To some in the group, the implication was that an outbreak could prove worse than Mr. Philipson and other Trump administration advisers were signaling in public at the time.
The next day, board members — many of them Republican donors — got another taste of government uncertainty from Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council. Hours after he had boasted on CNBC that the virus was contained in the United States and “it’s pretty close to airtight,” Mr. Kudlow delivered a more ambiguous private message. He asserted that the virus was “contained in the U.S., to date, but now we just don’t know,” according to a document describing the sessions obtained by The New York Times.
The document, written by a hedge fund consultant who attended the three-day gathering of Hoover’s board, was stark. “What struck me,” the consultant wrote, was that nearly every official he heard from raised the virus “as a point of concern, totally unprovoked.”
The consultant’s assessment quickly spread through parts of the investment world. U.S. stocks were already spiraling because of a warning from a federal public health official that the virus was likely to spread, but traders spotted the immediate significance: The president’s aides appeared to be giving wealthy party donors an early warning of a potentially impactful contagion at a time when Mr. Trump was publicly insisting that the threat was nonexistent.
Interviews with eight people who either received copies of the memo or were briefed on aspects of it as it spread among investors in New York and elsewhere provide a glimpse of how elite traders had access to information from the administration that helped them gain financial advantage during a chaotic three days when global markets were teetering.
To many of the investors who received or heard about the memo, it was the first significant sign of skepticism among Trump administration officials about their ability to contain the virus. It also provided a hint of the fallout that was to come, said one major investor who was briefed on it: the upending of daily life for the entire country.
“Short everything,” was the reaction of the investor, using the Wall Street term for betting on the idea that the stock prices of companies would soon fall.
A week after New York officials debated and then imposed new restrictions on areas with rising coronavirus positivity rates, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo again seemed a bit at odds over whether the strategy to contain the virus had yet proven effective.
On Thursday morning, Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference that the efforts to contain the virus in hot-spot neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn seemed to be working, without providing specific information about positivity rates in those areas.
“We are seeing a plateauing now of the test results, and that is a very, very good sign,” Mr. de Blasio said, though he also acknowledged that “we’ve got more to do.”
Not long afterward, Mr. Cuomo said it was “too early to tell” whether enough progress had been made containing the virus in the so-called red zones — the parts of the state with the highest positivity rates and the most severe restrictions on gatherings and businesses.
The governor also emphasized that any decision to lift virus-related restrictions in New York City would fall to him, not the mayor.
Mr. Cuomo said that the daily rate of positive test results in the state’s red zones was 4.84 percent; statewide, the rate was 1.09 percent. Hospitalizations also fell in the state to 897, a decrease of 41 that followed several days of increases.
In New York City, Mr. de Blasio said that the city’s seven-day average positive test rate was 1.49 percent and noted that the city had conducted 17,000 tests in hot-spot neighborhoods since Sept. 30.
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But the mayor said it was difficult for him to present accurate information about positivity rates in the hot spots in part because of discrepancies between the way the state and city measure data. (State data showed that the positivity rate was 4.75 percent across the red zones in Brooklyn and 2.15 percent in those in Queens.)
Mr. de Blasio also said that it was a bad time to grow complacent about the virus.
“There is the possibility that maybe people are discounting the second wave, and what it could mean,” Mr. de Blasio said. “Look no further than some states in this country, or to countries in Europe. You do not want to experience a second wave.”
Mr. de Blasio said that the city and state would continue working together despite their perceived differences.
“In a crisis, you try and obviously minimize differences, get on the same page, but you’re still going to have some inherent differences of views,” Mr. de Blasio said. “It’s just, the state does a different thing than the city does, but we ultimately get to a lot of agreement, move forward together.”
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President Trump, struggling to gain traction among voters just weeks before the election, called on Thursday for a bigger stimulus package than he had previously offered, and the White House signaled it was willing to make concessions to Democrats. But the proposals were unlikely to win the necessary backing from Senate Republicans who are preparing a far smaller bill of their own.
White House negotiators have proposed a $1.8 trillion relief package. Mr. Trump said that he wanted one that was even bigger and suggested, without explanation, that China would pay for it.
“I would go higher,” Mr. Trump said during an interview with the Fox Business Network. “Go big or go home.”
The comments came after Mr. Mnuchin said that the White House was willing to make additional concessions to Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California in hopes of rekindling a stimulus deal before the election. But the $1.8 trillion package that he has proposed has already proven to be a non-starter with Senate Republicans who have panned it as too costly, making Mr. Trump’s call for a more expensive bill another complication in the already fraught negotiations.
Investors, who have been following the stimulus talks closely, seemed unmoved by statements from Mr. Trump and Mr. Mnuchin on Thursday, with stocks on Wall Street dropping for a third consecutive day.
The president suggested that Ms. Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion proposal was littered with Democratic priorities that his “pride” would not allow him to accept. However, he also undercut his own Treasury secretary for not being able to secure a larger agreement.
“So far he hasn’t come home with the bacon,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Mnuchin.
