Here’s what you need to know:Rudolph W. Giuliani, at age 76, is in the high-risk category for the virus.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and President Trump’s personal and campaign lawyer, has tested positive for the coronavirus, Mr. Trump announced on Twitter on Sunday.
Mr. Giuliani has been admitted to Georgetown University Medical Center, according to a person who was aware of his condition but not authorized to speak publicly. Mr. Giuliani, at age 76, is in the high-risk category for the virus. Later Sunday, he wrote on Twitter: “Thank you to all my friends and followers for all the prayers and kind wishes. I’m getting great care and feeling good. Recovering quickly and keeping up with everything.”
His son, Andrew H. Giuliani, a White House adviser, said on Nov. 20 he had tested positive for the virus. He had appeared at a news conference with his father the day before.
Mr. Giuliani has been acting as the lead lawyer for Mr. Trump’s efforts to overthrow the results of the election. He has repeatedly claimed he has evidence of widespread fraud, but he has declined to submit that evidence in legal cases he has filed.
“@RudyGiuliani, by far the greatest mayor in the history of NYC, and who has been working tirelessly exposing the most corrupt election (by far!) in the history of the USA, has tested positive for the China Virus. Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!!!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. It was unclear why Mr. Trump was the one announcing it.
Mr. Giuliani recently traveled to three battleground states that Mr. Biden won to make his case. On Thursday he attended a hearing at the Georgia Capitol, where he didn’t wear a mask. He also went maskless on Wednesday at a legislative session in Michigan, where he lobbied Republicans to overturn the results of the election there and appoint a slate of electors for Trump.
“Mayor Giuliani tested negative twice immediately preceding his trip to Arizona, Michigan, and Georgia,” the Trump campaign said. “The Mayor did not experience any symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 until more than 48 hours after his return.”
However, a person in contact with the former mayor said he began feeling ill late this past week.
Mr. Giuliani has repeatedly been exposed to the virus through contact with infected people, including during Mr. Trump’s preparation for his first debate against President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. in September, just before the president tested positive.
His infection is the latest in a string of outbreaks among those in the president’s orbit. Boris Epshteyn, a member of the Trump campaign legal team, tested positive late last month. The same day, Mr. Giuliani attended a meeting of Republican state lawmakers in Pennsylvania about allegations of voting irregularities. One of the lawmakers at that meeting was notified shortly after, while at the White House, that he had tested positive.
Mark Meadows, the president’s chief of staff, and at least eight others in the White House and Mr. Trump’s circle, tested positive in the days before and after Election Day.
Mr. Trump was hospitalized on Oct. 2 after contracting the coronavirus. Kayleigh McEnany, the president’s press secretary, Corey Lewandowski, a campaign adviser, and Ben Carson, the housing secretary, are among those in the president’s circle who have tested positive this fall.
Mr. Giuliani appeared on Fox News earlier on Sunday. Speaking with the host Maria Bartiromo via satellite, Mr. Giuliani repeated baseless claims about fraud in Georgia and Wisconsin on “Sunday Morning Futures.” When asked if he believed Mr. Trump still had a path to victory, he said, “We do.”
Melina Delkic and Bryan Pietsch contributed reporting.
A nursing home in Redmond, Wash., in October. Widespread vaccination of the elderly could begin in days, an administration official said.Credit…Grant Hindsley for The New York Times
Trump administration officials on Sunday laid out an ambitious timetable for the rollout of the first coronavirus vaccine in the United States, rebuking President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s criticism that there was “no detailed plan that we’ve seen” for getting people immunized.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief science adviser of Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s program to develop and deploy vaccines, said that residents of long-term care facilities will receive the first round of vaccinations by mid-January, perhaps even by the end of December. In some states, this group accounts for about 40 percent of deaths from the coronavirus.
The timing assumes that the Food and Drug Administration authorizes the vaccine, made by Pfizer, this week or shortly thereafter. An advisory committee to the agency will meet on Thursday to review the data on safety and efficacy. Alex Azar, the Health and Human Services secretary, on Sunday predicted authorization “within days” of the meeting.
