As the U.S. reports record numbers of new cases, states and localities tap the brakes on reopening.
New York City reversed course Wednesday and decided not to let its restaurants resume indoor service next week as originally planned. Miami Beach said that it would reinstate a nightly curfew beginning Thursday at 12:30 a.m., extending until 5 a.m., to try to curb the spread. And California shut down bars and halted indoor dining at restaurants in 19 counties that are home to more than 70 percent of the state’s population.
Hopes that a spring that was largely lost to the virus would give way to a far freer summer are beginning to wane in many parts of the country. Many states and localities are pausing and even reversing their plans to ease restrictions as the United States records more new cases each day than ever, new outbreaks are disrupting large states in the South and West, and areas that had made progress against the virus show worrying signs of resurgence.
Several Republican-led states that moved quickly to reopen this spring at the urging of President Trump have seen new cases explode, and are now reimposing some restrictions.
Arizona, which Mr. Trump visited in May and praised its reopening plans, is now seeing record numbers of new cases, and Gov. Doug Ducey decided this week to close its water parks amid the July heat and to order bars, gyms and movie theaters in the state to close for 30 days. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence visited the state to discuss the crisis as the state reported more than 4,700 cases, just under its single-day record set a day earlier.
Mr. Pence told Mr. Ducey that the federal government would help the state with a request for 500 additional public health personnel by mobilizing doctors, nurses and technical personnel, and urged Arizonans to wear a mask “when indicated by state and local authorities or when social distancing is not possible.”
Mr. Ducey told Arizonans: “You are safer at home. We want to slow the spread of this virus and protect the most vulnerable. If we commit to that and we do it with increased intensity over the next several weeks, we will be in a different position.”
Texas, seeing more young people fall ill as they report record numbers of new cases, ordered its bars closed last week, and Florida banned drinking indoors in bars. And Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, whose original reopening plans were criticized as premature by Mr. Trump, this week extended an order requiring social distancing and banning large gatherings.
California, which was the first state to shut down and which took some of the most aggressive actions to contain the virus, has seen cases explode in recent days after it eased restrictions, leading the governor to move Wednesday to close bars and halt indoor dining in much of the state. “The bottom line is the spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning,” he said as he announced the new restrictions Wednesday.
More than 2,000 new cases were identified in Louisiana on Wednesday, the most in a single day since early April, when there was a major outbreak in the New Orleans area. “The situation isn’t as rosy as we’d like it to be,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday, as he announced plans to step up enforcement of existing restrictions and urged the public not to patronize businesses that are not following the state’s rules. “We don’t want to close more business and so forth if we can avoid it,” he said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced that he was closing down bars and indoor dining in 19 counties in California, pulling back reopening for more than 70 percent of the population in the state. He also ordered closed indoor operations in wineries and tasting rooms, zoos, museums and card rooms. The closures, he said, would remain in place for at least three weeks.
In Los Angeles County, where the outbreak has been among the most severe in the state, the public health department announced Monday the closure of all “public beaches, piers, public beach parking lots, beach bike paths that traverse that sanded portion of the beach, and beach access points.”
The mayor of the city of Los Angeles urged people to keep their distance in public, noting that the health department estimates that one out of 140 residents in the county is currently infectious with the virus. Beaches will also be closed in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles.
Mr. Newsom also said parking lots at beaches across the state would be closed for the Fourth of July weekend. He implored the public to avoid gatherings with people not part of their immediate households during the holiday weekend.
“Patriotism in a Covid-19 environment can be expressed a little bit differently,” he said.
Noting a surge in infections and deaths, Mr. Newsom also announced the establishment of teams that will work with local authorities to compel compliance of all public health orders.
Apple said Wednesday it would close 30 more of its stores in seven states, including California, Georgia and Nevada, adding to the 16 stores already closed around the country, where Apple has 271 stores total.
President Trump said Wednesday that he believed the virus was “going to sort of just disappear,” even as cases are rapidly rising nationwide — and added that he was “all for masks,” even though he has rarely worn one himself, mocked people who do, and has questioned the benefits and even the political meaning of face coverings.
“I think we’re going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope,” Mr. Trump said in an interview on Wednesday with the Fox Business Network.
“I think we’re going to have a vaccine very soon, too,” he added.
