Covid-19 Updates: Judge Upholds New York Restrictions on Houses of Worship

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Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drafted a sweeping order last month requiring all passengers and employees to wear masks on all forms of public and commercial transportation in the United States, but it was blocked by the White House, according to two federal health officials.

The order would have been the toughest federal mandate to date aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, which continues to infect more than 40,000 Americans a day. The officials said that it was drafted under the agency’s “quarantine powers” and that it had the support of the secretary of health and human services, Alex M. Azar II, but the White House Coronavirus Task Force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, declined to even discuss it.

The two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment, said the order would have required face coverings on airplanes, trains, buses and subways, and in transit hubs such as airports, train stations and bus depots.

A task force official said the decision to require masks should be left up to states and localities. The administration requires the task force to sign off on coronavirus-related policies.

“The approach the task force has taken with any mask mandate is, the response in New York City is different than Montana, or Tuscaloosa, Alabama,” said the official who asked not to be identified because he did not have permission to discuss the matter. “Local and state authorities need to determine the best approach for their responsive effort depending on how the coronavirus is impacting their area.”

The thwarting of the mask rule is the latest in a number of C.D.C. actions stalled or changed by the White House. Late last month, the coronavirus task force overruled the C.D.C. director’s order to keep cruise ships docked until mid-February. That plan was opposed by the tourism industry in Florida, an important swing state in the presidential election. Political appointees at the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services have also been involved in rewriting the agency’s guidelines on reopening schools and testing for the virus, bypassing the agency’s scientists.

Representative Peter A. DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon and chairman of the House committee on transportation and infrastructure, criticized Mr. Trump for ignoring public health experts from his own administration on the mask issue.

“It’s especially outrageous because the science is so clear: masks save lives,” Mr. DeFazio said. “The millions of Americans who work in and use our transportation systems every day — from bus drivers, train conductors and flight attendants, to the frontline workers who rely on public transit — deserve to know their president is relying on experts’ best advice and doing everything possible to keep them safe.”

Credit…Mark Abramson for The New York Times

A federal judge on Friday allowed Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to move forward with new restrictions on gatherings at synagogues and other houses of worships, finding that the rules did not violate the free exercise of religion for Orthodox Jews.

The ruling in federal court in Brooklyn came after Agudath Israel of America, a national Orthodox Jewish organization, sued Mr. Cuomo this week over his latest executive order detailing an array of new restrictions to address rising coronavirus cases in neighborhoods with large populations of Orthodox Jews.

After an emergency hearing on Friday, the judge declined to temporarily block Mr. Cuomo’s executive order ahead of three Jewish holidays over the weekend. She said she sympathized with the order’s impact on the Orthodox Jewish community, but rejected the argument that Mr. Cuomo had unconstitutionally targeted a religious minority.

“How can we ignore the compelling state interest in protecting the health and life of all New Yorkers?” said Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto of Federal District Court in Brooklyn.

When announcing the executive order, Mr. Cuomo set new capacity limits for houses of worship. In zones with the highest positivity rates, houses of worship would be limited to 25 percent capacity or a maximum of 10 people, while those in a less severe hot spot could have 50 percent capacity.

Lawyers for Agudath Israel, an umbrella group with affiliated synagogues around the country, had argued that the new rules were unconstitutional because they prevented Orthodox Jews from exercising their religion. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn also filed a similar lawsuit against Mr. Cuomo on Thursday.

The judge’s decision means that Mr. Cuomo can impose the new restrictions as the lawsuit progresses.

The legal actions underscored the challenge facing New York officials as they try to fight off a second wave of virus infections and navigate a crisis at the intersection of public health, religion and politics. Some areas in New York City had positivity rates of around 8 percent, officials said, far higher than the 1 percent rate for the rest of the city.

The restrictions were intended to curb worrisome outbreaks of the coronavirus in Brooklyn, Queens and New York City’s northern suburbs, including several areas with large Orthodox populations. Orthodox synagogues have in recent months become scenes of large gatherings of worshipers clustered together, many not wearing face coverings.

President Trump before a crowd on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One to start his trip to the first debate with challenger Joe Biden on Sept. 29.
Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

President Trump is planning to host hundreds of people on the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday for his first in-person event since he announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus, three people familiar with the plans said on Friday, and his campaign announced that he would hold a rally in Florida on Monday.

The news came just two weeks after a Rose Garden celebration for the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, an event that White House officials are looking at as the possible source of an outbreak of the coronavirus that has infected Mr. Trump, the first lady and at least two dozen other people.

On Saturday, the president is expected to make remarks from one of the balconies at the White House to the crowd, one of the people familiar with the plans said. The event was first reported by ABC News.

Some in the White House and on the Trump campaign expressed concern about what the president might say at the event, and feared the gathering would serve to underscore existing criticism that Mr. Trump has been cavalier about a virus that has killed over 210,000 Americans.

Outside medical experts also cautioned that an inappropriately expedited return to the public for Mr. Trump could risk infecting others, and that resuming public duties might worsen his condition. Covid-19 patients can take turns for the worse during the second week of illness, and the president’s positive test came on Oct. 1, putting him within that window.