“If things are on track, the advisory committee goes well, I believe we could see F.D.A. authorization within days,” Mr. Azar said on the ABC program “This Week.” “It’s going to go according to F.D.A. gold-standard processes.” When it comes to distribution, he voiced concern for elderly populations and minorities, but noted, “Our governors make the call at the end of the day on whom they will prioritize.”
If the agency authorizes the vaccine, distribution could begin as soon as the end of this week, Dr. Slaoui, the Operation Warp Speed adviser, said. “By end of the month of January, we should already see quite a significant decrease in mortality in the elderly population,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Barring unexpected problems with manufacturing the vaccine, most Americans at high risk from coronavirus infection should be vaccinated by mid-March, and the rest of the population by May or June, he added.
President-elect Biden sounded a considerably more skeptical note on Friday, saying that there was “no detailed plan that we’ve seen, anyway, as to how you get the vaccine out of a container, into an injection syringe, into somebody’s arm.”
Dr. Slaoui said his team expected to meet Mr. Biden’s advisers this week and brief them on details of the plan for the vaccines’ distribution.
Britain has already approved the Pfizer vaccine and expects to begin immunizing its population this week. Like the F.D.A., European regulators are still examining data on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
A second vaccine, made by Moderna, also has been submitted to the F.D.A. for emergency authorization.
Dr. Slaoui was optimistic about long-term protection from the vaccine. The elderly or people with compromised immune systems might need a booster in three to five years, he said, but for most people the vaccine should remain effective for “many, many years.”
Still, it’s unclear whether those who have been immunized may still spread the virus to others. “The answer to that very important question” should be known by mid-February, he said.
Up to 15 percent of those receiving the shots experience “significant, not overwhelming” pain at the injection site, which usually disappears in a day or two, Dr. Slaoui told CBS’s “Face the Nation,” also on Sunday.
Operation Warp Speed was expected to have 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by December, a number that has since been slashed by more than half.
Although the clinical trials were completed faster than expected because of the high level of virus transmission in the United States, manufacturing problems scaled down the expected number of available doses to 40 million.
Safeguarding the vaccines are another matter, as the former U.S. cyber chief warned of attempts by several U.S. adversaries to steal intellectual property related to the vaccine.
Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have all been found to have been involved in “some kind of espionage or spying, trying to get intellectual property related to the vaccine,” said Christopher Krebs, who was until recently director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Speaking on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Mr. Krebs said that in his tenure, C.I.S.A. staff had been working on looking for “critical weak spots” in vaccine makers’ supply chains and public health institutions.
A playground was taped off with caution tape at a park in Los Angeles on Wednesday.Credit…Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times
With stringent regional stay-at-home orders taking effect in much of California at midnight Sunday, parents, local officials and public health experts are objecting to one aspect of the orders: the closure of public playgrounds. They argue that playgrounds are a safe and essential way for families to get fresh air and exercise, and that children are better off there than cooped up indoors.
Experts say that the risk of contracting coronavirus at outdoor playgrounds is very low. The virus does not spread nearly as readily in the open air as it does in confined indoor spaces, and the risk of transmission through contaminated surfaces is minimal, particularly when people are using hand sanitizer, according to Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“When you step back and look at this from a real exposure-risk standpoint, these are the exact kind of activities we should be encouraging,” Dr. Allen said. “Get kids outside, get them playing, get them moving in these low-risk environments. Playgrounds should be open, there’s no question.”
A dozen state legislators said in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday that closing playgrounds would be especially hard on low-income families who “may have little to no outdoor space of their own available.”
“Public playgrounds provide a shared outdoor resource for families without having to travel far, pay entrance fees, or need additional gear,” the letter noted.
New York City faced a similar problem in the spring, when an order to close playgrounds led to scenes of crying children shaking locked gates.
In California, where daily caseloads have tripled in the last month, the new measures are its strictest since the beginning of the pandemic. Two regions, Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley, have crossed the state’s I.C.U. capacity threshold of 85 percent, triggering stay-at-home orders and other tough measures at 11:59 p.m.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, local officials announced Friday that the region would adopt the new limits before hitting the threshold.