Mr. Trump has made mistakenly hopeful predictions about the virus’s demise since the first confirmed cases appeared in March in the United States. He has also repeatedly suggested that a vaccine might be imminent, even though top health officials say that one will almost certainly not be widely available to the public before 2021.
As even senior Republican members of Congress and Republican governors in states with rising caseloads issue firmer calls for Americans to wear masks, Mr. Trump spoke less skeptically about the precaution than he has in the past. Last month, he told The Wall Street Journal that some Americans wear masks as a sign of political opposition to him, and said that such coverings could make people more likely to touch their faces and become infected — a risk that health experts say is outweighed by the benefits of covering the mouth and nose.
Asked whether Americans should be required to wear masks, Mr. Trump said: “Well, I don’t know if you need mandatory because you have many places in the country where people stay very long distance. You talk about social distancing. But I’m all for masks. I think masks are good. I would wear one if I were in a group of people and I was close.”
Mr. Trump said that he had worn a mask, but that it was usually not necessary because he and anyone allowed near him were regularly tested. “But if I were in a tight situation with people, I would absolutely,” he said.
Mr. Trump added that he “sort of liked” the way he looked in a mask.
“It was a dark black mask,” he said, “and I thought it looked OK. I looked like the Lone Ranger.”
‘Celebrate at home’: A Fourth of July plea as U.S. cases skyrocket.
Health officials are urging Americans to scale back Independence Day plans as virus case levels reach disheartening new highs, with eight states setting single-day reporting records on Tuesday.
“The safest choice this holiday is to celebrate at home,” said the Oregon Health Authority.
For Nebraskans planning to host cookouts, state leaders offered this sobering advice: Keep the guest list. It makes contact tracing easier.
And in Los Angeles County, the public health department ordered fireworks shows canceled.
The community was just one of many across the country to pull the plug on fireworks.
As many as 80 percent of displays have been canceled over concerns that social distancing would be too difficult. The 150 companies that were to put on the shows have now joined the long list of American businesses hit hard by the pandemic.
Would-be holiday celebrators heard similar pleas: Skip the party. Stay home. Don’t make a bad situation worse.
“We don’t want any more closures, but our numbers are going through the roof,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the public health officer in Riverside County, Calif.
“Please don’t mix households, even if you think everyone is healthy, and instead celebrate the holiday with the people you live with,” Dr. Kaiser said. “We started seeing more and more cases after Memorial Day, and we can’t afford another jump after the Fourth of July.”
The virus outlook in the United States is bad and getting worse. The number of new cases has shot up 82 percent, compared with two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database. With more than 48,000 new cases on Tuesday, the country set a daily record for the fourth time in a week.
With the virus spreading rapidly in other large states like Florida and Texas, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday that New York City would not resume indoor dining at restaurants next week as planned.
The decision comes as officials are becoming increasingly concerned that the increase in cases in more than 30 states could trickle back to New York, which has managed to rein in the outbreak.
“Indoors is the problem more and more,” Mr. de Blasio said, adding, that “the news we have gotten from around the country gets worse and worse,” and that restaurants should “double down” on outdoor dining.
Shortly afterward, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo agreed that bringing back indoor dining in the city was “imprudent,” pointing to the rising rates of infection elsewhere that he said were “storm clouds on the horizon.”
Indoor dining could resume, he said, once more citizens complied with wearing masks and social distancing, and when case numbers nationally stabilized.
But he chided Mr. de Blasio, a regular political rival, and other local officials for not doing enough to ensure that residents were abiding by social distancing rules. “Citizen compliance is slipping,” he said.
“Local government has to step up and do their job,” he said, adding that “it’s much worse” in New York City.
The move came on the heels of a similar decision by New Jersey’s governor to halt a restart of indoor dining that was to have gone into effect on Thursday. Florida and Texas, in particular, have had to retrench in the face of surging cases after allowing bars and restaurants to reopen with some indoor seating.
On Tuesday, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut called on travelers from 16 states, including the nation’s three largest — California, Florida and Texas — to quarantine for 14 days after arriving.
Elsewhere in New York:
Statewide, all New Yorkers can get tested, the governor said; there were also 11 additional virus-related deaths. New York City had previously allowed anyone to be tested.
New York City beaches reopened Wednesday and will open 15 public pools with social distancing guidelines, the mayor said, starting with three pools on July 24 in the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens. The 12 other pools will open Aug. 1.