It remains unclear how serious Mr. Trump’s illness is, though he has said repeatedly that he feels “great.” During a marathon appearance on the conservative host Rush Limbaugh’s radio show on Friday, President Trump mentioned that his doctors had at one point told him that he was entering a “very bad phase.” It was not immediately clear the time period to which Mr. Trump was referring.

Shortly after his diagnosis last week, Mr. Trump received supplemental oxygen, as well as some treatments — including the antiviral remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone — that are usually reserved for patients with severe cases. People with severe disease may need to double their isolation period from 10 days to 20 days, according to the C.D.C.

“Based on what we know, he likely had severe Covid,” said Dr. Maricar Malinis, an infectious disease physician at Yale University.

If the president recently came off dexamethasone, his well-being could take a dip in the next couple of days, said Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious-disease physician based in South Carolina.

One person familiar with the planning for the White House event said that all attendees are being required to bring and wear a mask on the complex, and they will have to submit to a temperature check and a questionnaire in the morning.

Mr. Trump, in his first televised interview since he announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus, said Friday night that he was “medication free” and back to normal, a week after he was hospitalized. Mr. Trump said there had been “congestion” in his lungs and lauded the CT scans, which he called “amazing.”

He also described the steroid he received, dexamethasone, as a drug to keep “the swelling down of the lungs, as I understand it.”

Dr. Guadalupe Garcia Tsao, a physician at Yale University, said the combination of the “congestion” in Mr. Trump’s lungs, his cryptic reference to dexamethasone and the low oxygen levels he experienced last Friday appear to confirm that the president had experienced pneumonia.

In the interview on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” with Fox News contributor Dr. Marc Siegel, Mr. Trump said that he went to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last Friday because he “didn’t feel strong.”

It was not clear when the interview was taped, but Mr. Trump said that as of eight hours earlier he was “medication free.” On Friday, the White House had declined to say whether Mr. Trump had been tested for the coronavirus and the White House physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley, had not released any letter about the president’s health, as he had done earlier in the week.

The president also said he had been retested for the coronavirus on Friday. Although he did not use the words “positive” or “negative,” he told Dr. Siegel that “I’m either at the bottom of the scale or free,” a likely reference to the levels of virus in his body. He would probably be tested again on Saturday, he said.

Levels of the virus do drop as people progress through their illness, especially if their symptoms appear to be resolving, said Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease physician at the University of Alberta. At this point, “I’m not that worried he’s going to infect someone, though he still could.”

Still, nothing can guarantee that the president is no longer infectious and Mr. Trump’s potential flouting of his own government’s guidance undermines trust in public health recommendations, Dr. Schwartz said. “There’s definitely some imprecision on our understand of that,” Dr. Schwartz said. “There’s no validated way to know.”

Dr. Malinis added that there is some evidence that suggests steroids like dexamethasone, which suppress the immune system, could prolong the period in which people shed the virus. That could further muddy the timeline for when the president should end his isolation.

In a speech in Las Vegas delivered while wearing a mask before a drive-in audience, Joseph R. Biden Jr. lashed out at Mr. Trump for his behavior since he tested positive for the virus.

“His reckless personal conduct since his diagnosis, the destabilizing effect it’s having on our government, is unconscionable,” Mr. Biden said. “The longer Donald Trump is president, the more reckless he gets.”

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said Friday that the White House had held a “super spreader event,” an apparent reference to the White House celebration for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

“It was in a situation where people were crowded together and not wearing masks,” said Dr. Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases. “The data speak for themselves.”

His comments came in an interview with CBS News Radio.

More than 200 people attended the White House event on Sept. 26, which included an outdoor ceremony and indoor reception. Many attendees were tested for the virus upon arrival, but few wore masks or practiced social distancing. At least 12 people who attended the event have since tested positive for the virus, including the president and first lady.

The White House has made little effort to trace infections that may have stemmed from the event. It has not actively engaged scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to trace the contacts of attendees, a key practice in stopping infections from spreading.

“Everybody should wear a mask, literally universally,” Dr. Fauci said in the interview, “as well as keeping distance, avoiding crowds, staying on the outdoors versus indoors, and washing your hands.”

Protesting new restrictions on schools and synagogues in an Orthodox Jewish enclave in Brooklyn on Wednesday. The orders have caused confusion and frustration. 
Credit…Mark Abramson for The New York Times

Some areas around the world that were devastated by the coronavirus in the spring — and are now tightening rules to head off a second wave — are facing resistance from residents who are exhausted, confused and frustrated.

In both Western Europe and the northeastern United States, governments were able to dramatically reduce cases with broad measures that were effective but economically bruising. Now, as cases surge, officials are seeking more targeted closures, trying to thread a narrowing course between keeping the virus in check and what their publics and economies will bear.

The world recorded more than 1 million new cases between Tuesday and Thursday, the highest ever three-day period, driven in part by resurgences in Europe and the United States. Although increased testing has helped artificially boost case numbers, deaths and hospitalizations in some countries are also beginning to rise, initial signals of the widespread impact of the current wave.

