Virus Kills More in New York Than 9/11 Did

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ImageA masked mini Statue of Liberty outside a Brooklyn home on Tuesday.
Credit…Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

While New York area officials are seeing hopeful signs in a slowing rate of new coronavirus infections, mortality figures — a lagging indicator — have continued to rise.

New York State, with a population of nearly 20 million, now has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than Italy, a nation of 60 million that was the first in Europe to be ravaged by the disease. And in New York City, where the total number of recorded fatalities surged to 4,009, the virus has claimed more lives than the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking on CNN on Wednesday morning, said that the toll did not include hundreds of people who have died in their homes.

“The blunt truth is coronavirus is driving these very tragic deaths,” he said. “We are talking about 100 to 200 people per day.”

“We never saw anything like this,” he said. “This is further evidence of just how destructive this disease is.”

Even without taking those deaths into account, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut all announced their highest daily death tolls this week, accounting for 1,034 of the 1,800 nationwide deaths.

The rising toll reflects the often considerable lag between the time people are infected and the day they die, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said. He also warned that the gains could quickly be undone if people stopped following social distancing protocols.

Like Italy within Europe, New York has had the misfortune of being the first place in the United States where the virus deeply seeded itself in the population. But a New York Times investigation also found that early missteps, including delays in closing schools and failing to break the chain of transmission within households, have proved costly.

President Trump, who initially played down the threat posed by the epidemic, has warned that Americans faced a week of death and sorrow. And it surely will not be the last, as the virus spreads rapidly in other parts of the country and many states have still not felt the pathogen’s full wrath.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said late Tuesday that the state had secured nearly 200 million masks a month for health care workers, an extraordinary number amid a global shortage of masks.

He also expressed optimism that lockdowns were “bending the curve” and slowing the spread of the virus, buying time for the state’s health care system as it works to treat patients.

“Let me give you a sense of optimism in terms of the curve in California bending: It is bending, but it’s also stretching,” Mr. Newsom said at a news conference.

The rate of people going to the hospital and needing intensive care had eased, he said.

“These are not the double-digit increases we were seeing in hospitalization rates or I.C.U. rates that we saw even a week or so ago,” he said, though he cautioned: “That’s not to suggest by any stretch of the imagination that we’ll continue to see these declines. It’s to only reinforce the importance of maintaining physical distancing and continuing our stay-at-home policy.”

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti stepped up precautions, ordering all residents to wear masks when visiting essential businesses starting Friday.

“Cover up, save a life — it’s that simple,” Mr. Garcetti said.

A spokesman for Mr. Newsom said the state would buy millions of new masks from overseas manufacturers in two separate deals with a California nonprofit and a California company. The spokesman did not disclose the names of the nonprofit of the company, or the price.

Demand for masks has far outstripped supply in recent weeks, driving some prices 10 times higher than before the pandemic. Mr. Newsom said the state had previously bought smaller numbers on a case-by-case basis but decided to pool its resources for bigger deals.

Democratic leaders said on Wednesday that they would push to double the size of a $250 billion emergency measure requested by the Trump administration this week for loans to distressed businesses, adding money for hospitals, states and food aid and insisting that half the loan money be channeled through community banks to help farmers, women, people of color and veterans.

The request could slow what the White House and Republican congressional leaders said they hoped would be quick passage by week’s end of an interim relief package to supplement the $2 trillion stimulus law enacted last month.

In a joint statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said they supported the administration’s request for an additional $250 billion for the small business loan program, but said that $125 billion of those funds should be directed to underserved businesses that might otherwise have trouble securing loans.

And they said they would push to add $100 billion for hospitals, community health centers and health systems — in part to shore up testing and the distribution of critical safety gear for health workers on the front lines — as well as $150 billion for state and local governments and a 15 percent increase in food assistance benefits.

In the statement, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer referred to the legislation as “interim emergency legislation” and said Congress should move after passing it to consider another economic relief package to “provide transformational relief as the American people weather this assault on their lives and livelihoods.”

Republicans had hoped to begin approving the quick infusion of funds as early as Thursday during a procedural session in the Senate without the entire chamber present.

After weeks of drama that included President Trump’s unproven accusation that General Motors was trying to “rip off” the United States, the Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday that the carmaker would provide 30,000 ventilators to the nation’s stockpile for $489 million by the end of August.

The first batch — 6,132 of the machines — will be delivered by June 1, after most of the peak demand is expected to have passed from the first wave of coronavirus cases at hospitals. But even that initial number amounts to roughly two-thirds of what is now believed to be left in the stockpile after thousands of ventilators were sent to New York and other hard-hit cities.

In an early-morning statement, the secretary of health and human services, Alex M. Azar II, said the contract would be among the first during the crisis issued under the Defense Production Act, a Korean War-era law that essentially allows the United States to assure that it is the first customer in line — and that it can control the price it is being charged.