In New Jersey, a family’s 73-year-old matriarch, three of her 11 children and her sister all died of Covid-19. Her survivors are focused on finding a remedy. Statewide, there were an additional 45 virus-related deaths, the governor said Wednesday.
Researchers debate infecting people on purpose to test vaccines.
One way to quickly see if a coronavirus vaccine works would be to immunize healthy people and then deliberately expose them to the virus, some researchers are suggesting.
Proponents say this strategy, called a human challenge trial, could save time because rather than conducting tests the usual way — by waiting for vaccinated people to encounter the virus naturally — researchers could intentionally infect them.
Challenge trials have been used to test vaccines for typhoid, cholera, malaria and other diseases. For malaria, volunteers have stuck their arms into chambers full of mosquitoes to be bitten and infected. But there were so-called rescue medicines to cure those who got sick. There is no cure for Covid-19.
For both ethical and practical reasons, the idea of challenge trials for a coronavirus vaccine has provoked fierce debate.
In a draft report published last month, the World Health Organization said that challenge trials could yield important information, but that they would be daunting to run because of the potential of the coronavirus “to cause severe and fatal illness and its high transmissibility.”
The report, by a 19-member advisory panel, provided detailed guidelines about the safest way to conduct challenge trials, recommending that they be limited to healthy people ages 18 to 25 because they have the least risk of severe illness or death from the virus. The virus would be dripped into their noses.
But the panel also said its members split nearly in half over several major issues. They were divided over whether trials should be carried out if no highly effective therapy had been identified to treat participants who got sick; over whether studies in healthy young adults could predict the efficacy of a vaccine in older people or other high-risk adults; and over whether challenge trials could really speed vaccine development.
On Wednesday, Florida reported more than 6,500 new cases, as hospitals sounded the alarm about seeing their beds increasingly filled with Covid-19 patients. Jackson Memorial, Miami’s biggest public hospital, announced that beginning on Monday, it would stop elective surgeries except for those deemed urgent, in order to cope with its Covid-19 caseload, which has doubled over the past two weeks.
“If the trends continue the way we are, we will be inundated,” Carlos Migoya, the hospital’s president and chief executive, told the Miami-Dade County Commission.
Before the Fourth of July weekend, a handful of counties announced that the beaches would be closed. In some places, parks will also be off limits. Traditional mass gatherings to watch fireworks have been canceled.
In Miami-Dade, which has seen more than 1,400 new cases a day, Mayor Carlos Gimenez banned restaurants from selling food or drink after midnight. Over the holiday weekend, hotel pools will have to close at 8 p.m., and alcohol sales will be prohibited before 11 a.m. and after 8 p.m. “There is no more patriotic an act than protecting the lives of everyone in our county,” Mr. Gimenez said in a statement.
The W.H.O. raises alarm about the Trump administration’s deal to buy up the global supply of remdesivir.
The World Health Organization expressed concern on Wednesday over an arrangement for the United States to buy up almost all supplies of the drug remdesivir through the end of September.
Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the W.H.O.’s health emergencies program, said the agency was trying to verify the details, announced on Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services and the drug’s maker, Gilead Sciences. The deal most likely contradicts the W.H.O.’s policy that treatments and vaccines for the virus should be distributed equitably to the most needy.
“Obviously, there are many people around the world who are very sick with this disease, and we want to make sure that everybody has access to the necessary lifesaving interventions,” Dr. Ryan said.
Remdesivir has been shown to help people recover somewhat faster from Covid-19. On Monday, federal officials announced that more than 500,000 treatment courses would be reserved for American hospitals through September. That accounts for 100 percent of Gilead’s projected production in July, and 90 percent in August and September.
“President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorized therapeutic for Covid-19,” said Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services. “To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it.”
The W.H.O. also reported on Wednesday that countries in its Eastern Mediterranean region, especially those in conflict zones, are facing a growing crisis.
One million people in the region have been infected with the virus, and the number of cases reported in June exceeded the number reported from the previous four months combined. The countries hit hardest are Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan, which together account for more than 85 percent of the deaths in the region.
“Health systems are devastated by years of war, and health workers and medicines are in very short supply,” said Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, the regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean for the W.H.O. “Now Covid-19 has engulfed the region, making things worse.”
The economic recovery is stalling as infections rise in the U.S.
