Virus Cases Reach New Highs in U.S., Prompting Talk of More Lockdowns

Virus Cases Reach New Highs in U.S., Prompting Talk of More
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Credit…Scott Olson/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic is spreading with frightening speed throughout the United States, shattering records on a daily basis, stretching medical resources to breaking point and once again prompting states, counties and cities to consider economically devastating lockdowns.

On Thursday, public health officials recorded more than 150,000 new cases in a day for the first time — more than 160,000, in fact. It was only eight days earlier that the country had its first 100,000-case day. Six of the last nine days have set new records, and with colder weather driving people indoors, there is little reason to expect a respite soon.

Hospitalizations for Covid-19 also set a national record on Thursday for the third-straight day, reaching 67,096, according to the Covid Tracking Project. That figure has doubled in just five weeks.

The virus has killed more than 1,000 Americans a day in the past week, a toll that would shock the nation, were it not for the fact that people were dying twice as fast in April, when doctors knew less about how to treat them.

Unlike the first surge last spring, when the New York metropolitan area was ravaged but much of the country was almost untouched, this wave is washing over every part of the United States. Case numbers are trending upward in 46 states, and no states are seeing declines. More than 30 states, from Alaska to New Hampshire, have set new records in recent days. California recorded its 1 millionth case, a milestone previously reached only by Texas.

But the outlook is especially dire in the Great Lakes region. Pennsylvania, Indiana and Minnesota all exceeded their previous single-day records on Thursday by more than 1,000 cases. Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio warned that hospitalizations had soared to record levels. Wisconsin surpassed 300,000 known cases this week, an increase of more than 130,000 in just a month.

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“Covid-19 is everywhere in our state: It is bad everywhere, and it is getting worse everywhere,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, the deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

In Illinois, where more than 75,000 cases have emerged in the last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker suggested that he could soon impose a stay-at-home order, and he scolded local officials for not enforcing mask rules and restrictions on businesses.

“We’re running out of time and we’re running out of options,” Mr. Pritzker said.

Virus Cases Reach New Highs in U.S., Prompting Talk of More
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As cases have exploded in the United States, governors have undertaken a flurry of actions to try to slow the spread of the virus. Just this week, Utah and Ohio, both states led by Republican governors, have mandated masks statewide. In Iowa, the governor, Kim Reynolds, has long resisted a mask mandate, but this week she ordered that masks be worn at large gatherings.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. this week implored Americans to wear masks.

“A mask is not a political statement, but it’s a good way to start pulling the country together,” Mr. Biden said in Wilmington, Del. on Monday.

Mr. Biden has said he will ask governors to institute a mask mandate in their states; if they refuse, he will work with local officials to get mandates in place.

Check here for the latest changes in rules in your state.

Corey Lewandowski, a Trump campaign adviser, in Philadelphia last week.
Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Corey Lewandowski, a Trump campaign adviser who has been working on efforts to bring lawsuits contesting the election outcome in several states, tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, a person briefed on the diagnosis said Thursday.

He attended a crowded election night party at the White House that several other people who later tested positive also attended. The latest figure to join their ranks was Jeff Miller, a Republican strategist, according to a person with knowledge of the situation on Thursday.

Several hundred people gathered at the election night event in the East Room for several hours, many of them not wearing masks as they mingled and watched election returns.

Mr. Lewandowski had been in Philadelphia for days since attending the event, and believes he may have contracted it there, the person said.

The other people who had previously tested positive after attending the election night event were: Mark Meadows, President Trump’s chief of staff; Ben Carson, the housing secretary; David Bossie, an adviser to Mr. Trump who is leading the charge on the election-related lawsuits and other efforts; and Brian Jack, the White House political director.

After another event at the White House — a celebration of Mr. Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Sept. 26 — more than a dozen aides, reporters and guests who were in attendance or came into contact with people who were there tested positive for the virus. Mr. Trump also tested positive and was hospitalized for a few days in early October.

Richard Walters, the chief of staff of the Republican National Committee, has also tested positive for the virus, according to a person with knowledge with the situation. He did not attend the election night event at the White House.

Protesting delivery workers attempted to storm their way into the labor ministry at a government complex in Sejong, central South Korea, in October.
Credit…Yonhap/EPA, via Shutterstock

The South Korean government is pushing for shorter workdays and other improved working conditions for parcel delivery couriers, who have complained of mounting workloads during the pandemic, government officials said on Thursday.

As more South Koreans avoid going to stores for fear of infection, home-delivery networks have become increasingly busy. The resulting effect on delivery drivers came in for harsh scrutiny after 10 died this year, some after complaining of unbearable work demands. South Korean media described their deaths as “gwarosa,” or death caused by excessive work.

In a news conference on Thursday, Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mee and Labor Minister Lee Jae-kap said the government was asking logistics companies to shorten delivery people’s working hours and introduce a five-day workweek.