Los Angeles County also closed its playgrounds before the state restrictions were announced. “There has been a lot of gathering at playgrounds for extended periods of time, unfortunately without any distancing,” the county’s public health director, Barbara Ferrer, said at a news conference. “It’s been so difficult for there to be compliance at these sites.”
Experts note that the young children who are the main intended users of playgrounds are less likely to contract the virus, suffer severe symptoms or transmit it to others than adults are.
“The idea that playgrounds can be closed doesn’t make sense when you think about who uses playgrounds and their lower risk factors,” Dr. Allen said. “We need this relief.”
Xavier Becerra served 12 terms in Congress, representing Los Angeles, before becoming the attorney general of California in 2017.Credit…Alex Brandon/Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has selected Xavier Becerra, a former congressman who is now the Democratic attorney general of California, as his nominee for secretary of health and human services, ending a politically delicate search that brought complaints from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus about a lack of Latinos in the incoming cabinet.
Mr. Becerra became Mr. Biden’s clear choice only over the past few days, according to people familiar with the transition’s deliberations, and was a surprise. He has carved out a profile more on the issues of criminal justice, immigration and tax policy, and he was long thought to be a candidate for attorney general.
But as attorney general in California, he led legal efforts on health care, including leading 20 states and the District of Columbia in a campaign to protect the Affordable Care Act from being dismantled by Republican attorneys general. He has also been a leading voice in the Democratic Party for women’s health.
If confirmed, he will immediately face a daunting task in leading the department at a critical moment during a pandemic that has killed more than 281,000 people in the United States — and one that has taken a particularly devastating toll on people of color.
Mr. Becerra, 62, served 12 terms in Congress, representing Los Angeles, before becoming the attorney general of his home state in 2017. He is the first Latino to hold that office, and while in Congress he was the first Latino to serve as a member of the Ways and Means Committee. He also led the House Democratic Caucus, which gave him a powerful leadership post.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, will be tapped to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a person familiar with Mr. Biden’s deliberations. Ms. Walensky, whose selection was reported earlier by Politico, will replace Dr. Robert R. Redfield as the leader of the scientific agency at the forefront of the nation’s pandemic response.
Christmas trees for sale in New York on Monday. Americans seeking some holiday joy are buying trees at a faster rate than usual.Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Before this year, Wesley Yang had never celebrated with a real Christmas tree. Growing up, his family deemed it an inconvenience. But stuck at home this season, Mr. Yang and his roommate decided to do something different to mark the end of a tragic year, spending $90 on a tree and lugging it up three floors to their Los Angeles apartment.
“We’re just trying to keep the spirit going, even though we are locked down these days,” he said.
As many people stay home for the holiday season, planning smaller celebrations as they seek some joy during the coronavirus pandemic, Americans like Mr. Yang seem to be driving up demand for Christmas trees.
Families are trying to make the most of whatever experiences remain safe this holiday season, like going outside to pick out a tree together and decorating it, said Jennifer Greene, the executive director of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association, which represents a state that harvests more than 4.1 million trees a year.
“We didn’t realize that the Christmas spirit was going to help people with what we’ve heard called the ‘Covid blues,’” said Doug Hundley, a spokesman for the National Christmas Tree Association.
National sales data is hard to find, but across the country Christmas tree grower associations say that retailers are running through their tree supplies quickly and that growers are reporting a big increase in sales. In Michigan, farmers have seen as much as a 50 percent increase, said Amy Start, the executive director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association.
George Nash travels each year from Vermont to New York City to sell more than 15,000 trees at spots across Upper Manhattan. “The demand is crazy right now,” he said. “We are almost twice ahead of where we were last year at this point, in terms of sales. If the trend holds, it will be the best year we ever had.”
Even artificial tree companies like Balsam Hill say they are having a banner year. Mac Harman, the company’s founder and chief executive, said its Christmas in July sale had foreshadowed this year’s voracious holiday market.
