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Coronavirus News: Live Updates

2020-05-18 04:27:14
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The owners of restaurants, bars and other establishments in Illinois that open too soon can now be charged with a Class A misdemeanor under a measure enacted by the governor.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, filed an emergency rule on Friday that his office said was intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as a growing number of businesses defy stay-at-home orders across the country.

In Illinois, where a stay-at-home order remains in effect through May, a Class A misdemeanor carries a punishment of up to a year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. The rule also applies to businesses such as barbershops and gyms, according to Mr. Pritzker’s office.

Jordan Abudayyeh, a spokeswoman for Mr. Pritzker, said in an email Sunday that the measure provided an “additional enforcement tool for businesses that refuse to comply with the most critical aspects of the stay-at-home order.”

As of Sunday, 4,177 people had died from Covid-19 in Illinois, according to state health officials, and there have been 94,191 confirmed cases of the virus.

Conservative state lawmakers have criticized the measure. Senator Dan McConchie, a Republican and a member of the Senate’s Public Health Committee, called it “an affront to the separation of powers” in a Twitter post on Sunday.

Ms. Abudayyeh, the governor’s spokeswoman, said that bringing misdemeanor charges against business owners was not a first resort.

“Law enforcement has relied heavily on educating business owners about the order and always first discusses the regulations with business owners to urge compliance,” she said. “Only businesses that pose a serious risk to public health and refuse to comply with health regulations would be issued a citation. The rule gives law enforcement a tool that may be more appropriate and less severe than closing the business altogether.”

The pain of the coronavirus shutdown, in terms of wrecked economies and shattered lives, has been unmistakable. Now, governors across the country are contemplating the risks of reopening, particularly if it produces a surge of new cases and deaths.

“This is really the most crucial time, and the most dangerous time,” Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, a Republican, said on the CNN program “State of the Union” on Sunday. “All of this is a work in progress. We thought it was a huge risk not to open. But we also know it’s a huge risk in opening.”

The push to reopen has been fueled by swelling frustration, as unemployment soars, businesses declare bankruptcy or announce they cannot survive the shutdowns, and fears intensify about enduring economic devastation. Some businesses have even reopened in defiance of state orders.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, a Democrat, said on CNN, “I deeply understand the stress and anxiety that people have, that entire dreams have been torn asunder because of the shutdowns, their savings account depleted and their credit ratings destroyed.”

“The question is,” he added, “how do you toggle back and make meaningful modifications to the stay-at-home order?”

But governors also acknowledged concerns about a fresh resurgence of the coronavirus, and they are haunted by images of restaurants and stores packed with patrons with uncovered faces.

“This is a virus we’re still learning a lot about,” Mr. DeWine said.

The response to the virus has been defined by the balance between trying to curb the virus’s spread and trying to minimize the economic harm. In much of the country, the pendulum has swung toward favoring the economy.

Jerome H. Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, said that while he expected the U.S. economy to recover from the sharp and painful downturn brought about by the coronavirus, that process would take time — potentially until the end of 2021.

“This economy will recover; it may take a while,” Mr. Powell said in a preview of the CBS program “60 Minutes,” which is scheduled to air Sunday evening. “It may take a period of time, it could stretch through the end of next year, we don’t really know.”

Asked whether the economy could recover without an effective vaccine, Mr. Powell suggested that it could make a start, but not get all the way there.

“Assuming that there’s not a second wave of the coronavirus, I think you’ll see the economy recover steadily through the second half of this year,” he said. “For the economy to fully recover, people will have to be fully confident, and that may have to await the arrival of a vaccine.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo provided a lasting image on Sunday for fellow New Yorkers who may be apprehensive about getting tested for the coronavirus — he invited a doctor to stick a swab up his nose during his live news briefing on the pandemic.

“It is so fast and so easy that even a governor can take this test,” Mr. Cuomo said.

Mr. Cuomo then stood up and turned to a doctor, who was holding a cotton swab and was wearing coveralls, a face shield and gloves. Camera shutters clicked furiously as the doctor guided the swab up the Mr. Cuomo’s nostril.

“That’s it?” he said. “That’s it? Nothing else?”

New York has the capability of conducting 40,000 tests per day at 700 sites, said Mr. Cuomo, who noted that testing would be critical to monitoring the spread of the virus as the state begins to reopen.

“There is nothing about this test that should intimidate people from not taking this test,” he said.

In a telephone appearance during a televised charity golf exhibition Sunday, President Trump said he enthusiastically supported the return of live sporting events during the pandemic.

