Here’s what you need to know:A coronavirus testing site in Salt Lake City over the weekend. Utah is one of several states led by Republican governors that have announced new mask mandates after initially resisting them.Credit…Bing Guan/Reuters
President-elect Joseph R. Biden warned on Monday that “more people may die” from the coronavirus if President Trump does not agree to coordinate planning for the mass distribution of a vaccine when it becomes available.
Mr. Biden also issued a simple plea. Holding up a paper medical mask, he asked: “Does anybody understand why a governor would turn this into a political statement?”
In the United States, the wearing of a mask has been caught up in the swirl of the nation’s toxic political divide long after the scientific community reached a consensus that they can play a dramatic role in slowing the spread of the virus and saving lives.
For months, Republican governors resisted calls for mask mandates. But as they have watched hospitals in their states stretched to the breaking point in recent weeks — driving home the reality of the dangers posed by a virus allowed to spread unchecked — that is starting to change.
In Utah last week, Gary Herbert, the Republican governor, issued a mask mandate “until further notice” as hospitals across the state were nearing or at full capacity.
Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota ordered residents of the state on Friday to wear masks indoors and outdoors if they could not socially distance. North Dakota has the country’s highest rates of new daily cases and deaths per person, according to a New York Times database.
In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice ordered on Saturday that residents must wear masks in indoor public settings.
Then on Monday evening, Kim Reynolds, the governor of Iowa, struck a somber tone as she announced that, starting Tuesday, Iowans would need to wear masks while indoors if they are unable to maintain social distance.
“There aren’t enough sheriffs in Iowa’s 99 counties to shut down every noncompliant bar,” she said. “If Iowans don’t buy into this, we lose,” she said, warning that schools and businesses could be closed.
Ms. Reynolds had flouted infectious disease experts who say masks are one of the most effective tools to control the spread of the virus. In September, she issued guidance that told students, teachers and workers that they did not have to quarantine after being in close contact with someone who was infected as long as both were wearing masks.
The rates of new daily cases and hospitalizations have roughly doubled in Iowa over the past two weeks.
Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, who is reportedly considering imposing a curfew on businesses, is expected to hold a news conference on Tuesday to announce plans to combat the spike in cases in his state.
But even before Mr. DeWine made any announcement, Mr. Trump issued a warning on Twitter, suggesting that he might support a primary challenger against the Republican governor.
“Who will be running for Governor of the Great State of Ohio? Will be hotly contested!” Mr. Trump wrote.
Mr. Biden offered praise for the Republican leaders, saying he had “enormous respect” for their actions.
“It’s about being patriotic,” he said. “There is nothing macho about not wearing a mask.”
One of the remaining holdouts is South Dakota, which has the country’s second-worst rates of new daily cases and deaths per person.
Its Republican governor, Kristi Noem, said at a rally for President Trump last month that her refusal to issue restrictions made South Dakotans “happy because they are free.” She has yet to issue any restrictions.
A coronavirus testing center in San Francisco on Monday.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times
California’s governor announced Monday that the state is “pulling the emergency brake” on its reopening and reinstating broad restrictions, while Iowa’s governor reversed course and announced a mask mandate.
The announcements came as the United States reported its 11 millionth confirmed case on Sunday, with one million new cases over the past week alone. The country is averaging 150,000 new cases a day and will probably reach 250,000 total deaths sometime this week.
Daily case reports are rising in 48 states, and with little action from the Trump administration, governors and mayors across the country are taking new steps to try to halt the spread. On Monday, a sweeping stay-at-home advisory went into effect in Chicago, and Philadelphia announced strict new rules starting Friday, banning indoor gatherings and closing indoor dining at restaurants.
In California, which had been credited with getting the virus under control for a time, Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said the state’s daily case numbers had doubled in the last 10 days, the fastest increase the state had seen since the beginning of the pandemic. The state reached one million known cases on Nov. 12, and the next day issued travel advisories.
The increases, he said, cross age and racial or ethnic groups and appear throughout the state.
Most of California’s larger counties were moved back into the most restrictive reopening tier, meaning that indoor dining and some other businesses would have to shut down again. Mr. Newsom said the state was also studying curfew options.
Mr. Newsom added that emergency health care facilities the state set up during the beginning of the pandemic were being prepared. One facility will open in the next week or so in Imperial County, a border county that was hit hard over the summer, he said.
State leaders including Mr. Newsom have told residents not to gather with people from outside their households, and to resist visiting relatives over the holidays.
Much of the recent rise in cases, state officials say, appears to have grown from at-home parties or family gatherings.