“It just absolutely has not slowed down,” he said.
A survey conducted over the summer of more than 2,000 adults by TRUE Global Intelligence found that more than half of the respondents said the pandemic had strengthened their desire to spend money on experiences rather than gifts this year. Three-quarters of the respondents considered real Christmas trees to be an experience, rather than a product.
With such a high demand for Christmas trees, some worry that it may be harder for some Americans to find trees later in the month. The industry is still reeling from the 2008 economic recession, when customers bought fewer items. Growers then cut down fewer trees, which left less space for seedlings that would have made the market more abundant about a decade later.
“We’re having difficulty filling extra orders from the States,” said Shirley Brennan, the executive director of the Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association, whose office has fielded daily calls from south of the border. “That demand, we can’t keep up with.”
That doesn’t mean that Americans who waited to get a tree will end up without one, said Marsha Gray, the executive director of the Christmas Tree Promotion Board, a tree research and promotion program funded by growers.
“Some locations might close early, some locations may not have trees to sell,” she said. “But over all, there are enough trees and there aren’t communities going without.”
A testing center in Los Angeles. The new test can be used at home, which would be a safer alternative than testing in person at a clinic.Credit…John Taggart for The New York Times
With cases of coronavirus steadily escalating during the traditional flu season, the Food and Drug Administration has authorized the first at-home test that can distinguish between the two viruses.
Early symptoms of infection with the coronavirus are easily mistaken for the flu. The new test offers a safe and convenient way for people — especially those at high risk from the coronavirus who may be afraid to go to a clinic — to test themselves at home.
The F.D.A. on Friday granted the test, the RC COVID-19 +Flu RT-PCR Test, made by Quest Diagnostics, an emergency use authorization.
“With the authorization of this test, the F.D.A. is helping to address the ongoing fight against Covid-19 while in the middle of the flu season, which is important for many, including the most vulnerable of Americans,” Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the agency’s commissioner, said in a statement.
The test “allows patients to continue to quarantine while awaiting results,” he said. “This efficiency can go a long way to providing timely information for those sick with an unknown respiratory ailment.”
Adults over 18 with respiratory symptoms can obtain the test with a prescription from a health care provider. They swab themselves and mail the samples to Quest Diagnostics via an enclosed FedEx bag.
But the test may produce negative results if the specimen is not collected properly, the agency cautioned.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu vaccine for anyone older than six months.
Daniel Presti, manager of Mac’s Public House, was taken away in handcuffs after his arrest last week. He was arrested again early Sunday after striking a sheriff’s deputy with his car.Credit…Steve White, via Associated Press
The manager of a Staten Island bar who has repeatedly and flamboyantly defied New York’s coronavirus restrictions hit a sheriff’s deputy with his Jeep early Sunday as he unsuccessfully tried to escape arrest, the sheriff’s office said.
The bar, Mac’s Public House, was ordered closed by the state on Wednesday, but deputies said they found several patrons being served there on Saturday night. When deputies confronted the manager, Daniel Presti, he fled to his Jeep and drove into one of the deputies, throwing him onto the hood, according to the sheriff’s office.
Mr. Presti, 34, faces 10 charges, including assault with intent to cause injury to an officer, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and resisting arrest, according to a criminal complaint filed on Sunday. He was released on his own recognizance and has a hearing scheduled for January, court records show.
Joseph Fucito, the city sheriff, said the deputy had been released from the hospital but sustained fractures in each of his shin bones.
It was Mr. Presti’s second arrest in six days in connection with the bar’s defiance of shutdown rules.
The bar has become a rallying point for defiance of virus restrictions in recent weeks. Located in a state-designated zone where indoor service is banned because of a surge in virus cases, it continued to serve patrons even after its liquor license was suspended at the end of November.
In rallies outside the tavern and in YouTube videos and Facebook posts, Mr. Presti and Keith McAlarney, the bar’s owner, have maintained that the restrictions in Staten Island are unjust and impinge on their freedom. They have said people should be able to decide whether to risk being infected while patronizing the bar, and have declared the establishment an “autonomous zone.”
