Here’s what you need to know:At O’Hare International Airport in Chicago this month. More than 6,400 new coronavirus cases were recorded in Illinois on Thursday.Credit…Daniel Slim/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
More than 2,000 new coronavirus cases in Colorado. More than 6,400 new cases in Illinois. And more than 1,000 new cases in New Mexico.
All record-breaking numbers for those states — and all on a day when the United States as a nation reached two grim new highs. On Thursday, the country recorded at least 90,000 new cases (that’s the equivalent of more than one per second) and crossed the threshold of nine million cases since the start of the pandemic.
Over the past week, the United States has recorded more than 500,000 new cases, averaging more than 77,000 a day, and nine states reported daily records on Thursday. More total cases have been identified in the United States than in any other country, although some nations have had more cases in proportion to their populations.
“There is no way to sugarcoat it: We are facing an urgent crisis, and there is an imminent risk to you, your family members, your friends, your neighbors,” said Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin has been badly hit. More than 200 coronavirus deaths have been announced over the past week, and as case numbers have exploded, hospitals have been under increasing strain.
But it is hardly alone.
The surge that started in the Upper Midwest and rural West has now spread far beyond, sending infection levels soaring in places as disparate as El Paso, Chicago and Rexburg, Idaho.
In the seven-day period ending Thursday, 24 states added more cases than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic.
All of this is taking place against the backdrop of a bitter presidential contest in which the pandemic — and the government’s response to it — is the dominant issue.
Daily reports of deaths from the virus remain far below their spring peaks, averaging around 800 a day, but those, too, have started to tick upward.
On Thursday, officials in South Dakota reported 19 new deaths, a new single-day record. Officials in Wyoming reported 10 new deaths — also a record for the state.
There are not many hopeful signs in the recent data.
Reports of new cases are increasing in 42 states. Northeastern states, including New Jersey and Rhode Island, are seeing infection numbers rise after months of stability. And in North Dakota, where more than 5 percent of the population has now tested positive — the biggest share of any state — reports of new cases continue to soar.
Children in Munich on Thursday. Even as Germany introduces new coronavirus restrictions on businesses, it is keeping schools open.Credit…Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times
When Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany announced the latest round of restrictions on public life, she named bars, restaurants, theaters, concert halls, gyms and tattoo parlors as institutions that would be forced to close. But missing from the list released on Wednesday were schools and day care centers — among the first to be shuttered in the spring lockdown.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron also said on Wednesday that schools would be exempt from wide-reaching nationwide restrictions that are to take effect beginning Friday. Ireland also allowed schools to remain open despite a nationwide lockdown that went into effect earlier this month.
Not everyone is happy with the decisions, but policymakers are taking extra precautions to reduce the risk in schools, from mask requirements for teachers and pupils, to regular airing of classrooms, to split use of schoolyards during breaks. They say they are applying hard-learned lessons from months of fighting the pandemic, and are prepared to change directions if things take a turn for the worse.
Micheal Martin, the Irish prime minister, said that while his country could no longer avoid restrictions, despite the detrimental impact on the economy, it was vital that schools remained open.
“We cannot and will not allow our children and young people’s futures to be another victim of this disease,” Mr. Martin said in a national address. “They need their education.”
Medical experts point to many things they now know that were unknown back in the spring: with proper precautions, the rate of coronavirus transmission in schools is relatively low, especially among the youngest students; children who do get infected tend to have mild symptoms; and measures like mask-wearing, social distancing and air circulation are more effective than they had predicted.
But that does not mean open schools are risk-free. While schools are not known to have been a major source of outbreaks in western Europe and the United States, they were in Israel, when it wasn’t implementing social distancing in schools and relaxed a restriction requiring masks.
The World Health Organization held a special session of its executive board this month in Geneva. Public health experts have cautioned the United States against quitting the international body.Credit…Christopher Black/World Health Organization, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Quitting the World Health Organization, as President Trump has pledged to do, could potentially be “ruinous” for the United States in the event of a future pandemic, public health experts say.
