Here’s what you need to know:Dr. Scott W. Altas, an adviser to President Trump.Credit…Erin Scott for The New York Times
As the coronavirus pandemic erupted this spring, two professors at Stanford University — Dr. Jay Bhattacharya and Dr. Scott W. Altas — bonded over a shared concern that lockdowns were creating economic and societal devastation.
Now Dr. Atlas is President Trump’s science adviser, a powerful force inside the White House. And Dr. Bhattacharya is one of three authors of the so-called Great Barrington Declaration, a scientific treatise that calls for allowing the coronavirus to spread in order to achieve “herd immunity” — the point at which enough people have been infected to stall transmission of the pathogen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and leading experts have recently concluded, using different scientific methods, that as many as 90 percent of Americans are still vulnerable to infection.
While Dr. Atlas and administration officials have denied advocating the herd immunity approach, they have praised the ideas in the declaration. The message is aligned with Mr. Trump’s vocal opposition to lockdowns on the campaign trail, even as the country grapples with renewed surges of the virus.
The central proposition, supported by some 40,000 signatories, is that to contain the coronavirus, people “who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal” while those at high risk are protected from infection.
Under that scenario, younger Americans should return to workplaces, schools, shops and restaurants, while older Americans would remain cloistered from the virus as it spreads, recipients of such services as grocery deliveries and medical care.
It argues that eventually so many younger Americans will have been exposed, and presumably will have developed some immunity, that the virus will not be able to maintain its hold on the communities.
The manifesto does not contain details on how the strategy would work in practice, nor do its authors have expertise in implementing public health programs. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, dismissed the declaration as unscientific, dangerous and “total nonsense,” as well as unethical, particularly for multigenerational families and communities of color.
The idea has alarmed and angered other public health researchers. On Wednesday, about 80 published a manifesto of their own, the John Snow Memorandum (named after a legendary epidemiologist), saying that this approach would endanger one-third of the U.S. population who have conditions that put them at high risk from severe Covid-19, and result in perhaps a half-million deaths.
“I think it’s wrong, I think it’s unsafe, I think it invites people to act in ways that have the potential to do an enormous amount of harm,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, an infectious disease expert at Harvard University and one of the signatories to the Snow memo. “You don’t roll out disease — you roll out vaccination.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.Credit…Pool photo by Graeme Jennings
President Trump attacked Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, in a conference call on Monday with campaign aides, calling the doctor a “disaster” and saying, “People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong.”
He continued his criticism of Dr. Fauci, the overwhelmingly popular director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, after landing in Arizona for the first of two scheduled rallies in the state, which is experiencing a rise in coronavirus cases.
Speaking to reporters after deplaning Air Force One, Mr. Trump called Dr. Fauci “a very nice man” but complained that he “loves being on television” and has made “a lot of bad calls.” Asked why he didn’t fire Dr. Fauci, Mr. Trump said, “He’s been there for about 350 years. I don’t want to hurt him.”
Dr.Tony Fauci says we don’t allow him to do television, and yet I saw him last night on @60Minutes, and he seems to get more airtime than anybody since the late, great, Bob Hope. All I ask of Tony is that he make better decisions. He said “no masks & let China in”. Also, Bad arm!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2020
At a campaign rally on Monday in Arizona, where polls show that the president is trailing Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump also faulted the news media for excessive coverage of the coronavirus.
“They’re getting tired of the pandemic, aren’t they?” Mr. Trump said in Prescott, in central Arizona. “You turn on CNN. That’s all they cover. Covid, Covid, pandemic, Covid, Covid.”
The attack on Dr. Fauci comes as the United States has seen more coronavirus cases — over 8 million — and more deaths — nearly 220,000 — than any other nation in the world. The president’s advisers have tried to get him to lay off the infectious diseases specialist, who remains popular.
Dr. Fauci pushed back against complaints that he had flip-flopped over the use of masks, saying that admitting a mistake after examining further data shows honesty.
