Live Coronavirus News and Updates – The New York Times

Live Coronavirus News and Updates – The New York Times

Live Coronavirus News and Updates – The New York Times

Live Coronavirus News and Updates – The New York Times

May 3, 2020

The U.S. will need social distancing through the summer.

In Southern California, a heat wave this weekend foreshadowed the likely challenges that lay ahead for governors and mayors trying to sustain social distancing efforts as spring turns to summer.

Despite pleas from state and local leaders to stay home, tens of thousands of people flocked to beaches that were open in Orange County on Saturday. Photographs of Newport Beach and Huntington Beach showed large crowds staking out patches of sand with beach towels and umbrellas. The Orange County Register reported that as many as 40,000 people went to the beach in Newport Beach on Friday.

In neighboring Los Angeles County, all beaches remained closed this weekend.

We wont let one weekend undo a month of progress, Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles wrote on Twitter on Sunday. While the sunshine is tempting, were staying home to save lives. The places we love our beaches, hiking trails will still be there when this is over. And by staying home, were making sure our loved ones will be too.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said Americans should expect social distancing guidelines to continue for months. Social distancing will be with us through the summer, she said Sunday on NBCs Meet the Press.

In New York, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, while encouraging continued social distancing, said during his daily briefing on Sunday that it was unreasonable to expect people to stay inside all the time when summer arrives, especially in the most populous part of the state.

We need summer activities in downstate New York, Mr. Cuomo said. You cant tell people in a dense urban environment all through the summer months: We dont have anything for you to do. Stay in your apartment with the three kids. That doesnt work. Theres a sanity equation here also that we have to take into consideration.

As the economy shut down, few American cities were hit harder and faster than Las Vegas.

Nevadas economy has been one of the fastest growing in the country. Then, practically overnight, the glittering Las Vegas Strip shut down, throwing thousands of waitresses, bartenders, hotel cleaners and casino workers out of work, often without severance or benefits, and leaving the most bustling and storied stretch of the states economy boarded up and empty.

If you were to imagine a horror movie when all the people disappear, thats what it looks like, said Larry Scott, the chief operating officer of Three Square, Southern Nevadas only food bank, describing the Vegas strip. You cant imagine that there is a circumstance that could possibly cause that. I couldnt have.

As the bottom fell out of the American economy, few places have been hit harder than Las Vegas, where a full third of the economy is in the leisure and hospitality industry, more than in any other major metropolitan area in the country. Most of these jobs cannot be done from home.

Nearly 350,000 people in Nevada have filed for unemployment since the crisis began, the highest number in the history of the state. Las Vegas-based economic research firm Applied Analysis estimates the citys current jobless rate is about 25 percent nearly double the rate during the Great Recession and rising.

From an analytical standpoint, this is unprecedented, said Jeremy Aguero, a principal analyst with the firm. We have no frame of reference for what we are seeing.

The dependence on tourism and hospitality means that, as governors and mayors across the country wrestle with the question of when to reopen their economies, Las Vegas faces particular pressure. Mayor Carolyn Goodman argued last week that casinos should reopen and allow people to get sick. But Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, said the state was clearly not ready to open.

President Trump on Sunday pushed back on news reports that some of his senior aides, including his new chief of staff, Mark Meadows, are discussing replacing Alex M. Azar II, the Health and Human Services secretary, after a string of news reports about the administrations slow response to the coronavirus and a controversy about an ousted department official.

Mr. Trump was responding to reports, first published by Politico and The Wall Street Journal, that several senior administration officials had said privately that aides including Mr. Meadows were considering removing Mr. Azar once the height of the coronavirus crisis abated. Among the possible replacements being discussed were Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Dr. Deborah Birx, a key member of the coronavirus task force.

The White House had been asked for comment, and issued a statement Saturday. The Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Secretary Azar, continues to lead on a number of the Presidents priorities, said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman. Any speculation about personnel is irresponsible and a distraction from our whole-of-government response to Covid-19.

Governors take tentative steps to reopen their states.

As a handful of states relaxed social distancing guidelines over the weekend, they have struggled to navigate competing demands to keep residents safe and the economy open. Heres a look at how some of those states have approached that balancing act:

Although Alaska has allowed businesses and restaurants in most parts of the state to reopen with some restrictions in place on April 24, the city of Anchorage has delayed its reopening to Monday.

