The United States passed 11 million total coronavirus cases on Sunday, and its caseload has now soared past 12 million. New daily cases are approaching 200,000: on Friday, the country recorded more than 198,500, a record.
As the nation reconsiders the usual winter holiday travel and cozy indoor gatherings, new cases are being reported at an unrelenting clip. The seven-day average has exceeded 100,000 cases a day every day for the last two weeks, according to a New York Times database.
The latest virus surge began accelerating across much of the country in mid-October. It took just over two weeks for the nation to go from eight million cases to nine million on Oct. 30; going from nine to 10 million took only 10 days. From 10 million to 11 million took just under seven days.
Despite near-daily records for both new cases and hospitalizations, there remains bipartisan reluctance toward issuing the sort of sweeping stay-at-home orders seen in the earliest days of the pandemic. In their place, officials are instituting 10 p.m. curfews, closing schools and announcing long-resisted mask mandates.
In Illinois, residents received what once might have been considered an apocalyptic warning on their phones Friday evening: “Effective today, all of Illinois enters Tier 3 Mitigation. Work from home when possible, avoid unnecessary travel, and celebrate the holidays virtually with extended family.” The state has averaged more than 12,000 cases per day for the past week and some regions of the state are down to just a few dozen I.C.U. beds.
Still, the citizenry’s resolve is wearing thin.
And as families weigh whether to gather for Thanksgiving, creeping back into headlines are the hours-long lines for tests, the overwhelmed hospital systems and the demand for additional refrigerated morgue trucks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged Americans to avoid travel for Thanksgiving and to celebrate only with members of their immediate households. It remains unclear if many families across the United States will alter their holiday plans, despite pleas from government officials and public health experts.
“It will not be long before we can embrace one another, eat together and let this year become a distant memory,” Dr. Elisabeth Poorman, an internal medicine physician, wrote for NPR. “I beg of you, don’t let this Thanksgiving be your last.”
The records are falling at a time of great political tension. President Trump has refused to concede his loss while largely ceding the fight against the virus to state and local governments who continue to go their own way, and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. argues in vain for a start of the transition, warning that failing to do so will cost lives.
Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the Trump administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, has been issuing dire assessments, urging Americans to “increase their vigilance” as they await the approval of a vaccine.
She implored Americans on Thursday to practice social distancing and to wear masks.
The national rhetoric is slowing shifting. Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa, a Republican, announced a statewide mask mandate this week after months of insisting it was an unenforceable “feel-good measure.” Iowa has the sixth-highest rate of new cases in the nation.
“If Iowans don’t buy into this, we lose,” Ms. Reynolds said, warning that the hospital system could collapse. “The cost in human life will be high.”
As the United States continues breaking record after record — over 198,000 new cases in a single day on Friday, more than 82,000 people hospitalized — some states and cities are hoping nightly curfews will help stop the coronavirus from leaping from person to person at bars, parties and other nocturnal events.
California is the latest to issue an overnight curfew, a measure more often imposed to calm public unrest than for the sake of public health.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, a Democrat, issued the order for most of the state’s counties on Thursday, requiring that, beginning Saturday, people not leave their homes from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. except for essential reasons, and that restaurants close for dining then as well. Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, a Republican, issued a similar curfew that went into effect on Thursday.
At the local level, some areas have also imposed curfews, such as Pueblo, Colo., and Miami-Dade County, Fla., while several cities, including New York and Chicago, have shut down bars and restaurants at 10 p.m.
The measures also show how widely the response to the virus can vary by state. None of the states where the virus is spreading at the fastest rates — South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa and Nebraska — have issued curfews, even as governors of some of those states have begun to require face masks indoors for the first time.
The changes come as the virus has, in the past week, killed more than 1,900 people and infected more than 168,000 new people each day, on average as of Friday.
Public health officials have repeatedly warned that the virus can spread more easily at late-night gatherings as people shout, sing, get closer to one another or, perhaps, flout the rules as they drink. In June, health officials in Ada County, Idaho, which includes Boise, determined that half of the area’s newly infected were people who had likely gotten the virus from bars and nightclubs.