The nascent restart of America’s economy has begun to stall as a surge in new cases dampens consumer and business activity across states like Florida, Texas and Arizona.
After weeks of contraction, the economy had begun rebounding faster than many economists expected from mid-April into June, as infection rates stabilized or fell across much of the country and the federal government injected trillions of dollars into the economy.
States began to reopen, shoppers increased their spending and employers started to hire back furloughed workers.
But there were signs even then that the pace of recovery was beginning to slow, even before another wave of infections swept through many states.
Now, real-time economic data shows the economy moving backward, as new outbreaks spook consumers, although the national jobs report scheduled to be released this week may obscure that setback; the report is drawn from data compiled in the middle of the month.
Europe has offered a different model for how to manage an economy through a pandemic. Most of the continent tried to freeze the economy in place during strict lockdowns, leaning on social welfare policies and subsidies to employers. Analysts say that approach might work better. But if the pandemic goes on too long, governments are unlikely to extend such support for much longer.
Congress is investigating about a dozen medical laboratories and emergency rooms for potential virus test price gouging.
In a letter sent Wednesday afternoon, the House Energy and Commerce committee chairman, Frank Pallone Jr., asked 11 health care providers to submit information on testing prices. Two laboratories that were the subject of recent New York Times articles — Gibson Diagnostic Labs and Genesis Laboratory — are among those receiving the letter.
Gibson has charged as much as $2,315 for one coronavirus test. Patients who thought they were getting tested for coronavirus by Genesis Laboratory found themselves billed for many additional tests, including for herpes, enterovirus and Legionnaires’ disease.
The recent CARES Act requires that insurers cover the full cost of coronavirus testing, with no co-pays or deductibles required from the patient. The health plans must also pay an out-of-network doctor’s office or lab its full charge so long as the provider posts that “cash price” online.
That’s meant to ensure patients don’t receive surprise bills, but health policy experts worry that it may unintentionally give some providers the green light to set exceptionally high charges. Mr. Pallone, a Democrat from New Jersey, has requested a response to his letter by July 10.
Spain and Portugal are officially reopening their land border, an event that will be attended by King Felipe VI and the prime ministers of both countries. The border had been closed since mid-March. Spain reopened its border with France on June 21.
In Belgium, swimming pools, wellness centers, amusement parks, casinos and indoor playgrounds were among the spaces to reopen. Cinemas and theaters also opened on Wednesday.
Visitors also returned to a growing list of museums, including the Grand Palais and Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens.
In the Netherlands, gatherings of up to 100 are now allowed, although the government urged people stay five feet (1.5 meters) apart. Sex work in the country is also allowed again.
Thousands of people in Prague in the Czech Republic held a symbolic farewell party for the pandemic on Tuesday, the BBC reported. Guests shared food and there was no social distancing. The country, which locked down early, has had about 350 deaths and 12,000 cases of the virus.
Some countries in the Middle East also relaxed virus-related measures on Wednesday. Restaurants in a few tourist areas in Qatar were allowed to reopen under some restrictions. Malls and shopping centers in Qatar also opened their doors, but prayer rooms and cinemas were among the spaces to remain closed.
Some flights in Lebanon and Egypt also resumed. EgyptAir began service to more than two dozen international destinations on Wednesday.
Here are other developments from around the globe:
In Israel, the Health Ministry announced that it recorded 773 cases on Tuesday — the highest daily case count since the contagion first emerged in Israel. It recorded 752 cases on Sunday. In the past couple of weeks, the authorities have imposed significant restrictions in locations with high numbers of cases, while allowing the rest of the country to stay largely open.
The Hebron region of the West Bank accounts for more than 80 percent of active virus cases in the territory, and the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry reported Wednesday that it had recorded 199 new cases, bringing the number of active cases there to 1,804. Jibrin al-Bakri, the governor of Hebron, said that the city and its surrounding villages would be locked down for five days, with all movement banned except for visits to places such as pharmacies or bakeries.
Pfizer reports early but promising results on a vaccine candidate.
Early but encouraging results on an experimental vaccine came Wednesday from Pfizer and the German company BioNTech.
The trial, a Phase 1-2 study, involved 45 people. Thirty-six received the vaccine, and nine got placebo shots. Test subjects who received two shots, three weeks apart, developed antibodies, including the so-called neutralizing type that can stop the virus from infecting cells, the company said, adding that some participants reported mild to moderate sore arms or fever.