Lawyers for the bar and Mr. McAlarney did not comment Sunday afternoon. Mr. Presti did not respond to a request for comment. A post on the bar’s Facebook page objected to Mr. Presti’s arrest, saying he had “just finished working an 18-hour day to provide for his family and save our establishment.”
Mr. Presti’s arrest on Sunday came as a second wave of the pandemic tightened its grip on New York City.
The seven-day average rate of positive test results, which was less than 2 percent at the beginning of November, is now more than 5 percent for the first time since May, according to city figures.
The southern part of Staten Island, where the bar is located, has been a particular area of concern. It had a seven-day average test positivity rate of 7.58 percent, according to figures published on Saturday from the state. In late November, the state reopened an emergency hospital in the borough to address a surge in cases.
Mark Few, Gonzaga’s head coach, during a game on Wednesday. The nation’s top-ranked team is now not scheduled to play until Dec. 19.Credit…Andy Lyons/Getty Images
The nation’s top-ranked men’s college basketball team will not play until at least next week because of coronavirus concerns.
Gonzaga University, which is in Spokane, Wash., said Sunday that it had paused men’s basketball competitions through Dec. 14 “out of an abundance of caution and the well-being of student-athletes.”
The university did not elaborate, but the decision came a day after Gonzaga and No. 2 Baylor decided not to play each other because two people in Gonzaga’s traveling party, including a player, had tested positive for the virus.
“When we decided to play during a pandemic, our priorities were protecting the health and safety of student-athletes and following public health guidelines, and we’re proud of how both programs have held true to those promises,” Mark Few, Gonzaga’s coach, and Scott Drew, Baylor’s coach, said in a joint statement on Saturday. “There are much greater issues in this world than not being able to play a basketball game, so we’re going to continue praying for everyone who has been affected by this pandemic.”
Sunday’s decision by Gonzaga will affect games against Tarleton State University, Southern University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Idaho. All four matchups were scheduled to be played in Spokane.
College basketball scheduling is extraordinarily fluid this season, but Gonzaga is next scheduled to play on Dec. 19, when it is to meet the University of Iowa.
Hundreds of people, few of them wearing face coverings, took part in the funeral of Ali Abu Aliya, a Palestinian teenager, in the West Bank on Saturday.Credit…Alaa Badarneh/EPA, via Shutterstock
Even as coronavirus infections in the occupied West Bank soared over the past week, large numbers of Palestinians in the territory continued to flout social-distancing requirements.
Though the authorities late last month established nightly closures for weekdays and general lockdowns from Thursday night to Sunday morning, many Palestinians have continued to gather without wearing masks.
On Saturday, hundreds of people, few of them wearing face coverings, took part in the funeral of Ali Abu Aliya, a Palestinian teenager who was killed by Israeli gunfire on Friday during clashes involving stone throwing at Israeli security forces.
The Israeli Army said it would investigate the events. Nickolay Mladenov, a senior United Nations envoy, called the boy’s death “shocking” and “unacceptable,” and the European Union’s representative office in Jerusalem accused Israel of using excessive force.
At the funeral procession in al-Mughayir, a Palestinian village near Ramallah, participants crowded around Ali’s body as it was carried through the street.
On Wednesday, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, made a rare appeal to Palestinians to follow social-distancing guidelines and wear masks.
“I ask you to take care of yourselves,” Mr. Abbas said in a short televised speech. “At every moment, there’s a danger.”
Over the past seven days, Palestinian officials in the West Bank recorded an average of 1,319 positive virus tests daily — more than triple the amount from a month ago, according to the health ministry of the Palestinian Authority. As of Sunday, there were more than 13,800 active cases in the territory, ministry data showed.
Palestinian officials were expected to meet in the coming days to discuss the possibility of introducing new restrictions, officials said Saturday.
In other global developments:
The Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt is struggling with a surge of coronavirus infections. Beginning Monday, the church will suspend religious services for a month in Cairo and in the province of Alexandria, following an outbreak of coronavirus cases among worshipers and leaders. Egypt, the most populous country in the Middle East, has reported a rise in infections, with a daily average of about 400 cases in the last week. In all, the country has recorded at least 118,014 cases and 6,750 deaths.