Speaking at a forum on the planned U.S. withdrawal, they noted that the W.H.O. plays a critical role as the clearinghouse for advance warnings of disease outbreaks anywhere in the world.
“We’re only one plane flight away from something very bad being transmitted from one country to another,” said Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. Dr. Benjamin spoke at a webinar Thursday on the U.S. withdrawal plan that was sponsored by Physicians for Human Rights.
Instead of pulling the United States out of the organization, the experts argued, whoever takes over in the White House in January should work with other nations to give the W.H.O. greater legal powers to demand that member states divulge everything they know about their outbreaks so that other countries can prepare if they spread.
Mr. Trump has blamed China and the W.H.O. for the spread of Covid-19 in the United States. Most public health experts instead blame him because he played down the disease, and failed to mount a robust federal response.
Because Congress approved the American entry into the W.H.O. in 1948, it may not be possible to withdraw without Congress’ approval, said Lawrence O. Gostin, chair of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law School.
In any case, the United States cannot leave the agency until July, because American law requires that the administration give one year’s notice and pay all back dues owed.
Economic output in the eurozone could continue to sink as Germany, France and other countries order restaurants and theaters to close and restrict travel.Credit…Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
Growth in Europe rebounded sharply in the third quarter of the year, according to data published Friday, but hardly anyone was celebrating. Economic activity remains well below what it was a year ago as a surge in coronavirus cases and new lockdowns have raised the risk of another slowdown.
Gross domestic product in the 19 countries that use the euro rose 12.7 percent from July through September compared with the previous quarter, the European Union statistics office said. But economic output was 4.3 percent lower than the same time last year — a severe recession by any standard — and could sink further as Germany, France and other countries order restaurants and theaters to close and restrict travel.
European countries are increasingly desperate to contain the virus before it overwhelms hospitals. But the economic cost will be high, particularly in industries that depend on person-to-person contact. The longer the pandemic lasts, the greater the risk of mass bankruptcies among businesses like hotels, fitness studios and nail salons, leaving lasting scars on the economy.
“There is unfortunately still no evidence that you can simply turn on and off an economy like a light switch without causing more structural damage, maybe even a short circuit,” Carsten Brzeski, global head of macroeconomics at ING Bank, said in a note to clients.
Friday prayers at a mosque in Amman, Jordan, on Friday. The country’s death tolls from the virus this week have been among some of the highest in the pandemic.Credit…Muhammad Hamed/Reuters
About three million total confirmed coronavirus cases, 75,000 related deaths, and the highest weekly number of new cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
Countries in the Middle East, including Iran, Lebanon and Turkey, have been grappling with a resurgence of coronavirus cases in recent weeks, and the World Health Organization has warned that the pandemic had reached “an alarming juncture” in the region.
“Case numbers are expected to grow at an increasing rate during the winter season,” Dr. Rana Hajjeh, the organization’s director of program management, said earlier this week.
Jordan reported its deadliest days since the beginning of the pandemic this week, and Turkey has recorded its highest numbers of daily new cases since May. Israel has been under a strict nationwide lockdown after daily infection and deaths rates soared to among the highest in the world last month, but infections have started to decline. Saeb Erekat, a top Palestinian official, has been in critical condition after contracting the coronavirus.
Lebanon, which successfully contained the spread of the virus in the first months of the pandemic, has faced a resurgence of cases in the fall, and most Covid-19 units in hospitals are now at high occupancy, according to the head of the Rafik Hariri Hospital.
But nowhere in the region is the situation officially worse than in Iran, which saw two days of record deaths this week. The authorities reported nearly 400 deaths on Thursday, bringing the official death toll in the region’s worst-hit country to more than 34,000. As officials have acknowledged that number is likely an undercount. A senior member of Iran’s medical association said earlier this month that the real death toll could be three to four times higher.
