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Coronavirus Pandemic: Live World News Updates

2020-05-25 13:41:58
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Memorial Day is met with a varied approach, from strict closures to crowded celebrations.

Those looking to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer in the United States, were confronted by the difficulties of how to gather during a pandemic as the country inched closer to the terrible milestone of 100,000 deaths.

But elsewhere in the country, crowds flocked to the beaches and parks that were open for the holiday weekend. While many maintained social distancing, others partied with abandon.

A video clip taken at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri and posted by a local television anchor showed partygoers packing a pool. The images quickly spread on social media, and by Monday they had been viewed millions of times.

President Trump and the first lady were set to observe Memorial Day on Monday with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony, followed by a visit to Fort McHenry in Baltimore “to honor the American heroes who have sacrificed their lives serving in the U.S. Armed Forces,” a White House statement read.

Parts of Spain that were affected particularly badly by the coronavirus, including Barcelona and Madrid, took significant steps toward easing restrictions, with outdoor dining terraces reopening for the first time in months in both cities.

And Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on Monday announced an end to the national state of emergency, but called on the public to continue taking measures to defend against infection.

“We can’t continue to live and work in the way we’ve done until now,” he said.

Around the world, countries are wrestling with the challenge of how to best restart air travel, a cornerstone of modern commerce but also a dangerous vector of coronavirus infection.

As some nations have brought their outbreaks under control, they are both reopening their skies and identifying other relatively safe countries to which travel will be allowed.

But nations still in the throes of the pandemic were finding themselves newly closed off, with their people barred from once-accepting airports.

As the United States was restricting travel, India, emerging from a nationwide lockdown, was resuming it.

In Europe, the countries that have been most successful at containing the virus looked to broker travel agreements.

Officials in Greece have suggested an “air bridge” with other nations that have minor outbreaks. International flights to Athens are to resume on June 15, and to the country’s other airports on July 1.

On Sunday, Mr. Johnson said the aide, Dominic Cummings, had acted “responsibly, and legally, and with integrity,” despite having made a journey of more than 250 miles from London to Durham, in the north of England, at the height of the national lockdown.

Mr. Cummings is expected to address the controversy on Monday as the calls for him to step down gathered pace.

At least 18 lawmakers from Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party have now criticized Mr. Cummings, as have a number of Church of England bishops. Some scientists and opposition politicians have warned that the episode risks undermining the credibility of government health messages on the pandemic.

The cabinet is scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss easing the lockdown.

Mr. Johnson’s defense of Mr. Cummings on Sunday appeared to have backfired by leaving many questions unanswered and prompting more of his fellow lawmakers to protest.

“The Government should recognise what families have gone through and what people are thinking and saying,” Peter Aldous, a Conservative lawmaker, wrote on Twitter on Monday. “It is thus important that Dominic Cummings should now stand down.”

There were calls for the police in Durham to open an investigation into the whereabouts of Mr. Cummings, including a sighting of him at a location more than 20 miles from the house in which he was staying. At the time, Britons had been instructed only to leave their home for a daily walk or run and not to drive anywhere to take exercise.

It was 1952, and the young men had returned to the industrial towns of western Massachusetts after serving in World War II. They were children from poor families. And they were damaged: shellshocked, learning to live without limbs, unable to communicate what they had seen.

It was to these men that Gov. Paul Dever, who had fought in the war himself, dedicated the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, promising to protect wounded veterans.

But nearly 70 years later, as the coronavirus began spreading across the country, that promise was broken. Of the 210 veterans who were living in the facility in late March, 89 are now dead, 74 having tested positive for the coronavirus. Almost three-quarters of the veterans inside were infected. It is one of the highest death tolls of any end-of-life facility in the country.

There was James Leach Miller, who at 21 was on Omaha Beach on D-Day, crowded into a landing ship with other young men. He died of the coronavirus on March 30.

There was Emilio DiPalma, who at 19 was an Army staff sergeant. He guarded Hermann Goering, the driving force behind the Nazi concentration camps, during the Nuremberg trials. He died of the coronavirus on April 8.

