18 states set single-day case records over the last week, driving the U.S. toward another national high.
California. South Carolina. North Dakota, Kentucky. Hawaii. Those are among the 18 states that set single-day case records in the last week, putting the country on track to breaking a national single-day record for new coronavirus cases set less than two weeks ago.
More than 73,500 cases were reported on Friday, according to a New York Times database, approaching the country’s record of 75,697 cases, set on July 16. Since June 24, the seven-day average has more than doubled, to more than 66,100 on Friday from 31,402.
The other states with rapidly growing caseloads are Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah and West Virginia. A 19th state, Louisiana, also set a record, but because it reported a backlog of cases on Monday. A total of 40 states have seen 14-day increases in cases per capita.
As the number of cases has continued to climb, so has the number of hospitalizations, which dipped briefly below 28,000 in mid-June but is now skirting its own April record. Deaths are also rising: Friday was the fourth consecutive day with more than 1,100 reported U.S. deaths, which are trending upward in 30 states. On Saturday, South Carolina announced 80 new deaths, a single-day record.
On Friday, the number of people known to be hospitalized with the coronavirus in the country was 59,670, according to the Covid Tracking Project, a few hundred short of the record of 59,940 reported by the database on April 15.
A surge in Starr County, a rural, impoverished area in South Texas, near the border with Mexico, offers a grim example of the type of hospital crisis looming. The county’s infection rate of about 2,350 per 100,000 people is far higher than in more populous parts of Texas, including Houston. The county’s single hospital cannot handle the crush of Covid patients, and ethics committees have been formed to help determine which patients should be treated and which should be sent home to die.
Pentagon officials have dispatched Army and Navy personnel to the Starr County hospital and other medical centers in border cities to provide support, and state and federal officials have sent morgue trailers, ventilators, testing teams and surgical masks to the Rio Grande Valley.
Very rare genetic defects that weaken the immune system may have played havoc in the four patients — two sets of brothers ages 21 to 32 from unrelated families in the Netherlands. All, previously in good health, were admitted to intensive care units between March 23 and April 25. One, age 29, died.
Genetic analyses of the patients and their families identified flaws in a gene that enables cells to make molecules called interferons, which stir the immune system to fight off viruses. Without this line of defense, the researchers speculated, the patients struggled to fight the infection.
These genetic defects they were found to have are too rare to account for many other inexplicably severe cases of Covid-19, the researchers said, but the findings point to the possibility that other genetic variations may also influence susceptibility.
The findings also offer hints about why men in general may be more vulnerable than women to severe cases of Covid-19.
The gene that was flawed in the four young men in the study is located on the X chromosome. Men have one copy of that chromosome, while women have two — and if one X in a woman carries the gene defect, her other X may have a normal form of the gene, enabling the creation of enough interferons to stay healthy.
Having two copies of the normal gene — as most women do — may also give them an advantage over men.
The Amazon River is South America’s essential life source, the central artery in a vast network of tributaries that sustains some 30 million people across eight countries, moving supplies, people and industry deep into forested regions often untouched by road.
But once again, in a painful echo of history, it is also bringing disease.
The pandemic has overwhelmed Brazil, with more than two million infections and more than 84,000 deaths, an outbreak second only to the United States in severity. The six Brazilian cities with the highest coronavirus exposure are all on the Amazon River, according to an expansive new study from Brazilian researchers that measured antibodies in the population.
A Times photographer traveled the river for weeks, documenting how the virus has spread so quickly and thoroughly along the river that in remote fishing and farming communities like Tefé, people have been as likely to get the virus as in New York City, home to one of the world’s worst outbreaks.
“It was all very fast,” said Isabel Delgado, 34, whose father, Felicindo, died of the virus shortly after falling ill in the small city of Coari.
In the past four months, as the epidemic traveled from the biggest city in the Brazilian Amazon, Manaus, with its high-rises and factories, to tiny, seemingly isolated villages deep in the interior, the fragile health care system has buckled under the onslaught.
Cities and towns along the river have some of the highest deaths per capita in the country — often several times the national average.
The virus is exacting an especially high toll on Indigenous people, in a parallel to the past. Since the 1500s, waves of explorers have traveled the river, seeking gold, land and converts — and later, rubber, a resource that helped fuel the Industrial Revolution. But with them, these outsiders brought violence and diseases like smallpox and measles, killing millions and wiping out entire communities.