While Sunday’s exhibition was contested without spectators, Mr. Trump said he hoped that future events would be teeming with fans.

“We want to get it back to where it was, we want big, big stadiums loaded with people,” he said.

He later added, “We want to get back to normal where you have the big crowds where they’re practically standing on top of each other, not where they’re worried.”

“I would love to be able to have all sports back,” Dr. Fauci said. “But as a health official and a physician and a scientist, I have to say, right now, when you look at the country, we’re not ready for that yet.”

Thirteen sailors aboard the virus-stricken aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt have retested positive for Covid-19 after seeming to have recovered from the disease, Navy officials said on Sunday.

The infected sailors, who had all tested negative twice before reboarding the Roosevelt in recent days, have been removed from the warship to self-quarantine. The Roosevelt has been docked in Guam since March 27 as Navy officials wrestle with how to deal with sickened sailors, disinfect the vessel and prepare for it to resume operations in the Western Pacific.

Navy officials have said they are aggressively screening and testing as crew members return to the Roosevelt after quarantining at the U.S. military base in Guam, as well as at hotels and in other lodging there. Officials on the ship are requiring masks and repeatedly cleaning and sanitizing to prevent another outbreak of the virus, which has infected about 1,100 crew members since March. One sailor has died.

About 2,900 of the 4,800 crew members are now back on board. They are under strict orders to report to doctors the slightest cough, headache or other flulike symptom. In the past week or so, the new testing even turned up a sailor who tested positive for tuberculosis. That set off a wild contact-tracing scramble that found no other cases on board, Navy officials said.

The results of the Navy’s latest investigation into events surrounding the Roosevelt are due by the end of this month.

When a sprinkling of a reddish rash appeared on Jack McMorrow’s hands in mid-April, his father figured the 14-year-old was overusing hand sanitizer — not a bad thing during a global pandemic.

When Jack’s parents noticed that his eyes looked glossy, they attributed it to late nights of video games and TV.

When he developed a stomachache and didn’t want dinner, “they thought it was because I ate too many cookies or whatever,” said Jack, a ninth-grader in Woodside, Queens, who loves Marvel Comics and has ambitions to teach himself “Stairway to Heaven” on the guitar.

But over the next 10 days, Jack felt increasingly unwell. His parents consulted his pediatricians in video appointments and took him to a weekend urgent care clinic. Then, one morning, he awoke unable to move.

He had a tennis ball-size lymph node, raging fever, racing heartbeat and dangerously low blood pressure. Pain deluged his body in “a throbbing, stinging rush,” he said.

“You could feel it going through your veins and it was almost like someone injected you with straight-up fire,” he said.

Jack, who was previously healthy, was hospitalized with heart failure that day, in a stark example of the newly discovered severe inflammatory syndrome linked to the coronavirus that has already been identified in about 200 children in the United States and Europe and killed several.

What is the difference between “deaths among Covid-19 cases” and “deaths due to Covid-19”? In Colorado, that distinction in wording changes the total by about 30 percent.

Until Friday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment had been including anyone who had Covid-19 at the time of death in the official total, a practice consistent with the C.D.C.’s counting criteria. By that reckoning, Colorado had 1,192 deaths as of Friday.

But the state said it would now also report a lower figure — those for whom the disease is considered the sole cause of death, with no other complicating factors. Counting that way knocks the state’s total down to 892.

Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, defended the change on Sunday.

“The C.D.C. criteria include anybody who died with Covid-19,” he said on Fox News. “What the people of Colorado and the people of the country want to know is how many people died of Covid-19.”

Mr. Polis acknowledged that the virus, which he called a “bad bug,” can be particularly dangerous for older people and people with underlying medical conditions — those who would be most likely to be excluded from the state’s sole-cause count.

State officials said the positive case was identified Friday in the city of Dillingham. The infected worker, an employee of Trident Seafoods, had recently arrived and tested positive at the end of a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Earlier this month, a worker who had arrived in the fishing community of Cordova also tested positive.

Some locals have expressed concern about the fishing season, which began in Cordova with the pursuit of the famed Copper River salmon. In Dillingham, hospital leaders at the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation had requested that the fishing season remain closed, arguing that the arrival of thousands of outsiders put the community at risk.

To prepare for the influx of workers, state and local government officials have put in place strict quarantine procedures, social-distancing requirements and aggressive testing. Some companies are requiring their workers to stay on site, where the seasonal crews often sleep in bunkhouses.