“It is going to be a lot more difficult this time,” said Professor Cornelia Betsch, Heisenberg-Professor of Health Communication at Erfurt University, in Germany, citing “pandemic fatigue.”

France has placed cities on “maximum alert” and ordered many of them to close all bars, gyms and sports centers on Saturday. Italy and Poland have expanded their mask wearing rules. The Czech Republic has declared a state of emergency, and German officials fear new outbreaks could soon grow beyond the control of their vaunted testing and tracing abilities.

Similar dynamics are afoot across the Atlantic. In Boston, plans to bring children back to school have been halted as cases climb precariously. New virus clusters are emerging in Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. In New York City, the number of new cases each day now averages more than 500 for the first time since June, and rising rates of positive tests have alarmed health experts. Strict rules have been put in place in some neighborhoods as well as in the city’s northern suburbs.

But the targeted rules in New York City have spurred mass confusion. Competing hot-spot maps released on Thursday by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo overlapped and contradicted each other. Two lawsuits were filed on Thursday, one by an Orthodox Jewish group and the other by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, to stop the state from enforcing the governor’s restrictions on houses of worship.

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Spain’s government used its emergency powers Friday to lock down Madrid to try to stop a second wave of Covid-19.CreditCredit…Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

A targeted lockdown in Spain is also being challenged in the courts. After Madrid’s highest regional court ruled that a new lockdown violated the fundamental liberty of people to move freely, the government on Friday decreed a state of emergency, overruling Madrid’s regional politicians. Within hours, the nation’s main opposition leader called on the prime minister to appear in Parliament to justify his actions.

The feuding is reflective of a broader political resistance confronting leaders worldwide, a challenge compounded by public skepticism that has been fueled in many countries by the failure of governments to fulfill grand promises on measures like contact tracing, testing and other measures.

European governments are also facing pressure from business leaders as the uptick in cases dims hopes for a quick economic recovery. Earlier this week France, Europe’s second-largest economy, downgraded its forecast pace of expansion for the last three months of the year from an already minimal 1 percent to zero.

And of course, people are also simply weary after months of limitations on their daily lives.

“We’re all kind of exhausted with it,” said Danielle Ompad, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at New York University. “We have to acknowledge that this is not easy.”

A scene from Havana last month. Cuba, which has been very aggressive in its handling of the virus, announced that it will reopen some areas to international tourists. 
Credit…Yamil Lage/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz of Cuba said on Thursday that the island will reopen its borders to international tourists for the first time in six months, but the capital and other areas with higher numbers of virus cases will remain off-limits.

Starting next week, planes carrying tourists will be allowed to land in 13 of the island’s 16 provinces. The capital, Havana, as well as the central provinces of Ciego de Ávila and Sancti Spíritus, will remain closed.

With the exception of humanitarian flights and repatriations, the Cuban border has been shut since March to reduce virus transmission. But the country has slowly been preparing to restart international tourism. In July, flights began servicing small holiday resorts in the northern keys.

Cuba, which has the highest doctor-to-patient ratio in the world, has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the disease. When cases are discovered, entire blocks are quarantined. Everyone who has tested positive has been hospitalized. The island has reported 5,917 cases total — which works out to 52 cases per 100,000 people — and 123 deaths, according to a Times database.

The United States has reported more than seven million cases — or 2,302 cases per 100,000 people — and more than 212,000 deaths.

But Cuba’s impressive health outcomes have come at a high monetary cost. Since the pandemic began, 115,000 suspected cases and contacts of confirmed cases have been quarantined in isolation centers. The state foots the bill.

The loss of tourism, one of the island’s top hard-currency earners, has devastated a fragile economy that was already on the ropes because of crippling sanctions from the Trump administration and turmoil in Venezuela, which sends cheap petroleum to Cuba.

Shortages are endemic. Black market prices of everyday items such as toothpaste and coffee have more than doubled. Rice is strictly rationed and illegal to buy on the open market.

Mr. Marrero signaled that a new balance will be struck between the imperatives of saving lives and reactivating the economy. Cubans will be allowed to isolate at home as the island changes the way it confronts the virus and transitions to a “new normality,” he said.

President Trump and Melania Trump with Judge Barrett and her family inside the Oval Office on Sept. 26.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

A school attended by some of the children of Amy Coney Barrett, the Supreme Court nominee who brought her family to a Rose Garden celebration at the White House on Sept. 26, notified parents on Thursday that one teacher and two high school students had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The outbreak at Trinity School, a small, private school in South Bend, Ind., is likely to intensify scrutiny of the White House event that some health experts fear led to the virus spreading among administration officials, guests and others who subsequently came in contact with them.

John A. Lee, the school’s head, informed parents Thursday afternoon that a high school teacher had tested positive for the disease, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. Less than five hours later, he notified parents of two more cases: a girl in her junior year and a boy in his senior year. The teacher was identified by name but the students were not.