“This is a place that has generated so much wealth for others,” said Charles C. Mann, a journalist who has written extensively on the history of the Americas, “and look at what’s happening to it.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said Friday that a robust testing regimen would begin for state nursing home surveyors, after a Los Angeles Times investigation revealed that they were not required to be tested for the coronavirus before inspecting facilities — meaning they could have been introducing infections into settings that house some of the most vulnerable populations.
More than 40 percent of U.S. deaths have been connected to such facilities, according to a New York Times database. In California, the percentage is even higher, accounting for at least 45 percent of deaths.
California will now require nursing home inspectors to meet the same state criteria required of nursing home employees, Mr. Newsom said at a news conference. “We’re raising our standards,” he said. Nursing homes in California are required to test 25 percent of their staff every seven days.
Dr. Michael Wasserman, the medical director of the Eisenberg Village nursing home in Reseda and president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine, said that he had not known that inspectors weren’t required to be tested until he learned of the Los Angeles Times investigation.
“When I heard that state surveyors were not being tested, I was shocked,” Dr. Wasserman said.
He contacted the California Department of Public Health to inquire why the requirement had not already been in place, and said an official responded that while most staff members did get tested, the department could not legally mandate it without legislation.
“How in the world can you be telling nursing homes that they need to be testing all of their staff and you’re not testing your inspectors?” Dr. Wasserman said in an interview.
He said that he also believes that the number of deaths related to care facilities could be far higher than the current known level of 59,000. In conversations with nursing homes around the country, he said, he had learned of many more nursing home deaths — especially in March and April — from what was most likely the virus, though those patients were never tested or formally diagnosed.
Corporate insiders pocket fortunes in the rush for a vaccine.
A small California company called Vaxart made a surprise announcement last month: A coronavirus vaccine it was working on had been selected by the U.S. government to be part of Operation Warp Speed, the flagship federal initiative to quickly develop drugs to combat Covid-19.
Vaxart’s shares soared. Company insiders, who weeks earlier had received stock options worth a few million dollars, saw the value of those awards increase sixfold. And a hedge fund that partly controlled the company walked away with more than $200 million in instant profits.
In the race to develop a vaccine, some companies and investors are betting that the winners stand to earn vast profits from selling hundreds of millions — or even billions — of doses to a desperate public.
Across the pharmaceutical and medical industries, senior executives and board members are capitalizing on that dynamic.
They are making millions of dollars after announcing positive developments, including support from the government, in their efforts to fight Covid-19. After such announcements, insiders from at least 11 companies — most of them smaller firms whose fortunes often hinge on the success or failure of a single drug — have sold shares worth well over $1 billion since March, according to figures compiled for The New York Times by Equilar, a data provider.
In some cases, company insiders are profiting from regularly scheduled compensation or automatic stock trades. But in other situations, senior officials appear to be pouncing on opportunities to cash out while prices are sky high. And some companies have awarded stock options to executives shortly before announcements about vaccine progress.
The sudden windfalls highlight the powerful financial incentives for company officials to generate positive headlines in the race for coronavirus vaccines and treatments, even if the drugs might never pan out.
Piracy has sharply increased in Asia, raising questions about how the pandemic is shifting crime.
Armed attacks against ships have nearly doubled in Asia so far this year, according to a report by a 20-nation network that works to prevent piracy in the region.
The study noted 51 incidents of piracy, referring to attacks in international waters, or armed robbery, meaning attacks in national waters, between January and June, compared with 28 in the same period in 2019. Of those, 16 occurred in the Singapore Strait, a busy traffic hub where vessels appeared to be especially vulnerable.
The findings, from the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, document the latest challenge for some countries in Asia already struggling to combat the pandemic at home. India, Bangladesh and the Philippines, where the number of incidents increased this year, have faced recent hurdles in their coronavirus response as cases continue to pile up across the continent.
The report also adds to emerging questions about how crime rates have shifted in general as countries deal with the fallout from the pandemic and the resulting economic downturn.
While some crime fell as lockdowns around the world kept people indoors, some criminal activity has increased. Many of the largest cities in the United States have recorded staggering increases in murders during the first half of this year, even as other violent crimes have fallen. Murder rates have spiked in cities like Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, and the White House has sent federal agents to some of them to work with local authorities to confront the rise in shootings and other violence.
Cybercrime appears to be more common. For instance, scammers have siphoned off billions of dollars in unemployment claims in the United States. And reports of domestic abuse have risen around the world, including in Britain, Spain, France, Mexico and China.
In other news from around the globe:
Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, wrote on Facebook that he had tested negative for the coronavirus, posting a photo of himself holding what The Associated Press identified as a packet of hydroxychloroquine, the antimalarial drug he and President Trump have championed despite evidence that it does not help Covid-19 patients and may harm some. On July 7, he revealed that he had tested positive.
