Fourth of July celebrations are scaled back as infections climb in the U.S.
Health officials have urged Americans to scale back their Fourth of July plans as new coronavirus cases increased 90 percent in the United States in the last two weeks.
More than 53,000 new daily cases were reported in the country on Friday, according to a New York Times database. That figure exceeded all previous daily counts aside from the 55,595 new cases on Thursday, the first time the number had passed 50,000.
Cases are trending upward in 39 states, and at least five — Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, North Carolina and South Carolina — set single-day case records on Friday, the start of a holiday weekend governed by patchwork restrictions and planning after local leaders shifted policies to try to keep pace with the surge. In South Carolina, where more than 1,800 new cases were announced Friday, the positivity rate — the percentage of overall coronavirus tests that come back positive — has hovered around 20 percent this week, up from about 10 percent in early June.
For this weekend, as many as 80 percent of community fireworks displays in large cities and small towns have been canceled over fears that the gathered crowds would become hot spots for new outbreaks.
In New York City, instead of the usual hourlong fireworks extravaganza, Macy’s planned five-minute displays in undisclosed locations across the five boroughs throughout the week. A grand finale on Saturday, also at an undisclosed location, will be televised.
At an Independence Day celebration at Mount Rushmore on Friday, President Trump barely mentioned the pandemic as he delivered a divisive speech to a packed crowd that cast his effort to win a second term as a battle against a “new far-left fascism” that seeks to remake the nation’s heritage.
The pandemic’s reach was still apparent, however: Before the event, Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Mr. Trump’s eldest son and a top fund-raising official for the Trump re-election campaign, tested positive for the coronavirus.
In Florida, Miami-Dade and Broward Counties had already announced that they were closing beaches for the Fourth of July weekend. A countywide curfew, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., in Miami-Dade went into effect on Friday as the state reported more than 9,400 new cases. Exactly one month earlier, Florida had reported 1,317 new cases.
And in Texas, which had brought a relatively early end to its virus-related lockdown, Gov. Greg Abbott reversed course on Thursday, ordering residents in counties with 20 or more cases to wear masks in public. Mr. Abbott had previously opposed attempts by mayors and local officials to require the wearing of masks in public.
Texas was one of the worst-hit states in the past week, reaching a record number of hospitalizations on Friday.
As pubs across England reopened on Saturday after three months of being shuttered because of the pandemic, the authorities offered the public double-edged instructions: Support local businesses, but “enjoy summer safely.”
The dual messaging come as the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sought to revive the economy while also trying to tackle the coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of over 44,000 people in Britain — the world’s third largest reported death toll.
“We need to relearn what it’s like to go out again,” Finance Minister Rishi Sunak told The Times of London.
England’s pubs were allowed to resume business on Saturday at 6 a.m., an early hour chosen as the authorities aimed to prevent a rush of late-night crowds that might accompany a midnight reopening.
Pubs, which had never before closed in the country’s history, even during the two world wars, served to-go drinks while Britain was under lockdown but were not allowed to welcome patrons inside. On Saturday, questions about how crowded they would be were the subject of widespread speculation.
“Ah, the classic pub experience,” the Guardian reporter Rob Davies wrote in a tweet, alongside a picture of a National Health Service form that patrons must fill in to help trace potential coronavirus outbreaks.
England’s restaurants, hair salons and hotels were also allowed to reopen, but bars remain closed in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, and the authorities there have urged people not to travel to England for a drink.
In a bid to revive tourism, the authorities also said on Friday that travelers from over 50 countries would no longer have to isolate for 14 days when arriving in England. The rules, which will come into effect on July 10, do not apply to travelers arriving from the United States or China, but include most European countries.
The pandemic led to limits on evictions, but vulnerable tenants now face life on the street.
When the U.S. economy ground to a halt this spring, economists warned that an avalanche of evictions was looming. The federal government and many states rushed to ban them temporarily, placing moratoriums on mortgage foreclosures to relieve financial pressure on landlords.
But 20 states, including Louisiana, Texas, Colorado and Wisconsin, have since lifted their restrictions, and researchers have tracked thousands of recent eviction filings in places where data is available. Eviction bans in nine other states and at the federal level are set to expire by the end of the month.
All told, Amherst College anticipates that nearly 28 million households are at risk of being turned out onto the streets because of job losses tied to the pandemic.
Even in places with ordinances barring evictions, the protections have been of little help to unauthorized immigrants, who fear that complaining to the authorities about their landlord could lead to a consequence worse than homelessness: deportation.