The vaccine uses genetic material called messenger RNA, or mRNA, that contains the directions for making the spike protein that the virus uses to invade human cells. The mRNA is taken up by cells in the body, which then follow the directions and churn out the viral protein. The immune system recognizes the protein as foreign and makes antibodies that should disable the spike if the coronavirus tries to invade.
Pfizer said the findings came from one of four candidate vaccines that it has developed, and that more data from the trial will allow the company to pick a lead candidate and dose level for a much larger study that may begin as early as this month.
The company said that if its vaccine proves effective and is approved, it expects to make up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020, and “potentially more than 1.2 billion doses by the end of 2021.”
The first company to begin testing vaccines in humans, Moderna, also uses mRNA.
Adam Silver, the commissioner of the N.B.A., said Tuesday that the league could put the brakes on its attempt to close out the season if there is an outbreak among players or staff members.
The season is scheduled to restart without spectators on July 30 at Walt Disney World near Orlando, and the N.B.A. finals are scheduled to begin Sept. 30. The league went on hiatus in March with roughly 20 percent of its season left to play.
“We’re going to see as we go. I mean certainly, if cases are isolated, that’s one thing,” Mr. Silver said during a talk with Time 100, in reference to a potential outbreak on the Disney campus where N.B.A. players and staff are expected to be quarantined.
After the police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, tens of thousands of New Yorkers poured into the streets to protest police brutality and racism.
Epidemiologists braced for a surge of new coronavirus cases. But it has not come yet.
On May 27, the day before the protests began in New York City, some 754 Covid-19 cases were diagnosed, according to the city’s Department of Health. That was the last time the city recorded more than 700 cases on a single day.
By the end of the first week of protests, the city was recording slightly more than 500 cases a day. By the end of the second week of protests, the case counts were in the low 400s or high 300s a day. They’ve continued to drop slightly. The last time New York City recorded more than 300 cases was on June 22.
“We’ve been looking very closely at the number of positive cases every day to see if there is an uptick in the context of the protests,” Ted Long, executive director of the city’s contact tracing program, said. “We have not seen that.”
In interviews, several epidemiologists expressed either surprise or relief, and offered theories for what occurred. This is what we know: The virus spread in New York City was already slowing down. Outdoor transmission is more rare. Most protesters wore masks. We could still see a wave of infections tied to the protests.
Elsewhere in the U.S.:
In Pennsylvania, the governor announced Wednesday that the state would now require people to wear masks whenever they leave home, taking effect immediately. “This mask-wearing order is essential to stopping the recent increase in Covid-19 cases we have seen in Pennsylvania,” he said in a statement. “Those hot spots can be traced to situations where Pennsylvanians were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing — two practices that must be adhered to if we want to maintain the freedoms we have in place under our reopening.”
More than 1,500 new cases were announced Wednesday in Tennessee, a single-day record.
As cases surge in Texas, which moved swiftly to reopen, the state’s lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, claimed that Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, “doesn’t know what he’s talking about” when it comes to the state’s handling of its worsening pandemic. Mr. Patrick made the comments in an interview with Laura Ingraham, the Fox News host, on Tuesday evening after Dr. Fauci laid out a grim assessment of the pandemic in testimony on Capitol Hill and warned that some states were moving “too quickly and skipping over some of the checkpoints.”
Time to give your home a good scrubbing.
There’s no way around it: When you rarely leave home, things get dirty faster. Here are some tips for a good deep-cleaning.
Reporting was contributed by Jonah Engel Bromwich, Ben Casselman, Emily Cochrane, Michael Cooper, Michael Crowley, Sopan Deb, Steven Erlanger, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Sheri Fink, Thomas Fuller, Elaine Glusac, Joseph Goldstein, Denise Grady, Jenny Gross, Shawn Hubler, Sarah Kliff, Iliana Magra, Patricia Mazzei, Jesse McKinley, Raphael Minder, David Montgomery, Claire Moses, Sharon Otterman, Matt Phillips, Adam Rasgon, Amanda Rosa, Brian M. Rosenthal, Dagny Salas, Michael D. Shear, Mitch Smith, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jim Tankersley, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Tracey Tully, David Waldstein, Noah Weiland, Billy Witz and Karen Zraick.