The question of what went wrong at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home will be with Massachusetts for a long time.

Investigations have been opened, several of which seek to determine whether state officials should be charged with negligence under civil or criminal law.

“He died with no care whatsoever,” said Linda McKee, the daughter of Mr. Miller. “There was no one there giving orders.”

In Germany, those fed up with exercising at home and staring at their own four walls will be able to escape on Monday, as hotels, swimming pools and campgrounds were allowed to reopen in several states, the latest step in the country’s efforts to carefully revive the economy.

Strict hygiene rules and limitations govern the new steps. Measures include advance online booking for a time slot at Berlin’s outdoor pools, buffets giving way to advance orders at distanced tables in hotel breakfast rooms and shuttered campground shower rooms in some states. And people are still required to stay five feet from strangers.

More states plan to allow re-openings this week, as the number of new infections in Germany remained manageable, with 289 new cases — many of them concentrated in nursing homes or refugee centers — reported on Monday. Germany has recorded 8,257 deaths since the outbreak began.

Starting on Monday, other parts of Spain, covering areas that are home to almost half the population, reopened public swimming pools and beaches, and restaurants and bars can now serve customers indoors with specific restrictions to avoid overcrowding.

Greece also allowed cafes, restaurants, and bars to reopen on Monday, while domestic ferry services that shuttle visitors from the mainland to the country’s numerous islands also restarted.

People flocked to cafes, where groups of up to six can dine, and wait staff wore masks, as did some of the customers. Giannis Neonakis, a manager at a bistro in central Athens, told local news outlets that the first day back was going well,

“Thankfully, people are careful and are getting used to — fortunately or otherwise — such a situation,” he said.

The measures were lifted for most of the rest of the country earlier this month after a drop in the number of new coronavirus cases led officials to step back initial requests for most businesses to close and individuals to stay home.

Addressing the nation after the announcement, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on the public to continue taking measures to defend against infection, asking them to avoid crowded places.

“We need to make a new normal. Let’s change our thinking,” he said, warning that “We can’t continue to live and work in the way we’ve done until now.”

As businesses reopen, the authorities and medical experts counsel that the country must remain vigilant against the threat of a second wave, which could quickly undo progress in controlling the coronavirus’s spread.

While Japan’s case count is low, it has also carried out much less testing than other countries, raising anxiety that there could be a reservoir of undiscovered asymptomatic cases in the country.

Damien Cave, the Times’ bureau chief in Sydney, writes about the resumption of classes in Australia.

I made my daughter her favorite breakfast this morning and packed extra snacks in my son’s lunchbox. Not even a soaking rain could dampen my mood — if my wife and I could have popped champagne at 8 a.m. we would have.

Finally, after seven weeks at home filled with Zoom lessons, fractions, overdue assignments, TikTok and a few tears, our two children were returning to their real-life classrooms full time.

“I’m not excited for school,” my daughter, Amelia, 9, told me, as we made our way to morning drop-off in downtown Sydney. “I’m excited for normal life!”

But as I watched other parents this morning, some in masks, others with hand sanitizer, I couldn’t shake the sense that “normal life” had already narrowed.

Amelia tells me that hugging at school now brings a scolding. Dance is still canceled. Balthazar, her brother, who is 11, will also probably not be going to bush camp with his class next month — a sixth-grade milestone he’d been looking forward to since last year.

What have we learned? Honestly, less about school than ourselves.

Our children said they were surprised to discover how hard their parents worked. I come away with a deeper understanding of my children as students — now I know my usually quiet son learns best not alone but in groups, even if that means sitting across from me; and my daughter, it turns out, is far more diligent than her chattiness suggests.

There’s a part of me that will miss them now that they’re gone. But I don’t want them back, not just because that would mean a second wave of the virus; also because school, we now know more than ever, is a beautiful luxury.

Congregations across the United States were still using Facebook or YouTube to hold services on Sunday, or were taking part from their cars in church parking lots.

