Coronavirus Updates: Latest News and Analysis

Coronavirus Updates: Latest News and Analysis


As some areas lift restrictions, others reimpose limits amid new outbreaks.

Gradual reopenings are continuing across the United States and globally this weekend, including the lifting of a state of emergency that Spain imposed nearly three months ago. But a return to public life has also been accompanied by rises in coronavirus cases — and in some instances a reimposition of restrictions to curb the virus’s spread.

In Australia, which has received widespread praise for its success in containing the virus, the state of Victoria said on Saturday that it was bringing back tighter restrictions on gatherings after a resurgence of cases. The state, which includes Melbourne, on Wednesday recorded its largest single-day increase in infections in over a month. At least three of the cases involved protesters who participated in Black Lives Matter demonstrations this month.

The reimposition of restrictions followed preventive moves this week in Beijing as the Chinese capital tries to stem a new outbreak that has raised fears of a broader contagion, although the authorities did not turn to the kind of widespread strict lockdowns that the country introduced in January after the pandemic began spreading there late last year.

That change in approach is in part a recognition that it is not feasible to entirely shut down societies for the duration of the pandemic, which shows no signs of disappearing.

A lawsuit filed by local residents and businesses to stop Mr. Trump from holding the rally, his first since the pandemic began, because of the risks of spreading the virus was rejected on Friday by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The lawsuit had demanded that the event be postponed unless the BOK Center, the 19,000-seat arena where the rally is being held, agreed to enforce certain social distancing guidelines.

The court said that because Oklahoma’s reopening plan, put in place on June 1, allowed businesses to use their discretion when instituting social distancing measures, such restrictions were not mandatory.

At the same time, city officials rescinded a three-night curfew after Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he had spoken with the mayor, “who informed me there will be no curfew tonight or tomorrow for our many supporters.”

Local health officials say that Mr. Trump’s rally has the potential to become a “super spreader” event. Tulsa’s police chief, Wendell Franklin, said this week that his department was planning for “a mass amount of people that probably Tulsa has never seen before.”

The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said that attendees would be given face masks, but that using them would be optional. Mr. Trump has eschewed masks in public, and Ms. McEnany said on Friday that she would not wear one at the rally.

The state has recorded more than 9,700 confirmed cases. With about 245 cases per 100,000 people, the state’s per capita total ranks in the bottom 20 percent of the country. But the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 352 additional cases on Friday, its second-highest daily number of new cases.

Brazil on Friday became the second country to pass a million coronavirus cases, recording a staggering 54,771 cases in the past 24 hours — an increase that the country’s health ministry attributed at least in part to a lag in reporting from three states. The United States has reported more than 2.2 million cases.

More than 48,954 people in Brazil have died of Covid-19, second only to the total in the United States, according to a New York Times database. If the trend lines hold, some epidemiologists project that the coronavirus’s death toll in Brazil could surpass that of the United States by late July. Latin America has become an epicenter of the pandemic in recent weeks, largely because of Brazil’s ballooning caseload.

About half of Friday’s increase was due to delayed reporting in three states, including São Paulo, health officials said.

The country’s response to the crisis has been widely criticized at home and abroad. President Jair Bolsonaro has dismissed the danger posed by the virus, sabotaged quarantine measures adopted at the state level and called on Brazilians to continue working to keep the economy from collapsing.

In early June, Brazil’s government removed numbers on coronavirus cases and deaths from the Health Ministry’s website, claiming without evidence that state officials had been reporting inflated figures to secure more federal funding. The numbers were later brought back after a Supreme Court justice ordered the government to stop suppressing the data.

As the country reached the one million case mark, the government was distracted by other political crises. An associate of Mr. Bolsonaro’s son, Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, was arrested on Thursday in connection with a corruption inquiry. The president also fired his education minister, who is being investigated over threats and insults against Supreme Court justices.

More stringent restrictions were announced on Saturday in Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, after the state experienced its highest numbers of new coronavirus cases in more than two months.

“The experts tell us that the numbers are largely being driven by families — families having big get-togethers and not following the advice around social distancing and hygiene,” Dan Andrews, the premier of the state, which includes Melbourne, said in a statement.

Melbourne has also been the site of protests this month against racism and police brutality that have been staged around the world since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Groups of up to 20 people have been allowed to attend private gatherings in Victoria since June 1, but that number will be lowered to five beginning on Monday. Public gatherings will be limited to 10 people instead of 20. And the maximum number of customers in spaces like restaurants and pubs will remain at 20, Mr. Andrews said.

With Australia being held up as an example of how a country can effectively quell a coronavirus outbreak, some people have been operating on the assumption that if they follow regulations, they will be fine. Others feel frustrated by the inconsistencies in official advice or fear that rushing back to regular life before a vaccine is available is dangerous.

“Everything we’re doing is unknown territory,” said Hassan Vally, an epidemiologist and senior lecturer in public health at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

“What we do know,” he added, “is that as a society we can’t survive in complete lockdown until we get a vaccine.”

Spain was preparing on Saturday to lift a state of emergency that was introduced in mid-March as the country was struck by one of Europe’s most severe coronavirus outbreaks.

The removal of the state of emergency, which will officially take place at midnight, means that Spain’s 47 million residents will again be free to travel within the country, and international arrivals will no longer be required to undergo a quarantine period.

Many restrictions remain in place, including limits on the numbers of people allowed inside cafes and shops. The wearing of face masks in public also remains compulsory nationwide, including on public transit.

Spain registered 40 coronavirus deaths and about 1,500 new infections in the past week, a huge drop from early April, when the country’s pandemic death toll was rising by more than 900 per day.

As it warns against complacency, the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has cautioned that it will reinstall tough restrictions on movement if evidence emerges that Spain is entering a second wave of infections.

One of the biggest tests will come if tourists return in significant numbers for summer vacations. Despite lifting its state of emergency, Spain is keeping its land border closed with neighboring Portugal until July 1.

Russians wear gloves to eat burgers. In a pandemic, should everyone?

Entering a home in Moscow, it’s customary to take off your shoes. When attending a play, checking your coat is a must. And when eating a burger, it’s often done while wearing gloves.

Across hygiene-conscious Eastern Europe, many people consider it uncouth and unsanitary to eat a burger with their bare hands. The answer used to be a knife and fork. But the pandemic has accelerated a years-old trend: order a burger, and there is a fair chance it will come with a side of disposable gloves.

“Gloves, I think, are an unspoken, required attribute of any burger restaurant,” said Alina Volkolovskaya, the manager of Butterbro, a gastro pub in Minsk, Belarus. “I’m surprised that establishments in every country don’t offer them.”

Several American restaurant safety experts said they doubted that the practice would take off in the United States — the coronavirus, after all, is not even known to spread through food. But some said that gloves used properly could help protect people from a variety of germs.

“They could be potentially beneficial,” said Robert C. Williams, an associate professor of food microbiology at Virginia Tech, “in cases where the customer would not have washed their hands anyway.”

The many uses for food scraps.

Feeling crafty? Want to have less waste? There are many things that can be done with the bottoms of carrots, beets, egg shells and even meat waste. Or start a compost bin. We’ll show you how.

Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Aurelien Breeden, Nancy Coleman, Tess Felder, Matthew Haag, Iliana Magra and Raphael Minder.





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