Of the Barretts’ seven children, two are of high school age.

Parents expressed concern that the outbreak might have been tied to the Rose Garden event. One parent, who asked not to be identified, said at least one of the Barrett children attended classes in person the following week, even though the school offers an online learning option.

Mr. Lee referred questions about the outbreak to Jon Balsbaugh, the president of Trinity Schools, Inc. In an email response to questions, Mr. Balsbaugh did not address the Covid-19 cases but said the school has taken a series of precautions to protect students, their families, teachers and staff. The South Bend campus is one of three run by Trinity Schools.

More than 200 people attended the Rose Garden event, at which Mr. Trump formally announced Ms. Barrett’s nomination. Few wore masks or stayed six feet apart. Mr. Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, later tested positive for the virus. More than 20 people who were in contact with the president or attended White House or campaign events recently have tested positive.

Despite a stream of disclosures of new coronavirus infections linked to the White House, the administration has made little effort to investigate the scope and source of the outbreak. At his debate with Kamala Harris on Wednesday night, Vice President Mike Pence defended the Rose Garden event, saying that attendees were tested ahead of time and the ceremony was outdoors. It was preceded by an indoor reception where many of the attendees, including Judge Barrett and some of her children, mingled without wearing masks.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said: “It is disgusting that this publication, with no evidence, would insinuate that minor children spread Covid-19 after attending an event to celebrate their mother. The Barrett children should be off limits. Period.” He added, “The White House Medical Unit conducted contact tracing consistent with CDC guidelines and appropriate recommendations were made.”

A senior White House official said the Barretts kept their children home from school as soon as they learned that some attendees of the White House event had tested positive. The children have not experienced symptoms of infection, and they tested negative for the virus before they returned to the classroom, the official said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of talks with Republicans, “We want to continue the conversation.”
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

The White House moved aggressively on Friday to revive stimulus talks that President Trump had called off just days earlier, putting forward its largest offer for economic relief yet as administration officials and embattled Republican lawmakers scrambled to avoid being blamed by voters for failing to deliver needed aid ahead of the election.

The new proposal’s price tag of $1.8 trillion, which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin presented to Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a roughly 30-minute phone call, was nearly double the original offer the administration put forward when talks began in late summer.

It was the latest indication that the White House was eager to backtrack from Mr. Trump’s decision on Tuesday to abruptly halt negotiations, and it reflected a growing sense of dread both at the White House and among vulnerable Senate Republicans facing re-election about the political consequences of his actions. The offer also highlighted the deep and persistent divisions among Republicans — most of whom have balked at a large new federal infusion of pandemic aid — that have complicated the negotiations for months.

Now, with Mr. Trump pressing to “Go Big,” as he put it in a tweet on Friday, he has raised the prospect of pushing through a plan that his own party refuses to accept, giving Ms. Pelosi and Democrats fresh leverage to dictate the terms of any deal.

On Friday, she was continuing to hold out for more concessions. While Mr. Mnuchin’s latest offer “attempted to address some of the concerns Democrats have,” Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi, said it did not include an agreement on a national strategy for testing, tracing and other efforts to contain the spread of the virus, which the speaker has pushed for in recent weeks. “For this and other provisions, we are still awaiting language from the administration as negotiations on the overall funding amount continue.”

“I do hope we will have an agreement soon but, as you say, they keep changing,” Ms. Pelosi said on MSNBC. Referring to Mr. Trump’s tweets that temporarily ended the negotiations, she added that the president “got a terrible backlash from it, including in the stock market, which is what he cares about. And so then he started to come back little by little, and now a bigger package.”

Speaking on right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh’s show, Mr. Trump conceded that he had changed his position on approving additional coronavirus aid before Election Day, declaring “I would like to see a bigger stimulus package, frankly, than either the Democrats or Republicans are offering.” (Alyssa Farah, the White House communications director, later contradicted Mr. Trump’s assertion, telling reporters at the White House that the administration wanted a final package to remain below $2 trillion, which is less than the $2.2 trillion measure Ms. Pelosi pushed through the House this month.)

Such sums are deeply alarming to most Republicans, who are increasingly contemplating their party’s future after Mr. Trump departs the political scene and are determined to reclaim the mantle of the party of fiscal restraint. Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, warned Mr. Trump in a phone call this week that most Republican senators would not embrace a stimulus measure as large as Ms. Pelosi wanted, an assessment that appeared to play a role in the president’s decision to tweet an end to the talks.

Credit…Tony Karumba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The World Food Program, a United Nations agency, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, with the committee recognizing its efforts to combat a surge in hunger as the coronavirus pandemic has swept around the world with devastating impact.

So-called food scarcity was a problem before the pandemic, but it has been exacerbated, not by the illness itself, but by the measures taken to control it. With economies shut down, there is no work for people who were already struggling to keep food on the table. With schools closed, many children in developing countries are being forced to go to work to try to help pay for necessities like groceries.

In April, the World Food Program said that the number of people confronting potentially life-threatening levels of so-called food insecurity in the developing world was expected to nearly double this year, to 265 million.

