Here’s what you need to know:
- In the U.S., renewed lockdowns, closed schools and uncertain federal support cloud hopes of a rapid rebound.
- The Trump administration orders hospitals to bypass the C.D.C. with key virus data.
- Tokyo raises its pandemic alert level, days after new cases hit record highs.
- Most large U.S. school districts aren’t ready to reopen, a Times analysis shows. Here’s why.
- Morgue trucks, testing triage: States respond to an increasing number of deaths.
- Train stowaways and secret Pokemon: How some Australians evade lockdown.
In the U.S., renewed lockdowns, closed schools and uncertain federal support cloud hopes of a rapid rebound.
The United States economy is headed for a tumultuous autumn, with the threat of closed schools, renewed government lockdowns, empty stadiums and an uncertain amount of federal support for businesses and unemployed workers all clouding hopes for a rapid rebound from recession.
For months, the prevailing wisdom among investors, Trump administration officials and many economic forecasters was that, after plunging into recession this spring, the country’s economy would accelerate in late summer and take off in the fall as the virus receded.
But failure to suppress a resurgence of confirmed infections is threatening to choke the recovery and push the country back into a recessionary spiral — one that could inflict long-term damage on workers and businesses, unless Congress reconsiders the scale of federal aid that may be required in the months to come.
The looming economic pain was evident on Tuesday as big companies forecast gloomy months ahead. Delta Air Lines said it was cutting back plans to add flights in August and beyond, citing flagging consumer demand. The nation’s biggest banks warned that they were setting aside billions of dollars to cover anticipated losses as customers fail to pay their mortgages and other loans in the months to come.
Some companies that used small-business loans to retain or rehire workers are now beginning to lay off employees as those funds run out while business activity remains depressed. Expanded benefits for unemployed workers, which research shows have been propping up consumer spending throughout the spring and early summer, are scheduled to expire at the end of July, while more than 18 million Americans continue to claim unemployment.
“Our assumption has to be that we’re going into re-lockdown in the fall,” said Karl Smith, the vice president of federal policy at the conservative Tax Foundation in Washington.
The Trump administration orders hospitals to bypass the C.D.C. with key virus data.
The Trump administration has ordered hospitals to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, beginning on Wednesday, send all coronavirus patient information to a central database in Washington — a move that has alarmed public health experts who fear the data will be distorted for political gain.
The new instructions are contained in a little-noticed document posted this week on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website. From now on, H.H.S., and not the C.D.C., will collect daily reports about the patients that each hospital is treating, how many beds and ventilators are available, and other information vital to tracking the pandemic.
Officials said the change should help ease data gathering and assist the White House coronavirus task force in allocating scarce supplies like personal protective gear and the drug remdesivir.
Hospital officials want to streamline reporting, saying it will relieve them from responding to requests from multiple federal agencies, though some say the C.D.C. — an agency that prizes its scientific independence — should be in charge of gathering the information.
“The C.D.C. is the right agency to be at the forefront of collecting the data,” said Dr. Bala Hota, the chief analytics officer at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Public health experts have long expressed concern that the administration is politicizing science and undermining the C.D.C.; four of the agency’s former directors, spanning both Republican and Democratic administrations, said as much in an opinion piece published Tuesday in The Washington Post. The data collection shift reinforced those fears.
“Centralizing control of all data under the umbrella of an inherently political apparatus is dangerous and breeds distrust,” said Nicole Lurie, who served as assistant secretary for preparedness and response under former President Barack Obama. “It appears to cut off the ability of agencies like C.D.C. to do its basic job.”
Tokyo raises its pandemic alert level, days after new cases hit record highs.
Responding to a recent spike in new coronavirus cases in Japan’s capital, Tokyo, the city government on Wednesday raised its pandemic alert level to “red,” its highest, although the caution appeared to change little in terms of behavior.
Tokyo recorded two consecutive daily records last week, with a peak of 243 cases Friday. So far, the metropolis of 14 million has reported a total of just under 8,200 cases and 325 deaths since February.
Officials had debated whether to raise Tokyo’s alert level, given that a large proportion of the new cases were among younger people who had only mild symptoms, Dr. Norio Ohmagari, director of infectious diseases at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine, told reporters.
In April, when Tokyo was put under a state of emergency, more older people were infected and a higher proportion suffered serious illness and required hospitalization and ventilators.
“This time is quite different from the last wave,” Dr. Ohmagari said. He said that while 40 percent of the new cases were among people in their 20s, some infections were now being detected among people in their 60s and 70s, as well as in children under 10.
Dr. Ohmagari said that it appeared many people were becoming infected after visiting nightlife venues, but that infections were also being detected in offices, restaurants, nursing homes, day care centers and kindergartens, as well as in multiple wards around Tokyo.
“We cannot deny the fact that we have higher numbers,” he said. “We have to say the infection is spreading.”
Still, the government took no concrete action corresponding with the raised alert. Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo, appealed to residents to refrain from visiting nightlife venues or restaurants that “don’t take enough measures to prevent infections” but made no mention of asking any businesses to close down as she did during the state of emergency.
Tokyo’s move came as the authorities in Okinawa reported an additional 36 infections at a United States Marine base on the southern island, bringing the number of cases at U.S. bases on the island to 136 since March.
Most large U.S. school districts aren’t ready to reopen, a Times analysis shows. Here’s why.
As education leaders in the United States decide whether to reopen classrooms in the fall, many are looking to a standard generally agreed upon among epidemiologists: that to control community spread of the coronavirus, the average daily infection rate among those who are tested should not exceed 5 percent.
But of the nation’s 10 largest school districts, only New York City and Chicago have achieved that public health goal, according to a New York Times analysis of city and county-level data.