Hospitals in Iran are saturated, according to officials, and President Hassan Rouhani has warned that the worst was yet to come.
“We are now in a full-scale war with the coronavirus,” Iran’s health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in a televised address this week, according to Agence-France Presse.
Socially distanced voting in Little Chute, Wis., on Thursday. Wisconsin is one of several battleground states where the coronavirus is surging.Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Voters in several swing states are casting their ballots at the same time the coronavirus reaches new peaks in their communities, creating more uncertainty about how they will vote — and for whom.
The pandemic has killed nearly 230,000 people in the United States and upended the nation’s economy. Now it could help decide the presidential election.
Some electoral battlegrounds, like Michigan and North Carolina, are seeing record numbers of new cases and deaths. Hospitals in Wisconsin and other hard-hit areas are reaching capacity, pushing health care providers to the brink and leaving their workers reeling. Other swing states, like Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona, are experiencing more mild upswings.
“Things are really running rampant, so there is a lot of discontent,” said Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Wisconsin narrowly voted for President Trump in 2016, but the virus may change the outlook for him there.
“I do think it provides more of a challenge for Trump to try and win the state because any news about the pandemic — it’s not good for him,” Dr. Burden said.
Already, the pandemic has complicated the voting process.
Because of concerns the virus would hamper people’s ability to vote, several states have encouraged mail-in voting. About 1.64 million people had returned absentee ballots in Wisconsin as of Thursday, more than half of the total ballots cast in 2016.
In other battleground states like North Carolina, Florida and — this year — Texas, the president could see fading support from Republicans who feel frustrated by what they see as a lackluster federal response to the coronavirus. Those states may also see higher turnout among Democrats who opted to vote by mail for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
“Enthusiasm for turning out for Trump among Trump supporters will wane somewhat, and so it will affect turnout somewhat,” said John Aldrich, a professor of political science at Duke University. “I don’t think it’s going to be a massive thing.”
Still, he said, in places where elections can come down to a few thousand votes, “everything matters.”
Traffic clogged the streets of Paris on Thursday before the start of a new coronavirus lockdown in France.Credit…Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA, via Shutterstock
Thousands of people left Paris on Thursday, just hours before France went into its second nationwide lockdown, clogging the city with massive traffic jams as many sought to be confined in the countryside and less crowded areas.
Incredible traffic jam in Paris as people try to leave the city before 9 pm curfew and before confinement begins at midnight. Traffic is barely moving in every direction as far as the eye can see. Lots of honking and frustrated drivers. pic.twitter.com/6Zn2HCxuPl
— Michael E. Webber (@MichaelEWebber) October 29, 2020
Lines of cars stretched across hundreds of miles in the city and on the Boulevard Périphérique, the multilane ring road that circles around Paris, in scenes reminiscent of an exodus in the spring, when France imposed its first lockdown.
In March, 1.2 million people left the Paris area, nearly a fifth of its population. In some areas, the massive exodus by affluent city dwellers who decamped to their second homes helped spread the coronavirus to regions that at that point had been spared by the pandemic.
This time, the virus is spreading fast throughout the country, according to authorities. France has recorded an average of 40,000 new cases a day over the past week, one of the highest levels in the world. More than 2,500 new patients have been hospitalized daily in the past several days, the highest numbers since mid-April.
The new restrictions, which went into effect on Friday, requires people to stay at home except for essential work or medical reasons. Restaurants and businesses are closed, but schools remain open.
President Emmanuel Macron predicted earlier this week that the second wave of the virus would be more deadly than the first.
“I know the weariness and this feeling of a day with no end that is overcoming all of us,” Mr. Macron said as he announced the second lockdown on Wednesday. “This period is hard precisely because it is testing our resilience and our unity.”
