‘It’s always going to be with us’: How the world is learning to live with the pandemic.
China is testing restaurant workers and delivery drivers block by block. South Korea tells people to carry two types of masks for differing risky social situations. Germany requires communities to crack down when the number of infections hits certain thresholds.
Around the world, governments that appeared to have tamed the coronavirus are adjusting to the reality that the disease is here to stay. But in a shift away from damaging nationwide lockdowns, they are looking for targeted ways to find and stop outbreaks before they become third or fourth waves.
While the details differ, the strategies call for flexibility or for tightening or easing regulations as needed. They require some mix of intensive testing and monitoring, lightning-fast response times by the authorities, tight border management and constant reminders to their citizens of the dangers of frequent human contact.
The strategies often force central governments and local officials to share data and to work closely together, overcoming incompatible computer systems, turf battles and other longstanding bureaucratic rivalries. Already, in Britain, some local officials say their efforts are not coordinated enough.
The shifting strategies are an acknowledgment that even the most successful countries cannot declare victory until a vaccine is found. They also show the challenge facing countries like the United States, Brazil and India, where the authorities never fully contained initial outbreaks and from where the coronavirus will continue to threaten to spread.
“It’s always going to be with us,” said Dr. Simon James Thornley, an epidemiologist from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. “I don’t think we can eliminate the virus long term. We are going to need to learn to live with the virus.”
Even in places where the coronavirus appeared to be under control, big outbreaks remain a major risk. In Tokyo, there have been 253 new infections in the past week, 83 from a nightlife district. In Gütersloh, in western Germany, more than 1,500 workers from a meat processing plant tested positive, prompting the authorities to shut down the district. South Korea has announced dozens of new infections in recent days.
In other news from around the world:
Saudi Arabia effectively canceled the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, for what some scholars say may be the first time in history. The decision sent shock waves of sadness and disappointment across the Muslim world.
European Union countries are prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the virus, according to draft lists of acceptable travelers reviewed by The New York Times. Travelers from the United States and the rest of the world had already been excluded from visiting the European Union since mid-March, but a final decision on reopening the borders is expected early next week, before the bloc reopens on July 1.
The virus is gaining steam in Latin America, where the number of deaths have more than doubled in a month, according to the Pan American Health Organization. The region now accounts for several of the world’s worst outbreaks.
India is under pressure to open its airspace to international airlines after the United States and some European nations accused the Asian nation of discriminatory practices under the guise of “repatriations.” The U.S. Department of Transportation accused Air India of selling tickets in the open market, even while New Delhi officials keep American carriers from flying to India.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said on Wednesday that he was considering relocating City Hall next year to save money amid the financial emergency prompted by the pandemic. A move to East London from the center of the British capital would save about 55 million pounds, or around $68 million, over five years, Mr. Khan said.
Citing the pandemic, the Walt Disney Company has decided to close Disney English, a 12-year-old chain of 25 language schools in China, ending a once-promising business that, at times, prompted questions about education as brand building.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. has taken a commanding lead over President Trump in the 2020 race, building a wide advantage among women and nonwhite voters and making deep inroads with some traditionally Republican-leaning groups that have shifted away from Mr. Trump following his ineffective response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new national poll of registered voters by The New York Times and Siena College.
Mr. Biden is currently ahead of Mr. Trump by 14 percentage points, garnering 50 percent of the vote compared with 36 percent for Mr. Trump. That is among the most dismal showings of Mr. Trump’s presidency, and a sign that he is the clear underdog right now in his fight for a second term.
Nearly three-fifths of voters disapprove of Mr. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including majorities of white voters and men. Self-described moderate voters disapproved of Mr. Trump on the coronavirus by a margin of more than two to one.
Most of the country is also rejecting Mr. Trump’s call to reopen the economy as quickly as possible, even at the cost of exposing people to greater health risks. By a 21-point margin, voters said the federal government should prioritize containing the coronavirus, even if it hurts the economy, a view that aligns them with Mr. Biden.
Just a third of voters said the government should focus on restarting the economy even if that entails greater public-health risks.
