This briefing has ended. Read live coronavirus updates here.
Here’s what you need to know:
Even as the picture improves in California, the state becomes the first to report 600,000 virus cases.
California on Thursday became the first state to surpass 600,000 reported coronavirus cases since the virus arrived at the beginning of the year, a New York Times database shows. With more than 10,800 fatalities, the state now ranks third in the country for the worst death toll, behind New York and New Jersey, which were overwhelmed with cases in the spring but have since managed to contain the virus’s spread.
Along with the Sun Belt states, California has been among the hardest hit in the summer resurgence of the virus, but the picture in California appears to have begun improving lately. Citing a 19 percent decline in the number of people hospitalized over the past two weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday that the state was “turning the corner on this pandemic.”
By far the most populous state in the country, California has not been among the most severely affected states by the virus on a per-capita basis: It ranks 20th in cases and 28th in deaths when gauged that way, according to the Times database.
After California’s disease reporting system broke down on July 25, the omission of around 300,000 files from the state’s main database muddied the picture of the virus’s progression in the state. But that problem has now been rectified, state officials say, and the higher numbers of cases reported this week are a result of entering the backlog of cases into the system.
California has seesawed through the pandemic. It was the first state to issue a stay-at-home order, back in mid-March when it was reporting about 116 new cases a day, and it came to be seen as a national role model for how to confront the pandemic.
But when the state started to reopen two months later, it was logging an average of 1,833 new cases a day — and over the past week, the daily figure has averaged around 8,000, including the backlogged cases.
Public health officials have said the state reopened too soon. In an effort to contain the spread, Governor Newsom issued a statewide mask order on June 18, followed two weeks later by an order to close bars and indoor dining down again. Those settings have proved to be super-spreader sites in several other states.
Australia and New Zealand confront border failures amid new outbreaks.
The border, the border, the border: That’s been the mantra for Australia and New Zealand since the coronavirus emerged. But both countries are now learning that their definition of the border, and border security, needs to expand to control the pandemic.
In New Zealand, where a cluster that emerged on Tuesday had grown to 30 cases by Friday, officials struggled to explain a lack of regular testing for border officials and workers who manage hotel quarantine for the roughly 400 residents returning every day from overseas.
One respected epidemiologist, Sir David Skegg, a professor at Otago University, called the lack of testing an “extraordinary” breach of known best practices.
Investigators still haven’t determined how the virus re-entered the isolated Pacific country after 102 days without a case of community transmission. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who on Friday extended a lockdown in Auckland for another 12 days, told reporters that officials had not yet linked the first identified case to either the border or quarantine facilities.
But New Zealand’s process for handling returning citizens and residents has become a focal point, in part because new details have emerged about what caused the outbreak that is still raging in Australia.
Leaked emails from government officials, published Friday by The Age, a newspaper in Melbourne, Australia, identified a hotel night manager as patient zero. He tested positive for the virus on May 26, and worked at one of the largest quarantine hotels in the city. Five security guards at the hotel later tested positive, after spreading the virus to relatives and their communities.
A public inquiry into how passengers infected with the coronavirus were allowed to disembark a cruise ship in Sydney, Australia, in March, setting off a major outbreak, also handed down its findings on Friday.
The detailed report from a panel of experts found a litany of “serious mistakes” and failures (a word the authors used 34 times) that ultimately led to 20 deaths in Australia and eight more in the United States. Chief among the errors was a lack of testing and the assumption that the ship’s 2,700 passengers were low-risk because they had come from New Zealand even though it was known that many of the arriving tourists had flown to their departure point from the United States and other high-risk locations.
The border at the cruise ship terminal in central Sydney was porous, investigators found, and the virus broke through.
“The events surrounding the ship’s voyage and disembarkation on 19 March 2020 will sadly have a lasting effect for many passengers and their families,” the report concluded. “It can only be hoped that this episode serves as a precautionary tale should public health authorities ever again encounter similarly challenging circumstances.”
Five communities in South Texas have escalating rates of new cases.
The communities with the highest rates of new cases relative to their populations all lie along the border with Mexico or on the Gulf Coast: Brownsville-Harlingen, Eagle Pass, Rio Grande City, Corpus Christi and Laredo, according to data compiled by The New York Times. Four of the five metro areas with the worst death rates in the country over the last two weeks were also in the South Texas border region.
The numbers underscore the virulence of the virus in Texas, where officials have struggled to both keep the state open and curb infection. More than 300 deaths were announced in the state on Wednesday, and the state is approaching a total death toll of 10,000.
Representative Filemon B. Vela Jr., a Democrat whose district includes Brownsville and Harlingen, said that in late June, he did not know anyone who had the virus. Now, he said, he knows hundreds. “In one day, I had four people who I knew die,” Mr. Vela said.
In Laredo, hospitals have been at or near capacity every day. The state turned a local Red Roof Inn into a 106-bed temporary hospital for coronavirus patients with mild cases, but local leaders have been urging officials to allow patients with more serious cases in.
“We see an unprecedented amount of death,” said Dr. Victor Treviño, the top health official in Laredo, adding, “When the state opened, that’s when we saw the infection rate increase dramatically.”
Mr. Vela and other congressional Democrats in Texas have criticized Gov. Greg Abbott’s handling of the state’s reopening. When Mr. Abbott, a Republican, reopened the state in phases beginning May 1, he lifted the state’s stay-at-home order and prohibited local officials from adopting their own. After cases increased, Mr. Abbott paused the reopening, ordered bars to close and issued a mask mandate for most Texans.