“The rules for when bars are open are supposed to be that you can come down with your group and you don’t interact with others,” said Mayor Nick Gradisar of Pueblo, Colo., a city of about 112,000 people where a curfew has been extended to Nov. 27. But people sometimes don’t follow those rules after they have been drinking, he added. “That’s how this virus spreads.”
Public health experts also caution that it can take several weeks for measures like mask mandates, restaurant closings and restrictions on gatherings to influence people’s behavior and start to flatten the epidemic curve. The effect may be delayed because the incubation period for the disease is up to 14 days, so some proportion of the public is already infected.
A spokesman for Mr. DeWine said he believed Ohio’s three-week curfew “can make a dent” in the state’s rising cases while letting bars and restaurants continue to make money by serving people earlier in the evening.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the secretary of California Health and Human Services, said that the state’s curfew was targeted to stop the most harmful behaviors.
“We’ve seen in the past that Covid goes from zero to 60 miles per hour very quickly,” he said at a news conference on Thursday. “We know that those who are out, who might be engaging in higher-risk behaviors, that those infections can quickly spread to other settings.”
Two of China’s largest port cities, Shanghai and Tianjin, have announced locally transmitted coronavirus infections, renewing worries about whether the country can continue to keep out the virus after coming close to eradicating it over the summer.
Tianjin said on Friday that it had discovered four cases, all in its port area. Shanghai said on Saturday that an airport cargo security officer and his wife, a nurse, had both been infected. The Shanghai cases come less than two weeks after an air cargo worker at the same oceanfront airport, Pudong International, tested positive.
Chinese cities respond to even a single case with extensive coronavirus testing programs. Within hours of the two new cases in Shanghai, local authorities said they had tested six family members of the couple and 80 other close contacts, all of whom were negative. Another 8,120 people in the area were also tested, with more than half of these tests already processed and all negative, officials added.
In Tianjin, the residential community with four new cases was completely sealed off by the authorities. Other neighborhoods nearby, which have people who had been in contact with residents of the sealed-off community, were put under mandatory testing programs, with schools and public places closed and travel restricted.
The Chinese government has repeatedly warned that the virus could re-enter the country on food or other shipments of chilled or frozen goods. Tianjin and Shanghai officials have emphasized that their recent cases were concentrated in areas that handle such goods.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that the virus is primarily airborne. Experts generally say that while it can be transmitted through frozen food and contaminated surfaces, the likelihood is exceedingly low.
National and municipal officials in China have been quick this autumn to blame foreign countries for virus outbreaks on their soil. In addition to extra testing of imported food, the government has made it difficult for Chinese nationals to return from overseas and banned the entry of foreign visitors and many longtime foreign residents.
Amy Chang Chien contributed research.
Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, tested positive for the coronavirus at the beginning of the week and has been isolating since Monday, a spokesman for Mr. Trump said on Friday.
He added that Mr. Trump has shown no symptoms and is following virus protocols.
Mr. Trump is the latest person close to the president who has tested positive for Covid-19. Barron Trump, the president’s youngest son, tested positive last month. Melania Trump, the first lady, also tested positive in October. In July, Mr. Trump’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, had tested positive for the virus.
President Trump tested positive for the virus in October and was hospitalized as his symptoms worsened. The president underwent a series of invasive therapies typically reserved for people seriously sick with Covid-19.
Donald Trump Jr.’s announcement comes hours after Rudolph W. Giuliani’s son, Andrew Giuliani, a special assistant to the president, announced on Twitter that he had tested positive. This week, two Republican senators, Rick Scott of Florida and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, also said they had the virus.
After an exposure to the virus, symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear, if they ever appear at all. In that time, the virus can still spread from person to person.
According to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mr. Trump should isolate for at least 10 days following his positive test. The spokesman did not indicate which test Mr. Trump had taken.
In recent months, Mr. Trump has questioned the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, saying in a Fox News interview that since deaths from the virus had dropped to “almost nothing” the outbreak had come under control. That day deaths in the United States topped 1,000.
Mr. Trump’s diagnosis, reported earlier by Bloomberg, comes as the virus is surging across the nation. As of Thursday, at least 1,962 new coronavirus deaths and 187,428 new cases were reported in the United States.