Here are some other developments from around the globe:
Ahead of a long holiday weekend, several cities and regions around Spain announced new restrictions on Friday, including the northwestern region Galicia, where the authorities banned all city residents from traveling during the three-day vacation. In northeastern Catalonia, residents will have to stay within their municipalities not only this coming weekend, but also during the following ones. On Thursday Parliament approved maintaining the country’s state of emergency until May, although the government is delegating to regional authorities many of the key decisions over where and when to impose new restrictions in order to contain the second wave of Covid-19.
Administering remdesivir to a patient in a Covid-19 ward in Texas this summer.Credit…Christopher Lee for The New York Times
The United States reached a milestone, of sorts, when last week the Food and Drug Administration approved the first treatment for Covid-19: Veklury, better known by its scientific name, remdesivir.
But the F.D.A.’s decision to grant the drug full approval — which means its manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, can begin marketing it broadly to doctors and patients — has puzzled several outside experts. They say that it may not deserve the agency’s stamp of approval because it is, at best, a mediocre treatment for the disease caused by the coronavirus.
One large, government-run trial found that the drug shortens patients’ recovery times, but the two other studies the F.D.A. used to justify its approval — sponsored by Gilead — did not compare the treatments with a placebo, the gold standard for evaluating a drug. No studies have shown that it significantly lowers death rates. And a large study sponsored by the World Health Organization found that remdesivir provided no benefit to hospitalized patients.
Experts have also questioned whether Gilead deserves to pocket potential billions from the drug when the government has played a significant role in its development. On Wednesday, the company said that remdesivir, which has been authorized for emergency use since the spring, had brought in $873 million in revenue so far this year.
“The F.D.A. doesn’t exist to give monetary prizes to drug companies,” said Dr. Peter B. Bach, the director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “The F.D.A. exists to help inform doctors as to what drugs they should give patients in front of them today.”
A protest against coronavirus restrictions in Düsseldorf, Germany, last month. There have been several recent attacks against the country’s health authorities.Credit…Lena Mucha for The New York Times
Last Sunday, before Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany announced a second national lockdown, a homemade bomb exploded in the early morning hours in central Berlin, close to a research institute that tracks virus cases and less than a mile from Ms. Merkel’s office. The bomb produced a flash and a boom but not much else. No one was hurt.
But a note found in the blast’s vicinity made clear that the bomb was more than a juvenile prank: The letter demanded the end of all measures aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, the resignation of the entire government and new elections, the newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported on Thursday. The note also indicated that more of the same would come if the authorities did not meet the demands.
Protests against coronavirus restrictions in Germany have included signs and slogans personally attacking politicians or scientists, but the crude bomb in Berlin and other recent attacks are among the first documented cases of violence directed at the scientific institutes helping to fight the pandemic. One favorite target of demonstrators has been the federal health minister Jens Spahn, who recently tested positive for the virus but said he would return to work next week after quarantining at home.
In a speech to Germany’s Parliament on Thursday, Ms. Merkel condemned the lies and conspiracy theories around the virus, noting that they impeded the fight against the virus.
The police are not saying whether the bomb is linked to two other amateurish attacks directed at the federal scientific authority involved in fighting the coronavirus. Over the past week, the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s equivalent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, was attacked several times. Last week, its website, which keeps Germans abreast of the latest infection numbers, was down for several hours because of a cyberattack. Hours before the explosive with the letter went off, attackers threw crude Molotov cocktails at the windows of the institute’s office building until a security guard chased them off.
Protesters in Los Angeles this month called for schools not to be reopened without stringent coronavirus safety measures.Credit…Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the country’s second-largest system, will probably not bring students back into classrooms until at least January, two members of the Board of Education said on Thursday.
The state requires a county to have no more than seven new daily cases per 100,000 people for two weeks before schools can fully reopen. In Los Angeles County, the daily case number is now about 18, and it has been climbing.
The president of the school board, Richard Vladovic, said that even if infections started declining soon, it would not make sense to reopen schools just as the holidays are about to begin. The news was first reported by The Los Angeles Times.
With the current county case numbers, Los Angeles schools are allowed to bring up to a quarter of students back onto campus, and can seek waivers to bring back all students in prekindergarten through second grade. But the district has not pursued those options.