“Shutting down the bars isn’t enough,” said Mr. Vela, who called on the governor on Thursday to issue stay-at-home orders in hard-hit counties or allow local officials to put them in place. On Thursday, Mr. Abbott met with officials in the West Texas city of Lubbock and warned the public about what he called “Covid fatigue.” In remarks to reporters, he urged Texans to continue to wear masks, though he was without one as he spoke at an indoor news conference.
“If people do not continue to, in a very disciplined way, maintain the highest level of standards, what you will see is an acceleration of the expansion of Covid-19,” the governor said.
America’s $400 unemployment supplement is really $300, and won’t arrive soon.
The federal aid to unemployed workers that President Trump announced last weekend looks likely to be smaller than initially suggested — and it remains unclear when the money will start flowing, how long it will last or how many workers will benefit.
The uncertainty comes at a delicate time for the economy. New applications for state unemployment benefits fell below one million last week for the first time since the pandemic took hold in March, the Labor Department said Thursday. But filings remain high by historical standards, and other measures show the economy losing momentum.
A $600-a-week federal supplement to unemployment benefits, enacted to address the pandemic, stopped at the end of July. That has pulled away a key source of support, not just for the nearly 30 million Americans receiving benefits but also for the broader economy.
“The status of the financial relief is a huge question mark hanging over the economy,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist for the career site Glassdoor.
Mr. Trump said Saturday that he was taking executive action to provide unemployed workers with $400 a week in extra payments, on top of their regular state jobless benefits. He did so after talks on a new round of pandemic relief stalled in Congress.
Unlike the earlier supplement, which was fully funded by the federal government, the program called for states to chip in a quarter of the cost. Governors from both major parties balked at being asked to spend billions of dollars when tax revenues have plunged because of the economic collapse.
So this week the administration offered new guidance: Rather than adding $100 a week on top of existing unemployment benefits, states could count existing benefits toward their share. In other words, unemployed workers would get an extra $300, not $400.
The Senate adjourned on Thursday until early September, and House members had already left Washington. The departures all but end any chance of a quick agreement on sending stimulus checks to American taxpayers, reviving lapsed unemployment benefits and providing billions of dollars for schools, testing, child care, small businesses, and state and local governments.
In other U.S. news:
Nearly 54,000 new cases and more than 1,200 additional deaths were announced across the United States on Thursday. Officials in Nevada announced the most deaths in a single day, with 31. Hawaii, North Dakota and the U.S. Virgin Islands set single-day case records.
Adm. Brett M. Giroir, the Trump administration official in charge of coronavirus testing, said on Thursday that the United States was doing enough testing to slow the spread of the virus — an assessment at odds with that of public health experts who say more testing with faster results is necessary.
The country is not where it should be in terms of staving off the pandemic, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said on Tuesday. “Bottom line is, I’m not pleased with how things are going,” he told the ABC News journalist Deborah Roberts at a National Geographic panel. He said that disparities between the ways different states were handling the situation were keeping the country from bringing it under control once and for all.
A prison inmate in Connecticut this week hanged himself in his cell with a cloth mask that had been issued to him as part of an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, correction officials and the state’s chief medical examiner said. The inmate, Daniel Ocasio, had been held at the prison since Aug. 5 on an outstanding charge of third-degree burglary, and had been unable to post a $10,000 bond.
The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed Rhode Island to make voting by mail easier in the November election. The court rejected a request from Republicans that it block a lower court’s order, which had suspended a requirement that absentee ballots be completed in front of witnesses or a notary.
Five months after AMC Theatres closed all its U.S. cinemas, the company announced that it would reopen more than 100 theaters across the country on Aug. 20. To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the company said it would price all movies that day at 15 cents, so “moviegoers can again enjoy the magic of the big screen at 1920 ticket prices.”
North Korea, fighting floods and the virus, lifts a border city’s lockdown.
North Korea on Friday lifted a lockdown that it had imposed on a border city last month, but without providing any details or saying whether the nation has a coronavirus outbreak.
North Korea imposed the lockdown in Kaesong, near the border with South Korea, based on the government’s suspicion that a runaway from South Korea had brought the virus with him. On Friday, it said only that the reversal had been “based on the scientific verification and guarantee by a professional anti-epidemic organization.”
North Korea sealed its borders in late January and has insisted for months that it had no coronavirus cases, although outside experts questioned the claim. It has not revealed whether the defector who crossed back from South Korea tested positive.
This summer, an unusually long monsoon season, as well as torrential rains, have set off floods and landslides in parts of North Korea that suffer chronic food shortages even during normal years.
The double-whammy calamities of the pandemic and floods have battered an economy that was already hamstrung by the sanctions imposed by the United Nations for its nuclear weapons development — and which went into tailspin this year as the border restrictions cut deeply into exports and imports with China, the North’s primary trading partner.
North Korea’s leader, Kim-Jong-un, has said the nation faces “two crises at the same time.” But on Friday, the North’s state-run media reported that he had ordered his country not to accept any international aid for fear that outside help might bring in Covid-19.
By precluding outside aid, he appears to be denying Seoul and Washington a chance to thaw relations with the North through humanitarian shipments.
“North Korea’s rejection of flood relief is ostensibly to prevent transmission of Covid-19 into the country,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “But humanitarian assistance is heavily politicized by the Kim regime, as it does not want to show weakness to the domestic population or international rivals.”
In other news from around the world:
France, where the daily caseload has been rising since late July, declared Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhône area around Marseille as “red” zones for coronavirus risk in a government decree published on Friday, the Reuters news agency reported.