“By rating contracts under the D.P.A., H.H.S. is helping manufacturers like G.M. get the supplies they need to produce ventilators as quickly as possible, while also ensuring that these ventilators are routed through the Strategic National Stockpile to where they’re needed most,” Mr. Azar said in a statement, clearly trying to patch up the president’s dispute with the company.

The formal contract comes two weeks after the White House pulled back from announcing what was intended to be a $1 billion contract for upwards of 80,000 ventilators. When Mr. Trump saw a news story about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision to pull back from that announcement, he accused the company of “wasting time.” He also attacked Mary T. Barra, the company’s chief executive, with whom he had clashed last year over the closure of a G.M. facility.

But Mr. Trump was essentially ordering the company to do what it had already announced it was doing, even in the absence of a contract. The Defense Production Act may help it secure supplies, and it makes clear that the ventilators will be routed through the federal government, at a moment that states are bidding against each other to secure ventilators and other equipment in short supply.



Trump Attacks W.H.O.; Threatens to Pull Funding

President Trump lashed out at the World Health Organization, saying he may withhold U.S. funding from it in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The W.H.O., that’s the World Health Organization, receives vast amounts of money from the United States. And we pay for a majority, the biggest portion of their money. And they actually criticized and disagreed with my travel ban at the time I did it. And they were wrong. They’ve been wrong about a lot of things. They had a lot of information early and they didn’t want to, they’re very, they seem to be very China-centric. We’re going to put a hold on money spent to the W.H.O. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it. And we’re going to see. It’s a great thing if it works. But when they call every shot wrong, that’s no good.” Reporter: “Is the time to freeze funding to the W.H.O. during a pandemic?” “No, maybe not. I mean, I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but we’re going to look at it.” Reporter: “You did say that.” “No, I didn’t. I said we’re going to look at it. We’re going to investigate it, we’re going to look at it. But we will look at ending funding. Yeah, because you know what, they called it wrong. And if you look back over the years even, they’re very much, everything seems to be very biased toward China.”

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President Trump lashed out at the World Health Organization, saying he may withhold U.S. funding from it in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump on Tuesday sidelined the top watchdog in charge of monitoring how the administration spends $2 trillion in virus relief, replacing him with a different federal official in a move that Democrats labeled “corrupt.”

The official, Glenn A. Fine, has been the acting inspector general for the Defense Department since before Mr. Trump took office and was set to become the chairman of a new Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to monitor how the government carries out the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. But Mr. Trump replaced Mr. Fine in his Pentagon job, disqualifying him from serving on the new oversight panel.

Critics said the move sent a message to government watchdogs to tread softly. “I cannot see how any inspector general will feel in any way safe to do a good job,” said Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit group. “They are all at the mercy at what the president feels.”

Mr. Trump also threatened to cut funding from the World Health Organization, accusing it of not being aggressive enough in confronting the dangers from the virus.

“We’re going to put a hold on money spent to the W.H.O.,” Mr. Trump said during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House. “We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it and we’re going to see.”

In effect, Mr. Trump sought to denounce the W.H.O. for the very criticisms that have been leveled at him and his administration. Public health experts have said that the president’s public denials of the virus’s dangers slowed the American response, which included delayed testing and a failure to stockpile protective gear.

In fact, the W.H.O. sounded the alarm in the earliest days of the crisis, declaring a “public health emergency of international concern” a day before the United States secretary of health and human services announced the country’s own public health emergency and weeks before Mr. Trump declared a national emergency.

After saying that the United States would “put a hold” on the organization’s money, the president later denied having made those remarks and appeared to back down. “I’m not saying that I’m going to do it, but we’re going to look at it,” he said.

New York City and the surrounding suburbs have become the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, with far more cases than many countries have. More than 138,000 people in the state have tested positive for the virus, with nearly all of them in the city and nearby suburbs.

On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that 731 more people had died of the virus, the state’s highest one-day total. The overall death toll in the state is 5,489.

Epidemiologists have pointed to New York City’s density and its role as an international hub of commerce and tourism to explain why the coronavirus has spread so rapidly there. And it seems unlikely that any response by the state or city could have fully stopped the pandemic.

State and city officials were hampered by a chaotic federal response from the onset, including significant problems with the expansion of coronavirus testing, which made it far harder to gauge the scope of the outbreak.

Normally, New York would get help from Washington, as it did after the Sept. 11 attacks. But President Trump in February and early March minimized the coronavirus threat and declined to marshal the might of the federal government when cases emerged in the United States.

The initial efforts by New York officials to stem the outbreak were also hampered by their own confused guidance, unheeded warnings and political infighting, a New York Times investigation found.

You’ve been cleaning your home and washing your hands all these years, and probably never stopped to consider whether you were doing it effectively. But time matters when it comes to fully disinfecting your household surfaces and your skin.

In the case of some disinfectants, it can take up to 10 minutes for them to fully work. As for your hands? Scrubbing for a full 20 seconds is the way to go.