Around the world, the number of children younger than 5 caught in a state of so-called wasting — their weight so far below normal that they face an elevated risk of death, along with long-term health problems — is likely to grow by nearly seven million this year, or 14 percent, according to a paper published in the medial journal The Lancet.

“We hear our children screaming in hunger, but there is nothing that we can do,” Halima Bibi, who lives in Afghanistan, told The New York Times earlier this year from a hospital in the capital city of Kabul, where her 6-year-old daughter was being treated for severe malnutrition. “That is not just our situation, but the reality for most of the families where we live.”

Many of the most vulnerable communities are places like South Asia and Africa, where there are military conflicts and extreme poverty. But even in the richest nations, where food is readily available, it may be out of reach for people who have been put out of work by the pandemic.

In the United States, “the pandemic has exposed the fragile nature of success for millions of Americans: material markers of outward stability, if not prosperity, but next to nothing to fall back on when times get tough,” The Times reporter Tim Arango wrote last month.

The World Food Program, which was established in 1961 after a proposal by President Dwight Eisenhower but does not operate in the United States, provided assistance to nearly 100 million people in 88 countries last year. And that was before the pandemic.

U.S. Roundup

A New York Times survey of more than 1,700 American colleges and universities — including every four-year public institution and every private college that competes in N.C.A.A. sports — has revealed more than 178,000 cases and at least 70 deaths since the pandemic began.

Most of the cases have been announced since students returned to campus for the fall term. Most of the deaths were reported in the spring and involved college employees, not students. But at least two students — Jamain Stephens, a football player at California University of Pennsylvania, and Chad Dorrill, a sophomore at Appalachian State — have died in recent weeks after contracting the virus.

At Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, where several students living off campus tested positive, officials moved most classes online and put in effect a broader testing regimen. At several colleges, including the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Kent State University, some residents of fraternities, sororities or dorms have been asked to quarantine after outbreaks. And at SUNY Cortland, administrators announced a two-week “study-in-place” period as case numbers spiked.

“I will not try to sugarcoat it: The next two weeks will be challenging,” the school’s president, Erik J. Bitterbaum, wrote in a letter to students and employees. “But it’s what we need to do in order to continue functioning as a campus and a concerned member of the Cortland community.”

In other news from around the country:

  • The Supreme Court on Friday announced that it would continue to hear arguments by phone for the rest of the year because of pandemic-driven health concerns. In a statement, the court said it would decide how cases will be heard next year based on health guidance. The court started to hold hearings via conference call in May and allowed the public to listen in for the first time.

  • The United States reported more than 56,000 new cases on Thursday, after weeks of seeing around 40,000 new cases a day since late August, according to a Times database. Public health experts have said they expect to see a rise in new cases as people spend more time indoors during the winter months.

  • Experts worried that Walt Disney World’s reopening in July was a “terrible idea” that was “inviting disaster.” But public health officials and Disney World’s unions say that, so far, Disney’s wide-ranging safety measures appear to be working — there have been no coronavirus outbreaks among workers or guests.

  • Seven states reported single-day records for new cases on Friday, including Indiana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and West Virginia. Officials in Wyoming reported 243 new cases, a single-day record significantly exceeding the previous record of 193 new cases reported Thursday. North Dakota reported 656 new cases, a single-day record much higher than the previous record of 527 new cases reported Thursday. And Montana reported 712 new cases, a single-day record significantly exceeding the previous record of 572 new cases reported Thursday.

  • Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming had its busiest September on record with about 837,000 visits, according to the National Park Service. The number of visitors was 21 percent than last year. The park was closed because of the coronavirus in late March, but three entrances in Montana and two in Wyoming reopened in June.

Credit…Regeneron, via Associated Press

By Katie Thomas and

Pharmaceutical companies often pay handsomely for celebrity endorsements, but President Trump’s promotion this week of an experimental drug as a “cure” for Covid-19 has added difficulties for the drug’s respected maker, Regeneron.

Although he couldn’t possibly have known whether Regeneron’s treatment had helped him — or even if he was out of the woods yet — Mr. Trump sang its praises in a video on Wednesday, calling the product “unbelievable” and suggesting it was only moments away from being authorized it for widespread use.

In doing so, Mr. Trump reminded his critics of the many times — from reopening schools to authorizing hydroxychloroquine and blood plasma — over the past nine months that he has inserted politics into the decisions of independent health agencies.

The biotech company, which within hours filed an application for emergency authorization, must now shepherd its antibody treatment through a politically fraught approval process, where the president’s endorsement has likely raised the profile of its product, but could also sow suspicion about whether it works.

Already, Regeneron is fielding messy questions about how its treatment was tested using cells originally derived from an aborted fetus — a line of research that Mr. Trump has opposed — and the president’s relationship with Regeneron’s chief executive, Dr. Leonard S. Schleifer, a billionaire who has been a member of Mr. Trump’s golf club in Westchester County.

The treatment involves giving patients monoclonal antibodies to help fight the virus. Eli Lilly is also working on a version of the treatment, and has asked the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization of its treatment.