South Korea reported 103 new cases on Friday, mostly in Seoul, the country’s biggest daily jump in three weeks. The daily caseload has remained in double digits since July 25. Last month’s spike was due mainly to South Korean workers returning home with the virus from Iraq, but 85 of the 103 new cases reported on Friday were local transmissions. Jung Eun-kyeong, the country’s top disease-control official, warned that a new wave might hit the Seoul metropolitan area in coming days.
New Zealand reported 12 more infections and a probable one on Friday, bringing the total number of active cases in its latest outbreak to 48. Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, the director general of health, told reporters that all but one of the new cases were linked to a cluster in Auckland. And Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern extended the city’s lockdown for another 12 days.
Britain’s transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said on Twitter late Thursday that from 4 a.m. on Saturday, people arriving in the country from six countries and territories would be required to self-isolate for 14 days. The list includes Aruba, France, Monaco, Malta, the Netherlands and Turks and Caicos.
India has now reported the fourth most coronavirus-related deaths in the world after the United States, Brazil and Mexico. It surpassed Britain on Thursday. The country has recorded at least 47,033 deaths so far, according to a New York Times database. Britain’s total as of Thursday evening was 46,706.
Biden, appealing to governors, calls for nationwide mask mandates to fight the virus.
Biden and Harris Call for Mask Mandate
Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Kamala Harris met with public health officials for a briefing on the coronavirus crisis.
“Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum. Every governor should mandate, every governor should mandate mandatory mask wearing. The estimates by the experts are it will save over 40,000 lives in the next three months — 40,000 lives — if people act responsibly. And it’s not about your rights. It’s about your responsibilities as an American. So let’s institute a mask mandate, nationwide, starting immediately and we will save lives. The estimates are we’ll save over 40,000 lives in the next three months if that is done.” “That’s what real leadership looks like. We just witnessed real leadership, which is Joe Biden said that as a nation, we should all be wearing a mask for the next three months because it will save lives. And the thing about Joe that the American people know is that his role of leadership in our country has always been about doing what’s best for the people of our country.”
Joseph R. Biden Jr. called on Thursday for governors to require mask wearing in their states, saying that he believed that all Americans should wear face coverings to fight the spread of the virus.
“Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum,” said Mr. Biden, the presumptive presidential candidate for the Democrats.
The remarks came after Mr. Biden and Kamala Harris, the presumptive vice-presidential nominee, met with public health officials in Delaware for a briefing on the virus — yet another signal of their intention to make the pandemic a major part of their effort to unseat President Trump.
So far, more than 30 states have enacted mask requirements, following public health guidance that covering mouths and noses could reduce the spread of the virus. The mandates have been met with resistance from some, including a number of Republican leaders who see the rules as infringements on personal liberty.
Mr. Biden countered by saying wearing a mask was a necessary civic duty.
“It’s not about your rights,” he said. “It’s about your responsibilities as an American.”
“That’s what real leadership looks like,” she said.
The two did not answer questions from reporters.
Vietnam registers to buy Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine.
Vietnam has registered to buy Russia’s vaccine against Covid-19, the Reuters news agency reported on Friday, despite the concern of global health experts that Russia is offering the drug for use before human trials have been completed.
There were no details on how many doses of the vaccine Vietnam is expected to buy or when they would be delivered.
Vietnam has said it is developing its own vaccine, which it hopes to make available by the end of next year.
Vietnam has been one of the most successful countries in containing the coronavirus and did not report its first death until two weeks ago. But it is now fighting an outbreak that began in the central city of Danang and has spread to other parts of the country, causing about 400 new cases and claiming 21 lives.
As of Friday, Vietnam reported a total of 911 cases, many of them Vietnamese people returning from abroad whose illness was detected in quarantine.
Collaboration between the two countries dates back to at least the 1960s when Russia was part of the Soviet Union, a major supporter and weapons supplier to Vietnam as it fought against the United States in the Vietnam War.
Vietnam, which remains a Communist state, has purchased six Kilo-class submarines from Russia over the last decade. The vessels can help Vietnam patrol the South China Sea, an area of rising tension with China, its neighbor and longtime adversary.
The news that Vietnam would buy Russia’s vaccine was announced by state television. It was unclear whether it signaled Vietnam’s intention to inoculate large numbers of people or was intended mainly as an endorsement of the Russian product.
Much of Vietnam’s earlier success in containing the virus resulted from its aggressive contact tracing, isolation and public education. But Vietnamese health officials say the strain causing the Danang outbreak has been difficult to contain because it is more contagious and severe than previous ones.
Championships for Division I fall college sports (except football) are canceled.
The N.C.A.A. president, Mark Emmert, announced Thursday that Division I fall sports championships excluding football would be canceled.
The championships were not explicitly dropped for health and safety reasons, but because there were fewer than the benchmark 50 percent of teams to compete in sports like women’s volleyball, soccer, cross country and men’s water polo. The N.C.A.A.’s move followed a spate of conferences deciding this week that they would not play in the fall.
The decision does not affect football, which runs its own championship through the College Football Playoff.
Also Thursday, some key doctors said they were skeptical about college football being played in the fall, a question under consideration by a handful of marquee conferences.
“I mean, I feel like the Titanic,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, an executive associate dean at the Emory University School of Medicine who is advising the N.C.A.A. about the virus. “We have hit the iceberg and we’re trying to make decisions of what time should we have the band play.”