But in what is likely to be remembered as one of the governor’s more damaging moments in the pandemic, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Mr. Newsom attended an outdoor dinner for one of his political advisers at the French Laundry, a Napa Valley restaurant, with guests from several households.
The gathering on Nov. 6 did not technically violate the state’s rules, because there is no formal limit on the number of households at each outdoor restaurant table, but as critics noted, the governor’s attendance undermined the spirit of restrictions.
Mr. Newsom apologized on Monday, saying that he should have turned around and left when he realized there were more guests at the party than he expected.
Researchers working in a Moderna lab. The drugmaker estimates that its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5 percent effective.Credit…Moderna Inc, via Reuters
On Monday, the Massachusetts-based company Moderna reported promising preliminary results from its coronavirus vaccine trial. Coming just a week after similar news from Pfizer and BioNTech, the announcement immediately gave the stock market a fresh jolt. It offered more hope that there’s going to be a way out of the pandemic.
Like Pfizer, however, Moderna released only early data from their trial. There’s more work to be done before they’ll know if the vaccine really is safe and effective. And even if Moderna’s vaccine gets the green light from the Food and Drug Administration, it will take months to reach widespread distribution. In the meantime, the United States is suffering a devastating explosion of new cases of Covid-19.
Here’s where things stand with the development of coronavirus vaccines.
Do the new vaccine trial results mean the end to the pandemic?
In the short term, no. The soonest that coronavirus vaccines could possibly become widely available would be in the spring. But if effective vaccines do indeed become available — and if most people get them — the pandemic could drastically shrink. As coronavirus infections became rarer, life could gradually return to normal.
Who participated in the vaccine trial?
Moderna recruited 30,000 volunteers across the United States to participate in its trial. A quarter of the participants are 65 years or older. White people make up 63 percent of the volunteers; 20 percent are Hispanic; 10 percent are Black; and 4 percent are Asian-Americans.
The 95 people who got sick with Covid-19 reflect the diversity of Moderna’s volunteers: Fifteen were 65 or older. The group also included 12 Hispanic volunteers, four Black participants, three Asian-Americans and one multiracial person. The efficacy and safety appeared the same in all of the subgroups, Moderna said in its announcement. But researchers will have to wait for the trial to advance further to confirm this finding.
What happens next?
Both the Moderna and Pfizer trials are continuing to gather more data from large studies. The two companies expect to apply to the Food and Drug Administration in the next few weeks for an emergency use authorization to begin vaccinating the public.
The F.D.A. will review the applications and consult with its own external committee of experts before making a decision. If it authorize the vaccines — as experts think it will — a committee at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will then make recommendations for who should be first to receive a vaccine.
It’s possible that the distribution of one or both vaccines will begin by the end of the year.
Is it safe to go to a holiday get-together?
“This is not going to dig us out of what’s ahead this next month,” Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida, warned about Thanksgiving and the coming holiday season.
If the preparations for vaccines don’t hit any major snags, we can realistically hope for large-scale distribution to begin in the spring.
But with exploding cases across the country right now, we have to take immediate measures. The only way to drive down infection rates for now will be to avoid large indoor gatherings, wear masks, practice physical distancing and use other public health measures.
Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa speaking to reporters at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington last month.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times
Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, at 87 the oldest Republican serving in the chamber, on Tuesday announced that he had been exposed to the coronavirus and would work remotely from home as a result.
“I will follow my doctors’ orders and immediately quarantine as I await my test results,” Mr. Grassley said in a statement. “I’m feeling well and not currently experiencing any symptoms, but it’s important we all follow public health guidelines to keep each other healthy.”
He did not disclose any details about the circumstances of his exposure, but Mr. Grassley was on hand on Monday as usual to open the Senate in his role as president pro tempore — the post typically reserved for the most senior member of the majority party — and for the first vote of the week.
The news that he had potentially come into contact with the virus marked the latest alarming development in what is threatening to become a mini-outbreak on Capitol Hill, which could disrupt business and expose more lawmakers who continue to meet in close quarters, with inconsistently applied health precautions.
Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, was also in quarantine after being exposed to someone in Florida who tested positive for the virus, and several House lawmakers remained in quarantine after similar exposures in their home states.
Representative Don Young of Alaska, the longest-serving member of the House and its oldest member, who is also 87, disclosed on Monday that he had been hospitalized over the weekend as he battled a case of the virus. Two other lawmakers also announced positive tests.
With multiple votes scheduled on Tuesday, Mr. Grassley’s plans to quarantine will end the longest consecutive streak of voting in the Senate held by a single member. The Iowan often boasts of his record of having never missed a vote since 1993, when floods ravaged his state.