Last month, Dr. Bertha Mayorquin, a New Jersey physician, told her soon-to-be ex-husband that there was a change in plans. After two weeks of providing treatment by video as a precaution against the coronavirus, she would resume seeing patients in person.

But when she left work on a Friday to pick up her two daughters for the weekend, her husband presented her with a court order granting him sole temporary custody of the girls. His lawyer had convinced a judge that Dr. Mayorquin could expose the children, 11 and 8, to Covid-19.

The doctor, an internist, had intended to spend the weekend celebrating her younger daughter’s birthday. Instead, she spent it assembling 50 pages of paperwork to try to reverse the order.

“Many people working in the hospitals — doctors, nurses, so many of us — are parents,” said Dr. Mayorquin, whose hospital had asked her to starting treat non-coronavirus patients at an urgent care center to ease the burden of the pandemic. “Are our children going to be taken away from us because we are on the front lines helping people?”

That question is arising across the United States as a growing number of parents have begun withholding access to their children from former spouses or partners over fears of infection, according to families, lawyers and judges.

For health care and other essential workers, some say they shouldn’t be punished for doing crucial services. Their counterparts say that the jobs pose too great a risk to other family members.

John Prine, the raspy-voiced country-folk singer whose ingenious lyrics to songs by turns poignant, angry and comic made him a favorite of Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson and others, died on Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn. He was 73.

The cause was complications from Covid-19, his family said.

Mr. Prine was a relative unknown in 1970 when Mr. Kristofferson heard him play one night at a small Chicago club called the Fifth Peg, dragged there by the singer-songwriter Steve Goodman. Mr. Kristofferson was performing in Chicago at the time at the Quiet Knight.

At the Fifth Peg, Mr. Prine treated him to a brief after-hours performance of material that, Mr. Kristofferson later wrote, “was unlike anything I’d heard before.”

His debut album, called simply “John Prine” and released in 1971, included songs that became his signatures. Some gained wider fame after being recorded by other artists.

Read the full obituary here.

The federal stimulus bills enacted in March, including a $2 trillion economic relief plan, offer help for the millions of American small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Cash grants. Low-interest loans. Payments to offset some payroll costs for businesses that keep or rehire workers. There are also enhancements to unemployment insurance and paid leave.

Here are the answers to common questions about these programs. And we will update this article as we learn more about the details.

More information on help, including details on the stimulus checks that many people will be receiving, can be found in our F.A.Q. for individuals about stimulus relief and our Hub for Help. If you have questions, or have applied for small business aid and can tell us how the process went, we’d love to hear from you.

By the middle of March, northern Italy had become the epicenter of a pandemic. The coronavirus had infected tens of thousands of people in Italy, devastating the country with Europe’s oldest population. In the region of Lombardy, where the virus first exploded in the West, a wealthy and advanced health care system had suddenly become a war zone.

Hospitals expanded intensive-care capacity, lined entire wards with ventilators and crowded corridors with oxygen tanks and beds. The doctors, nurses, paramedics and volunteers had little choice but to soldier through day and night with little rest.

Quarantined at home, Italy’s civilians took notice. They applauded from their balconies and shared on the web photos of nurses collapsed at a desk or bearing the bruises of tight masks.

Those images reached the photographer Andrea Frazzetta in the Milan apartment where he was sheltering in place with his wife and their 4-year-old son, who had recovered from pneumonia several months earlier.

And looking at the selfies of those bruised nurses, Mr. Frazzetta decided to document the historic struggle unfolding around him.

With security workers sheltering at home, police forces stretched thin and cavernous exhibition halls left empty, museums are working to figure out how to contend with the possibility of enhanced security risks.

“The risk is serious,” said Steve Keller, a museum security consultant who has worked with the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Institution and others. “Thieves might think the museums are in a weakened condition, and that increases the threat.”

Last week burglars broke into a small museum in the Netherlands that had closed because of the coronavirus and absconded with an early van Gogh painting. Police officers responding to the museum’s alarm found a shattered glass door and a bare spot on the wall where the painting had been.

Two weeks earlier, a gallery at the University of Oxford, also closed by the virus, lost three 16th- and 17th-century paintings, including “A Soldier on Horseback” by the Flemish artist Anthony van Dyck, to thieves.

Museums have not discussed their security measures or concerns, except to say that standard safeguards are in place.

For the duration of the pandemic, Mr. Keller said, museums should operate in permanent “night mode,” relying on security measures that are generally in place when institutions close for the evening.

Reporting was contributed by Jack Nicas, Stacy Cowley, Colin Moynihan, J. David Goodman, David E. Sanger, Emily Cochrane, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Megan Twohey, Marc Santora, Dan Levin, Matt Stevens, Charlie Savage, Peter Baker, William Grimes, Lisa Friedman, Julia Echikson and Patricia Mazzei.

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