Leaders in the Southeastern, Atlantic Coast and Big 12 conferences said Wednesday that they would try to stage football, even as the Big Ten and Pac-12 halted until 2021 at the earliest.
Distrust of the president hardened the conviction of some educators that teaching in person was unsafe.
In June, as the coronavirus crisis appeared to hit a lull in the United States, teachers and parents across the country finally began feeling optimistic about reopening schools in the fall. Going back into the classroom seemed possible. Districts started to pull together plans. Then came a tweet.
“SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” President Trump declared on July 6, voicing a mantra he would repeat again and again in the coming weeks, with varying degrees of threat, as he sought to jump-start the nation’s flagging economy.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 12, 2020
Can I travel within the United States?
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
Around the same time, caseloads in much of the country started to climb again. In the weeks since, hundreds of districts have reversed course and decided to start the school year with remote instruction.
By some estimates, at least half of the nation’s children will now spend a significant portion of the fall, or longer, learning in front of their laptops.
Rising infection rates were clearly the major driver of the move to continue remote learning. But Mr. Trump’s often bellicose demands for reopening classrooms helped harden the view of many educators that it would be unsafe.
“If you had told me that Trump was doing this as a favor to the schools-must-not-open crowd, I’d believe you,” said Rick Hess, director of education policy at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
Indeed, as the president has pushed for schools to reopen, parents have largely moved in the other direction. A recent Washington Post poll found that parents disapprove of Mr. Trump’s handling of school reopening by a two-thirds majority. And a new Gallup poll shows that fewer parents want their children to return to school buildings now than did in the spring.
Listen to ‘The Daily’: Why Teachers Aren’t Ready to Reopen SchoolsThe president and some parents are demanding schools reopen for in-person learning — but teachers and unions are resisting that call.
Listen to ‘The Daily’: Why Teachers Aren’t Ready to Reopen Schools
Hosted by Michael Barbaro; produced by Sydney Harper and Annie Brown; with help from Rachelle Bonja; and edited by Lisa Chow
The president and some parents are demanding schools reopen for in-person learning — but teachers and unions are resisting that call.
From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is “The Daily.”[music]
So far, the debate over school reopenings has been dominated by a president who is determined to send students back into classrooms —archived recording (donald trump)
We want to reopen the schools. Everybody wants it. The moms want it. The dads want it. The kids want it. It’s time to do it.michael barbaro
— and by local school officials, who are answering that call.archived recording (donald trump)
So we’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools.michael barbaro
Today: My colleague Dana Goldstein on why teachers and their unions are defying those plans.
It’s Thursday, August 13.archived recording (ron desantis)
Good evening. I stand here tonight not only as governor of Florida, but as a husband, a father, a son and a friend to have a conversation about how we as Floridians approach these challenging times. As a parent of three, I know that my fellow parents here in Florida want nothing more than to provide a bright future for their children. And here’s the hard truth. While the risks to students from in-person learning are low, the cost of keeping schools closed are enormous.michael barbaro
Dana, tell me about this situation with schools in Florida.dana goldstein
In early July, just as the Trump administration from Washington was pushing schools to reopen their physical campuses across the country, Florida was the state that really leaned heavily in that same direction under their Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.archived recording (ron desantis)
The important thing is that our parents have a meaningful choice when it comes to in-person education. Let’s not let fear get the best of us and harm our children in the process.dana goldstein
The state issued this executive order.archived recording
The state is announcing it’s requiring all schools to reopen for in-person classes next month, August.dana goldstein
Telling schools that they had to reopen five days a week.archived recording 1
So that announcement coming today, given where Florida is. Your analysis.archived recording 2
I mean my analysis is that that is insanedana goldstein
And this was shocking to superintendents and school boards. You know, they had spent the months of May, June, into July mostly planning for a hybrid model of education. Kids would go to school two or three, or maybe even just one day a week in person, and be home learning online the rest of the time. School districts all of a sudden were being told you have to offer parents and families the option of five days a week in the building.archived recording
So we are not ready to open schools in four weeks. We need to slow down and take a pause and get this right around the state first.michael barbaro
And what would happen if schools didn’t physically reopen five days a week?dana goldstein
You know, I think the kind of underlying threat was that you would lose state dollars if you don’t provide families with this option for in-person learning. And this threat to them was quite scary. Because state funding for education is the main funding that funds our school system in the United States.michael barbaro
And what was the state of the pandemic when the state of Florida makes this demand?dana goldstein
So these numbers were so shocking to us when we did reporting on this that we actually fact checked them many, many times to make sure they were correct.archived recording
Florida shattering its daily record, recording more than 15,000 cases, accounting for a quarter of the total new daily cases in the United States.dana goldstein
In some south Florida counties in the month of July —archived recording
South Florida’s Miami-Dade has seen a staggering daily positivity rate of 33 percent.dana goldstein
— between 20 and 30 percent of coronavirus tests were coming back positive. And the World Health Organization, the state of California, the state of New York have tended to use a range of about 5 percent to 10 percent test positivity rates as something to look at when deciding whether or not to open schools. So here you might see, you know, four times that number in a city like Miami.archived recording
Here in Miami-Dade, according to county data released yesterday, the goal for the county is not to exceed 10 percent. They have exceeded that for the past 14 days.dana goldstein
A strong indication that the virus is completely unchecked in that region. In fact, it was one of the most dangerous cities for the virus in the United States.michael barbaro
Right. So what was the reaction across Florida to this executive order?dana goldstein
If the governor wants to open schools publicly, how about we invite him to come and teach in the classroom? [CHEERING]dana goldstein
A lot of teachers and educators were angry.archived recording
If he wants to open schools, how about he provide teachers with hazard pay? Because that’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re on the frontlines of a pandemic that you didn’t start, you didn’t call for and we don’t have control for. [CHEERING]dana goldstein
Because they felt that their safety and, in some respects, safety of the entire community from a public health perspective was nowhere in this conversation.archived recording
I teach my students the history of America, how this government has run, how it works. This is a democracy. Our voices need to be heard.dana goldstein
