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Coronavirus Live News Updates

2020-06-02 06:05:49
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A new projection finds the virus costing the U.S. economy $7.9 trillion. Poor countries face debt crises.

The Congressional Budget Office projected on Monday that the pandemic would inflict a devastating long-term blow on the United States economy, costing $7.9 trillion over the next decade.

Without adjusting for inflation, the agency said, the pandemic would cost $16 trillion over the next 10 years. The estimates were an official tally of the damage from the crisis, reflecting expectations of dampened consumer spending and business investment in the years to come. Much of the diminished output was projected to be a result of weaker inflation, as prices for energy and transportation are expected to increase more slowly than they otherwise would have as Americans pull back on travel.

Phillip L. Swagel, the director of the budget office, cautioned that “an unusually high degree of uncertainty surrounds these economic projections,” because it remained unknown how the pandemic would unfold during the remainder of the year, or how social distancing and any future relief measures enacted by the federal government might affect its impact.

Around the world, developing countries, from Angola to Ecuador to Zambia, have also seen their finances shredded by the pandemic.

Effective immediately, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said, groups of 100 people or less will be allowed to gather outdoors while social distancing. Restaurants will also be able to open starting Monday, though tables will be required to be six feet apart.

And in New York State, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo voiced strong concerns that days of crowded and chaotic protests in New York City against racism and deadly police brutality could set off a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Mr. Cuomo said he did not want the city’s plan to reopen on June 8 to be jeopardized. “Protest, just be smart about it,” he said. The city’s public health officials urged anyone who does protest to wear face coverings, use hand sanitizer, maintain social distance and get tested for the virus.

The pandemic is persisting on a stubborn but uneven path in the United States, where more than 100,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Just as some states were making cautious plans to open, curfews were imposed in dozens of cities over the weekend because of the protests that erupted across the country after George Floyd died in police custody in Minnesota.

Many of the nation’s governors have spoken in support of the protests, but President Trump, who has been besieged by protests and fires outside the White House, lashed out at them on Monday, warning them that they would look like “jerks” if they didn’t order demonstrators arrested and imprisoned.

Here’s what else is happening around the United States:

  • A California corrections officer who had tested positive for the coronavirus died on Saturday, state officials said. Danny Mendoza, 53, had been a corrections officer for 24 years, most recently working at the California Rehabilitation Center in Riverside County. More than 300 corrections officers have tested positive for the coronavirus, but Mr. Mendoza’s is believed to be the first death. Ten inmates in California state prisons have died of Covid-19, all of whom were held at the California Institution for Men in Chino.

  • In New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, case numbers have plunged significantly in recent days. New Jersey’s governor said that retail stores there should be able to reopen on June 15, with limits, and that restaurants could offer outdoor dining.

  • Louisiana’s governor said the state would begin easing restrictions on Friday, allowing venues including churches, malls, bars and theaters to increase capacity to 50 percent, although distancing requirements will be maintained. The mayor of New Orleans said on Twitter that the city would not follow the state’s lead.

  • Despite ongoing outbreaks in parts of Mississippi, the governor announced that all businesses could reopen and that travel restrictions had been lifted. Social-distancing rules remained in effect.

  • The Midwest is still troubled by persistent outbreaks. Virus hospitalizations are on the rise in Wisconsin. New cases are consistently high in Minnesota, particularly around the Twin Cities, where health officials have warned that the protests there could increase the risk of infection.

China said on Tuesday that Wuhan, the city where the pandemic began, had reported no new symptomatic or asymptomatic infections on Monday for the second straight day. Sunday was the first day that both tallies were zero since the city’s outbreak began.

Separately, the European Chamber of Commerce in China issued a report decrying the rapid proliferation in recent years of long-haul international flights to and from second-tier and third-tier Chinese cities. That includes Wuhan, where 19 flights left the city in January alone carrying about 4,000 travelers to New York or San Francisco, according to VariFlight, an aviation data company based in China.

The pandemic has resulted in the temporary suspension of almost all of these services, according to the chamber, which focused its analysis on flights last year and prepared most of its report before the pandemic began. Philippe Bardol, the chairman of the chamber’s aviation and aerospace working group, declined to discuss Wuhan specifically.

A New York Times analysis in March found that international flights from Wuhan and other Chinese cities continued as normal through much of January, even as the outbreak moved across the country. Thousands of people flew out of Wuhan to New York, Sydney, Bangkok and other cities. (Bangkok is where the first known overseas case appeared in mid-January, in a 61-year-old woman who had traveled from Wuhan despite having a fever, headache and a sore throat.)