The negotiations between the White House and Congress are expected to continue on Thursday, when Mr. Mnuchin and Ms. Pelosi are scheduled to speak.
Speaking on CNBC, the Treasury secretary said that he would agree to the language that Democrats had insisted on when it came to a coronavirus testing program and noted that the two sides had already agreed to spend an additional $75 billion on testing and contact tracing. The specifics of such a program have been an obstacle in the talks.
“We’ll fundamentally agree with their testing language, subject to some minor issues,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “We need to get money to the American public now.”
Mr. Mnuchin’s remarks came after the Labor Department reported that the number of new claims for unemployment benefits jumped to 886,000 last week.
But on Wednesday, Mr. Mnuchin acknowledged it would be difficult to pass and enact a deal in the next three weeks.
In the interview on CNBC, Mr. Mnuchin did not directly address the lack of support for a bill by Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, suggesting that he has been briefed on negotiations between the White House and House Democrats while acknowledging that Senate Republicans prefer a more “targeted” relief bill.
But Mr. McConnell downplayed the prospects of a larger bill on Thursday.
“He’s talking about a much larger amount than I can sell to my members,” Mr. McConnell said about the president’s comments.
Negotiators have been locked in fruitless talks for months. On Thursday, Mr. Mnuchin assailed Democrats for letting politics get in the way of reaching agreement before the election, though Mr. Trump scuttled the talks himself when he said in a tweet last week that he had called off stimulus negotiations until after the election.
Mr. Mnuchin also called on Congress to give him the authority to repurpose approximately $300 billion in unused relief money from the legislation that was passed in March. He said he could begin getting that money into the economy this week.
The Israeli government voted Thursday to lift some elements of its lockdown as the number of new coronavirus cases continued to decline.
The decision, which will go into effect on Sunday, will permit Israelis to go more than 1,000 meters beyond their homes without the need for a special reason, order takeout from restaurants, visit beaches, send their children to day care centers and kindergartens, and reopen some businesses.
But other restrictions will remain in place, including bans on the opening of bars, restaurants, malls, and event halls. Elementary, middle and high schools will also remain closed.
At a news conference, Yuli Edelstein, the health minister, pointed to “encouraging data” on the spread of the virus, but he said Israelis still had “a long road” ahead of them
When the lockdown began on Sept. 18 at the beginning of Rosh Hashana, the country’s seven-day rolling average was about 4,300 new cases, according to Our World in Data. As of Thursday, the number had fallen to about 2,500 cases.
Israel moved quickly to reopen the country in May after an earlier lockdown, throwing open the doors of schools, restaurants, bars and other gathering places. But experts say the government moved too hastily, allowing the virus to spread out of control.
On Thursday, Mr. Edelstein stressed that Israel would be reopened with “careful and calculated steps” in the hopes of avoiding a third lockdown.
While the latest closings appear to have helped stem the spread of the virus, they have taken a major toll on the economy. The central bank has estimated that it has cost the economy more than $2 billion per week.
Many business owners have also said that the government has failed to provide them with sufficient financial support as their companies teeter on the brink of bankruptcy.
Fears of instability in the United States, stoked by street-level clashes over public health measures and the upcoming election, are fueling apparently record gun sales.
According to the F.B.I, the nearly 29 million background checks conducted through September of this year have already surpassed the total conducted in 2019, which was, at the time, higher than in any previous year.
Still, Precisely measuring the extent of the surge is difficult, as neither gun companies nor the government provide comprehensive national data on gun sales. However, anecdotal reports of gun and ammo shortages have been widespread for months.
Many first-time buyers say they are looking to arm themselves in anticipation of unrest. They cite heated rhetoric surrounding the election, as supporters of both President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. have said they expect a protracted fight over the election results.
But other first-time buyers and some of those buying again have said that their decision reflects general unease about growing discontent in the United States — where millions of people face permanent job losses because of the pandemic — as well as anger about public health restrictions, which has inspired armed protests in several states with open-carry laws.
Angst about the national mood has been exacerbated by several instances of actual violence during recent months, as several people have been shot and killed by fellow demonstrators during protests over policing and police violence.
Members of the intelligence community have warned of a growing threat of far-right extremism, which they said could become a greater problem closer to the election. On Tuesday, the F.B.I. revealed that a ring of 13 men had plotted to kidnap the Democratic governors of Michigan and Virginia over stay-at-home measures to control coronavirus outbreaks in those states, and that two of them were among a crowd of armed protesters who had effectively occupied the Michigan statehouse in April while the Legislature was in session.
Officials in Singapore and Hong Kong said Thursday that they had reached a preliminary agreement to establish a travel bubble between the two Asian financial centers, allowing travelers of all kinds to bypass quarantine.
Under the agreement, travelers must test negative for the virus and fly only on designated flights. Officials did not say when the bubble, which was first reported by The South China Morning Post, would begin.
