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U.S. Virus Outlook Worsens With Record-Breaking Week

Credit...Bing Guan/Reuters

The United States reported more than 74,300 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, pushing the country’s daily average over the past week above 71,000, the most in any seven-day stretch of the pandemic.

Across the country, the outlook continues to worsen. More than 20 states are reporting case numbers at or near record levels. Bars and restaurants are facing new limits. In a handful of places, business curfews have been ordered or field hospitals have opened.

“There seems to be a Covid storm on the rise, and we have to get prepared,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, who has imposed new restrictions on businesses in much of the state as cases have surged to record levels.

On a per-capita basis, the Upper Midwest and Mountain West continue to face the worst of the latest surge. A field hospital at the Wisconsin state fairgrounds has started accepting patients. Idaho is averaging around 900 cases each day, up from about 260 in mid-September. Five percent of all North Dakotans have now tested positive for the virus, the highest rate of any state.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, visited North Dakota on Monday and warned that “there’s a whole other set of cases underneath those cases, of asymptomatic young people who are still getting together, or even 40-, 50- and 60-year-olds who I saw throughout Bismarck not wearing masks and not physically distancing yet being indoors.”

But it is not just the Northern Plains and rural West struggling. Pennsylvania set a single-day case record on Monday with 2,492 new cases. And North Carolina has reported a record number of coronavirus deaths in the past week.

All nonessential businesses in Newark, N.J., will have to close at 8 p.m. beginning Tuesday, city officials announced. As of Sunday, the deaths of 672 Newark residents had been linked to Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, and the three-day average citywide positivity rate was 11.2 percent, more than double the statewide rate for the same period, the city said Monday.

Newark is the first municipality in New Jersey to adopt new, targeted shutdown measures, which come as the number of virus cases is increasing across the state. As of Monday, New Jersey has had an average of 1,211 new cases every day for the past week, an increase of 57 percent from the average two weeks earlier, according to a New York Times database.

Texas has overtaken California as the state that has recorded the most cases, with at least 916,000 since the pandemic began and a per capita case rate that ranks 17th in the nation. Its seven-day average of new cases is about 6,100, far below its July peak of over 10,000 but climbing sharply.

In El Paso, the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 has more than tripled over the past three weeks, leading local officials to take drastic action, including the imposition of a two-week stay-at-home order and a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew that took effect Sunday.

To accommodate the increasing demand for inpatient care, officials are scrambling to make space for them by setting up overflow beds in a convention center and under tents in parking lots and by flying patients to medical centers outside the area.

A sharp rise in coronavirus infections has also strained hospitals across Idaho, leading Gov. Brad Little to restore some statewide restrictions to limit the spread of the virus on Monday. The state, he said, had reached a tipping point that required the limitation of gatherings and enforced wearing of masks at long-term care facilities.

The governor continued to resist a statewide mask mandate, saying he wanted mask-wearing rules to be determined by local officials, and he called for people to take personal responsibility. Idaho has averaged almost 900 new coronavirus cases per day over the past week, more than triple the numbers seen in early September.

In Wyoming, officials reported 436 new cases and nine new deaths on Monday. Both were single-day records.

Credit...Dimitar Dilkoff/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Russian government on Tuesday made its most aggressive move yet to try to stem a second wave of the coronavirus, mandating masks in public places throughout the country.

The federal health watchdog agency, Rospotrebnadzor, also urged the governors of Russia’s 85 regions to order restaurants and entertainment venues to close by 11 p.m. Masks must be worn, in taxis, public transportation, elevators and parking garages, and in any place where more than 50 people are able to gather, according to . Officials offered no immediate details on how the order would be enforced.

The directive was unusual because President Vladimir V. Putin has resisted taking any nationwide measures to stop the virus’s spread in recent months, delegating the battle to regional leaders. And after a nationwide lockdown in April and May caused widespread economic pain, officials have been loath to order any new business closures, even as the infection rate reached new heights in recent weeks.

Russia recorded 16,550 new cases on Tuesday, the fifth day in a row with more than 16,000 new cases. The government also reported 320 coronavirus deaths, a single-day record. Russia has recorded more than 1.5 million cases of the virus, with more than 114,00 of those coming in the past seven days, and a total of 26,000 deaths.