Indonesia received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccines from China on Sunday, President Joko Widodo said. The 1.2 million doses from SinoVac will be part of a mass inoculation campaign, and another 1.8 million doses are expected in January, according to Reuters. In other news, Indonesia’s minister of social affairs was arrested on Sunday for receiving more than $1.2 million in bribes from companies that distribute government coronavirus food aid to the needy.
German officials in the southern state of Bavaria announced they will impose a tougher lockdown from Wednesday through Jan. 5, The Associated Press reported, with a brief reprieve in the days around Christmas. People can leave home for essential purposes, and most children will still go to school. The country has been under a so-called light lockdown that will extend into January.
Officials in South Korea, which is struggling to contain a third wave of coronavirus cases, said on Sunday that social distancing regulations in the Seoul capital region would be raised to the second-highest of five levels for the next three weeks. Under the new restrictions, karaoke rooms and indoor gyms are shut down, and people are encouraged to stay home as much as possible.
The Australian state of Victoria, which had one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, is further loosening restrictions after 37 days with no locally transmitted coronavirus cases. Nightclubs may reopen, public gatherings may be increased to 100 people, and weddings may be held without limits on the number of attendees. Melbourne welcomed first international passenger flight in five months on Monday, Reuters reported.
Safety signage for students at the University of California, San Diego, on Thursday.Credit…John Francis Peters for The New York Times
After a tough fall semester battling the varied ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic, many university officials are preparing to do something a lot of experts considered unthinkable a few months ago: bring even more students back onto campus in January and February. They say lessons learned from the fall will allow them to offer a more traditional college experience in the next semester.
The University of California, San Diego, is making room for more than 11,000 students in campus housing — about 1,000 more than it housed in the fall. The University of Florida is planning to offer more face-to-face classes than it did before the pandemic. And Princeton University, which let only a few hundred students live on campus last semester, has offered space to thousands of undergraduates.
“What makes me optimistic is we had the virus in our community, and each time we did, we were able to stop transmissions dead,” said David Greene, president of Colby College in Maine, which brought its whole student body back in the fall using aggressive health measures, and plans to do the same again next semester.
Many institutions are choosing not to bring back more students, planning instead to hunker down over the winter as infections mount and the nation awaits a vaccine. The University of Michigan, which spent a rocky fall trying to keep thousands of students on campus, has told most of its students to stay home and study remotely next semester.
But the alternative has been particularly compelling for schools that managed the fall with relatively minimal infections, and the schools that watched and learned from them.
Students have proved more conscientious than the public may think, administrators say. The culture of fraternities, big sports and big parties remains a challenge, but at many schools, students themselves reported the majority of health violations.
Many university officials say they are also increasingly confident that the virus is not being transmitted in classrooms, where professors are enforcing mask wearing and social distancing rules.
“The spread is in teacher break rooms, in fraternities and sororities,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, who ran the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the Obama administration and is now president of a global health initiative to prevent heart disease and epidemics. “It’s not even in organized sports but in locker rooms before and pizza parties after.”
Dr. Jane M. Orient is the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a group that opposes government involvement in medicine.Credit…Scott Schauer
A doctor who is skeptical of coronavirus vaccines and promotes the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19 will be the lead witness at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, prompting criticism from Democrats who say Republicans should not give a platform to someone who promotes conspiracy theories.
Dr. Jane M. Orient is the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a group that opposes government involvement in medicine — including the popular Medicare and Medicaid programs — and opposes mandatory vaccination for diseases like measles as a violation of human rights and “a serious intrusion into individual liberty, autonomy, and parental decisions.”
The group has also sued the government in an effort to force it to release hydroxychloroquine from the national stockpile for use as a Covid-19 treatment, although the scientific evidence indicates that the drug is ineffective for that disease. The case is before a federal appeals court.