The conflict began Sunday night on the CBS News program “60 Minutes,” when Dr. Fauci said it was “absolutely” no surprise that President Trump got sick with the coronavirus, given his lax attitude toward social distancing guidance.
“I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation: crowded, no separation between people and almost nobody wearing a mask,” Dr. Fauci said in the CBS interview. He was referring to an event at the White House in September to announce the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court.
“When I saw that on TV, I said, ‘Oh, my goodness, nothing good can come out of that — that’s got to be a problem,’” Dr. Fauci said. “Sure enough, it turned out to be a super-spreader event.”
Numerous people who attended the event later tested positive for the coronavirus, including the president.
Dr. Fauci, who has often been at odds with the president, sharpened his stance against an ad run by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign that appeared to show the doctor praising the president’s handling of the coronavirus. Dr. Fauci said his words were taken out of context, and that their use in the ad was inappropriate because he never endorses candidates.
“I got really ticked off,” he said.
Mr. Trump’s attacks on Dr. Fauci led Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee to become the latest Republican to distance himself from the president. “Dr. Fauci is one of our country’s most distinguished public servants,” said Mr. Alexander, who is retiring this year. “He has served six presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan. If more Americans paid attention to his advice, we’d have fewer cases of Covid-19, and it would be safer to go back to school and back to work and out to eat.”
The National Academy of Medicine honored Dr. Fauci on Monday with the academy’s first Presidential Citation for Exemplary Leadership, citing his “distinguished service as a trusted adviser to six U.S. presidents during public health crises” and “steady leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
In his acceptance speech, Dr. Fauci said that to inspire public trust and confidence in vaccines, people needed to hear consistent messages from the government, not conflicting ones.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is advising residents against non-essential out-of-state travel.Credit…Noah K. Murray/Associated Press
Coronavirus cases in New Jersey, an early epicenter of the pandemic, are on the rise again, doubling over the last month to an average of more than 900 new positive tests a day, a worrisome reversal of fortune for a state that had driven transmission rates to some of the nation’s lowest levels.
After an outbreak several weeks ago in a heavily Orthodox Jewish town near the Jersey Shore, cases are now rising in counties across the state, driven, officials say, by indoor gatherings.
The state’s health commissioner has said there are signs of “widespread community spread” for the first time since New Jersey successfully slowed the spread of a virus that has claimed the lives of more than 16,000 residents. A small, densely packed state, New Jersey has the highest virus fatality rate in the country.
Gov. Philip D. Murphy said Monday that residents should refrain from all but necessary out-of-state travel.
“The numbers are up,” Mr. Murphy said. “They’re up — up and down the state.”
Under a quarantine policy adopted by New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, New Jersey now exceeds the threshold — an average of 10 cases for every 100,000 residents for seven days — used to determine which states should be included in the travel advisory. Thirty-eight other states are on the list.
The uptick comes as other parts of the Northeast and states across the country are confronting similar surges of infections and hospitalizations as the pandemic stretches into its eighth month, with a death toll that now exceeds 219,000, according to a New York Times database.
Mr. Murphy, who has been conservative in allowing the state to reopen, said he would consider targeted shutdowns to curb the spread, as Connecticut and New York have done, but he suggested that would not cure the problem.
In rural Wisconsin, many restaurants will be limited to ten indoor patrons.Credit…Bing Guan/Reuters
A judge in Wisconsin, the site of the one of the worst outbreaks of a resurgent coronavirus, has upheld an executive order by Gov. Tony Evers that limits public gatherings to 25 percent of a building or room’s capacity.
“This critically important ruling will help us prevent the spread of this virus by restoring limits on public gatherings,” said the governor’s office in a statement. “This crisis is urgent. Wisconsinites, stay home.”
The ruling means in rural Wisconsin, many restaurants, taverns, and supper clubs with no maximum capacity set by local authorities will be limited to ten patrons dining-in at a time, according to the Tavern League of Wisconsin, which requested a temporary injunction on Emergency Order #3 from the circuit court judge.