In another measure of the virus’s spread, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav V. Volodin, told Mr. Putin on Monday that 91 of the assembly’s 450 representatives have or have had the coronavirus — and that 38 are currently hospitalized with the infection.

Credit...T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The coronavirus was gathering lethal speed when President Trump met his Brazilian counterpart, Jair Bolsonaro, on March 7 for dinner at Mar-a-Lago. Mr. Bolsonaro had canceled trips that week to Italy, Poland and Hungary, and Brazil’s health minister had urged him to stay away from Florida, too.

But Mr. Bolsonaro insisted, eager to burnish his image as the “Trump of the Tropics.” His grinning aides posed at the president’s resort in green “Make Brazil Great Again” hats.

Twenty-two people in Mr. Bolsonaro’s delegation tested positive for the virus after returning to Brazil, yet he was not alarmed. Mr. Trump had shared a cure, Mr. Bolsonaro told advisers: a box of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, the unproven treatment that Mr. Trump was promoting as a remedy for Covid-19.

The Mar-a-Lago dinner cemented a partnership between Mr. Trump and Mr. Bolsonaro rooted in a shared disregard for the virus. But even before the dinner, the two presidents had waged an ideological campaign that would undermine Latin America’s ability to respond to the pandemic.

The two men, fierce opponents of Latin America’s leftists, took aim at Cuba’s great pride: the doctors it sends around the world. Mr. Trump and Mr. Bolsonaro drove 10,000 Cuban doctors and nurses out of impoverished areas of Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and El Salvador. Many left without being replaced, only months before the pandemic arrived.

Then, the two leaders attacked the international agency most capable of fighting the virus — the Pan-American Health Organization, or PAHO — citing its involvement with the Cuban medical program. With help from Mr. Bolsonaro, Mr. Trump nearly bankrupted the agency by withholding promised funding at the height of the outbreak.

And with help from Mr. Trump, Mr. Bolsonaro has made hydroxychloroquine the centerpiece of Brazil’s pandemic response, despite a medical consensus that the drug is ineffective and even dangerous. The Food and Drug Administration warned in April against most uses of the drug to treat Covid-19. A month later, Mr. Trump announced after a phone call with Mr. Bolsonaro that the United States would send Brazil two million doses.

Weak health systems and overcrowded cities made Latin America inherently vulnerable. But by driving out doctors, blocking assistance, and pushing false cures, Mr. Trump and Mr. Bolsonaro made a bad situation worse.

Now Latin America, with a third of the world’s deaths, has suffered more acutely from Covid-19 than any other region.

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transcript

Barrett Sworn In as Supreme Court Justice

The Senate voted 52 to 48 to confirm the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative appeals court judge, eight days before the presidential election.

[music, “Hail to the Chief”] “In a few moments, we will proudly swear in the newest member of the United States Supreme Court, Justice Amy Coney Barrett. [applause] She is one of our nation’s most brilliant legal scholars, and she will make an outstanding justice on the highest court in our land.” “I will well and faithfully discharge ...” “... the duties of the office on which I’m about to enter ...” “... the duties of the office on which I am about to enter ...” “... so help me God.” “... so help me God.” [applause] “The oath that I have solemnly taken tonight means at its core that I will do my job without any fear or favor, and that I will do so independently of both the political branches and of my own preferences.” “On this vote, the yeas are 52, the nays are 48. The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States is confirmed.” [applause] “Since the ink dried on the Constitution, only 114 men and women have been entrusted to uphold the separation of powers, protect people’s rights and dispense impartial justice on the Supreme Court. This is one of the most brilliant, admired and well-qualified nominees in our lifetime.” “I want to be clear with the American people: The Senate majority, this Republican Senate majority, is breaking faith with you, doing the exact opposite of what it promised four years ago, because they wish to cement a majority on the Supreme Court that threatens your fundamental rights. And I want to be very clear with my Republican colleagues: You may win this vote, and Amy Coney Barrett may become the next associate justice of the Supreme Court, but you will never, never get your credibility back.”

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The Senate voted 52 to 48 to confirm the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative appeals court judge, eight days before the presidential election.CreditCredit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump on Monday held an unusual nighttime ceremony at the White House to swear in Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, a month to the day after the superspreader event blamed for infecting multiple people with the coronavirus, including the president himself, who was forced to spend three nights in the hospital.