The pandemic has brought new attention to the steep rise in recent years of nonstop flights to the United States from an ever-lengthening list of cities.

Rapid growth in long-haul flights from second-tier and third-tier Chinese cities before the pandemic meant that people who used to change planes in Beijing or Shanghai could fly straight from Europe into smaller cities instead. Mr. Bardol said that eroded the number of passengers and profitability for European carriers on their routes from Europe to Beijing or Shanghai.

Smaller Chinese carriers tend to be headquartered in second-tier or third-tier cities, which often own stakes in the carriers as well and subsidize their new international flights. Before the pandemic hit, these cities wanted more international flights so as to increase tourism and make themselves more viable candidates when big companies chose where to locate their offices.

A referendum on changes to Russia’s Constitution that would allow President Vladimir V. Putin to remain in office for another 16 years was rescheduled for July 1, after a long delay because of the pandemic.

Russia is the third hardest-hit country after the United States and Brazil. Moscow, the capital, has accounted for more than 40 percent of total reported infections, which numbered 414,878 on Monday, and more than half the deaths in the country.

To calm concerns that the Kremlin was gambling with public health in pursuit of its political agenda, Anna Popova, the head of the state agency leading efforts against the virus, spoke at a video conference of officials along with Mr. Putin and offered assurances that holding the referendum on July 1 would be safe for the public.

The head of the Central Election Commission, Alla Pamfilova, suggested that the vote could be spread over six days to avoid crowds at polling stations.

Moscow city authorities on Monday also helped to prepare the way for the vote, the centerpiece of the Kremlin’s political plans for the year. After nine weeks in lockdown, Moscow reopened parks, shopping malls, car dealerships and many other businesses but restricted entry to people wearing masks and gloves.

Bad weather and confusion over the rules kept many residents indoors nonetheless, and provoked mockery on social media.

“So when it comes to matters like public security,” she added, “Hong Kong people willingly abide by some of the restrictions in order to protect themselves, their families and society at large.”

On Monday, the Hong Kong police banned a vigil, which had been planned for Thursday, in memory of the people killed in China’s 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests, citing the need to enforce social-distancing rules.

It was the first time the June 4 vigil, which has been held annually since 1990, had been banned. Fears about limits on free speech and political expression have been escalating in Hong Kong, particularly since last week, when Beijing moved to impose new national security laws on the semiautonomous city. Some democracy advocates in the city had wondered whether this year’s Tiananmen vigil might be the last.

The vigil’s organizers said they still planned to go to Victoria Park, where the event is regularly held, even though they expected the police to break up any gathering. They have asked supporters in Hong Kong and around the world to light candles and post the images online.

The organizing body, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, also plans to set up booths around the city, said Lee Cheuk-yan, the group’s chairman. A handful of churches are to hold special services, he said.

“This is one of the characteristics of Hong Kong. We all came out to support democracy in China in 1989,” Mr. Lee said. “We have continued for 30 years, and people are really shocked that we can be persistent.”

President Trump said last week that he would begin the process of ending the United States’ special relationship with Hong Kong in response to the new security laws. The Trump administration has provided few details about its plans, which Chinese officials have cast as the latest attempt by a foreign government to interfere in Hong Kong. Investors have kept a sharp eye on the tensions between the two countries.

Reading a coronavirus study? Here are some tips.

The pandemic has prompted a flood of scientific research, and a lot of people are now reading scientific papers for the first time in an attempt to make sense of the virus.

But that doesn’t make the papers any easier to decipher. They’re full of jargon, for one, and don’t always explain the underlying story. Also: The ongoing flood of papers that have yet to be peer-reviewed includes a lot of weak research and misleading claims.

Carl Zimmer, a Times science writer, says the best approach is thinking about a paper as a scientist would. “Ask some basic questions to judge its merit,” he writes. “Is it based on a few patients or thousands? Is it mixing up correlation and causation? Do the authors actually present the evidence required to come to their conclusions?”

Social media can help as well, he adds, because leading epidemiologists and virologists have been posting thoughtful threads on Twitter. Just make sure you’re following real experts — not bots that peddle conspiracy theories.

Six months on, here’s what we know and don’t know about the virus.

Reporters and editors on the health and science desk at The New York Times have compiled their assessments and insights.