The state has reported more than 22,500 new coronavirus cases in the last week, according to a New York Times database, putting Wisconsin behind only North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana in terms of new infections per capita.
The Tavern League, which sued for relief against the executive order, represents about 5,000 small businesses, according to Scott Stenger, who heads the league’s government affairs outreach. “We don’t take suing anybody lightly, let alone the governor of our state,” Mr. Stenger said. “It’s not something we’d do before.”
Mr. Stenger said the league had not been consulted ahead of time about the emergency order, and did not have an opportunity to help craft regulations that might better help eateries and bars across the rural parts of the state stay open while still taking precautions to protect their customers.
The issue is especially acute in rural areas of Wisconsin, where there are often no set capacity limits for restaurants and taverns. By default, those businesses will be limited to ten patrons.
Without economic assistance from the state, or from Congress, Mr. Stenger said that more of his members will likely go out of business.
Ireland will increase coronavirus restrictions in response to a new surge of infections.Credit…Paul Faith/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Countries across Europe announced new restrictions on Monday in an effort to halt a strong second wave of the virus, as the global tally of cases passed 40 million. Cases have been detected in nearly every country around the world, and at least 1.1 million people have died.
Officials are desperate to avoid a second economically damaging blanket lockdown, and are instead seeking to tighten restrictions in a more precise fashion. Here’s the latest.
Ireland will be imposing its highest level of restrictions starting on Wednesday night, Prime Minister Michael Martin announced on Monday. Nonessential businesses will be mandated to close, restaurants and pubs will be limited to takeout, and people will not be allowed to travel more than five kilometers (three miles) from their homes. Schools and construction sites will remain open, however, the public broadcaster RTE reported. The restrictions, which will remain in effect for six weeks, come after the country set new daily case records four times in the past week. “If we pull together over the next six weeks we will be able to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way,” Mr. Martin said.
In Spain, the region of Navarre announced on Monday the country’s most drastic regional measures yet to contain the second wave. As of Thursday, Navarre will stop its residents from leaving their region except for work or emergency reasons. It will also close for 15 days its bars and restaurants, and force all shops, sports venues and other establishments to close by 9 p.m. The measures come after Navarre reported an average of 945 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the past 14 days, three times the national average.
Austria, which reported 1,121 daily cases of the virus on Monday, announced new limits on the number of people who could meet privately starting Friday: six indoors and 12 outdoors. The country has reported nearly 10,000 cases in the past week, more than at any time in March, when the government imposed a nationwide lockdown. The restrictions were lifted over the summer as numbers dropped and the country sought to attract tourists, an important source of income for the alpine nation.
In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that mayors will have the power to close streets or squares where people tend to gather after 9 p.m., while restaurants, bars and pubs will be allowed to serve seated customers — up to six per table — until midnight. Drinking outside of restaurants or bars will be permitted only until 6 p.m., and gaming and betting halls will close at 9 p.m. Italy has so far fared better than its European counterparts, but infections have been rising in recent weeks, with a record 11,705 new cases reported on Sunday.
France imposed a nightly curfew in nine cities, including Paris, over the weekend, and asked people throughout the country to limit gatherings to six people to halt an alarming spike in cases. On Monday, the office of President Emmanuel Macron announced that the first lady, Brigitte Macron, was in quarantine after being exposed to someone who had tested positive. Ms. Macron has not shown any symptoms, the office said in a statement.
Slovenia’s government declared a 30-day state of emergency after cases of the virus more than doubled in the past week, Reuters reported. The government will ban movement between regions that have been most affected by the pandemic and introduce a nightly curfew beginning at 9 p.m. starting Monday, Interior Minister Ales Hojs said at a news conference. Mr. Hojs said that all public and religious events would be banned, and that the number of people allowed to gather would be reduced to six from 10. Slovenia has reported 4,845 coronavirus cases in the past week, a spike from 2,255 cases the week before.
