November 24, 2020

Coronavirus Live Updates: States Look at Returning to Lockdown

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageCoronavirus testing in Sun City Center, Fla., on Monday.
Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

California, Florida and Texas, home to nearly 100 million, are getting swamped by the virus.

Leaders in the country’s three most populous states acknowledged on Monday that the outbreaks they have been battling for months were on the rise and may require a return of stricter lockdown measures.

California, Florida and Texas have reported a total of at least 892,000 cases since the start of the pandemic, according to a New York Times database. On Monday alone there were at least 30,000 new cases recorded across the three states, 18 percent of the world’s daily total.

There will be strict new orders in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would move to close indoor operations statewide for restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, zoos and card rooms. Bars would be forced to close all operations.

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transcript

Newsom Announces Rollbacks in California’s Reopening Plans

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said he was moving to close indoor operations for restaurants, wineries, movie theaters and zoos. Bars would be forced to close all operations.

This is a new statewide action. Effective today, every county in the state of California impacted by a requirement now to modify indoor operations, and to expand opportunities for outdoor operations in these specific categories you see on the screen. So the sectors that we’re closing statewide, again restaurants, wineries movie theaters, family entertainment, zoos, museums, cardrooms and bars to outdoor activities to the extent possible. Now with counties on the monitoring list, we have this list: fitness centers, places of worship, offices for non-critical sectors, personal care services, that includes hair salons, barbershops and indoor malls. Both L.A. Unified School District as well as San Diego announced that they’re going to enter into the fall school season the way they ended last school year. And that is by utilizing distance-learning until we deal with the background rate of infections, contextualizing the schools and where they’re operating, the communities that are being impacted by rates of growth, positivity and spread of the virus.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said he was moving to close indoor operations for restaurants, wineries, movie theaters and zoos. Bars would be forced to close all operations.CreditCredit…Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

And in 30 of California’s hardest hit counties — where 80 percent of the state’s 39 million residents live — even more restrictions were put in place. In those counties, businesses would be forced to close indoor operations for fitness centers, places of worship, noncritical offices, hair salons and barbershops, and malls.

“We’re going back into modification mode of our original stay-at-home order,” Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, said. “This continues to be a deadly disease.”

California’s two largest public school districts, in Los Angeles and San Diego, said on Monday that instruction would be remote-only in the fall.

In Texas, a top medical adviser to Gov. Greg Abbott said the state may need to roll back its reopening plans and reinstitute an economic lockdown if cases keep rising.

The adviser, Dr. Mark McClellan, is a physician and an economist at Duke University who is a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. He said in an interview that a lockdown in Texas was a “real possibility” that Mr. Abbott may be forced to impose in the next few weeks.

“I don’t think we have much time, before having to go to a more extreme step,” Dr. McClellan said. Already, the rapid spread has forced Mr. Abbott, a Republican, to reverse course by temporarily pausing the state’s reopening, closing bars again and issuing a mask order for most Texans.

In Florida, deaths are trending upward and are at their highest seven-day average level of the pandemic. Florida added more cases on Sunday than any state had recorded — 15,300 — and on Monday it reported more than 12,600 additional cases, its second-highest total recorded for a single day.

“We have a long road ahead,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

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Where cases are rising fastest

As the virus surges in Florida, more big-name Republicans are taking a wait-and-see approach to the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville next month, or deciding to skip it. The Republican Party, which moved the convention to Florida from Charlotte, N.C., after balking at health precautions there, now finds itself locked into a state with a far bigger virus problem, and planning an event whose attendance is waning as the pandemic escalates.

U.S. roundup

Betsy DeVos abandons a long advocacy of giving local control to demand that schools reopen.

Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

As public schools in the United States plunged into crisis at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stuck to the message of decades of conservative education advocacy.

She championed her trademark policies of local and parental control, freeing states of federal mandates, loosening rules and funding opportunities that she said would help schools “rethink education” outside their brick-and-mortar buildings.

But now, as President Trump pushes public schools to reopen this fall, Ms. DeVos is demanding they do as Washington says, a stance diametrically opposite to how she has led the department.

Already a partisan lightning rod, she has become the face of the Trump administration’s efforts to open schoolhouse doors through force and threats.

“We have so politicized the situation we don’t know who we can trust, and it’s become very clear that we can’t trust her,” said Keri Rodrigues, the president of the National Parents Union, a collection of 200 advocacy organizations across 50 states representing parents from communities of color.

Even Ms. DeVos’s ideological allies are mystified.

“Betsy DeVos six months ago would have thought this was ludicrous,” said Michael J. Petrilli, the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative research organization.

In a statement, the department defended Ms. DeVos’s push, saying that “if anyone is politicizing this issue it’s the unions, who are Democrats’ operatives, who are fear-mongering and denying the science that says it’s safe and better for kids’ overall health to be back in school.”