And my inbox and social media were filled with messages from teachers.archived recording
So I want everyone to hear my voice that if I die from catching Covid-19 from being forced back into Pinellas County Schools, you can drop my dead body right here! Leave my body right here! [CHEERING][music]
And it was just this sense that the question of whether we should go back did not pay enough attention to teachers’ health risks.archived recording 1
Do you feel ready to return to your classroom?archived recording 2
I do not. I personally have lost sleep over it. I’ve cried over it. I cry over it a lot. It’s very, very scary. And the one thing I’m going to say, I will say online learning is not ideal. But it will keep our children safe.archived recording
I’m a teacher. I’ve been with Duval County for 23 years. I have a mother at home that is sick. And if I am to get the coronavirus, I don’t want to bring it back to her.dana goldstein
Yes, it’s really important that kids get educated. It’s really important that parents be able to work during the day and children have the basic childcare that schools provide. However —archived recording 1
We teachers love our students. And we agree that the best place for students is in school. But that’s only if they’re safe. If going to school is more dangerous for students or for their families, then we should hold off and do some sort of distance learning or a hybrid model until it’s safe for them.archived recording 2
I think there’s no way to social distance in our already crowded classrooms. There is not enough money to provide for the extra staff that we would need and the extra P.P.E. that we would need. I don’t think that it’s worth the risk.dana goldstein
We are used to going into schools that sometimes don’t have soap in the bathrooms, that sometimes have broken windows that prevent us from circulating fresh air, that have dated heating and ventilation systems. And where is our health in this equation?archived recording
This is not how I want to go back. And I want to go back so bad. Because I love teaching. I miss my classroom. I miss my kids.michael barbaro
So what did teachers in Florida do?archived recording
The largest teachers union in Florida is suing the state over its executive order mandating that schools reopen next month with in-person instruction.dana goldstein
So a bunch of the local and national union groups that represent teachers came together and they sued the state of Florida.archived recording
In the lawsuit, the union says the state is unconstitutionally forcing millions of students and teachers into unsafe schools.dana goldstein
Saying that this executive order requiring schools to reopen five days a week in person actually violated Florida’s own state law that also calls for schools to be safe.archived recording
The suit says children are at risk of contracting and spreading the virus and of developing severe illness, resulting in death. And the state mandate to open schools is impossible to comply with C.D.C. guidelines on physical distancing, hygiene and sanitation if schools are operating at full capacity.dana goldstein
It’s really very simple what they were arguing, that going back five days a week is not safe and therefore, cannot be legal.michael barbaro
Huh. I have to think that it’s a pretty unusual act, you know, teachers suing to stop their own schools from reopening.dana goldstein
Yes. It’s definitely unusual and notable. And interestingly, it paved the way for similar threats to sue across the country, including in northern cities like Chicago and New York. And shortly after this Florida suit came down —archived recording
The American Federation of Teachers has told its 1.7 million members that if they choose to strike, the union will have their back.dana goldstein
The American Federation of Teachers, which is one of the two national unions, authorized any of their locals across the country to plan a strike in the event that safety precautions are not being met to reopen schools.michael barbaro
Wow. So a national teachers union is saying, a grounds for striking — which traditionally we’ve always thought of as wages, health care, those kinds of issues — they’re now saying you may decide to strike over unsafe school conditions in the middle of this pandemic?dana goldstein
Exactly. The threat to strike is very powerful and pragmatic. Because once teachers threaten to strike over the safety measures and questions of funding, it really puts pressure on the local school districts to give them a big seat at the table. And just the core decision, which is, are we even going to try to have in-person school this fall?michael barbaro
We’ll be right back.
So Dana, as teachers are seeking a place at the table and threatening to strike if they don’t feel like schools are safe, what exactly are they asking for in order to feel ready to return to the classroom?dana goldstein
We’re seeing a very broad range of demands from teachers. And it runs the spectrum from very specific and achievable requests, to ones that are hugely ambitious, time consuming, expensive, or maybe even impossible to achieve while we’re still experiencing any transmission of Covid-19.michael barbaro
What do you mean?dana goldstein
So for example in Orlando, when I spoke to teachers there in July, the requests were really quite reasonable. They wanted face masks to be required. They wanted temperature checks in all school district buildings. And then, the American Federation of Teachers, the national union that authorized strikes, had a very specific set of demands that they were looking for nationally. They wanted to see test positivity rates for the virus below 5 percent, transmission rates below 1 percent, effective contact tracing for the entire region, the school to require masks, update ventilation systems, and put in place procedures to maintain six feet of distance.michael barbaro
So very much sort of in line with C.D.C. guidelines for being as safe as possible.michael barbaro
So the union is making demands of an entire community, and level of infection and transmission and contact tracing beyond the school?dana goldstein
Exactly. They’re expecting those things to work in the whole region before you sort of even get to the question of what sort of P.P.E. is available to teachers or something like that.michael barbaro
What about less practical requests from teachers?dana goldstein
So there you see this big movement bubbling up on social media under the hashtag #14daysnonewcases. And this is really quite a radical demand for schools not to reopen physically until there are no new cases in a region for 14 days. Now many nations have been able to reopen their schools safely without achieving that standard. And when I’ve spoken to public health experts about this, what they say is, you know, “14 days no new cases” is not just a controlled pandemic, it’s essentially the end of the pandemic in that region. And it might require a vaccine to get to that standard. Not just a vaccine that exists and works, but that has actually been deployed widely. When will that occur? Will that occur six months from now, 12 months from now, two years from now? We just don’t know the answer to that. And those start to be very big numbers when you’re thinking about children being out of school.michael barbaro
I wonder what these demands from teachers look like to parents in this moment. I mean, I’m mindful that many parents want their kids to return to school for a variety of very understandable reasons.dana goldstein
That’s right. I mean, I think the really hard thing is that there is no consensus or even strong majority opinion among parents. One recent national poll found about 60 percent of parents at this moment believe it’s smarter to delay reopening physical schools until the virus subsides somewhat and there are more safety measures in place. But in some big cities, where the virus has been relatively well-controlled, like New York and Chicago, polls have found that a majority of families do have some willingness to send their kids back to school.