But pastors have been sharing plans for returning to in-person services in the weeks ahead.

The dispute has become distinctly political, as growing numbers of churches pushed back against restrictions on in-person worship and as President Trump threatened on Friday to try to overrule governors who refuse to open houses of worship.

“Some governors have deemed the liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s not right. So I am correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential.”

Leaders of the Church of God in Christ, a historically black denomination with about six million members worldwide, were urging pastors not to begin reopening until at least July.

“The moral safe choice is to wait,” Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., the church’s presiding bishop, said. “We don’t think now is the time, and neither do the scientists and doctors we consult with.”

In Germany, which for weeks now has allowed religious services, 40 churchgoers became infected with the coronavirus during a service at a Baptist church in Frankfurt, the health authorities said.

Six parishioners were hospitalized, according to Wladimir Pritzkau, a leader of the parish.

France took tentative steps on Sunday to reopen churches, mosques and synagogues. Officials were nudged by a legal challenge to a blanket ban on public worship that was not set to be lifted until the end of May.

In Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher reopened after a two-month lockdown. On the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians crowded into streets early Sunday in defiance of coronavirus restrictions, including many who demanded that the Palestinian authorities reopen mosques for Eid al-Fitr, the festival for the conclusion of the fasting month of Ramadan.

“I wear a face shield every time I enter a store or other building,” said Dr. Eli Perencevich. “Sometimes I also wear a cloth mask, if required by the store’s policy.”

Dr. Perencevich is an infectious-disease physician at the University of Iowa and the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health Care System. In an opinion article published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, he and two colleagues argued that simple clear-plastic face shields could help reduce the transmission of infections.

There has also been no research on how well one person’s face shield protects other people from viral transmission — the concept called source control that is a primary benefit of surgical and cloth masks.

A multibillion-dollar institution in the Seattle area invests in hedge funds, runs a pair of venture capital funds and works with elite private equity firms like the Carlyle Group.

And this spring, Providence received at least $509 million in government funds, one of many wealthy beneficiaries of a federal program that is supposed to prevent health care providers from capsizing during the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, the riches are flowing in large part to hospitals that had already built up deep financial reserves to help them withstand an economic storm. Smaller, poorer hospitals are receiving tiny amounts of federal aid by comparison.

In the world of performing arts, the coronavirus pandemic has already sunk summer. Now it is felling fall.

Even as reopened barbershops, beaches and bookstores herald the resumption of economic life across America, concert promoters, theater presenters, orchestras and dance companies are ripping up their 2020 calendars and hoping 2021 will mark a new beginning.

“I think 2020 is gone,” said Anna D. Shapiro, the artistic director of the storied Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago. “I’ll be stunned if we’re back in the theater.”

In pop music, the superstars Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber have canceled their performances this year, and there is not much hope for other large events. “It doesn’t seem likely we are going to open in the fall,” said Jay Marciano, the chairman of AEG Presents, one of the industry’s biggest promoters.

Much of the professional theater world is following suit. Guthrie Theater, a prestigious nonprofit in Minneapolis, jolted the industry with its announcement that its next season, which was to feature 12 productions beginning in September, would be scaled back to three, beginning next March.

In South Carolina, Charleston Stage delayed its next season until January, while in Utah, Pioneer Theater Company was aiming for February, and in California, Berkeley Repertory Theater planned to start in “late winter.”

“We won’t have programming this fall,” said Chris Coleman, the artistic director of the theater company at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. “Part of it is the uncertainty of when it’s going to be safe to gather, and part of it is economic — we’ve thought about social distancing, but it makes zero economic sense.”

Reporting was contributed by Iliana Magra, Raphael Minder, Melissa Eddy, Megan Specia, Ben Dooley, Joshua Barone, Jesse Drucker, Sarah Kliff, Mark Landler Stephen Castle, Damien Cave, Joshua Barone, Mariel Padilla, Michael Paulson, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Knvul Sheikh, Ben Sisario, Michael Wilson, Zachary Woolfe, Kai Schultz and Ellen Barry.


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