Britain has reported an average of nearly 17,000 new cases a day over the past week, according to a New York Times database, with almost a thousand new daily cases in Wales.
Wales will enter a national lockdown starting Friday night, the country’s first minister, Mark Drakeford, announced on Monday. The “firebreak” lockdown, which will last until Nov. 9, will require residents to remain at home and force pubs, restaurants and nonessential shops to close. Mr. Drakeford said “there are no easy choices in front of us” and called the lockdown “our best chance of regaining control of the virus” and avoiding strain on the National Health Service.
About 2.3 million of the 3.1 million people in Wales were already living under local lockdowns. and the country has effectively shut its borders to travel from other parts of Britain.
And officials in Bucharest, the Romanian capital, announced that schools, theaters and indoor dining will be closed for at least two weeks, and that masks will become mandatory in all public spaces. The city reported on Sunday that the virus rate over the previous 14 days had exceeded three cases per 1,000 residents, a red line for imposing stricter rules. After keeping the virus largely in check during the initial months of the pandemic, Romania has seen cases triple over the past month. While the schools will switch to online learning, there is deep concern that many students lack tablets and other necessary materials.
A patient enrolled in Pfizer’s vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.Credit…University of Maryland School of Medicine, via Associated Press
As the Trump administration has pressed publicly for top-speed development and approval of a coronavirus vaccine, while researchers and public health experts warned of the dangers of rushing the process, the idea of getting the vaccine as soon as it is available is losing appeal for many Americans, especially Black Americans, recent surveys show.
In a STAT-Harris poll of about 2,000 people, conducted Oct. 7-10 and published Monday, 58 percent of respondents said they would get vaccinated right away, down from 69 percent who said the same in August.
The decline was twice as steep among Black respondents: just 43 percent said in October that they would get the vaccine, down from 65 percent in August.
Rob Jekielek, managing director of The Harris Poll, which has been asking the question throughout the pandemic, said two news events appeared to have played a role in the falloff: the back-and-forth between the Food and Drug Administration and the White House over vaccine guidelines, and President Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis and treatment.
“The politicization of the process is having a huge negative effect, especially with Black Americans,” he said in an interview.
Pew Research Center polls that framed a question on the issue somewhat differently also found growing hesitation over a vaccine: About 51 percent of adult respondents said in September that they would definitely or probably get a vaccine if one were available, down from 72 percent who said the same in May. The surveys included more than 10,000 respondents and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 1.6 percentage points.
“It’s pretty clear the public is concerned about the pace of the vaccine approval process and have outstanding questions about safety,” said Alec Tyson, associate director of Pew Research.
Polls conducted for CNN by the market research firm SSRS asked, “If a vaccine to prevent coronavirus infection were widely available at a low cost, would you, personally, try to get that vaccine, or not?” Sixty-six percent of respondents said yes in May; just 51 percent did in October. The polls’ margin of error was plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
And in an ABC News/Ipsos poll last month, 64 percent of respondents said they would take a “safe and effective coronavirus vaccine,” down from 74 percent in May. Those polls had a margin of error of 4.9 points.
Claudia Balderas, 51, attended the first in-person Mass in almost four months at Saint Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in the Queens in early July. Catholic leaders are upset with restrictions by Gov. Cuomo again limiting attendance in areas where coronavirus is surging.Credit…Jessie Wardarski/Associated Press
Over the last two weeks, Catholic leaders in New York have voiced their deep disapproval with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over his decision to sharply limit attendance at houses of worship in areas that are seeing a surge of new coronavirus cases.
The governor’s decision was largely aimed at trying to rein in congregants in Orthodox Jewish synagogues in New York City and in Orange and Rockland Counties, where some members have flouted social distancing and mask regulations.
But it also affected other houses of worship, including about two dozen parishes in the diocese covering Queens and Brooklyn, where Catholic officials have sued Mr. Cuomo in federal court, insisting that they have been abiding by the rules and should not be punished.