South Korea, another country hailed as a virus success story, reported 113 new infections on Saturday — its highest daily total since March, and its first over 100 since April. But the new cases included 36 South Korean construction workers who had returned from Iraq, and 32 Russian sailors from a fishing vessel docked for repair.
Vietnam, which had gone 100 days without reporting a case of local transmission of the coronavirus, said on Saturday that a 57-year-old grandfather in the central city of Danang had tested positive. Officials said they had tested and quarantined people who had been in close contact with the patient and were tracing others without finding the source.
Afghanistan’s minister of public health has urged Afghans to stay in their homes next week during Eid al-Adha, one of the biggest holidays of the Islamic calendar, to avoid risking a resurgence of the virus. Celebrations for a previous holiday — Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan and its month of fasting — had spread the virus, the minister warned.
Indoor gyms and leisure centers in England were permitted to reopen on Saturday as the British government continued a planned gradual exit from lockdown. Britain has recorded more than 45,000 coronavirus deaths, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has previously strongly defended his government’s approach, told a BBC interviewer on Friday that there were “very open questions” about whether the country had locked down too late.
As Spain struggles with hundreds of local outbreaks, particularly in the northeast of the country, it is also facing renewed travel restrictions imposed by fellow European countries, which could further cripple the tourism sector that is a cornerstone of its economy.
The Czech Republic reimposed some virus restrictions on Saturday, according to the news agency Reuters, including a face-mask mandate at indoor events with over 100 people, as its daily number of confirmed cases surpassed 150 in the last five days and Prague was trying to contain an outbreak from a nightclub.
A hurricane bearing down on southern Texas on Saturday morning has begun bringing harsh winds and rain to Corpus Christi and the surrounding area, where officials are already struggling to contain the coronavirus.
Powerful winds from Hanna, which has strengthened from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane, started to thrash Texas’ coast on Saturday. By early afternoon the National Weather Service warned that the storm had strengthened and winds near the storm’s center had approached 90 m.p.h. Forecasters were just as worried about a barrage of rainfall, and even potential tornadoes.
The National Hurricane Center issued a warning for a more than 100-mile-long stretch of the coast, from the mouth of the Rio Grande north to High Island. In areas surrounding Corpus Christi, the warning predicted peak storm surges of 4-6 feet as rising waters move inland.
The new threat comes as coronavirus cases have been rising in several counties in the path of the hurricane, the first of the Atlantic season. In Nueces County, which includes Corpus Christi and is home to about 362,000 people, the number of virus cases and deaths reported each day has trended upward in recent weeks, fueled in part by visitors who flocked to the beach city because of its low case count.
About 10,000 people in Nueces County have been infected with the virus; more than a fifth of those cases were reported in the past week. At least 124 people have died in the county.
In other virus-related news around the country:
Gov. Eric Holcomb of Indiana signed an executive order this week requiring residents to wear face coverings beginning Monday after the state recorded a new high of more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday. Indianapolis in particular is seeing an upward trend in infection, its mayor, Joe Hogsett, said, with transmission occurring mostly indoors at places like gyms and bars.
In Arizona, where some closures but no full lockdown was imposed when cases exploded in June, the number of patients hospitalized with the virus is starting to decline. “In some ways, it is like a large-scale version of a clinical trial,” said Dr. Tom Inglesby, the director of the Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Arizona is one of the states involved and is going through crisis and now is taking a certain set of interventions, and we are seeing if those interventions work.”
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that people with mild Covid-19 cases — including young adults with no underlying conditions — can suffer symptoms that linger for weeks. A telephone survey of nearly 300 adults who tested positive but were not hospitalized showed that more than a third were still suffering symptoms two to three weeks later, including fatigue, cough and shortness of breath.
Trump officials meet on Capitol Hill, hoping to resolve party disputes on a pandemic relief proposal.
Top Trump administration officials returned to Capitol Hill on Saturday trying to iron out the details of the Republicans’ $1 trillion proposal for coronavirus relief, after a week largely consumed with intraparty disagreements over what should be in the package.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, huddled with aides to Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, who plans to introduce his party’s proposal on Monday. Mr. McConnell was in his home state of Kentucky, where he is running for re-election.
“We have a fundamental understanding, and we just want to make sure all the paperwork is ready and finished so it can be introduced on Monday,” Mr. Mnuchin told reporters on Capitol Hill.