Wu Yilu, a student in China, received the Sinovac Biotech Covid-19 vaccine in Zhejiang Province last month.Credit…Courtesy of Wu Yilu, via Agence France-Presse –– Getty Images
China has made its unproven vaccine candidates widely available to demonstrate their safety and effectiveness to a country that has long been skeptical of vaccines after a spate of quality scandals.
The campaign has succeeded perhaps too well. In the city of Yiwu, 500 doses were consumed within hours. Other cities are limiting doses or asking people to show proof that they are traveling. The overwhelming demand has inspired a cottage industry of scalpers charging as much as $1,500 for an appointment.
Users could be taking big risks. People who have taken ineffective vaccines may believe they are safe and engage in risky behavior. They can be barred from taking another, better vaccine because they have already been injected. In a few cases, unproven vaccines have caused health risks.
The potential problems often go undiscussed. Copies of the vaccination consent forms for one candidate that were reviewed by The New York Times did not specify that the product was still in testing.
It is unclear how many people have received a vaccine candidate. China has made three of its four candidates in Phase 3 trials available to tens of thousands of employees at state-owned businesses, government officials and company executives since July.
Local governments have indicated that they plan to make the current vaccines available to more people. Beijing says it is keeping tabs on those who have been given the vaccines but has not disclosed any details.
The contrast with the United States is stark. A growing number of polls have shown that many Americans would not take a coronavirus vaccine. According to a global survey in the journal Nature, respondents from China gave the highest proportion of positive responses when asked if they would take a “proven, safe and effective vaccine.”
A memorial with pictures of residents who died from Covid-19 is placed inside the library in June at the Christalain nursing home in Brussels.Credit…Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
Belgian authorities violated the human rights of nursing home residents during the first months of the pandemic by failing to protect this vulnerable group and leaving some to die prematurely, according to a report by the local chapter of Amnesty International.
Belgium had one of the world’s highest coronavirus death rates in the world, driven in large part by fatalities at nursing homes. Between March and October, 61 percent of coronavirus deaths in the country were nursing home residents.
One of the reasons so many people died in care facilities was because they were not transferred to hospitals, the report said.
While Belgian authorities focused the majority of their efforts on protecting the hospitals, they violated the basic right of the nursing home residents by refusing their access to treatment and not providing protective equipment and testing in a timely manner, Amnesty International concluded.
Belgium, a decentralized, ethnically divided federation of three regions, never made a clear division of responsibilities between different branches of the government, contributing to general chaos in the already underfunded and understaffed nursing home sector.
The report was based on testimonies by nursing home residents, their families, directors and staff, as well as civil society organizations. Belgium’s top federal health official at the time, Maggie De Block, did not respond to a request for information by Amnesty International.
The report corroborates the findings of a New York Times investigation published in August.
Philippe Hensmans, the director of Amnesty International Belgium, said that nursing home residents were “abandoned” by the authorities until the situation was “publicly known.”
The government only took action “when this tragedy was publicly denounced, and when the worst of the first wave was over,” Mr. Hensmans said.
As Belgium and the rest of Europe confront a resurgent virus, Amnesty International called on Belgian authorities to provide access to best possible medical care for the care home residents.
“It is fundamental that our authorities give priority to respect of human rights of care home residents,” said Mr. Hensmans. “It is equally important to make sure all public investigations into the government’s shortcomings during the Covid-19 pandemic include the aspect of human rights.”
Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, at a news conference in Washington last month.Credit…Pool photo by Graeme Jennings
Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, announced on Tuesday that he would participate in a coronavirus vaccine trial, in what he said was an effort to encourage broader participation in the vaccine trials and emphasize the safety of the vaccines once they have gone through the trial process and certification by the Food and Drug Administration.
He will participate in the Phase 3 trial for the vaccine being developed by the parent company, Johnson & Johnson, at a Cincinnati-based research site, CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services.
“I look at it as a way I can play a small role in supporting our country’s health care response to this pandemic,” Mr. Portman said in a statement. “The more people Johnson & Johnson has in the trial, the sooner they can have the complete data they need to finalize this phase of the trial, and move on to the FDA approval process.”
Mr. Portman’s announcement comes after weeks of concern about the politicization of vaccine development and fears that the rapid development and maligning of the federal government’s scientists during the pandemic will stop some people from seeking out a vaccine once it is released.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris faced criticism earlier this year for saying she would not trust President Trump’s word on the safety of a vaccine, and would instead wait for medical experts to confirm the validity of the treatment.