Immigrant and renter advocates in cities across the country say they are being inundated with complaints about landlords pressuring tenants to pay rent money. They say landlords use harassment, illegal fees for late payments or repairs, or simply change the locks as a way to force out vulnerable renters.
Norieliz Dejesus is a program manager with the organization Chelsea Collaborative, in Chelsea, Mass., a hub for incoming migrants from Eastern Europe and Central America.
“I had one tenant whose landlord wants her out by the end of the month,” Ms. Dejesus said, “The tenant explained the new laws. The landlord acknowledged the new laws and was like, ‘I don’t care — you have to leave.’”
President Trump on Saturday signed into law a five-week extension of a federal loan program for small businesses, days after the program shuttered.
The initiative — the Paycheck Protection Program, created as part of the $2.2 stimulus law in March — allows small businesses to receive federal loans that can be forgiven if payrolls are maintained at a certain level.
The program had shuttered on Tuesday with more than $130 billion in unspent loan money, after allocating $520 billion in loans to nearly five million businesses nationwide.
But just hours before, senators unexpectedly reached agreement on a five-week extension, to Aug. 8. The House cleared it on Wednesday afternoon without a formal vote.
A much broader and more polarized clash between Republicans and Democrats over whether to extend other assistance programs set to lapse this summer — such as enhanced unemployment benefits that expire at the end of July — will wait until later in the month, with members of both chambers scattered across the country for the Fourth of July and not scheduled to fully return for two weeks.
Ten months after Hurricane Dorian pulverized the northern Bahamas, the islands are still struggling to recover, even as this year’s hurricane season begins. But rebuilding, always a slow process, has been hampered even further this year by the coronavirus.
“That brought rebuilding efforts to a complete halt,” said Stafford Symonette, an evangelical pastor whose house on Great Abaco Island was severely damaged during the hurricane — and remains that way. “You still have a lot of people in tents and temporary shelters.”
The Bahamas — like other hurricane-prone countries in the Caribbean and North Atlantic — now find themselves at the convergence of a devastating pandemic and an Atlantic hurricane season that is expected to be more active than usual.
The pandemic has crippled economies in the region, many of which depend heavily on tourism. It has forced the reallocation of diminished government resources to deal with the public health crisis. And it has meant that, in the event of a major storm, evacuation centers and shelters could turn into dangerous vectors of coronavirus contagion.
These mounting challenges have overwhelmed many of the region’s governments and relief agencies, which are scrambling to make arrangements before the next big storm.
“Are we prepared for this hurricane season?” said Ronald Sanders, ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States and to the Organization of American States. “The answer is no. And I don’t care who tells you we are.”
“The reality,” he added, “is that we are in dire straits.”
Other coronavirus news from around the world:
A senior adviser to Afghanistan’s president died from the coronavirus late Friday as the country grapples with the virus’s spread amid a lack of reliable data and an overwhelmed health sector. The adviser, Mohammad Yousuf Ghazanfar, was a presidential envoy for economic development and poverty alleviation. Although experts say Afghanistan’s official numbers are not even close to an indication of the true spread, the country’s health ministry has recorded 32,000 positive cases and over 800 deaths.
Although Paris’s official Pride march was postponed until November because of the pandemic, several organizations planned to hold a smaller version in the French capital on Saturday. Organizers said they intended to give it a political tone and speak out against the “silent capitalization” of Pride events.
After a minor late-spring lull, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States is again on the rise. States like Arizona, Florida and Texas are seeing some of their highest numbers to date, and as the nation hurtles deeper into summer, the surge shows few signs of stopping.
Yet the virus appears to be killing fewer of the people it infects — a seemingly counterintuitive trend that might not last, experts said.
In April and May, Covid-19 led to as many as 3,000 deaths per day and claimed the lives of roughly 7 to 8 percent of Americans known to have been infected. Now, even though cases are rising in most states, the number of daily deaths is closer to 600 and the death rate is less than 5 percent.
Because death reports can lag behind diagnoses by weeks, the current rise in coronavirus cases could portend increases in mortality in the days to come. However, a few factors can also help explain the apparent drop.
One is increased diagnostic testing, which has identified many more infected people with mild or no symptoms. That means those who die with Covid-19 form a smaller overall proportion of cases, said Caitlin Rivers, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
And with more tests available, infections are often identified earlier, “which allows us to intervene earlier,” said Saskia Popescu, a hospital epidemiologist and infectious disease expert in Arizona.
Health experts also noted that treatments had improved and that the virus was now infecting more young people, who are less likely to die of Covid-19.
