U.S. Sets Record for Daily New Cases as Virus Surges in South and West

The Four Percent


More than two months after the United States recorded its worst day of new infections since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the nation reached another grim milestone on Wednesday as it reported 36,880 new cases.

The number of infections indicated that the country was not only failing to contain the coronavirus, but also that the caseload was worsening — a path at odds with many other nations that have seen steady declines after an earlier peak. Cases in the United States had been on a downward trajectory after the previous high of 36,739 cases on April 24, but they have roared back in recent weeks.

“You need to do your part and make sure that you’re not spreading it to people who are going to be more at risk for this,” he said.

Arizona on Tuesday reported its highest number of virus hospitalizations, as did North Carolina, prompting its governor, Roy Cooper, to announce on Wednesday that the state would pause reopening for three weeks and require face masks. In Texas, more than 4,300 people with the virus are hospitalized, more than double the number at the beginning of June.

But in Missouri, where new case reports have reached their highest levels in recent days, coronavirus hospitalizations have declined slightly over the last month.

“We are NOT overwhelmed,” Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, said on Twitter, linking the uptick to more testing. “We are NOT currently experiencing a second wave. We have NO intentions of closing Missouri back down at this point in time.”

The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday that if governments and communities in the Americas are not able to stop the spread of the virus through surveillance, isolation of cases and quarantine of contacts, there may be a need to impose — or reimpose — general lockdowns.

“It is very difficult to take the sting out of this pandemic unless we are able to successfully isolate cases and quarantine contacts,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the W.H.O. health emergencies program. “In the absence of a capacity to do that, then the specter of further lockdowns cannot be excluded.”

He said that the growing number of coronavirus cases in the Americas has not peaked and that the region is likely to see sustained numbers of cases and deaths in the coming weeks.

With cases surging in the Houston area, the city’s intensive-care units are now filled to 97 percent of capacity, Mayor Sylvester Turner told the City Council on Wednesday, with Covid-19 patients accounting for more than one-quarter of all patients in intensive care.

The city, known for its large concentration of medical schools and research hospitals, could run out of I.C.U. beds within two weeks if nothing is done to slow the upward trajectory of the virus, said Dr. Peter Jay Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He called on the state to reimpose more aggressive social distancing restrictions.

Dr. Hotez said that hospitalizations were rising along with the case counts, so the data is not just the result of increased testing. “That means we have to act this week,” Dr. Hotez said.

On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott said in a television interview that more than 5,000 people had tested positive in the past day and that more than 4,000 were hospitalized. There is a “massive outbreak of Covid-19 across the state of Texas today,” he said.

Apple said it closed seven of its stores in the Houston area because of rising coronavirus cases in the region. The move on Wednesday followed its closing of 11 stores in Arizona, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina because of the virus. Apple had closed nearly all of its roughly 500 stores worldwide months ago, but had opened most in the United States in recent weeks after cases declined. Just over 200 of Apple’s 271 American stores are now open, with some still closed because of damage from protests, an Apple spokesman said.

In other news around the United States:


Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York announced on Wednesday that the state will begin requiring out-of-state travelers coming from hard-hit states to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival, a move that punctuated a stark shift in the course of the nation’s outbreak.

The restrictions will be based on specific health metrics related to the virus, he said at a news conference. The quarantine would apply to travelers arriving from a state, as well as New Yorkers returning from a state, where there was either a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or a state with a 10 percent or higher rate over a seven-day rolling average.

“A lot of people come into this region and they could literally bring the infection with them,” he said. “It wouldn’t be malicious or malevolent, but it would still be real.”

Eight states would be included, Mr. Cuomo said, when the restrictions took effect at midnight: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. Washington State had originally been included, but was dropped from the list after a further review of the data.

Travelers returning to New Jersey and Connecticut from those states would also be told to quarantine; their governors appeared with Mr. Cuomo to announce a tristate “joint travel advisory.” Mr. Cuomo said that enforcement would be up to each of the three states. Officials from New Jersey and Connecticut said there was no enforcement mechanism at the moment in their states.

In New York, those violating the quarantine order could be “subject to a judicial order and mandatory quarantine,” he said, and fines of up to $10,000. Mr. Cuomo also said that officials would not be stopping people at state borders to forbid them to enter, but that travelers were being asked to comply once they arrived.

A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo said that if a New Yorker believes that a recent arrival — or a returning neighbor — has not been abiding by the quarantine, then that person should start by reporting the possible violation to the local health department. Elsewhere in the U.S. where there are similar quarantines for travelers, there has not been widespread enforcement.