Katie Braude, chief executive officer of Speak Up, a group that advocates for educational equity, said the district’s hands were tied because it had agreed with the teachers’ union that no teachers would be required to come back in person until schools were reopened for all students. The agreement expires on December 31.
Ms. Braude said the district, which has over 600,000 students, had done a lot of work to make the return to school safe, setting up an ambitious testing system for students and the staff and replacing ventilation systems.
“It’s just kind of ironic that the district has really gone out of its way on that front and they’re still not able to get kids back on campus who really need to be on campus,” she said, adding that “these kids are all losing out, and these are the kids who are already falling behind.”
The vice president of the Board of Education, Jackie Goldberg, said that even January was optimistic.
“It may be February or March,” she said.
And at that point, she said, the question may be whether it is worth starting in-person instruction if many children have to change teachers that late in the year.
The district has said that when it does reopen, it will use a hybrid model, in which students cycle between going to school buildings and learning at home.
A production line for prototype face masks at a mask factory, in Hong Kong in February.Credit…Tyrone Siu/Reuters
The customs authorities in Hong Kong on Friday said they had seized 100,000 suspected counterfeit medical-grade face masks and arrested one person.
“Initial investigations revealed that unscrupulous merchants intended to transship the batch of masks overseas for sale and profit,” the government said in a statement. The masks had an estimated market value of about $387,000.
Customs agents were investigating the source of the masks and sent samples to a laboratory for safety testing, it added. Anyone convicted of selling or possessing goods with forged trademarks could be punished with fines of up to $64,000 and a maximum of five years’ in prison.
Fake or defective masks could be dangerous because of their inefficacy in filtering particles while giving wearers a false sense of security.
In Hong Kong, 80 people have been arrested in similar operations, and suspected counterfeit goods, including nearly six million surgical masks, over 300 bottles of disinfectant alcohol and 23 bottles of saline solution, were seized, according to the government. Earlier this year in mainland China, the leader of a Beijing-based pharmacy chain was sentenced to 15 years in jail for selling fake masks as demand soared during the pandemic.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence at a game against Syracuse last Saturday.Credit…Pool photo by Ken Ruinard
Trevor Lawrence, the star quarterback at top-ranked Clemson and a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy, has tested positive for coronavirus, the university said Thursday night.
Tigers Coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement that Lawrence was “doing well with mild symptoms” but that he would miss Saturday’s game against Boston College.
Perhaps more crucially for the race toward the College Football Playoff, Swinney did not say when Lawrence had tested positive or when he had developed symptoms — distinctions that could determine whether he would be eligible to play at No. 4 Notre Dame on Nov. 7.
In a post on Twitter late Thursday, Lawrence said that his symptoms had been “relatively mild” and that “the only thing that hurts is missing an opportunity to be with my teammates this weekend and play the game I love.”
Lawrence has been among the most electrifying quarterbacks in college football in recent years. He passed for more than 3,600 yards last season, when he steered Clemson back to the national championship game a year after it had won the title.
And just a few months ago, he was a leading figure in the #WeWantToPlay movement that urged college sports executives to mount a football season during the pandemic.
Last Friday, when Clemson’s athletic department most recently released data about its coronavirus testing, the university in South Carolina said seven of its student-athletes had tested positive over the previous week. Now, given Lawrence’s result, at least 138 Clemson student-athletes have tested positive since June 1.
The Lawrence announcement was the latest development in a turbulent college football season marked by conferences’ shifting their decisions about whether to proceed and the postponement or cancellation of more than three dozen games involving Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
On Wednesday, Wisconsin canceled its game at Nebraska after at least 12 people, including six players and Coach Paul Chryst, tested positive for the virus. (The university said Thursday that three more people associated with the football program had since tested positive, and it remained unclear whether the Badgers’ next game, a Nov. 7 matchup with Purdue, would happen.)