Here’s What We’ve Learned …

… And What We Don’t Still Don’t Understand

Black workers face discrimination in the workplace and often lose work early in a crisis — and their unemployment rate continues to rise even as the labor market for white workers begins to rebound.

African-American workers also consistently earn less than white workers, partly because they are more heavily concentrated in low-paying service industries. But it is also true that black Americans continue to be underrepresented in the highest-paying jobs and earn less than comparable whites at every education level.

And because they make less, African-American families accumulate less wealth over time. The end result is that they have less money in the bank to make it through extended economic weakness.

Workers across racial and ethnic groups have seen unemployment soar, but many black workers fall into two fraught categories: They are either essential workers exposed to the virus on the front lines, or they have lost their jobs. Black workers make up 11.9 percent of all employees but 17 percent of front-line workers, one study found. And they are dying of Covid-19 at higher rates than white people because of entrenched inequalities in resources and access to care.

Several countries where the pandemic appears to be ebbing marked the beginning of June by easing restrictions. They included South Africa, which lifted its ban on alcohol sales. A drop in murders and traffic accidents had been attributed to the measure, but bootleggers quickly stepped in to meet demand.

Other measures that went into effect on Monday:

  • Students were allowed to return to some elementary schools in England, but many parents decided to keep their children home, concerned that the risks remain too high. Schools also resumed in Greece.

  • A pigeon race involving 4,000 birds marked the reopening of some sports events in Britain, and it was soon followed by a horse race held without spectators.

  • Beaches in Spain reopened, except those near Barcelona, and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao became the country’s first major cultural institution to again allow visitors. Ireland also allowed bathers to return to some beaches.

  • Cinemas began screening films again in Thailand, although their audiences were limited to 200 people and customers must be separated by at least one empty seat. Portugal also reopened movie theaters along with some other businesses. Bars reopened in the Netherlands, Finland and Norway.

  • The Adriatic state of Montenegro, which has declared itself free of the virus, reopened its border to foreigners. The prime minister of Pakistan also lifted restrictions on foreign visitors. Lithuania ended a 14-day quarantine requirement for visitors from dozens of countries.

  • Visitors were allowed into two of Italy’s biggest tourist attractions: the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel, and the Colosseum.

Stocks on Wall Street edged higher.

U.S. stocks posted modest gains on Monday, continuing a recent climb that had left the S&P 500 with its best two-month gain in 11 years.

The gains were small, though, and came after a weekend of violence and unrest in the United States. The S&P 500 rose less than half a percent. Shares of some retailers that said they were temporarily closing some stores in response to protests took a hit. Target was down more than 2 percent.

European markets closed about 1 percent higher on Monday, though markets in Germany and a number of other countries were closed for a holiday. Asian markets rose strongly, paced by an increase of more than 3 percent in Hong Kong and more than 2 percent in mainland China shares.

The rally in stocks has come as investors have bet the worst of the economic damage caused by the pandemic could be over. In another sign of this on Monday, an index of U.S. manufacturing activity rose in May. The index was 43.1 last month, up from 41.5 in April, which was the lowest level in more than a decade, the Institute for Supply Management said. However, it was still below 50, which connotes an economy still in contraction.

Investors were also watching for more details on Mr. Trump’s response to China’s crackdown on Hong Kong. On Friday, Mr. Trump had said the United States would begin rolling back the special trade and financial status it grants to the former British colony but did not go into specifics.

Reporting was contributed by Ian Austen, Julie Bosman, Keith Bradsher, Emily Cochrane, Michael Cooper, Stacy Cowley, Antonio de Luca, Jeffrey Gettleman, Christina Goldbaum, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Christopher Flavelle, Jacey Fortin, Jack Healy, Andrew Higgins, Jin Wu, Caroline Kim, Patrick Kingsley, Gina Kolata, Hari Kumar, Su-Hyun Lee, Jane L. Levere, Denise Lu, Apoorva Mandavilli, Raphael Minder, Andy Newman, Matt Phillips, Roni Caryn Rabin, Austin Ramzy, Alan Rappeport, Rick Rojas, David E. Sanger, Eric Schmitt, Jennifer Schuessler, Dionne Searcey, Karan Deep Singh, Mitch Smith, Eileen Sullivan, Umi Syam, Dave Taft, Carlos Tejada, Mary Williams Walsh, Edward Wong, Ceylan Yeginsu, Elaine Yu and Karen Zraick.


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