As the pandemic hits more impoverished countries with fragile health care systems, global health authorities are scrambling for supplies to deliver a simple treatment that saves lives: oxygen.
Many patients severely ill with Covid-19 require help with breathing at some point. But now the virus is spreading rapidly in South Asia, Latin America and parts of Africa, where many hospitals are poorly equipped. They lack the ventilators, tanks and other equipment necessary to save patients whose lungs are failing.
The World Health Organization hopes to raise $250 million to increase supplies of oxygen in those regions.
In 2017, the W.H.O., UNICEF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation began searching for ways to increase oxygen delivery in poor and middle-income countries — not in anticipation of a pandemic but to treat children with pneumonia.
The organizations began ordering equipment in January, but suppliers were soon swamped by the sudden surge in demand created by the pandemic.
Although the machinery needed to generate oxygen is relatively simple, it must be sturdy enough to withstand the dust, humidity and other hazards common in rural hospitals in poor countries.
In May, the Alliance for International Medical Action treated 123 Covid-19 patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo, said Dr. Baweye Mayoum Barka, the charity’s representative in Kinshasa. Fifty-six of them needed oxygen, but not enough equipment was available.
“So, unfortunately, there were 26 deaths, 70 percent of them in less than 24 hours,” Dr. Barka said.
Soaring cases of the coronavirus are forcing cities and states across the country to suspend plans to restart their economies and even reimpose earlier limits on public life, increasing worries that premature reopenings could lead to a second round of closures.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott urged residents to stay home and said that many people in the state had not grasped the magnitude of the deadly outbreak, as it reported another daily record with more than 5,000 new cases.
In California, where Yosemite National Park on Tuesday canceled campsite reservations less than two weeks after reopening, Gov. Gavin Newsom moved closer to gaining the authority to withhold funding from counties that did not follow state orders aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.
And in Washington State, which has seen a slight rebound from the virus, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that he would order everyone to wear a mask in all outdoor and indoor public spaces when six-foot social distancing is not possible.
With the number of new daily cases now rising in more than half of the United States, the debate over whether to reimpose restrictions or push ahead with reopening is creating divides between neighboring cities and states that mirror the scattershot responses that emerged as the country went into lockdown this year.
“There’s very little appetite among the American public to go backwards,” said Michael Mina, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “As reopenings started, there were no plans for what would constitute a red flag to close things down. People just said, ‘We’re reopening, everything’s fine, let’s move ahead.’”
In more news from around the United States:
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci told Congress on Tuesday that he was seeing a “disturbing surge” of infections in some parts of the country, as Americans ignore social-distancing guidelines and states reopen. “The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges that we are seeing in Florida, in Texas, in Arizona and other states,” said Dr. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
More than two million pounds of in-shell peanuts are consumed during a typical baseball season. Now, vast quantities are languishing in cold storage, waiting — like the fans — for an opening day at the stadium that is unlikely to come.
Major League Baseball appears on track to begin a 60-game season in July, but there will be no one in the stands to shell out $4 or $5 for a bag of peanuts.
The pandemic shut down the season before it even started. Teams postponed or canceled orders. Farmers, who had harvested peanuts for the 2020 season in October, had already shipped them to the roasters and been paid.
Now, the race is on to figure out what to do with all those peanuts — and not just any peanuts. Only a certain type bred for the proper size and look makes the cut for the ballpark trade: the Virginia.
There’s always peanut butter, but it doesn’t make sense to dump Virginias into the grinder. Because they cost more to produce, they need to sell at a premium for the economics to work.
Answering your questions about the virus.
With cases on the rise in the United States and around the world, here’s what to do if you feel sick and are worried it may be the coronavirus.
Reporting was contributed by Azam Ahmed, Brooks Barnes, Emma Bubola, Alexander Burns, Jack Healy, Ben Hubbard, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Ernesto Londoño, Iliana Magra, Jonathan Martin, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Jesse McKinley, Donald McNeil Jr., Benjamin Mueller, Daniel Politi, Dana Rubinstein, Kim Severson, Mitch Smith, Matt Stevens, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Declan Walsh, Sui-Lee Wee, Noah Weiland and Sameer Yasir.