In other news from around the United States:

  • Travelers from 19 states where cases have increased must now quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in New York State. Beginning Tuesday, travelers arriving at New York airports will be required to fill out a form with their personal information and planned whereabouts, or face a $2,000 fine.

  • Seventeen states and the District of Columbia sued the Trump administration on Monday, seeking to block a new rule that would revoke the visas of foreign students who take classes entirely online in the fall.

  • The pandemic stripped an estimated 5.4 million American workers of their health insurance between February and May, according to a new analysis. The study, to be announced Tuesday by the nonpartisan consumer advocacy group Families USA, found that the estimated increase in uninsured workers was nearly 40 percent higher than the highest previous increase, during the recession of 2008-9, when 3.9 million adults lost insurance.

Global roundup

Britain is expected to mandate face coverings in shops and supermarkets.

Credit…Pool photo by Ben Stansall

After months of equivocation over mandating face coverings to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain was expected to announce on Tuesday that people would be required to wear masks inside shops and supermarkets.

The reversal, set to take effect next week, pulls England into line with other European countries, like Germany and Italy, and other parts of the United Kingdom, like Scotland, which has power over its own health measures.

Many scientists have found the months of dithering over face coverings in England mystifying. Unlike in the United States, where feelings about masks often fall along political lines, England’s hesitation stemmed in part from a scientific debate among advisers about the masks’ usefulness.

As recently as late April, the government’s powerful Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies retroactively edited the minutes of a previous meeting to emphasize that “it would be unreasonable to claim a large benefit from wearing a mask.”

The advisers’ misgivings, resulting from a lack of randomized control trials, were symptomatic of what critics have called a rigid approach to the science that has slowed England’s response to the virus since March.

“Some scientists feel that a very high level of certainty is required before advice is given for the public to undertake wearing a mask or other behaviors that would reduce disease transmission,” said Paul Edelstein, an emeritus professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who helped write an influential report to the British government encouraging face coverings this month.

Masks have been mandatory on public transportation in England since mid-June. The government had previously encouraged masks in enclosed spaces, but Mr. Johnson resisted wearing one himself until Friday. As recently as this weekend, the government continued to give contradictory advice, with a prominent minister, Michael Gove, resisting the idea of mandating masks and saying that they were instead a matter of “courtesy and good manners.”

The government has indicated that the police, rather than shop owners, will enforce the new rules, with anyone who refuses facing a fine up to 100 pounds, or $125.

In other news from around the world:

  • The World Health Organization admonished governments on Monday that it said were sending mixed messages to citizens, and for failing to invest in the hard work necessary to combat the pandemic. “Too many countries are headed in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organization’s director general. “The virus remains public enemy No. 1, but the actions of many governments and people don’t reflect this.”

  • An Egyptian journalist who was jailed last month on charges of spreading fake news died from the coronavirus on Monday, officials said, amplifying concerns that the pandemic is spreading inside Egypt’s crammed prisons. The reporter, Mohamed Monir, 65, was detained appearing on Al Jazeera, the Qatari-owned channel that is banned in Egypt. He was released July 2 after falling ill, and last week he posted a video on Facebook saying he was struggling to breathe.

France celebrates health care workers and grants them $9 billion in pay raises.

Credit…Pool photo by Christophe Ena

France celebrated public health workers as heroes during Bastille Day celebrations on Tuesday for their role during the pandemic, a day after granting them 8 billion euros ($9.06 billion) in pay raises.

The traditional Bastille Day parade down the Champs-Élysées in Paris was canceled because of the pandemic. Instead, after a military parade on the Place De La Concorde, President Macron and his government watched from a platform as doctors, nurses and other workers in their white hospital attire were honored. A military choir sang the Marseillaise, France’s national anthem, and fighter jets streaked blue, white and red as they flew over. Long minutes of applause followed. Over 800 health workers from around France were also invited to a thank-you reception on Monday night in Paris.

Doctors, nurses, retirement home employees and others were widely praised for their role in the coronavirus crisis, and the French government had promised to address longstanding requests for increased hospital funding, better pay and more staffing.

After seven weeks of intense negotiations with the government, most health care unions and the government struck a deal that gives nurses, aides and other hospital or nursing home workers over $200 in monthly raises, as well as new bonuses for overtime and night work.

The deal also provides 450 million euros for doctors, mostly to increase an existing bonus for those who choose to work only in the public sector. Over all, the deal affects about 1.8 million health workers.

Jean Castex, Mr. Macron’s new prime minister, called the raises a “massive” investment in France’s public health system.

Not all unions signed the deal, and critics said it did not go far enough with more structural reforms.

Reporting was contributed by Aurelien Breeden, Reid J. Epstein, Nicholas Fandos, Manny Fernandez, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Dana Goldstein, Erica L. Green, Shawn Hubler, Miriam Jordan, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Dan Levin, Patricia Mazzei, David Montgomery, Benjamin Mueller, Azi Paybarah, Alan Rappeport, Nate Schweber, Michael D. Shear, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jim Tankersley, Declan Walsh and Noah Weiland.