The goal, the governor said, was to maintain the hard-fought gains made in the region at great economic and human cost. For months, the state — New York City particularly — had been a global center of the pandemic. Hospitals filled to near capacity. Hundreds died each day, reaching a peak in mid-April. But on Wednesday, Mr. Cuomo said there were only an additional 17 deaths statewide.

New York’s quarantine will not apply to Yankees and Mets players returning to the area to complete spring training, which can begin on July 1, Mr. Cuomo said, adding that the state had been working on separate “health protocols” with them since last week.

Elsewhere in New York:

The top U.N. relief official warned Wednesday of a drastic worsening in the outbreak in war-ravaged Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, where he said 25 percent of those infected die — about five times the global average.

As Covid-19 sweeps the country, many deaths are most likely going unreported, said Mark Lowcock, the under secretary general for humanitarian affairs. But there is one unmistakable measure of the virus’s toll: “Burial prices in some areas have increased by seven times compared to a few months ago,” he said.

The United Nations has been chronically hampered in providing aid to Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been waging war on the rebel Houthi group for more than five years.

Even before the pandemic, the devastation caused by the war had left a vast majority of Yemen’s population hungry, destitute and afflicted with preventable diseases, including cholera and diphtheria. Millions of Yemeni children are malnourished, and some have died of starvation.

Mr. Lowcock spoke Wednesday at a United Nations Security Council briefing on the conflict, held three weeks after a major donor conference to raise money for the humanitarian emergency in Yemen secured $1.35 billion in pledges.

That was about half what was pledged a year earlier — and many of the pledges, Mr. Lowcock said, have not yet been paid.

If donors fail to make good on their pledges, he said, “at a minimum, we can expect many more people to starve to death and to succumb to Covid-19, and to die of cholera, and to watch their children die because they are not immunized for killer diseases.”

In low-income nations, the pandemic may erase 20 years of hard-fought progress against tuberculosis, H.I.V. and malaria, diseases that together claim more than 2.4 million lives each year.

A report released on Wednesday estimates that countries hit hard by these diseases will need at least $28.5 billion over the next year to shore up health campaigns and to respond to the pandemic itself. The figure does not include costs associated with a vaccine, assuming one is found.

  • Updated June 24, 2020

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

The toll is most severe in nations already strapped for resources. The pandemic has overwhelmed fragile health care systems in those countries, disrupting programs for preventing and treating tuberculosis, H.I.V. and malaria. Restricted air and sea transport also threatens the availability of crucial medicines.

Several models produced by the World Health Organization and others project that deaths from these diseases could double as a result. Treatment interruptions also raise the threat of drug resistance, already a formidable problem in many countries.

“The stakes are extraordinarily high,” Peter Sands, who heads The Global Fund, a public-private partnership that published the estimates, said in a statement. “The knock-on effects of Covid-19 on the fight against H.I.V., T.B. and malaria and other infectious diseases could be catastrophic.”

Since March, The Global Fund, which works mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, has provided $1 billion to help countries maintain their campaigns against these diseases. In the new report, the organization said that amount served only as a stopgap measure.

The Global Fund estimated that countries would need more than $13 billion to protect front-line health care workers and shore up their health systems, about $9 billion to develop and deploy treatments, and nearly $5 billion for diagnostics.

Thousands of employees with the federal agency that administers the country’s immigration system are expected to begin receiving furlough notices as applications for green cards, citizenship and other programs drop, Zolan Kanno-Youngs reports.

At one office, where well over half the employees were warned to expect furlough notices, staffers were told that the agency was focused on retaining jobs that “keep the lights on,” according to an email obtained by The New York Times.

LaDonna Davis, a spokeswoman for the agency, said that more than 13,000 employees should expect to receive the notices in early July.

“This dramatic drop in revenue has made it impossible for our agency to operate at full capacity,” she said. “Without additional funding from Congress before Aug. 3, U.S.C.I.S. has no choice but to administratively furlough a substantial portion of our work force.”

The agency has asked lawmakers for $1.2 billion, citing economic damage from the pandemic.

But critics say the problem lies not with the recession but with the Trump administration’s restrictionist immigration policies, which have led to backlogs and skyrocketing denials. The agency relies on application fees to fund most of its operations.

Evan Hollander, spokesman for the Democratic-controlled House Appropriations Committee, said the Office of Management and Budget had provided a letter to the committee with “virtually no information on the shortfall or their proposed remedies.” He said Democratic lawmakers were prepared to discuss the financial situation with Republicans.