Mr. Trump has further complicated the potential rollout of these treatments by pledging — first on Wednesday and again in another video Thursday — that hundreds of thousands of doses would soon be available. Regeneron said it would only initially have enough doses for 50,000 patients, with the plan to have enough for about 300,000 people by the end of the year.

“This is like a massive direct-to-consumer advertising campaign for a product where we have scarce supply and limited capacity to treat, which is a nightmare for companies in the industry,” said Geoffrey Porges, an analyst for SVB Leerink, an investment bank in Boston.

Four White House residence staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

Two additional White House residence staff members tested positive for the coronavirus in an outbreak first reported there nearly three weeks ago, two people with knowledge of the events said.

That brings the total number in that outbreak to four people, including three members of the housekeeping staff who work on the third floor of the residence, as well as an assistant to the chief usher, Timothy Harleth, the two people said.

None of those staff members typically come in direct contact with President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, but Mr. Harleth told a group of residence staff members roughly three weeks ago about the outbreak, urged them to “use discretion” and said that he had informed Mrs. Trump and Mr. Trump about the developments.

In another outbreak at the White House, several people who attended a White House event on Sept. 26 have since tested positive for the coronavirus, including the president and the first lady.

Residence staff members, who fall under the purview of the East Wing, which first lady Melania Trump oversees, have been wearing masks for months, as have aides to the first lady. They have also been tested daily, officials have said. The staff are among communities that can least afford to fall sick. They are predominantly people of color who earn modest wages.

But the president has been dismissive of mask-wearing among his staff, some of whom have said privately that they felt what amounted to peer pressure to avoid wearing them, because their presence bothered the president.

A spokeswoman for Mrs. Trump declined to comment, but has previously said the East Wing takes protecting the residence staff seriously. It is unclear whether Mr. Trump told his own advisers about the outbreak in the residence.

Sam Kass, an assistant chef and food policy adviser in President Barack Obama’s White House, said it would be unusual for such a thing to happen and the first couple not to be told.

“I have no direct knowledge whether the chief usher notified the president and first lady that there was a Covid-19 outbreak in the residence,” he said, “but I have zero doubt that he did, there is absolutely no way as the head of the house you don’t tell the first family of something as serious as that.”

Global Roundup

Medical workers at the SinoVac vaccine factory in Beijing, China.
Credit…Ng Han Guan/Associated Press

China said on Friday that it would join a multilateral effort to manufacture and distribute a coronavirus vaccine, portraying itself as a responsible global citizen dedicated to improving public health around the world.

The decision to join was “an important step China has taken to uphold the concept of a shared community of health for all and to honor its commitment to turn Covid-19 vaccines into a global public good,” Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the country’s Foreign Ministry, said in a statement.

The decision highlights how Beijing is positioning itself as an influential player in international diplomacy at a time when the United States has pulled back from its role as a global leader. Such moves could potentially help China push back against accusations that its ruling Communist Party should be held responsible for its initial missteps when the virus first emerged last year.

More than 160 countries have joined the international agreement known as Covax, which aims to ensure both rich and poor countries receive new coronavirus vaccines simultaneously.

The Trump administration said last month that it would not join Covax because it “will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China.”

For weeks, China, which has four vaccine candidates in late-stage clinical trials, had been reticent about whether it would participate in the group.

Ms. Hua said on Friday that the country had decided to join the vaccine agreement “even when China is leading the world with several vaccines in advanced stages of R&D and with ample production capacity.”

“We are taking this concrete step to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, especially to developing countries, and hope more capable countries will also join and support Covax,” she added.

In other news around the world:

  • Saeb Erekat, 65, the veteran Palestinian negotiator, announced on Twitter that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. Mr. Erekat had a lung transplant in 2017 that he said had compromised his immune system. He wrote that he was experiencing “difficult symptoms” but that “things are under control, thank God.”

  • The health authorities in Sri Lanka ordered the closure of bars, restaurants, casinos, nightclubs and spas as they worked to contain a growing cluster of new virus infections, The Associated Press reported. The country reported its first locally transmitted case in more than two months last weekend, which led to the discovery of a cluster centered in a garment factory in densely populated Western Province, home to the capital, Colombo. By Friday the number of cases linked to the cluster had climbed to 1,053, with more than 2,000 more people asked to quarantine at home. Sri Lanka has reported 4,488 cases of the virus, and 13 deaths.

  • Oman will reintroduce a nighttime ban on movement and enforce the overnight closure of shops and public places starting Sunday for two weeks to help contain the virus, Reuters reported. The country’s beaches will also be closed until further notice, state media said, reporting a decision from the supreme council in charge of coronavirus policy. Oman has recorded 104,129 virus and 1,009 deaths.

The Minskoff Theatre in Manhattan last month.
Credit…Daniel Arnold for The New York Times

Broadway is going to remain closed at least through next May 30, which is 444 days after all 41 theaters went dark in as part of New York’s effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

On Friday, the Broadway League, a trade organization representing producers and theater owners, announced that it was suspending all ticket sales through that date.