The rare Saturday visit from top administration officials underscored Republicans’ predicament. They had hoped to unveil a unified proposal this week to serve as their bargaining position in negotiations with Democrats. But they were stymied by disagreements on a range of issues, like a payroll tax cut — which the White House ultimately agreed to abandon for this relief package — and changes to a federal program providing enhanced unemployment benefits. That program, established as part of the $2.2 trillion stimulus law in March, expires next week and is now almost certain to lapse, throwing millions of Americans relying on the checks into limbo.
Senate Republicans and the White House are still haggling over how to scale back the current $600-a-week expanded benefit, which most Republicans view as too generous.
The alternatives under consideration include lowering the weekly payment for two months, and then setting the size of payments after that to a percentage of a worker’s previous income.
“We’re not going to use taxpayer money to pay people more to stay home,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “So we’re going to transition to a U.I. system that is based on wage replacement.”
But the National Association of State Workforce Agencies warned Capitol Hill this week that such a significant change to the current program was likely to take months for states to enact, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.
In New York City, where gyms are still closed and Netflix is the safest evening entertainment, the phenomenon of stay-at-home weight gain — playfully called the Quarantine 15 by some — has brought an unexpected windfall for some tailors. Some say they have seen business rise by as much as 80 percent, with customers asking for buttons to be moved, waistbands lengthened and jackets made more roomy.
Business was bleak at Woodside Tailor Shop in Queens during the long months of pandemic lockdown. There was no need for party dress alterations, or any pressure for slacks to be hemmed.
But things started picking back up in June, with one particular service in sudden demand: People needed a bit more breathing room in their clothing.
“Everybody got fat!” said Porfirio Arias, 66, a tailor at the Woodside shop. “It’s not only in New York. It’s all over the world that people got fat.”
The boost in business has been welcome for many tailors, who often operate in storefronts shared with dry cleaners, which have suffered mightily during the pandemic. Dry cleaning businesses at the peak of the pandemic lost an estimated 80 to 90 percent in sales compared to previous years, and are still down about 40 to 50 percent, according to data collected by the North East Fabricare Association.
Many tailors fear that the industry may not bounce back even as more people return to work, if the traditional workplace culture shifts to the new work-from-home ethos — meaning more sweatpants and fewer bespoke suits that need to be cleaned, pressed or altered.
Of course, not all New Yorkers have been able to work from home, and the ability to sequester has largely fallen along socioeconomic lines: Putting on pandemic pounds is a small downside of what is in essence a tremendous privilege.
Eight outdoor pools across New York City’s five boroughs opened on Friday, despite the pandemic and budget cuts. In nearly 80 years, the pools had never missed a season. But this year, it was a close call.
In April, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that outdoor public pools would stay closed for the summer in an effort to save money. But in June, he reversed that decision, providing nearly $10 million to the Department of Parks and Recreation to reinstate 15 of the city’s 53 outdoor pools.
Eight outdoor pools across New York City’s five boroughs opened on Friday, and seven more were set to open next Saturday.
The pools are operating at 70 percent capacity, and attendees must wear face coverings at all times, except in the water. Social-distancing ambassadors are stationed at locker rooms and poolside to watch for overcrowding, as they also do at beaches. Swimmers are expected to keep six feet away from others in the pool.
At Sunset Pool in Brooklyn on Friday, Jimmy Ren, 35, almost forgot to take off his face mask before jumping in. He gently placed it on top of his flip-flops and then — splash.
Mr. Ren’s 4-year-old son, Steven, was more hesitant. He learned to swim a year ago at Sunset Pool, but couldn’t seem to make the leap on Friday. After a little persuasion, he slid into the water, and the two laughed and played.
Here are other developments from the New York area:
At least two dozen lifeguards from Long Beach Island, N.J., tested positive for the coronavirus after attending social events together, according to a report from NJ.com.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday that the number of people hospitalized with the virus in New York had dropped to the lowest levels since the pandemic began. According to Mr. Cuomo’s statement, 996 people in the state were hospitalized on Friday, the first time that figure had fallen below 1,000 since March 18.
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Reporting was contributed by Fahim Abed, Manuela Andreoni, Aman Batheja, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Chau Doan, Choe Sang-Hun, Emily Cochrane, Jesse Drucker, Nicholas Fandos, David Gelles, Denise Grady, Tyler Hicks, Juliana Kim, Nicholas Kulish, Adam Liptak, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Sarah Mervosh, Raphael Minder, Sarah Maslin Nir, Zach Montague, Richard C. Paddock, Elian Peltier, Simon Romero, Farah Stockman, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Julie Turkewitz and Jeremy White.