On New Year’s Day, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, called for a “frontal breakthrough to foil the enemies’ sanctions.” The strategy meant finding new sources of income, legal or illegal, and mainly from China.
But there was one thing Mr. Kim did not foresee: the coronavirus.
Barely three weeks after he unveiled his New Year’s resolution, North Korea shut down its border with China to protect itself against the emerging outbreak in the city of Wuhan. It was no ordinary border closure.
China accounted for 95 percent of the North’s trade. Consumer goods, raw materials, fuel and machine parts smuggled into the North across their 870-mile border kept North Korean markets and factories sputtering along, despite United Nations sanctions designed to curb the Kim regime’s nuclear ambitions.
Now, with the border sealed, the North’s official exports to China have crashed even further. In March, they were worth just $610,000, according to Chinese customs data — down 96 percent from a year earlier. The North’s newly opened ski and spa resorts are empty of Chinese tourists, and its smuggling ships sit idle in their ports.
North Korea claims to have no coronavirus cases. But it was one of the first countries to shut its border, aware that its woefully underequipped public health system made it particularly vulnerable to mass infection.
“To North Korea, Covid-19 is a black swan,” said Go Myong-hyun, an analyst at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. “None of its policymakers saw it coming.”
The pandemic has shuttered Broadway through the end of the year (at least), and the United States’ big regional theaters and major outdoor festivals have mostly pivoted to streaming. But many theaters are still finding ways to present live performances before live audiences.
Of course, there is social distancing. Also, in some places, masks. Temperature checks. Touchless ticketing. Intermissionless shows. Lots of disinfectant. And at the Footlights Theater, in Falmouth, Maine, actors will perform behind plexiglass.
But these precautions mean there is dinner theater in Florida, street theater in Chicago, and drive-in theater in Iowa.
“Our commitment is to do live theater — there’s a huge difference between that and seeing something on a computer screen,” said Susan Claassen, managing artistic director of Invisible Theater in Tucson, Ariz., a state that has emerged as a Covid-19 hot spot.
There are also financial reasons for continuing: Some theaters say they cannot survive a year without revenue.
“We’d rather go down creating good theater than die the slow death behind our desks,” said Bryan Fonseca, the producing director of Fonseca Theater Company in Indianapolis. The company plans to stage “Hype Man,” a three-character play by Idris Goodwin, outdoors, for 65 mask-wearing patrons.
“I am hopeful and also very cautious,” Fonseca said, “careful that I don’t create a problem.”
And in New York City, Food for Thought Productions, a company that presents staged readings of one-act plays, plans to restart in a private club on July 13, with attendees required to have taken coronavirus tests.
“If we can prove that we can do this safely,” said Susan Charlotte, the founding artistic director, “maybe other groups can do safe theater as well.”
Two weeks after Spain lifted a state of emergency and began allowing in visitors from European countries for the first time in three months, the authorities in the Catalonia region have imposed a lockdown on 200,000 residents to curb a rise in coronavirus cases.
The new restriction in Spain, which has largely brought under control one of the most severe outbreaks in Europe, reflects the type of measures that governments in Europe and beyond are relying on as new hot spots emerge.
The lockdown is being imposed in the Segria area, which people will be allowed to enter and leave for work purposes. In an effort to prevent a local hospital from being overwhelmed, the authorities have also set up a field hospital in the city of Leida, 100 miles east of Barcelona, to help handle a coronavirus caseload that has more than doubled in a week.
Spain once boasted of having one of the world’s best health care systems, but its hospital workers were pummeled by the coronavirus at the height of the nation’s outbreak, which has killed over 28,000 people.
In the south of the country, new clusters have appeared in the city of Granada and in a refugee camp in the province of Málaga. And in the northwestern province of Galicia, hundreds of residents have been asked to quarantine after a new outbreak was detected.
Local lockdowns have also been introduced elsewhere in Europe, including in the English city of Leicester, 100 miles north of London, and in the German city of Gütersloh, after an outbreak at a meat processing plant.
Staying safe in parks, playground and other public spaces.
Experts say socially distant outdoor activities, like swimming or running along the shore, are some of the safer ways to re-engage with the world. Here are tips for venturing out.
Reporting was contributed by Choe Sang-Hun, Emily Cochrane, Patricia Cohen, Caitlin Dickerson, Fatima Faizi, Tess Felder, Peter S. Goodman, Rachel Knowles, Raphael Minder, Michael Paulson, Elian Peltier and Kirk Semple.