“I hope that my announcement today will encourage others to feel confident in participating in vaccine clinical trials being conducted across this country,” Mr. Portman said. “I also hope it will reassure people about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines once they have gone through the trials and FDA approval process.”
Two companies, Moderna and Pfizer, this month have announced promising early data results in the development of their respective vaccines.
Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, addressed the United Nations General Assembly in a pre-recorded message in September.Credit…UNTV, via Associated Press
A baseless conspiracy theory about the coronavirus has found new life as cases surge once again.
On Monday morning, the phrase “The Great Reset” trended with nearly 80,000 tweets, with most of the posts coming from familiar far-right internet personalities. The conspiracy alleges that a cabal of elites has long planned for the pandemic so that they could use it to impose their global economic control on the masses. In some versions of the unfounded rumor, it is only President Trump who is thwarting this plan and keeping the scheme at bay.
I see “The Great Reset” conspiracy about Covid-19 is trending again.
Always love it when the same crowd who tell us politicians are incredibly incompetent and useless simultaneously believe they all came togther to brilliantly execute a global masterplan.
Happy Monday everyone! pic.twitter.com/edMKMW6jPm
— Shayan Sardarizadeh (@Shayan86) November 16, 2020
The narrative first took root in late May, when Prince Charles and Klaus Schwab, the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, announced plans to convene world leaders and discuss climate change and how to rebuild an economy damaged by the pandemic. The meeting was branded as a “Great Reset,” and the false rumors about the tight-knit group of elites manipulating the global economy took off.
Then, over the weekend and into Monday morning, a video of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada speaking from a United Nations meeting in September gained millions of views online. In the video, Mr. Trudeau referred to a “great reset” and also happened to utter the words “build back better,” which conspiracists saw as a tie-in to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. — who had used the phrase as a campaign slogan.
Soon, far-right internet commentators with records of spreading misinformation posted about the conspiracy, collecting tens of thousands of likes and shares on Facebook and Twitter. The posters included Paul Joseph Watson, a former contributor to Infowars, and Steven Crowder, who has falsely asserted that coronavirus death tolls are inflated.
Joan Donovan, the research director at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center, said it is “maddening” to see the same networks of influencers traffic in recycled conspiracies and get in the way of delivering accurate information to the public. “What is true is that Covid is on the rise in the U.S. because of poor leadership and the lack of a nationally coordinated response,” Ms. Donovan said.
Twitter said the tweets about the conspiracy did not violate its rules, and that “The Great Reset” was no longer trending.
Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
President Jair Bolsonaro’s popularity is rising as Brazil’s caseload and death toll go down.Credit…Eraldo Peres/Associated Press
President Jair Bolsonaro seemed to be on a political suicide mission during the early weeks of the coronavirus crisis in Brazil.
As the daily death toll turned Brazil into one of the epicenters of the pandemic, he openly dismissed the loss of life as inevitable and lashed out against social distancing. A judge ordered the president to wear a mask, a measure Mr. Bolsonaro was reluctant to follow, claiming that his “athletic background” would guarantee a prompt recovery.
With the economy in a tailspin, the far-right president picked fights with Congress, powerful governors and even some of his most popular ministers.
His cavalier conduct generated talk of impeachment, of an institutional breakdown and even of an eventual prosecution at The Hague.
Now, with Brazil’s caseload and death toll down significantly since peaking in July, Mr. Bolsonaro’s popularity is starting to rise. Yet the easing of the pandemic came largely because Brazilians did not follow his lead.
Mr. Bolsonaro’s strengthened standing among the electorate stands in contrast to other leaders in the region who heeded the scientific consensus about lockdowns, social distancing and masks, and have seen their popularity decline.
Feeling emboldened, Mr. Bolsonaro chided the news media last week for continuing to focus on the pandemic, which has killed more than 163,000 people in Brazil.
Far from facing impeachment, Mr. Bolsonaro — who has always been a deeply polarizing figure in Brazil — now has his highest approval rates since taking office in January 2019. While roughly a third of Brazil’s electorate sided with him back in May, that figure rose to 40 percent in September.
Mr. Bolsonaro’s rising political fortunes came as Brazilians adhered to mask-wearing guidelines and quarantine measures — despite his open hostility to them — that eased the severity of the virus. Warmer weather, which allowed people to spend less time indoors, further reduced the contagion.
The effects of business shutdowns and quarantines were softened by a generous cash assistance program Congress had passed. Mr. Bolsonaro also has claimed credit for that outcome, even though he had initially favored significantly smaller handouts.