The couriers work an average of 12 hours a day, six days a week. Most of them are defined as self-employed, working for commissions, so they do not benefit from many of the protections that labor laws provide for company employees, like a 52-hour cap on work weeks.

The government is also pushing to ban late-night home deliveries, except for fresh food, the ministers said. It planned to finalize the new guidelines within the first half of next year.

Intensifying competition among logistics companies have driven down delivery fees in recent years. Couriers take home only 70 cents for each parcel delivered, and many of them work late into the night to deliver as many as possible. Since the pandemic hit, it has been increasingly common to see couriers weaving through Seoul’s streets in the dead of night.

Delayed deliveries and other customer complaints can lead to direct and indirect penalties for the couriers, including being dropped by the companies that hire them.

“Policy, infrastructure and technology could not keep up with the pace of growth for the delivery industry, and that burden was concentrated into long hours and heavy workloads for delivery workers,” said Mr. Lee, the labor minister.

New York City began allowing restaurants to offer indoor dining again in September, but with the surge of coronavirus cases, closing indoor dining is a possibility.
Credit…Peter Foley/EPA, via Shutterstock

Facing a second wave of the virus, New York City stands on the precipice of once again closing its classrooms. But with restaurants still serving customers, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration faces a now-familiar conundrum: As the virus gains ground, should dining rooms be shuttered before classrooms?

While educating children is plainly more essential than eating indoors, the sacrifice involved in shuttering restaurants is not suffered primarily by diners. The city’s restaurant industry, which employs many low-income New Yorkers of color, risks financial collapse without federal stimulus dollars.

But the evidence that indoor dining is a high-risk activity has been growing. Restaurants, gyms and other crowded indoor venues likely accounted for some eight in 10 new infections in the early months of the U.S. coronavirus epidemic, according to a new analysis that used cellphone mobility data from 10 U.S. cities from March to May.

Schools, on the other hand, have been a bright spot for New York. Only 0.17 percent of tests conducted in over 2,800 schools over the last month came back positive.

European countries have been quicker to shut down bars and restaurants, while making it a priority to keep schools open.

Should New York City’s schools close, children face weeks or months without any in-person instruction.

Research indicates that extended closures have serious consequences for children’s academic progress, and for their mental health. A recent study out of Britain showed that children had lost basic skills and regressed in school during the pandemic.

Over the summer, Mr. de Blasio said the entire school system would shutter if the average positivity rate hit 3 percent. On Thursday, the average positivity rate reached 2.6 percent. The mayor also said that the city would re-evaluate indoor dining if the positivity rate hit 2 percent. While the city has exceeded that threshold, it has not yet taken action.

Closing schools would be perhaps the most significant setback yet for the city’s recovery, and could prevent many thousands of parents from returning to work.

A nurse waited to help with COVID-19 testing in Philadelphia during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic last March. Nurses at several hospitals in and around Philadelphia are considering a strike over working conditions during a pandemic.
Credit…Tim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer, via Associated Press

More than 2,000 nurses in southeastern Pennsylvania are set to go on strike as soon as next week as the United States faces a rising wave of cases in a pandemic that has severely strained the country’s medical system.

Approximately 800 nurses at St. Mary Medical Center in Bucks County will begin a two-day strike on Nov. 17, unless they are able to reach a deal for a new contract with the hospital’s owner, Trinity Health Systems.

In Philadelphia, some 500 nurses at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, which is owned by Drexel University and Tower Health, and about 1,000 nurses at Einstein Medical Center, part of the Einstein Healthcare Network, separately voted to authorize a strike but have not yet issued an official notice.

A fourth hospital, Mercy Fitzgerald in Delaware County — also owned by Trinity — reached a contract agreement on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) said. Trinity did not respond to a request for comment.

PASNAP said in a statement released last Friday that its members had been “pushed to the brink by unsafe staffing that seriously undermines patient safety” and that they would take the extraordinary step of striking “to protect their patients and themselves.”

“We’re still exhaling from the first surge, and now we have to inhale again to safely take care of our patients, and of ourselves,” Maureen May, a registered nurse and the president of PASNAP, said in a phone interview.

The nurses, Ms. May said, do not want to abandon their patients now; Pennsylvania has seen a daily average of 3,609 new coronavirus cases over the last week. But PASNAP argues that it would be more irresponsible to continue caring for patients under conditions that they believe are unsafe.

“To take care of a Covid patient, number one, is daunting in itself. And to add two and three and four patients in that mix, because you refuse to staff properly, is just unconscionable,” Maria Plano, an intensive care nurse at St. Christopher’s, said in a phone interview.

“Nobody walked away from what we needed to do. And we won’t walk away now,” Ms. May said. “But we will send a message, via a strike, that you have to do the right thing. This is our message — to the hospitals, to the public — that we’ve had enough.”