Citizenship and Immigration Services officials have told Congress they would repay the funds to the Treasury Department by adding a 10-percent surcharge to applications.

In the email obtained by The Times, Jennifer Higgins, associate director of the office that deals with asylum and refugee applications, said the agency would send furlough notices to 1,500 of its 2,200 employees. It will to retain people whose duties include border screenings, refugee case completions and parole requests, she said.

Global roundup

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Wednesday celebrated his country’s victory 75 years ago against Nazi Germany, presiding over an enormous military parade through Red Square in Moscow that featured thousands of soldiers marching shoulder-to-shoulder without face masks.

The parade, the largest of several celebrations taking place nationwide, was originally scheduled for May 9, an annual holiday known as Victory Day, but was delayed for six weeks by the pandemic. The outbreak continues to grow in Russia — the world’s third-worst-affected country, with more than 600,000 cases — but at a slightly slower pace than before.

Aging veterans in their 80s and 90s joined Mr. Putin on the reviewing stand, nearly all of them without masks, to watch 14,000 troops march by.

Kremlin critics have accused Mr. Putin of gambling with public health to put himself at the center of a gigantic display of Russia’s military might and to rally support ahead of a nationwide vote on his future. Voting on constitutional amendments that would allow Mr. Putin to stay in power until 2036 starts on Thursday.

In other news from around the world:

  • Saudi Arabia effectively canceled the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, for what some scholars say may be the first time in history. The decision sent shock waves of sadness and disappointment across the Muslim world.

  • The virus is gaining steam in Latin America, where the number of deaths have more than doubled in a month, according to the Pan American Health Organization. The region now accounts for several of the world’s worst outbreaks.

  • Taiwan said on Wednesday that it would relax its entry rules for travelers from Hong Kong and Macau. Arrivals from the Chinese-controlled territories must prove that they have tested negative for the virus and enter home quarantine for 14 days after entry.

  • India is under pressure to open its airspace to international airlines after the United States and some European nations accused it of discriminatory practices under the guise of repatriations. The U.S. Department of Transportation accused Air India of selling tickets in the open market, even while New Delhi officials keep American carriers from flying to India.

Three weeks after it was introduced, a French contact-tracing app has fallen short of its potential to be a game changer: Only 14 users have been alerted that they were exposed to the virus.

The app, called “StopCovid,” uses Bluetooth technology to trace a person’s interactions. If users test positive and indicate their status on the app, their recent contacts — the ones who are also using the app — get an alert. But so far, only 68 people have informed the app that they were infected, and just a handful of their contacts received alerts.

“These figures correspond to a double reality,” Cédric O, the French digital affairs minister, said during a news conference this week. “A decrease in the spread of the epidemic in France — about 30 people a day are tested positive in Paris — but also a limited use of StopCovid.”

Mr. O said that 1.9 million people had downloaded the app in France, or about 3 percent of the total population. About 460,000 people then uninstalled it.

Modeling by Christophe Fraser, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Oxford University, estimated that to stop the spread of the illness, approximately 60 percent of the population would have to use the app.

Mr. O acknowledged in April that one of his main worries about the technology was whether enough people would install it. In Germany, some 10 million people, or about 12 percent of the population, downloaded a similar app. Britain was set to unroll its own app in June, but those plans were shelved after an initial testing phase revealed major problems.

Unlike most European countries, France opted to develop its own technology to underpin its app, rather than using the standard version backed by Apple and Google, and that decision partly delayed the introduction of StopCovid.

With cases on the rise in the United States and around the world, here’s what to do if you feel sick and are worried it may be the coronavirus.

Reporting was contributed by Azam Ahmed, Brooks Barnes, Ellen Barry, Emma Bubola, Alexander Burns, Jill Cowan, Maria Cramer, Matthew Futterman, Michael Gold, J. David Goodman, Jack Healy, Andrew Higgins, Ben Hubbard, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Ernesto Londoño, Iliana Magra, Apoorva Mandavilli, Jonathan Martin, Patricia Mazzei, Jack Nicas, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Jesse McKinley, Donald McNeil Jr., Constant Méheut, Benjamin Mueller, Aimee Ortiz, Daniel Politi, Austin Ramzy, Alan Rappeport, Dana Rubinstein, Kim Severson, Mitch Smith, Matt Stevens, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan, Daniel Victor, Neil Vigdor, Declan Walsh, Sui-Lee Wee, Noah Weiland, Pete Wells, Sameer Yasir and Karen Zraick.


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