Some of the biggest districts, like Miami-Dade County in Florida and Clark County in Nevada, which includes Las Vegas, are in counties that have recently reported positive test rates more than four times greater than the 5 percent threshold, the data shows.
The alarming spread of the virus has prompted a growing number of districts to announce online instruction in the fall. The superintendent of the nation’s sixth-largest district, in Broward County, Fla., on Tuesday recommended full-time remote learning, despite pressure from the state’s governor and President Trump. That followed an announcement on Monday from California’s two largest districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, that they would teach 100 percent online.
“I’m just super frustrated and really disappointed that our nation, our states and our communities have not exercised the discipline that they need in order to get the coronavirus under control,” said Robert W. Runcie, the Broward superintendent. “Now the futures of our young people are collateral damage from our inability to take this thing seriously.”
School districts are increasingly splitting into three groups: those that plan to teach online only, those that will allow families to choose between in-person or at-home instruction, and those offering a hybrid approach, with students spending some days in classrooms and some learning remotely.
Many large districts fall into the third category, although more are moving into the first as the virus continues to rage in their regions. In recent days, Nashville, Atlanta, Arlington, Va., and Oakland, Calif., have also announced plans to start the school year remotely.
The 5 percent positive test rate was not developed specifically for schools, but it has emerged as a metric that many districts are considering when making plans.
Morgue trucks, testing triage: States respond to an increasing number of deaths.
After weeks of declining death figures from the coronavirus, several states that are seeing alarming increases are weighing measures that might have seemed unlikely just weeks ago. More economically painful shutdowns. Refrigerated morgue trucks. Symptomatic patients getting testing priority.
More than 900 coronavirus deaths were announced in the United States on Tuesday, including single-day records in Alabama, Florida and Utah.
In Florida, which reported a daily record of 132 deaths from the coronavirus, a group of mayors from Miami-Dade County, the center of the state’s crisis, warned Gov. Ron DeSantis that time is running out to avoid another painful economic closure.
“There is a significant amount of pressure for us to shut down,” Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami told Mr. DeSantis at an event in the city. “We have between one week and four weeks to get this thing under control, or we will have to take some aggressive measures.”
Mr. DeSantis, a Republican who notably wore a mask while speaking indoors, tried to acknowledge how difficult the pandemic has been for Floridians, adding that “people are apprehensive.”
Since June 11, the day the Republican National Convention was officially moved from North Carolina to Florida, the average number of cases reported daily in Florida has grown eightfold.
Republican officials are planning to move much of their national convention in Jacksonville next month from an indoor arena to an outdoor venue. It’s still unclear how many people will be allowed to attend the events, people familiar with the discussions said Tuesday.
In some states, officials have responded to the surging virus by putting refrigerated trucks on standby, in order to increase morgue space. In Texas, where the death toll is sharply rising, officials said the trucks were being readied because hospital morgues were filling up.
The preparations have only just started, and the situation has not reached the same level of urgency it did in New York City during the early stages of the pandemic, when the city had set up 45 mobile morgues and allowed crematories to work around the clock.
Infection rates are also increasing, with Texas and California reporting single-day records of more than 10,000 cases on Tuesday. Missouri, Nevada and Oklahoma also set single-day case records.
As of Tuesday evening, more than 64,000 cases of the coronavirus had been announced across the United States, the second-highest daily total of the pandemic.
Train stowaways and secret Pokemon: How some Australians evade lockdown.
As coronavirus cases surge in Victoria, Australia’s second-biggest state, officials there have barred people from gathering in large groups or traveling to most of the rest of the country.
That has not stopped some fast-food aficionados, Pokémon Go players and train stowaways from trying.
Four men in their twenties were discovered on an interstate freight train heading from Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, to Perth on the country’s west coast, officials said this week. They were found when officers with dogs searched the train during a stop in Adelaide, in South Australia.
The men appeared in court on Wednesday and were released on the condition they do not commit further offenses for 12 months..
Separately, six travelers from Victoria who were attempting to enter Queensland with false papers were fined a total of 24,000 Australian dollars ($16,700), the Queensland police said this week. Victoria Police’s deputy commissioner, Rick Nugent, also said that more than 500 fines totaling more than 880,000 Australian dollars ($560,000) had been issued to people caught breaking stay-at home orders or gathering inappropriately since Melbourne’s six-week lockdown began on July 9.
Among the violators were two men caught playing the video game Pokémon Go outdoors, and others who were clients of sex workers and massage parlors. And 34 people were fined at a house party in Melbourne last week after the police were called there — twice — in response to noise complaints.
In the Melbourne suburb of Dandenong, a suspiciously large KFC takeout order last week led police to more than a dozen people hiding at a house party and 26,000 Australian dollars in fines. Another man refused a police order to leave a KFC restaurant.
On Wednesday, Mr. Nugent of the police department asked residents to abide by the new restrictions. “The time for discretion is over,” he said.
Australia has recorded at least 10,200 confirmed cases and 110 deaths, according to a Times database; Victoria reported 238 new cases on Wednesday.
Australia was initially praised for its response to the pandemic, but a second surge began creeping through Victoria last month and reaching parts of neighboring New South Wales, the country’s most populous state. New South Wales officials have said they would likely introduce new restrictions but stop short of imposing a strict lockdown.
Reporting was contributed by Ben Casselman, Manny Fernandez, J. David Dana Goldstein, Goodman, Maggie Haberman, Makiko Inoue, Isabella Kwai, David Montgomery, Motoko Rich, Eliza Shapiro Mitch Smith, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jim Tankersley and Hisako Ueno.