Peter Sutcliffe leaving court in 1983. The police had interviewed him multiple times during years of failed investigations.
Credit…Bettman, via Getty Images

LONDON — Peter Sutcliffe, who was convicted of killing 13 women and attempting to murder seven others in a yearslong spree that led newspapers to call him the Yorkshire Ripper, died on Friday. He was 74.

Mr. Sutcliffe’s death was announced by Britain’s Prison Service, which said he had underlying health conditions and had tested positive for the coronavirus. A coroner will investigate the cause of death.

He was convicted in 1981 in the murders of 13 women over the course of five years in northern England and given a life sentence for each, the maximum permitted. The murders, which occurred between 1975 and 1980, gripped the public and the authorities, and the lengthy investigation was “a source of considerable embarrassment to the police,” The New York Times wrote at the time.

Mr. Sutcliffe was interviewed by the police several times during their investigations in the 1970s. His arrest came after he was found with fake license plates on his car; he confessed to the murders, many of which were carried out from behind with a hammer and knife. A jury of six men and six women convicted him.

“He ruined so many lives,” Richard McCann, the son of Mr. Sutcliffe’s first known victim, told Sky News. “He will go down as one of those figures from the 20th century in the same league I suppose as someone like Hitler.”

Mr. McCann’s mother, Wilma McCann, was killed on Oct. 30, 1975. Other killings would follow in a reign of terror as police focused on mistaken leads and a hoax recording they thought was from the killer.

A 1981 report into the police investigation’s failings was released under the Freedom of Information Act in 2006. Known as the Byford report, for the official who wrote it, it cited a “curious and unexplained lull” in Mr. Sutcliffe’s criminal activities between 1969 and 1975. The report concluded that it was “highly improbable that the crimes in respect of which Sutcliffe has been charged and convicted are the only ones attributable to him.”

People collecting fish parts from a community center in Auckland.
Credit…Cornell Tukiri for The New York Times

Leo Mulipola found a lifeline in a load of fish heads.

Mr. Mulipola, 49, has struggled to find even an entry-level job at a gas station during the coronavirus pandemic and is now unemployed. So, with a household of six to feed, he jumped at the chance to pick up donated snapper and bluenose heads at a Maori community hall in Auckland, New Zealand.

The hall, known as a marae in the Maori language, has been distributing two tons of fish a week — the parts often discarded in commercial and recreational fishing — to families affected by New Zealand’s sputtering economy.

“It would be $150 to get a meal like this,” said Mr. Mulipola, adding that he planned to roast or fry the fish, whose cheeks contain a good amount of fatty meat and whose eyes he called tasty.

Maori and Pacific Islanders don’t need any convincing about the value of these donations. Far from being scraps, fish heads are prized as a “chiefly” food in Polynesian culture, creating an equilibrium where one person’s trash is another’s treat.

But this effort to feed those in need isn’t just a matter of charity. It’s part of a movement to reduce food waste by encouraging people to consume or otherwise use more parts of fish, which are typically stripped of their fillets and then tossed away. For every pound of fish produced by the seafood industry, roughly double that amount becomes waste, though much of it is edible.

For 15 pounds a day, customers could rent a table at the Crooked Well, a neighborhood pub in south London ,to work and enjoy WiFi, unlimited coffee, lunch and a pint at the end of the day.
Credit…Ben Quinton for The New York Times

LONDON — At the Crooked Well, a neighborhood pub in south London that prides itself on its food, the Christmas menu is already decided. There will be venison and beef stews. But whether the stews will actually be served is another question.

Under a new lockdown planned to last a month, pubs in England have closed again. From Nov. 5 to Dec. 2, restaurants, gyms and nonessential shops are being shuttered as part of a government effort to suppress a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Britain’s first lockdown lasted more than three months, followed by an ever-changing array of restrictions since. No one knows how long this lockdown will really last.

The two nights before the lockdown took hold, “we were crazy busy, it was like the whole of London was out,” said Hector Skinner, one of the owners and the manager of the Crooked Well. “Now, I don’t know. I really don’t know. I feel like it’s going to go on for longer.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to sell the new lockdown to pandemic-weary Britons by saying it would, hopefully, allow families to be together over the holidays. But, he conceded, “Christmas is going to be different this year, very different.”

And that’s the problem for the hospitality industry, which fears losing out on a crucial month. Some 20 to 30 percent of a year’s revenue is made around Christmas and the holidays, according to the British Beer and Pub Association. At the Crooked Well, a good week in December would bring in double the best week in the summer.

If pubs can’t reopen in December, “then these businesses won’t survive January and February, which are like graveyard months for us,” said Emma McClarkin, the chief executive of the industry trade group, which represents about 20,000 pubs.

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