And to add another layer of complication, it tends to be parents of color and low income parents that are the most scared of the health threats to their children of congregating in school buildings. But those families are also the most concerned about their kids falling back socially and academically because schools are closed. So there is just no consensus among parents as to what they feel is safe. It would in some ways be easier if American parents all agreed with each other about what was right here.michael barbaro
Mhm. And of course in the absence of physically returning to schools, we’re left with online learning. And we have covered on the show the problems with how teachers and school districts are approaching that.dana goldstein
Yeah. So in the spring, only a small segment of American school districts actually required teachers to teach live lessons over something like Zoom video. And here I think there is actually more risk of tension between parents and teachers. Because we’re starting to see from polls what parents are asking for in a situation of continued remote learning.
They were not happy that in the spring, many of their kids did not see teachers live over video. Many teachers were interacting with their students primarily over email at sort of random times per day. And that’s not what parents want.
They want their students to log on at very specific times and be in something like an online class, where they would have small group breakout sessions and discussions and have the opportunity to ask the teacher questions and get individualized feedback. And teachers unions are still, in some cases, resisting some of these practices, including even showing their faces on live video.michael barbaro
And Dana, why would that be? I guess I’m confused. If teachers are deeply reluctant to return to schools for very understandable reasons that you just outlined, and they don’t feel school districts are meeting them halfway, why would they simultaneously be resisting a more enriched online remote teaching experience?dana goldstein
Well, some of them make the argument that it’s not fair to provide too much live instruction, because students who don’t have an adult to supervise their online learning at home, say, at exactly 10:00 a.m., might just miss out on the live lesson. So they think that that mode of education is not effective.
But I’ve also heard some arguments much simpler than that, that they don’t want their homes to be shown. They’re not comfortable in that medium. And they believe it’s a violation of their own privacy to be shown from home in that way. So it’s a range of different arguments there.michael barbaro
That would seem to raise a real crisis. I mean, teachers both not wanting to be in classrooms, but also not wanting to teach online the way parents want them to.dana goldstein
Well, this has been the sort of crux of these very tense latest negotiations across the country between teachers and school district leaders.michael barbaro
Dana, I know a bunch of school districts around the country have actually started classes in schools. And I wonder how that has played out.dana goldstein
Well, there have been some horror stories, unfortunately.archived recording
In Georgia, this photo of a crowded hallway, no mask in sight, from North Paulding High School went viral after the school opened for in-person learning on August 3.dana goldstein
You know, for one of the first school districts to reopen, which was in Georgia, hundreds of staff were told to stay home because of potential exposure to the virus.archived recording
Today the school remain closed, a week after that reopening.dana goldstein
In Indiana —archived recording
One student at Greenfield Central Junior High tested positive on the very first day of school.dana goldstein
— right away this junior high school was having to call teachers and call students’ families and ask them to stay home for two weeks.archived recording
Students at Elwood Junior Senior High now have to go remote after staff members there tested positive for Covid-19.dana goldstein
Now that’s extremely alarming. But I want to say that nobody who’s a public health or education expert believes that we’re going to reopen schools without students and teachers showing up from time to time positive for Covid-19. That’s not a realistic expectation.
But what we do need is procedures in place to deal with that when it happens. I mean, it needs to be clear who is getting told to stay home for two weeks. And, is their access to testing for anyone who came in contact with that positive individual? So in many ways, I think these anecdotes that we’re hearing of kind of first-day-back crises in towns and cities that are trying to reopen physically do show that many of the concerns that teachers have brought to the table here are quite legitimate.michael barbaro
So those are a small number of districts that have already reopened. But of course, many of the nation’s largest school districts — Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., among others, are now firmly saying that they will not physically reopen schools at least initially. And that represents millions of students. So do teachers unions and teachers see that as a kind of victory?dana goldstein
They do see it as a victory, absolutely. They believe that it’s not only what’s necessary to protect their health but to prevent schools emerging as potential hot spots for spreading Covid-19.
But I think within that victory, there is also a real tragedy for American children and actually for our country.
Because to be in a place where the needs of public health and safety are really juxtaposed against our ability to fully educate our kids, is to be in a place that very few other developed nations are in right now. And it is because of our failure to control the pandemic itself. We are looking at the real likelihood that millions or tens of millions of children do not attend school for an entire year. A full year of no school.
