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Coronavirus Live Updates: Governors Make Hard Choices As Trump Pushes Reopening Press "Enter" to skip to content

Coronavirus Live Updates: Governors Make Hard Choices as Trump Pushes Reopening

As numbers remain dangerously high in much of the country, Washington deliberates relief.

As the coronavirus continued to take a lethal toll across much of the South and West, governors were again forced to make tough decisions about limiting businesses and imposing protection measures to help slow the spread of the virus.

The economic pain that comes with any decision to reinstituting pandemic protection measures, and the aftermath of earlier closures, has put Washington in the spotlight as lawmakers grapple over what kind of relief to offer.

Among the most heated issues is the $600 weekly jobless benefit that is set to expire at the end of the month, which Republicans have proposed cutting by two-thirds, to $200. Democratic leaders left a nearly two-hour meeting with White House officials on Monday saying they were unsatisfied with the Republicans’ opening bid.

“If they’re not even getting to the fundamentals of food and rent and economic survival, they’re not really ready to have a serious negotiation,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said after meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; Mark Meadows, the chief of staff; and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader.

Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky, a Democrat, was among the governors who had a decision to make. Facing a surge in cases, Mr. Beshear heeded the advice of federal health officials and ordered bars in the state to close again for two weeks, starting on Tuesday. He also mandated that restaurants reduce their seating capacity from 50 percent to 25 percent and recommended that schools delay opening until the third week of August.

President Trump, who had seemed last week to acknowledge the severity of the situation in the United States, urged further reopenings again on Monday.

During a visit to a North Carolina biotechnology lab, Mr. Trump said that “a lot of the governors should be opening up states that they’re not opening, and we’ll see what happens with them.”

There were glimmers of good news yesterday. New cases leveled off in Florida, Texas and Arizona.

In Texas, which on Monday joined California, New York and Florida to become the fourth state with more than 400,000 known cases, the seven-day average of new cases has tapered from a high of 10,461 on July 19 to 8,243 on July 26. Florida’s seven-day average of new cases hit a high of 11,870 on July 17 and fell to 10,544 on July 26.

In Arizona, another hot spot, the seven-day average of new cases is also down, from 3,849 on July 6 to 2,628 on July 26. Oklahoma and New Mexico broke state records on Monday for single-day cases.

Also, one of the first large studies of safety and effectiveness of a coronavirus vaccine in the United States began on Monday.

President Trump shared on his Twitter account Monday night a viral video containing a series of false or misleading medical claims about the coronavirus, as social media companies scrambled to halt the video’s rapid spread.

Facebook and YouTube removed versions of the video, and Twitter later removed the post shared by the president. At least one version, which was shared on Facebook by the right-wing Breitbart news site, had garnered over 13 million views before it was removed. Other versions of the video, including shorter, edited clips, were still online Monday night.

The video featured what appeared to be a group of doctors in white coats, standing in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., in what appeared to be a news conference. The doctors made a series of misleading claims, including that hydroxychloroquine could be taken as a preventive measure.

The Venice Film Festival announced the lineup on Tuesday for its 77th edition, setting out precautions including temperature checks and new outdoor screening sites for one of the first large international festivals held since the pandemic began.

The festival will run from Sept. 2 to Sept 12, with a reduced schedule. Between 55 and 60 films will be screened, as opposed to last year’s 80.

“The show must go on and the world must go on,” said Roberto Cicutto, the president of La Biennale di Venezia, which runs the festival, in a phone interview, adding that it was important “to watch and to discuss movies together, to live this art the way we used to live it.”

Films in contention for the festival’s top prize, the Golden Lion, include Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland,” starring and produced by Frances McDormand; Mona Fastvold’s “The World to Come,” starring Vanessa Kirby and Casey Affleck; and “Pieces of a Woman,” directed by Kornel Mundruczo and starring Shia LaBeouf.

Screening in the festival’s nonfiction section will be “Salvatore Ferragamo: The Shoemaker of Dreams,” a documentary directed by Luca Guadagnino, as well as “City Hall” from Frederick Wiseman, a look at Boston’s administrative center.

Though Shanghai’s international film festival went ahead in July, the pandemic has forced the cancellation or postponement of most of the gatherings that traditionally structure the year for filmmakers in Hollywood and elsewhere in the West, including Cannes and the Tribeca Film Festival.

Long Beach Island, a popular summertime destination along the Jersey Shore, is now a different kind of hot spot.

Thirty-five lifeguards from two boroughs on the barrier island — Surf City and Harvey Cedars — recently tested positive for the coronavirus, the island’s health department announced on Monday.

Public health officials said that half of the lifeguards were experiencing mild symptoms and the rest were asymptomatic. None were hospitalized, the officials said.

The outbreak was traced to two social gatherings that the lifeguards attended on July 12 and July 14, according to the Long Beach Island Health Department, which said it dispatched nurses to investigate cases and issue quarantine orders.

“Based on our investigation so far, the workplace was not the source of transmission and practices likely prevented additional cases,” the Health Department said in a news release on Monday. “The youth and young adults should recognize they are not immune to this virus.”

During a daily briefing on the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey mentioned the outbreak on Long Beach Island and said he was troubled by reports of large social gatherings of young people.

“This is among us, folks,” Mr. Murphy said. “Any of us who thinks we can just put our feet up and relax and let this take its course is not paying attention, particularly congregating inside, in close proximity, poor ventilation, without face coverings. You’re looking for trouble. You’re absolutely looking for trouble, no matter how old you are.”