Larry, the 10 Downing Street cat, waiting to be let in to the official residence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday.Credit…Pool photo by Tolga Akmen
For Prime Minister Boris Johnson, this was supposed to be a critical week to reset his government after a tumultuous round of infighting that led to the abrupt ouster of his most influential adviser, Dominic Cummings.
Instead, Mr. Johnson began a 14-day quarantine in his Downing Street residence on Monday after being exposed to a member of Parliament who tested positive for the coronavirus.
The prime minister insisted he was “fit as a butcher’s dog” and was merely heeding the rules of Britain’s test-and-trace program. But Mr. Johnson’s enforced isolation will hobble his plan to regain momentum with public appearances and policy announcements after days of corrosive palace intrigue among his closest advisers.
The prime minister’s second close call with the virus — last April, he was hospitalized with a severe case of Covid-19 — deepens the sense of a government that cannot seem to get out of its own way.
Mr. Johnson’s exposure to the virus this time came during a meeting with Conservative lawmakers, one of whom, Lee Anderson, later developed symptoms and tested positive. A photo showed the two men standing barely three feet apart — neither wearing a mask — which raised questions about whether Downing Street practices proper social distancing, even after the outbreak that infected Mr. Johnson in March.
As a recovered patient, Mr. Johnson said his body was “bursting with antibodies.” He did not broach the risk of re-infection, which, while possible, is rare.
During his self-isolation Mr. Johnson plans to work from his apartment, which is above 11 Downing Street. He will also have access to his office at No. 10 next door without walking through parts of the building where others work.
Mr. Johnson will maintain a full schedule of events, conducted remotely, and hopes to use a video link to take part in Prime Minister’s Questions, his weekly grilling by the leader of the opposition in the House of Commons.
In other developments around the world:
The authorities in South Australia have ordered 4,000 people to quarantine as the Australian state reported five new cases of the virus on Tuesday. The outbreak in the capital city of Adelaide was traced to a worker at a hotel where coronavirus patients are quarantined.
Cape Dorset in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, where the coronavirus first appeared this month.Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
The pandemic didn’t arrive in the far northern Canadian territory of Nunavut until early this month. On Monday, the premier of the vast but sparsely populated Arctic region imposed a two-week shutdown of most businesses, schools and events after the number of confirmed cases reached 26.
The cases are in three communities, but officials said on Monday that they feared the virus might have already spread to other places in the territory.
“Think of it as a circuit breaker, a chance to reset,” Joe Savikataaq, the premier, said. “No one is above the rules here. Let’s make this clear, so there’s no misunderstanding.”
The limited medical resources in the territory mean that patients requiring sophisticated treatments must be flown south. One person infected in the current outbreak was evacuated to a hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, about 900 miles away. That person has since been released and is recovering.
Contact tracing has yet to establish the source of the first known case in the territory, on Nov. 6. Until then, Nunavut had been the only region in Canada left untouched by the pandemic. Canada, a country of 38 million people, has had a total of about 300,000 coronavirus cases and 11,000 deaths, according to a New York Times database.
Those We’ve Lost
Dave Andahl, known as “Dakota Dave,” was a walking billboard for his home state of North Dakota.Credit…via Andahl family
Known as “Dakota Dave,” David Dean Andahl was a walking, talking billboard for his home state of North Dakota.
He was president of Dakota Sports Marketing, where he promoted the state’s economic and tourism opportunities.
In late September, he became ill and was hospitalized in Bismarck. Shortly afterward, he died, following “a short battle with Covid-19,” his family said. He was 55.
Mr. Andahl was also interested in politics.
This year, he decided to run for the state House of Representatives. He cleared the first hurdle, winning a heated Republican primary in June against a longtime incumbent, State Representative Jeff Delzer, chairman of the powerful appropriations committee.
Mr. Andahl won the endorsement of two of the state’s most influential Republicans, Gov. Doug Burgum and Senator Kevin Cramer, with Mr. Cramer telling The Minneapolis Star Tribune that he backed Mr. Andahl “because we need more Trump Republicans in the state legislature.”
But at the same time, the coronavirus was surging across the country, especially in North Dakota. The state now has critically understaffed hospitals, and its rates of new cases and deaths per person are among the highest in the nation. Mr. Andahl, who already had unspecified health issues, was cautious about the virus, his family wrote on Facebook.
On Oct. 5, when he died, the election was a month away. At that point, it was too late to take his name off the ballot. On Nov. 3, the residents of District 8, a sprawling rural area north of Bismarck, elected him posthumously to the legislature.
A political squabble ensued over how to fill the seat. The governor sought to make an appointment but was blocked by the attorney general. The matter was unresolved and is in court.