And we just know that it’s going to lead to big problems. It’s going to make kids less likely to learn to read. It’s going to probably lead to higher high school dropout rates. It’s going to lead to students who don’t have enough to eat, because school is where they are fed. And to students that don’t have access to the mental health counseling and the special education services that they get at schools.
So the fact that we’re having to choose between everything crucial that the physical school provides and public health, it’s stunning. It’s stunning to me as a 15-year veteran on the education beat and just also as a parent. You know, my daughter is going to come through this pandemic just fine. She has access to a great childcare and we have a lot of resources in our home and family to bring her through this.
But still, it’s really sad for our family that she’s missing the preschool experience that we really wanted her to have. It’s been months since she was with teachers and socializing with a group of students. And she’s started even to become more timid around other kids, we’ve noticed when we do take those walks out to the playground. And you know, it’s sad for our family. And it’s just a tiny microcosm of how sad it is for our country.michael barbaro
Dana, thank you very much.dana goldstein
Thank you so much, Michael.michael barbaro
Starting this week, several Florida school districts began holding in-person classes, even as the lawsuit filed by the state’s teachers union moves ahead. A court hearing in that case is scheduled for later today. Meanwhile, in New York City on Wednesday, the influential unions representing principals and teachers called on the city to delay starting in-person instruction by several weeks. In a statement, one of the union’s leaders said that the city had failed to address teachers’ safety concerns and had failed to give them enough time to implement complicated safety protocols.
We’ll be right back. Here’s what else you need to know today.archived recording (joe biden)
Good afternoon, everyone. To me and to Kamala, this is an exciting day. It’s a great day for our campaign and it’s a great day for America, in my view.michael barbaro
During their first joint appearance as a ticket on Wednesday, Joe Biden praised Kamala Harris for her record as the attorney general of California and as a United States senator, calling her an unapologetic advocate for justice.archived recording (kamala harris)
Thank you, Joe. Thank you, Joe. As I said, Joe, when you called me, I am incredibly honored by this responsibility. And I’m ready to get to work. I am ready to get to work.michael barbaro
In her remarks, Harris immediately delivered a stinging indictment of President Trump as a self-absorbed leader who has repeatedly failed America, above all, during the pandemic.archived recording (kamala harris)
America is crying out for leadership. Yet we have a president who cares more about himself than the people who elected him. A president who is making every challenge we face even more difficult to solve. But here’s the good news. We don’t have to accept the failed government of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. In just 83 days, we have a chance to choose a better future.michael barbaro
And —archived recording (dr. anthony fauci)
I hope that the Russians have actually definitively proven that the vaccine is safe and effective. I seriously doubt that they’ve done that.michael barbaro
The Trump administration’s top adviser on the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, expressed deep doubts about Russia’s rushed plan to distribute a vaccine for the coronavirus. The vaccine, called Sputnik V, was approved by Russia’s government without evidence that the largest and most important phase of human testing had ever occurred.archived recording (anthony fauci)
So if we wanted to take the chance of hurting a lot of people or giving them something that doesn’t work, we could start doing this, you know, next week if we wanted to. But that’s not the way it works.michael barbaro
That’s it for “The Daily.” I’m Michael Barbaro. See you tomorrow.
On Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all of New York City’s roughly 1,300 public school buildings will have a full-time, certified nurse in place by the time schools are scheduled to reopen. The announcement fulfills a major safety demand made by the teachers’ union. The union has also demanded that the city upgrade outdated ventilation systems and create a clearer protocol for testing and tracing in schools.
The governor of Georgia changes tack in his fight with Atlanta’s mayor over a mask order.
Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia said on Thursday that he was abandoning a lawsuit against city officials in Atlanta over the city’s attempt to require mask-wearing and resume tighter coronavirus precautions. But the move did not signal that the governor had stopped fighting the city’s moves or that he had reached any kind of detente with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta.
In place of the lawsuit, Governor Kemp said he would issue a new executive order this week that will probably forbid city governments from requiring businesses to make their customers wear face masks. But he was also expected to lift an earlier order forbidding cities from issuing mask mandates for public places.
The judge handling the lawsuit had ordered the governor and the mayor to try to negotiate a settlement, but the talks did not succeed. “Unfortunately, the mayor has made it clear that she will not agree to a settlement that safeguards the rights of private property owners in Georgia,” Mr. Kemp said in a statement on Thursday. “Given this stalemate in negotiations, we will address this very issue in the next executive order.”
Mr. Kemp, a Republican, had been criticized for moving slowly to issue a statewide stay-at-home order when the coronavirus first started spreading, and then starting to reopen the state prematurely while the virus remained uncontrolled.
Ms. Bottoms, a Democrat, has supported more stringent measures to curb the spread of the virus. (She also tested positive for the virus herself over the summer.) On July 10, citing a surge in new cases in Atlanta, she ordered the city to return to Phase One of its reopening plan, which mandates that people cover their faces in public and stay at home except for essential trips. Restaurants and retail stores would have to go back to takeout and curbside pickup only.
Young people have reported higher levels of anxiety and depression during the pandemic, a new survey finds.
The collateral damage from the pandemic continues: Young adults and Black and Latino people in particular describe rising levels of anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts, and increased substance abuse, according to findings reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a survey, U.S. residents reported signs of eroding mental health, in reaction to the toll of coronavirus illnesses and deaths and to the life-altering restrictions imposed by lockdowns.
The researchers argue that the results point to an urgent need for expanded and culturally sensitive services for mental health and substance abuse. The online survey was completed by 5,470 people in late June. The prevalence of anxiety symptoms was three times as high as those reported in the second quarter of 2019, and depression was four times as high.