In Harvey Cedars, 18 of 73 lifeguards were infected, according to the borough’s website, which said that its beaches were still open and fully staffed. The lifeguards who tested positive for the virus will not be allowed to return to work until they meet the safety protocols set by the island’s health department, according to a post on the borough’s website. It was not immediately clear what those protocols are.

When reached by phone on Monday evening, the mayor of Surf City, Francis R. Hodgson Sr., refused to comment.

On Long Beach Island, only one lifeguard is allowed in a lifeguard stand under social distancing guidelines that the island’s Health Department said it implemented at the start of the season. Lifeguards must report directly to their stand, and communal activities are barred, health officials said.

GLOBAL ROUNDUP

Boris Johnson’s new tactic against the virus: urge Britons to lose weight.

Britain will crack down on junk food advertising and introduce calorie counts on menus in an effort to tackle obesity and ease the pressure on the health care system during the pandemic, the government said on Monday.

The intersection of obesity and the coronavirus is personal for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was, by his own admission, “way overweight” when he was admitted to the hospital after becoming ill with Covid-19 this year. His health deteriorated to such an extent that at one point he needed intensive care.

Studies have linked obesity to a greater risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19, and Mr. Johnson, writing in the British newspaper The Daily Express, described his time in hospital as a “wake-up call.”

“We all put things off — I know I have,” Mr. Johnson wrote. “I’ve wanted to lose weight for ages and like many people I struggle with my weight.”

As part of the government’s new obesity strategy, advertisements for any food high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned on television and online until 9 p.m. to avoid hours when children are most likely to see them. There will also be a consultation on whether Britain should entirely ban online ads for junk food.

All large restaurants and cafes will be required to add a calorie count to their menus, and the government will look into adding calorie labels to alcoholic drinks.

Promotional offers like “buy one, get one free” on fatty or sugary foods will also be prohibited.

Here are some other developments from around the globe:

  • Vietnam suspended domestic flights into and out of the tourist destination of Danang for 15 days after discovering at least 14 coronavirus cases, according to Reuters. International travel was halted months ago, but domestic tourists still traveled to Danang, a coastal city. About 80,000 people, mostly tourists, were ordered to evacuate on Monday after the discovery of the country’s first local transmissions in 100 days.

  • China recorded 68 new virus infections on Monday, its National Health Commission said on Tuesday, including six in Liaoning Province and 57 in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, where a flare-up since mid-July has shown little sign of abating. As China battles the surge, the authorities in the northeastern port city of Dalian, in Liaoning, have said they will test all 6 million residents after an outbreak. Samples have been collected from about 1.68 million Dalian residents as of Sunday night, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

‘Not sparing anyone’: A Texas funeral home sees the toll of the virus all around.

Johnny Salinas Jr., the owner of Salinas Funeral Home, typically handles five funerals a week. But on a recent day, with the coronavirus tearing through his community, he saw that many grieving families in a single day.

A sixth family was waiting, too. His own.

Mr. Salinas changed from a polo shirt into a crisp black suit and left his office for the chapel next door. The light blue coffin of his great-uncle, who died of Covid-19, sat at the front of the room, adorned with white flower arrangements and a wooden crucifix.

“The virus is not sparing anyone,” Mr. Salinas said. “Not even my family.”

In the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, funeral homes — like hospitals — are overloaded and struggling to carry out basic services and keep up with the expanding crisis. Local funeral homes, officials said, have not experienced such demand in decades.

About one in 60 residents of Hidalgo County is known to have had the virus, and about one of every 2,000 people has died from the virus, a New York Times database shows. Hidalgo County now has one of the highest per capita death rates in the state.

At the start of July, fewer than 50 deaths in Hidalgo County had been attributed to the virus, according to the database. By Saturday, there had been more than 450.

“It’s like a bad dream,” said Linda Ceballos, a co-director of Ceballos Funeral Home in McAllen. “You want to wake up, but you can’t.”

The death toll is forcing funeral directors to bypass traditional services like velorios, viewings that sometimes last for days and are filled with prayers, hugs and sorrowful Spanish-language songs. Instead, many funeral homes are shortening viewing times and limiting attendance. Some have ordered large refrigerator trucks to store bodies until they can get to them.

When the coronavirus engulfed New York, it pummeled the transit work force: So far, 131 transit workers have died from the virus and more than 4,000 have tested positive, making the Metropolitan Transportation Authority one of the hardest-hit government agencies in New York.

For many, the pandemic has left an indelible mark. Pan Chan, a bus driver, moved out of his family’s home for months to shield his wife and children. Sally Lutchman, a train conductor, worried that she might have infected her husband, who was hospitalized with Covid-19 for months. Cesar Torres Jr., a second-generation bus operator, watched his father die.

Now, as riders trickle back, these workers are facing the prospect of a second wave, even as they are coping with the trauma from the peak of the outbreak.

The pandemic takes an extra toll on families with special needs.

Missing social contacts and altered routines can be particularly intense for children with developmental challenges. Disturbed sleep and eating habits, too, can make life more challenging for the children and their families. Here are some strategies to cope better.

Reporting was contributed by Sheera Frenkel, Claire Moses, Edgar Sandoval, Anna Schaverien, Kaly Soto, Eleanor Stanford, Daniel Victor, Neil Vigdor and Elaine Yu.

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