“We’ve gone above and beyond what they have recommended and mandated,” said Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference. “So if there’s an animus, it’s coming from his end, not our end.”
Leaders of the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of New York have also criticized the restrictions, which have closed nonessential businesses and limited occupancy in so-called red zones to 25 percent of building capacity or a mere 10 people, whichever is lower.
“To have all of the steps we’ve taken be ignored, and to face the prospect of indefinite unreasonable restrictions placed upon our churches is just not fair!” Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan wrote in a blog post last week. “Why are churches being singled out? Why especially are those houses of worship that have been exemplary, strict and successful in heeding all warnings, being shut down again?”
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California.Credit…Daniel Kim/The Sacramento Bee, via Associated Press
California will have its own independent panel of experts review any federally approved coronavirus vaccines before they are administered to residents, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Monday.
“Of course we won’t take anyone’s word for it,” he said in a news briefing. He emphasized that the “second set of eyes” on potential vaccines is part of California’s broader efforts to make sure that vaccines get equitably distributed to communities that are most vulnerable.
While Mr. Newsom acknowledged that the vaccine approval process has been politicized, he said, “It doesn’t matter who the next president is, we’re going to maintain our vigilance.”
The announcement came after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said that his state would also review vaccines approved by the federal government — although Mr. Cuomo tied the move to doubts raised when President Trump suggested that he would reject tougher F.D.A. guidelines. “Frankly, I’m not going to trust the federal government’s opinion,” Mr. Cuomo said in late September.
On Sunday, Mr. Cuomo, as head of the bipartisan National Governors Association, posed additional questions about how the Trump administration will ensure that states are able to get and distribute vaccines.
Mr. Newsom said that his state is working with the federal government on its vaccination plans, but that experts from California’s prestigious academic and health care institutions are helping to figure out expected logistical challenges. They include where to store vaccines that must be kept cold, how to notify people about when to get their second shots and how to guarantee that rural communities have access to vaccines.
Mr. Newsom cautioned against being “overly exuberant” about the prospect of widespread vaccination; he said that won’t happen until next year. “This vaccine will move at the speed of trust,” he said.
California’s new case rates have stayed relatively low, even as the state has expanded testing and gradually lifted restrictions on businesses. Still, the governor implored residents not to let their guard down as the holidays approach.
A public school in Brooklyn this month. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York planned to reimpose restrictions on schools in neighborhoods where coronavirus cases were on the rise.Credit…Angela Weiss/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
For months, as New York City struggled to start part-time, in-person classes, fear grew that its 1,800 public schools would become vectors of coronavirus infection.
But nearly three weeks into the in-person school year, early data from the city’s first effort at targeted testing has shown the opposite: a surprisingly small number of positive test results.
Out of 15,111 staff members and students tested randomly by the school system in the first week of its testing regimen, the city has gotten back results for 10,676. There were only 18 positives: 13 staff members and five students.
And when officials put mobile testing units at schools near Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods that have had new outbreaks, only four positive cases turned up — out of more than 3,300 tests conducted since the last week of September.
New York City is facing fears of a second wave of the virus brought on by localized spikes in Brooklyn and Queens, which have required new shutdown restrictions that included the closure of more than 120 public schools as a precaution.
On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that city continued to see a “leveling off” in those areas and officials had seen “particular progress” in central Queens, the mayor said. But he did not provide data for those areas.
Across the city, the seven-day average positivity rate was at 1.62 percent, the mayor said. When he first announced an uptick in cases about three weeks ago, the positivity rate was 1.38 percent.
Shortly afterward on Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that data in different hot spot areas across the state where he had imposed restrictions by zones would continue to be reviewed, and that the state would “announce changes to the zones” on Wednesday. Zone sizes could be made larger or smaller, he said, adding that “we have total flexibility in these zones.”
Statewide, the daily positivity rate was 1.21 percent, he said, while the “red zones,” which have the most severe restrictions in place, had a positivity rate of 3.31 percent. Hospitalizations statewide, which have been steadily increasing in recent weeks, are 934.