All Broadway theaters closed on March 12 as part of an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus by limiting large gatherings.

The continued shutdown means a delay for “The Music Man,” a lavish revival starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, which was initially scheduled to open next week, then chose an opening of next May 20, and will now have to try again, as well as for “MJ,” a Michael Jackson biomusical that had planned to open this summer, and then next spring, and now will have to reschedule.

When will Broadway actually reopen?

“That’s the question of the hour and the day and the month and the year, because we truly don’t know,” Charlotte St. Martin, the League’s president, said in an interview on Friday. “Certainly a lot of shows are making their plans, and some think we will open in the summer, and I hope they are right. But I think people’s bets are the fall of next year.”

A League statement suggested that producers imagine a staggered reopening, rather than all theaters opening at once. “Dates for each returning and new Broadway show will be announced as individual productions determine the performance schedules for their respective shows,” the statement explained.

Sports Roundup

<img alt="The coronavirus has changed the French Open for all players, including its 12-time champion Rafael Nadal.

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Credit…Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The 124th edition of the French Open was postponed four months by the pandemic and will end this weekend against the same backdrop, as infection rates rise quickly in France.

The controlled environment constructed by tournament officials to keep the participants safe is holding — but barely.

On Wednesday, the host country reported 18,746 new cases. That same day, the men’s No. 11 seed, David Goffin, who lost in the first round to Jannik Sinner, announced on Instagram that he had become the latest of a handful of participants to test positive for the virus.

The spike in infections in and around Paris led local government officials to place the city on maximum alert starting Tuesday, leading to the closure of all bars and gyms in the city. Restaurants have been allowed to stay open but with stricter health protocols, including social distancing, contact tracing and a closing time no later than 10 p.m.

“It’s hard to see these things unfold again after six months,” the men’s world No. 1 singles player, Novak Djokovic, said, alluding to the first lockdown, which lasted eight weeks in most of France. “It’s hard to believe that we’re going to go through that again.”

In other sports news:

  • For the second consecutive week, the N.F.L. has shuffled its schedule to accommodate teams that have had players and staff members who have tested positive for the coronavirus. The rescheduled games include one involving the Tennessee Titans, who have had the league’s worst outbreak, with nearly two dozen players, coaches and staff members testing positive.

Fans during an ice hockey match in Lausanne, Switzerland, last week.
Credit…Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Switzerland is experiencing a spike in new coronavirus cases, but instead of tightening controls, it is relaxing them.

Soccer enthusiasts celebrated a decision last weekend to allow mass gatherings of up to 1,000 people, the latest stage in the relaxation of a stringent lockdown imposed to halt the first wave of the pandemic.

Days later, even before the effects of mass gatherings could register, infections surged, with new cases pushing past 1,000 for the first time since March. Numbers have since continued to climb, stoking some alarm.

Still, health authorities in Geneva, which has the country’s highest caseload, said they see no reason to change course. The uptick “was totally predictable” after the relaxation of controls over the summer, said Professor Didier Pittet, the director of infection control at Geneva’s University Hospital, who is also helping review France’s response to the pandemic.

He said that hospital admissions and the number of people admitted to intensive care remained modest. Switzerland has recorded 60,368 cases and 1,794 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to a Times database, but its number of deaths per hundred thousand people is still lower than many of its European neighbors.

“In two weeks or so, if the clusters we investigate reveal that we have a problem with this kind of mass activity then we will have to act,” Dr. Pittet said. “We are not in a rush, but we are extremely vigilant.”

For some experts, that may be too late. The Swiss National Science Task Force advising federal authorities on its response to the pandemic opposed the return to mass gatherings.

Nicola Low, a professor of epidemiology and public health at Bern University, said that data on hospital admissions and deaths had nurtured a false sense of security.

“By the time we get higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths, we’ve already lost control,” Professor Low said. “We’ve already missed the boat for being able to control the virus.”

Dr. Pittet said that he remained confident that health authorities were getting the data they need for targeted interventions to keep the virus in check. Over the summer, Geneva linked 60 percent of new infections to the city’s discos and authorities shut them down, he noted. A month later, the data showed Geneva revelers had migrated to nearby discos in the neighboring canton of Vaud, so authorities shut them as well.

In Zurich, he noted, the authorities last week tracked a cluster of infections to salsa dance classes and promptly ordered them to stop.

“You can still go to tango classes,” he said, “but not salsa.”

Police officers inspecting travelers along Hungary’s border with Slovakia last month.
Credit…Gergely Besenyei/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

European Union countries are expected to adopt guidelines next week aimed at coordinating their varying coronavirus travel measures, according to E.U. officials and diplomats involved in the talks. But the effort will stop well short of a harmonization of rules, as countries try to keep control over how they tackle a resurgence of the disease.

The guidelines are intended to make travel restrictions, such as quarantine and testing rules, smoother and more predictable within the bloc. It would be a first step at restoring one of the union’s main tenets: the free movement of people within its territory.