The impact was felt most keenly by young adults ages 18 to 24. According to Mark Czeisler, a researcher at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, nearly 63 percent had symptoms of anxiety or depression that they attributed to the pandemic and nearly a quarter had started or increased their uses of substances to cope with their emotions.
Overall, nearly 41 percent reported symptoms of at least one adverse reaction, ranging from anxiety and depression to post-traumatic stress disorder. Nearly 11 percent said they had suicidal thoughts in the month leading up to the survey, with the greatest clusters being among Black and Latino people, essential workers and unpaid caregivers for adults. Men were more likely to express such feelings than women were.
The researchers, who represent a joint effort largely between Monash University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said the symptoms were less pronounced in older groups.
Greece reports a virus case at one of its overcrowded island migrant camps.
The first coronavirus infections were reported on Thursday in one of Greece’s overcrowded camps for migrants on the Aegean Islands, prompting officials to lock down the camp until Aug. 25.
A 35-year-old man from Yemen living at the Vial camp on Chios tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday night, a Greek Migration Ministry official said, and a woman employed at the camp by a branch of the European Asylum Support Office tested positive on Thursday.
The man, who arrived from neighboring Turkey in September, has been hospitalized on the island with mild symptoms. Another 25 camp residents believed to have been in contact with him have been quarantined, the official said. Contact tracing for the woman was still in progress.
The Chios infections are not the first in a Greek migrant camp — dozens of cases were reported in April at three facilities on the mainland. But they are the first in an island camp, where overcrowding is the most intense.
Greece has generally weathered the pandemic better than many of its neighbors, recording around 6,000 cases since late February and just over 200 deaths. But daily case reports have increased sharply in recent weeks, prompting the authorities to reintroduce some restrictions. The country reported 262 cases on Wednesday, its highest figure so far; only 29 of them appeared to be linked to foreign arrivals.
In Germany, the number of new cases is rising, and testing hits a snag in one state.
Germany’s daily infections rose to a level not seen since the country successfully flattened the curve in May, with the country reporting 1,445 new cases on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, the state of Bavaria, which had promised free tests to all returning holiday travelers, was under scrutiny for failing to deliver timely results.
Cases have slowly risen over the past few weeks as holidaymakers return from heavily affected areas and schools restart. In August alone, there have been six days when Germany has registered more than 1,000 new cases.
The growth is especially noteworthy because it is linked not to a single cluster, but to a general rise of infections in the population. Five districts, including one in central Berlin, reported more than 25 cases per 100,000 in the past week, according to figures released Wednesday. The seven-day reproduction value is at 1.04, meaning more people are becoming infected than are recovering.
Also on Wednesday, the Bavarian authorities admitted that they had failed to promptly deliver 44,000 test results to returning travelers. Among those were 900 positive tests for the virus. The state has set up free testing centers in airports and some major train stations. The state’s governor, Markus Söder, called the breakdown in transmitting test results “really, really annoying.”
Jens Spahn, the country’s health minister, warned that many of the new infections are seen in young people. The average age of infected people was 34 last week, the lowest it has been since the beginning of the pandemic.
Two people in China who had seemingly recovered from the virus tested positive again.
A 68-year-old woman in the Chinese province of Hubei, where the global coronavirus outbreak was first detected, tested positive again this month after recovering from a case of the virus recorded in February, officials said. Another man who had recovered from an infection in April was also found to be an asymptomatic carrier in Shanghai this week.
The two cases, which came months after their original diagnoses, have revived concerns about mysterious second-time infections that have baffled experts since the early days of the pandemic, with some blaming testing flaws.
The authorities in Jingzhou, a city near Wuhan, the original epicenter of the outbreak, said on Wednesday that the woman had tested positive again on Aug. 9, after having recovered for several months from a virus infection first recorded in early February. The nucleic acid test results for her contacts were all said to be negative.
“There have been very few reports of cases of possible ‘relapses’ or second-time Covid-19 infections, and we still don’t fully understand the risk of this,” said Benjamin Cowling, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong. “But we would expect that some infected persons could be vulnerable to reinfection, particularly as time passes.”
“It’s a feature of other respiratory infections that we can be reinfected with similar viruses throughout our lives, and it is unlikely that a Covid-19 infection (or a vaccination) would provide lifelong immunity against a subsequent infection,” Dr. Cowling added. “What we have not yet understood is the duration of immunity.”
Other experts have said it is highly unlikely that the coronavirus would strike the same person twice within a short window, and reports of reinfection may instead be cases of drawn-out illness, with the virus taking a slow burn even months after their first exposure.
Does it seem as if everyone’s got it better than you?
A beach house, a suburban home, a home without children, a home filled with family: These days, everyone wants something that someone else has. You are not alone if you are filled with “quarantine envy.” Here are some ways to deal with it.
Reporting was contributed by Ian Austen, Alan Blinder, Ben Casselman, Damien Cave, Cho Sang-Hun, Emily Cochrane, James Dobbins, Manny Fernandez, Katie Glueck, Michael Gold, Jason Gutierrez, Jan Hoffman, Mike Ives, Thomas Kaplan, Niki Kitsantonis, Apoorva Mandavilli, Elian Peltier, Richard C. Paddock, Amy Qin, Rick Rojas, Christopher F. Schuetze, Eliza Shapiro, Mitch Smith, Deborah Solomon, Serena Solomon, Eileen Sullivan, Billy Witz, Lauren Wolfe, Sameer Yasir and Elaine Yu.