Thanksgiving week was shaping up to be one of the busiest periods for U.S. air travel since the pandemic brought it to a near-standstill in the spring. But a renewed surge in virus cases and increasingly alarming warnings from public health officials are rattling travelers and threatening airlines’ hopes for the holiday weekend and the months ahead.
Airlines argue that flying is generally safe because of the various policies put in place to limit contagion, high-end air filtration aboard planes and the relatively few published cases of coronavirus spread in flight. But the science is far from settled, travelers are still at risk throughout their journey, and many would-be passengers have been discouraged by lockdowns and outbreaks in the places they hoped to visit.
Airlines are already noticing that prospects for passenger demand in the weeks ahead are dimming:
On Thursday, United said that bookings had slowed and cancellations had risen in recent days because of the surge in virus cases.
Southwest Airlines said last week that booking momentum seemed to be slowing for the rest of the year.
American Airlines, which has also seen demand dip because of the virus, has slashed December flights between the United States and Europe, leaving just two daily flights out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, to London and Frankfurt.
To some extent, the unevenness of the travel recovery comes as little surprise, said Helane Becker, managing director and senior airline analyst at Cowen.
“We always knew that it would be choppy, but that said we think that people want to travel and they’re looking for ways to get out,” Ms. Becker said during a Thursday panel at the Skift Aviation Forum.
The family of one epidemiologist plans to celebrate Thanksgiving in a garage, with tables 10 feet apart and the doors rolled up. Another epidemiologist’s family is forgoing a traditional meal for an outdoor hot cider toast with neighbors. A third is dining in an outdoor tent, with a heater, humidifier and air purifier running.
And, according to an informal survey of 635 epidemiologists by The New York Times, the large majority are not celebrating with people outside their household. Public health experts from a range of backgrounds answered our questionnaire. Not all of them study Covid-19, but all have professional training about how to think about disease spread and risk.
Seventy-nine percent said they were having Thanksgiving dinner with members of their household or not at all. Just 21 percent said they would be dining with people outside their household — and in most cases, they described going to great lengths to do so in a safe way. Their answers were similar for the other winter holidays, like Christmas and Hanukkah.
About 8,000 epidemiologists were invited to participate in our survey, which was circulated by email to the membership of the Society for Epidemiologic Research and to individual scientists.
The holiday season is arriving as the coronavirus spreads with renewed strength across the United States, with cases up 67 percent and deaths up 63 percent in the last 14 days. On Thursday, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans to avoid travel and celebrate the holiday only with members of their household. Epidemiologists are making these same personal decisions, with added expertise.
Those We’ve Lost
Nelly Kaplan, whose witty, satire-tinged French films about female empowerment and revenge made her a distinctive voice in a male-dominated era, died on Nov. 12 in Geneva. She was 89.
The Société des Réalisateurs de Films, the French filmmakers’ association, announced her death on its website. French news agencies, quoting a relative, said the cause was Covid-19.
Ms. Kaplan, who was born in Argentina, arrived in Paris in her early 20s and became both a filmmaking and a romantic partner of Abel Gance, the French director known for the innovative silent movie “Napoleon” (1927). In 1969 she drew acclaim with her first feature, “A Very Curious Girl.” (The French title was “La Fiancée du Pirate,” or “The Pirate’s Fiancée.”)
It starred Bernadette Lafont, an actress already well known from the New Wave films of Claude Chabrol and others, as Marie, a young servant who is preyed upon by men in her village until she turns the tables on them by charging for sexual favors and tape-recording the encounters, ultimately exposing the townspeople’s hypocrisy.
That film was the centerpiece of “Wild Things: The Ferocious Films of Nelly Kaplan,” a retrospective at the Quad Cinema in Manhattan in 2019 that helped fuel a new appreciation of her work and her characters.
“While very much of its time, ‘A Very Curious Girl’ remains amazingly fresh after 50 years,” the film critic J. Hoberman wrote in The Times then. “Marie’s triumph is not just a victory for her sex and class but, given the explicitly xenophobic nature of the smug patriarchal order that she upends, a win for outsiders and outcasts of all varieties.”
Ms. Kaplan made only a few feature films after that, and none achieved the level of acclaim that her debut did.