State officials said the worker who tested positive in Dillingham was removed from the area. None of that person’s contacts in the city have so far tested positive.

The Republican-controlled Senate is not expected to take up the legislation that the Democratic-controlled House approved on Friday. Instead, the Senate will turn to a number of pending nominations before an expected Memorial Day recess. Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Republicans to reconsider.

“Time is of the essence,” she said in an interview aired Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” “In the past bills, they put forth their proposal, and then we worked in a bipartisan way that we anticipate now.”

“They may think it’s OK to pause, but people are hungry across America,” she added. “Hunger doesn’t take a pause.”

Republican leaders have played down what Democrats say is an immediate need for relief, arguing that it was too early to allocate additional funds after Congress previously passed close to $3 trillion in relief.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has laid down a “red line,” saying that strengthening liability protections for health workers and businesses moving to reopen must be part of any future package.

Ms. Pelosi said on Sunday that she had “no red lines,” but she singled out a provision in the bill passed on Friday that would strengthen federal protections for essential workers.

“The best protection for our workers and their employers is to follow very good OSHA mandatory guidelines,” she said, referring to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “That protects the workers, protects their lives, as well as protects the employer if they follow the guidelines. Remember, when people go to work, they go home.”

The legislation the House passed on Friday, which Democratic leaders acknowledged amounted to an opening offer, faces some opposition from within their party, including in the Senate.

“I think what Pelosi did in the House — it is significant,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with the Democrats. “I have some disagreements with it, and I want to see the Senate improve on it.”

A major question on the minds of many parents is whether their children’s schools will reopen in the fall. So far the plans and guidelines that have emerged are a patchwork, and state leaders are divided about whether it is possible to have the schools ready in time and what it will take to do it safely.

Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado said on Sunday that starting the school year open would not guarantee that they stayed that way. “There might be times, if there’s an outbreak at a school, that it has to convert to online for a period of weeks until it’s reasonably safe to return to school,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Governor Polis said his state was considering measures like staggering start times, class schedules and breaks to minimize crowds in hallways.

California will proceed slowly and methodically in allowing crowds to gather again anywhere, including schools, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Sunday, and that may mean that some schools in the state reopen while others remain closed.

“It’s all predicated on data, on science, not just observed evidence,” he said on CNN. “Each part of California is unique.”

Both governors noted that while children were not often affected as severely by the virus as adults are, they were potential spreaders.

“This is no question from an epidemiological perspective that this is a less severe, almost infinitesimal fatality rate for kids,” Mr. Polis said. “But the thing is, kids live with parents, they live with grandparents, kids are around teachers, so that’s where it gets a little bit more complicated.”

Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, suggested in televised remarks on Sunday that the high death toll from Covid-19 in the United States, compared with other nations, was due at least in part to the prevalence of underlying health issues in minority communities.

“Unfortunately, the American population is very diverse, and it is a population with significant unhealthy comorbidities that do make many individuals in our communities, in particular African-American minority communities, particularly at risk,” Mr. Azar said on the CNN program “State of the Union,” adding, “That is an unfortunate legacy of our health care system that we certainly do need to address.”

The host, Jake Tapper, pressed Mr. Azar on whether he was trying to place the blame for the pandemic on its victims. “I want to give you an opportunity to clear it up,” Mr. Tapper said, “because it sounded like you were saying that the reason that there are so many dead Americans is because we’re unhealthier than the rest of the world, and I know that’s not what you meant.”

Mr. Azar responded: “We have a significantly disproportionate burden of comorbidities in the United States — obesity, hypertension, diabetes — these are demonstrated facts that make us at risk for any type of disease burden, of course, but that doesn’t mean it’s the fault of the American people.”

Unable to travel, some turn to backyard camping.

Think s’mores, stars, the air mattress deflating with a cartoony hiss. Picture children’s faces, fire-lit and, for just another minute, little else. It could happen in farmland, suburbia or the Bronx — and it could be lovely. In lieu of summer vacation, there are also ways to vacation at home.

Reporting was contributed by Mike Baker, Karen Barrow, Pam Belluck, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Emily Cochrane, Melina Delkic, Rebecca Halleck, Jan Hoffman, Julia Jacobs, Sheila Kaplan, Clifford Krauss, Michael Levenson, Tariro Mzezewa, Bill Pennington, Rick Rojas, Katherine Rosman, Andrea Salcedo, Eric Schmitt, Hiroko Tabuchi, Jim Tankersley and Neil Vigdor.


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