Dr. Orient, who lives in Tucson, Ariz., said in a telephone interview Sunday afternoon that she will appear remotely during a hearing on early at-home treatment for Covid-19.
Dr. Orient’s organization has urged people to be cautious about the vaccine in blog posts with titles like “Should We Line up for a 90% Effective Vaccine?” In the interview, she raised particular concerns about young people being vaccinated, “because the effect on fertility has not been determined.” There is no evidence that any of the leading coronavirus vaccine candidates impede fertility.
Dr. Orient said she would not take the vaccine herself, because she has an autoimmune condition, and also said she opposes the government’s push for all Americans to be vaccinated. “It seems to me reckless to be pushing people to take risks when you don’t know what the risks are,” she said.
“At such a crucial time, giving a platform to conspiracy theorists to spread myths and falsehoods about Covid vaccines is downright dangerous and one of the last things Senate Republicans should be doing right now,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said on Sunday in a statement to The New York Times.
Dr. Orient’s appearance comes as federal health officials are trying to enlist lawmakers in a campaign to encourage Americans to accept the new vaccines. An F.D.A. advisory committee will meet on Thursday to review data on the safety and efficacy of Pfizer’s candidate, and rollout could begin shortly after agency authorization.
Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles on Saturday. The governor has warned that without drastic action, California faces a catastrophic shortage of intensive care beds.Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times
Much of California will be under stay-at-home orders as of late Sunday night — with outdoor dining and bars shuttered, schools closed and playgrounds roped off — as the state tries to control an accelerating coronavirus surge and head off a catastrophic shortage of intensive care beds.
Under orders issued Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom, regions are to be placed under the new restrictions once their intensive care unit availability falls below 15 percent. The governor has warned that without drastic action, hospitals will soon be overwhelmed.
On Saturday, two regions hit the I.C.U. threshold and learned that at 11:59 p.m. Sunday they would have to begin complying with the stay-at-home orders for at least three weeks: Southern California was at 12.5 percent, and the San Joaquin Valley at 8.6 percent. Together, the regions are home to more than half of California’s population of 40 million.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, local officials announced Friday that the region would adopt the new limits before hitting the threshold.
California’s new measures are its strictest since the beginning of the pandemic, when it became the first state to issue a stay-at-home order. That order helped it gain control of an early outbreak, but in the last week California has added more than 150,000 cases, a record for all states. More than 26,500 new cases were reported statewide on Sunday, the fifth straight single-day record. Los Angeles County, with more than 10,000 new cases, broke its record for the fourth straight day.
Nationally, the news is also grim. On Friday, more than 229,000 cases were reported, a record, and on Saturday more than 200,000 cases were recorded for the fourth consecutive day. More than 101,000 Americans are in hospitals now, double the number from just a month ago. Covid-19 overtook heart disease as the nation’s top cause of death this past week, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Delaware, Michigan, Oregon, Washington State and cities from Philadelphia to Los Angeles have reimposed restrictions.
Much of California was already under a curfew prohibiting nearly all residents from leaving their homes to do nonessential work or to gather from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
The new order includes prohibitions on private gatherings and requires retail businesses to operate at a limited capacity. Any open businesses must require everyone inside to wear masks and distance themselves. Among the facilities that must close: hair salons and barbershops; museums, zoos, and aquariums; indoor movie theaters; wineries and breweries.
“We are at a point where surging cases and hospitalizations are not letting up,” Dr. Salvador Sandoval, a public health officer for the San Joaquin Valley city of Merced, told The Associated Press. “I can’t emphasize this enough — everyone must take personal steps to protect themselves and protect others.”
Many people are weary after nine months of shifting rules about where they can go, whether they can eat indoors or outdoors and whether their children can go to school. Questions remain about the level of compliance with the new restrictions and about how strictly they will be enforced.
Sheriff Don Barnes of Orange County said in a statement on Saturday that his deputies would not enforce them because compliance with health restrictions was “a matter of personal responsibility and not a matter of law enforcement.”