Travelers from Singapore would be the first allowed to enter Hong Kong since the semiautonomous Chinese territory barred all nonresidents in March; residents returning to Hong Kong are required to quarantine for 14 days. Singapore currently requires travelers from Hong Kong to quarantine for seven days after arrival.
“Both our cities have low incidence of Covid-19 cases and have put in place robust mechanisms to manage and control Covid-19,” Singapore’s travel minister, Ong Ye Kung, said in a statement.
Hong Kong’s secretary for commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, called the agreement “a milestone in our efforts to resume normalcy while fighting against the long-drawn battle of Covid-19.”
Singapore and Hong Kong have both been reporting daily new cases in the single or double digits since late August.
Efforts to establish reciprocal travel bubbles in Asia and other parts of the world have been halting as case numbers fluctuate and new outbreaks emerge. Starting Friday, Australia will waive quarantine requirements for travelers from New Zealand, which recently stamped out the virus for a second time, though New Zealand will still require quarantine for travelers arriving from Australia.
Singapore has also lifted restrictions on general visitors from Brunei, Vietnam, New Zealand and Australia except for the state of Victoria, the center of the outbreak there. But all four of those countries are still closed to almost all foreigners, and in the case of Brunei and Australia residents must apply for permission to leave the country as well.
In other global developments:
The European Parliament announced on Thursday that it would cancel a meeting scheduled to be held next week in Strasbourg, in northern France, as the outbreak widens. The meeting would have been its first in-person session in Strasbourg since the start of the pandemic. Belgium, where most parliamentary staff and members are based, is also seeing a sharp rise in cases.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, went into quarantine for a second time in two weeks after being exposed to the virus. She tweeted on Thursday that she had tested negative, but a member of her office had tested positive. She wrote that she was leaving a European Council meeting in Brussels that was being held with strict social-distancing measures.
Portugal announced new virus restrictions on Thursday, including a five-person limit on public gatherings, after a rise in new cases. In Spain, which is seeing an even sharper increase, the city of Salamanca, famous for its 12th-century university, became the latest area to be cut off from the rest of the country, under new lockdown restrictions imposed by the regional government. The restrictions take effect on Saturday.
Two officials in Qingdao, China, have been fired amid a new virus outbreak there, the city government said on Thursday. The director of the health commission and the president of the Qingdao Chest Hospital are under investigation after six confirmed infections and six asymptomatic cases were linked to the hospital. The new cases are the first local transmissions China had reported in almost two months.
The weekly number of new cases in Europe is now at its highest point since the start of the pandemic, Hans Kluge, the W.H.O.’s director for Europe, said on Thursday. The number of confirmed cases rose by one million to seven million in just 10 days, and the number of daily deaths passed 1,000 for the first time in months. Many European countries are adopting stricter controls, which Dr. Kluge called “absolutely necessary,” as increased caseloads are raising fears of another surge as winter approaches.
India is now struggling with two major health challenges that are both assaulting the respiratory system and peaking at the same time. Coronavirus cases are spreading, putting the country on track to have the largest reported caseload in the world in the coming weeks. It’s also the start of the fall pollution season, and doctors say that if the ambient air suddenly becomes more toxic, as it does every year around this time in northern India, then more people who become infected by the virus might end up in the hospital or die.
President Trump might want to wait a bit before he puts on a Superman T-shirt.
After recovering from Covid-19, Mr. Trump declared that he was now immune to the disease caused by the coronavirus and was said to have talked about wearing a superhero shirt under his dress shirt.
But if Mr. Trump is in fact now immune to the virus, he may not remain so, scientists warn. While reinfection is generally rare, the treatment Mr. Trump received may have prevented his body from making the antibodies necessary for long-term protection. The experimental monoclonal antibodies from the biotech firm Regeneron that Mr. Trump was given are synthetic, and they will most likely wane in a matter of weeks. Unless they are replenished, Mr. Trump may be left more susceptible to the virus than most patients who had Covid-19 and recovered, several experts warned.
There is another wrinkle for the president.
In addition to the monoclonal antibodies he was given, Mr. Trump also received the steroid dexamethasone. That suppresses the body’s natural immune response — including the production of antibodies of its own. (He was also given the antiviral remdesivir.)
“He may be not protected the second time around, especially because he didn’t develop his own antibodies,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University.
During an appearance on Fox Business on Thursday morning, Mr. Trump sounded hoarse and could be heard drinking a beverage between questions.
Asked if he was tested every day, he replied, “I’m not tested, not every day, but I’m tested a lot,” he said.
Given the results of the tests the White House has made available, Mr. Trump, who is appearing — probably maskless — at a town-hall-style event Thursday night, is not likely to transmit the virus to others, experts have said.
Mr. Trump praised the antibody therapy he received, falsely, as being “a cure” — then mused that maybe he would have been better “without taking anything.”
It is impossible to know whether the antibody cocktail or another treatment improved his condition. Although trials for Regeneron’s cocktail are still underway, its early data suggest the treatment can lower hospitalization rates in people who are in the early stages of the disease.