Travel throughout the bloc, the world’s most integrated group of countries, has become increasingly difficult and complicated amid the pandemic. Each country has its own assessment of the situation in other states, its own rules on travel measures, and ever-changing testing and quarantine demands.

Representatives from the European Union’s 27 member states, together with officials from the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, have discussed for weeks how to use shared criteria in judging regional responses to the coronavirus.

Central to that would be the adoption of a single map using colors to denote the scale of outbreaks around the bloc: green at the low end of risk, orange in the middle and red at the high end.

Under the guidelines expected to be approved Tuesday by E.U. ministers, members will adopt a regional map drafted by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, rather than produce 27 individual ones.

Effectively, that will matter only when it comes to green zones, or regions within E.U. countries that pose low risk to travelers, officials said. They added that national authorities will still to be free to make their own determinations on orange and red zones, based on advice from their own experts.

Credit…Pool photo by Anna Moneymaker

The leader of the nation’s coronavirus testing efforts condemned Nevada’s health department on Friday for ordering nursing homes to discontinue certain kinds of government-issued rapid coronavirus tests, which the state had found to be inaccurate.

“Bottom line, the recommendations in the Nevada letter are unjustified and not scientifically valid,” Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary of Health and Human Services and a member of President Trump’s coronavirus task force, said in a call with reporters on Friday. The state’s actions, he said, could provoke unspecified “swift” action from the federal government if not reversed.

Nevada issued its directive last week in response to a rash of false positives from two types of rapid tests, used in the state’s nursing homes and manufactured by Quidel and Becton, Dickinson and Company. Both tests look for antigens, or bits of coronavirus proteins, and had been advertised as producing no false positives. But among a sample of 39 positive test results collected from nursing homes across the state, 23 turned out to be false positives.

“I would consider that to be a significant number of false positives,” said Omai Garner, a clinical microbiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Admiral Giroir contended that such rates of false positives are to be expected and are “actually an outstanding result.” No test is perfect, he said.

Should the state hold its ground, “there can be penalties from the federal side,” he said in an interview on Friday, but he declined to provide details. What Nevada has done is “illegal,” he said.

Nevada health officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Target employee, Adrian Decena, delivers a curbside pickup order to a customer in the Bronx.
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

For many retailers, curbside pickup at brick-and-mortar locations started as a coronavirus stopgap. Now, it is likely to have a permanent impact on the way people shop.

“Americans are used to their cars and actually do like stores, so this is kind of a hybrid where you’re getting the best of both worlds,” said Oliver Chen, a retail analyst at Cowen.

Curbside pickup allows certain big-box retailers to convert their stores into mini e-commerce fulfillment centers, while avoiding the money-losing step of shipping goods to homes. Target said its curbside sales grew more than 700 percent in the last quarter.

By driving to the store to pick up an online order, “the customer takes the last mile,” Mr. Chen said, referring to the typically expensive final step in package deliveries.

Walmart, with about 4,700 stores in the United States, was one of the earliest chains to offer curbside pickup, with a focus on groceries.

On a $100 curbside order, the labor costs of picking the groceries reduce Walmart’s profit by $1.50 while still leaving $3 in profit, estimated Edward Yruma, an e-commerce analyst at Keybanc. By comparison, Walmart loses money on its traditional e-commerce sales, in which customers order online and the products are shipped to their home, Mr. Yruma said.

Walmart now employs 74,000 workers across more than 3,000 stores to pick groceries on orders and then take them out to customers’ cars. Five years ago, there were fewer than 1,000 of those jobs.

But labor experts and Wall Street analysts also predict that the job of picking items off the shelf and taking them to a customer’s car can easily be done by machines. That means that the boom in jobs may be fleeting.

Credit…Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Miami-Dade Public Schools, the nation’s fourth-largest school system, completed its return to in-person classes on Friday, reporting that three students and one staff member tested positive for coronavirus this week. The cases were all at elementary schools, none of them at the same school.

The district is the biggest in the country to resume five-day-a-week classroom instruction. New York City, the nation’s largest district, has reopened for hybrid learning where students spend only a few days in class each week, while almost all other major city districts have chosen to remain all-remote.

Miami-Dade had planned to return students to classrooms next week, but moved up the schedule under pressure from Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican and close ally of President Trump who had mandated that all Florida schools reopen fully this fall. Broward County, the state’s last district to open for in-person instruction, welcomed back the first wave of students on Friday.

United Teachers of Dade, the teachers union, which had objected to speeding up the return to classroom instruction, expressed alarm over the reports of positive cases this week.

“We now find ourselves in complete fear and misery after only four days of a partial reopening, both parents and teachers alike,” Karla Hernandez-Mats, the union’s president, said in a statement. She referred to children as being mostly “silent carriers” of the virus and said that many teachers were still asking for disinfecting supplies.

About half of the district’s roughly 345,000 students have returned to school, while the other half opted to continue to learn remotely.

On Friday, Governor DeSantis said in a radio interview that closing schools in March had been “one of the biggest public health mistakes in modern American history” and called people who argue for school closures “the flat earthers of our day.”

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