Mr. Newsom has emphasized that California will withhold funding from counties that refuse to enforce the new stay-at-home order. After some counties pushed back on prevention measures during a summer surge, the governor appointed an enforcement task force that through November has levied more than $2 million in fines against businesses, issued 179 citations and revoked three business licenses.
For residents, such as David White, a senior pastor at Porterville Church of God in the San Joaquin Valley city of Porterville, these new restrictions are a blow to residents who have taken the virus seriously from the start.
“We look back and think we’ve given up so much for so long, and in hindsight it was nothing,” he said. “Statistically, nothing compared to now.”
Even as cases surged in Georgia, few attendees wore masks at President Trump’s rally on Saturday.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
At the end of last month, Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia extended an executive order banning gatherings of more than 50 people unless individuals remain six feet apart.
You wouldn’t have known such an order existed Saturday night in Valdosta, Ga., where President Trump held a rally for the two Republican senators engaged in a runoff, his first since losing re-election.
One day after Georgia set a record for new Covid-19 cases, with 6,226, according to a New York Times database, thousands of people crowded close together onto the tarmac of Valdosta’s regional airport to see Mr. Trump. Some brought masks, but few wore them during the event. And Mr. Trump, fixated on his defeat, scarcely mentioned the raging pandemic.
The outdoor venue may have offered some protection, since the virus spreads more easily indoors. But after the rally, thousands lined up without masks to board buses taking them back to remote parking lots set up for the rally.
Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, predicted a few more “days of drama” before the deal gained enough support to pass both chambers.Credit…Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
A bipartisan group of senators on Sunday made the case for a $908 billion stimulus proposal that they argued would break the stalemate in Congress over delivering additional economic relief to Americans battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and one of the lawmakers who created the plan, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the number of senators backing the proposal “goes up every day.”
“It would be stupidity on steroids if Congress doesn’t act,” Mr. Warner said, adding that he predicted a few more “days of drama” before the deal gained enough support to pass both chambers.
The proposal, spearheaded by two centrist senators, Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, has yet to be endorsed by Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, has been more encouraging, saying it should serve as the “basis” for negotiations.
Intended as a stopgap measure to last until March, the plan would restore federal unemployment benefits that lapsed over the summer, but at half the rate, providing $300 a week for 18 weeks, and would provide $160 billion to help state, local and tribal governments facing fiscal ruin — a fraction of what Democrats had sought. Also included was $288 billion to help small businesses and a short-term federal liability shield from coronavirus-related lawsuits. The proposal does not include another round of $1,200 checks for most Americans.
Mr. Warner pushed back against criticism from the left over the liability provision, which was meant to last just four months while states come up with their own proposals. Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, had criticized the plan as a “get-out-of-jail-free card” for corporations, but Mr. Warner said Mr. Sanders was “not involved in these negotiations, and his characterization is just not accurate.”
On “Fox News Sunday,” Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana and one of the plan’s architects, also said the immunity provision — which Mr. McConnell has championed — was “one of the sticking points right now.”
Mr. Cassidy said he believed both Mr. McConnell and President Trump would end up backing the plan.
The bill is an attempt to find a middle ground between the dueling stimulus proposals that Democrats and Republicans have haggled over for months. Its cost is less than half of what Democratic leaders had pushed for in the weeks leading up to the election, but nearly double the latest proposal from Republican leaders.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Manchin emphasized the plan was not supposed to be a long-term solution for the American economy, but an immediate boost that could avert the impending lapse at the end of the year of a series of relief programs that were established in the $2.2 trillion stimulus law enacted in March. He said President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. could offer a more comprehensive proposal, but waiting until Mr. Biden took office “might be too late for so many people and small businesses.”
Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, said on ABC’s “This Week” that there were “a few remaining issues,” but he thought they could be worked out.
When asked about the lack of direct payments in the package, Mr. Durbin held that the given limit was $900 billion. He estimated that the program to distribute $1,200 checks would cost $300 billion alone.
“This is our last chance before Christmas and the end of the year to bring relief to families across America in the midst of a public health crisis,” Mr. Durbin said. “It’s time to put the partisan labels aside.”