To Mr. Trump, the ceremony was, in effect, the triumph of defiance over experience, a stubborn gesture by a president who refuses to acknowledge the continuing threat of a pandemic that has killed more than 225,000 people in the United States even after it has swept through his own circle of aides, advisers and allies. Undaunted and unbowed, Mr. Trump hosted the event even as five people working for Vice President Mike Pence have tested positive in recent days.

This time, at least, the White House made some concessions to the virus. Unlike the Rose Garden event on Sept. 26 when Mr. Trump announced his nomination of Justice Barrett, apparently leading to a raft of infections, the ceremony on Monday night was held on the roomier South Lawn, with folding chairs seated several feet apart and guests required to wear masks.

Neither Mr. Trump nor Justice Barrett wore masks, perhaps owing to the fact that both have already had the virus and therefore presumably could be immune. Melania Trump, the first lady, who also was infected after the last event, likewise attended without a mask. Justice Clarence Thomas, who was on hand to swear in his new colleague, wore no mask either, even though he is not known to have been previously infected. None of the other seven justices attended.

Credit...Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The drug maker Eli Lilly said on Monday that its antibody treatment was ineffective on patients hospitalized with advanced Covid-19 and that a government-sponsored trial would not administer the drug to new participants.

The company said that other trials of the treatment, in people who are not as sick or who have been exposed to the virus, would continue, and that it remained optimistic that the treatment could work if given early in the course of the disease.

Earlier this month, Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, said he had received the experimental treatment shortly after he was diagnosed with Covid-19. President Trump received a similar therapy, made by Regeneron, soon after he was infected. Both companies have applied to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use of the treatment in outpatients.

Eli Lilly’s trial of hospitalized patients was being run by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, and was paused two weeks ago after an outside safety panel flagged a “potential safety concern.”

Government officials said at the time that an independent board of scientific experts had found that after five days of treatment, the group of patients who had received the antibodies showed a different “clinical status” than the group who had received a saline placebo — a difference that crossed a predetermined threshold for safety.

On Monday, Eli Lilly said the recommendation to discontinue use of the antibody treatment, called bamlanivimab, “was based on trial data suggesting that bamlanivimab is unlikely to help hospitalized Covid-19 patients recover from this advanced stage of their disease.” The company also said “differences in safety outcomes between the groups were not significant.”

Dr. Eric Topol, a clinical trial expert at the Scripps Research Institute who has been following the treatment’s development, said the news “tells us they stopped the trial due to futility, as suspected,” and that it “suggests that the timing of monoclonal antibody administration — early — will be important.”

Other trials of the antibody treatment have shown early promise in people who were newly infected with the virus, showing that it can lower viral levels in patients and reduce visits to the emergency room and hospital.

Those We’ve Lost

Credit...via Parker family

This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Jeannette Williams-Parker loved rock music from the 1980s and ’90s. She played AC/DC and Prince while driving or cleaning the house. The big, loud beat spoke to her mischievous side, starting from her childhood: the 2-year-old who took off running naked down the street when it was bath time; the young daredevil who rumbled down the hill in her Big Wheel bike, scaring her mother half to death.

Ms. Williams-Parker, known to friends as Netty, had a caring side, too. She was a registered nurse for 26 years, the last 23 of them at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va.

“She went above and beyond her job description,” her daughter, Haley Parker, said in a phone interview. Once, Ms. Williams-Parker noticed that the parents of a sick child had been spending long hours at the hospital, so she got them a change of clothes and a meal.

She died on Sept. 30 at the hospital where she worked. She was 48. The cause was complications of Covid-19, her daughter said.

Ms. Williams-Parker was the first nurse in West Virginia to die of the new coronavirus, said Julie Huron, the executive director of the West Virginia Nurses Association; two more nurses have since died of it.

West Virginia was the last state in the country to report a confirmed case of the virus, on March 17, and numbers remained low throughout the spring. But like many largely rural areas, the state has seen a recent spike in cases.

It’s not clear how or where Ms. Williams-Parker contracted the virus. Her fiancé, Bryan Ingram, fell ill with what he initially thought was a sinus infection. Soon he and then Ms. Williams-Parker tested positive for Covid-19. The Saturday before she died, she called her mother, Ruth Bagwell, to say that she was short of breath and that she had a fever. On Monday, she was taken by ambulance to the hospital. By Wednesday, she was gone.

“She just never thought it would happen to her,” Ms. Bagwell said.

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