But for now, at least, New York City’s sprawling system of public schools, the nation’s largest, is an unexpected bright spot as the city tries to recover from a pandemic that has killed more than 20,000 people and severely weakened its economy.
In September, New York became the first big urban district to reopen schools for in-person learning.
Roughly half of the city’s students have opted for hybrid learning, where they are in the building some days, but not others. The approach has enabled the city to keep class sizes small.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, center, at his swearing-in as deputy prime minister in Warsaw on Oct. 6. Credit…Radek Pietruszka/EPA, via Shutterstock
Poland’s deputy prime minister and de facto leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, is going into quarantine after learning that he had been in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus, a government spokesman said, adding that Mr. Kaczynski, who is 71, “feels well and will continue performing his duties from home.”
Mr. Kaczynski did not wear a mask when he handed out an award at a ceremony last week, and briefly took off his mask when he was sworn in as deputy prime minister on Oct. 6.
Poland largely resisted the first wave of the pandemic with an early lockdown that began in March. But after it reopened all its schools for in-person instruction in early September, case counts started climbing, and the country is now battling a major surge of infections and hospitalizations. Poland has reported 49,950 new cases in the last seven days, according to a New York Times database, and 175,766 in all, with more than 3,500 Covid-19-related deaths.
With hospital beds filling up, there is particular concern about the damage that the virus could sow in Poland, which has a relatively weak health care system and one of the lowest ratios of doctors and nurses to residents in the European Union.
To deal with the surge, the government is transforming the national stadium in Warsaw into a field hospital. The health minister, Adam Niedzielski, said on Monday that temporary Covid-19 hospitals would also be set up in other major cities, and that he was in discussions with private hospitals about making more beds available. Mr. Niedzielski warned that if the virus continued to spread at its current pace, the country could soon be facing as many as 20,000 new cases a day.
In other developments around the world:
Restrictions on nonessential travel between the United States, Canada and Mexico will be extended until Nov. 21, Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, announced on Monday. “We are working closely with Mexico & Canada to identify safe criteria to ease the restrictions in the future & support our border communities,” Mr. Wolf wrote on Twitter. In the past seven days, Canada has reported 16,284 cases, which works out to 44 per 100,000 people; Mexico, 33,724 cases, or 27 per 100,000; and the U.S., 396,305 cases, or 119 per 100,000.
Officials in Melbourne, Australia, announced some easing of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, allowing residents to travel up to 25 kilometers from their homes and up to 10 people from two households to socialize outdoors. Dan Andrews, the premier of the state of Victoria, drew a contrast between the situation there and in Britain, where there have been fewer restrictions despite a surge in cases. “Back in August and at our peak, we reported 725 daily cases. At the same time, the U.K. recorded 891,” he said in a statement. “Today, as Victoria records two new cases, the U.K. hit 16,171. And as we continue easing our restrictions, they are being forced to increase theirs.”
Twenty-five crew members aboard a livestock carrier docked at a port in Western Australia have tested positive for the coronavirus. The ship, the Al Messilah, has 52 crew members, and the authorities warned that further positive test results were possible.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin of Finland has tested negative for coronavirus, her office said on Monday. She left a European Union summit in Brussels prematurely on Friday because she had come in contact with people who later tested positive. “The prime minister will continue her self-isolation and she will be tested again on Monday,” the office said in a statement. Ms. Marin’s voluntary quarantine will end if the second test result proves negative, her office added.
South Africa’s health minister, Dr. Zwelini Mkhize, said that he and his wife, Dr. May Mkhize, had tested positive for the coronavirus and that he was optimistic that they would “fully recover.” Dr. Mkhize was tested on Saturday after showing mild symptoms, and both he and his wife are in quarantine at home. South Africa, which has recorded at least 703,000 cases of the coronavirus, has largely reopened its economy.
— Monika Pronczuk, Yan Zhuang and Monica Mark