Arkansas will allow simple elective surgeries to take place.

With Colorados stay-at-home order expiring over the weekend, Gov. Jared Polis rolled out new rules allowing curbside retail deliveries, phasing in elective surgery and store openings. Large workplaces can open at 50 percent capacity on May 4.

In Georgia, gyms, barbershops, tattoo parlors and spas in the state reopened last Friday. Houses of worship were allowed to resume in-person services, and restaurants and theaters can reopen Monday.

Hawaiis stay-at-home order was set to end April 30 but was extended Sunday until the end of May. Gov. David Ige said he planned to ease restrictions on beaches, reopening them to allow for exercise, and would permit elective surgeries to resume under the extended order.

Kentucky will permit non-urgent health care services, such as radiology and outpatient care, to resume on Monday.

Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland said his state would not start to reopen until the number of deaths there declined for 14 straight days. Im going to be very cautious, he said on This Week. Were going to make decisions on science.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, whose aggressive coronavirus policies have been the target of protests, said on the ABC program This Week that her approach had saved lives. The governor has extended her stay-at-home order until May 15, but she relaxed a number of social distancing policies on Friday, allowing in-state travel and some recreational activities.

On Monday, Minnesota will see the partial reopening of businesses.

Mississippis statewide stay-at-home order is set to expire Monday. It will be replaced with a safer at home order, which will allow several retail businesses to reopen, but at limited capacity.

Montanas plans to reopen began Sunday with places of worship becoming operational at reduced capacity and with encouragement to follow social distancing guidelines. Some businesses will reopen Monday, with restaurants and bars expected to reopen May 4.

New Yorks governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, said that after May 15, when his executive order shutting down the state is set to expire, construction and manufacturing businesses may be able to reopen in the least hard-hit regions. But the states populous southern section, including New York City and its suburbs, would likely not reopen any time soon.

Even as states begin to loosen their social distancing restrictions, businesses are confronting deep uncertainty, and many corporate executives say it is simply too soon to come back. Businesses large and small are sticking with having employees work from home or have decided to wait to reopen.

A Michigan state senator apologizes for wearing a mask resembling the Confederate flag.

A Republican state lawmaker in Michigan apologized this weekend for wearing a mask resembling the Confederate flag on the Senate floor on Friday, saying that there were no excuses for what he called an error in judgment.

The senator, Dale Zorn, initially told the television station WLNS on Friday that the mask was made by his wife and was not a Confederate flag, though he said it will probably raise some eyebrows.

But in a statement released on Saturday, Mr. Zorn expressed remorse for the choice and said that while he hadnt meant to offend anyone, I realize that I did, and for that I am sorry.

My actions were an error in judgment for which there are no excuses, he said. I will learn from this episode.

Mr. Zorn told WLNS that the history of the Confederate battle flag should be taught in schools.

Its something we cant just throw away because it is part of our history, he said. And if we want to make sure that the atrocities that happened during that time doesnt happen again, we should be teaching it. Our kids should know what that flag stands for.

In an interview with the television station, he wore a manufactured mask, saying he switched what he was wearing because I didnt want my actions to cause a negative effect to the institution, alluding to the State Senate.

What might distance dining look like? Restaurants start to imagine.

Chefs and public health officials around the country have begun considering how a reopened restaurant might look. Although many restaurateurs are still unsure if they will ever open their doors again, there are plenty from fast-food operators to chefs at the most elite temples of haute cuisine who spend their days strategizing how to get back to hosting diners.

As the first of the nations scattered restaurant openings in Georgia and Alaska get the green light, culinary and health organizations are drawing up guidelines and protocols for re-creating the American dining room as a safe space even while acknowledging that could take many months or even longer to happen.

The first step in the long crawl back will be setting standards to protect workers and diners. The most pragmatic thing we need to figure out right now is safety protocol, said David Chang, the restaurateur and media star. We are all asking for that, and no one really knows.

The questions pile up fast. Should you rely on disposable paper menus, or is wiping down plastic-covered ones safe? What kind of thermometers are best to check employees health, and will diners submit to temperature checks? Can air-conditioning spread the virus? What is a restaurants liability if a customer gets sick? How does a sommelier taste wine while wearing a mask, and how do you rewrite a menu so cooks can stay safe in the tight confines of a restaurant kitchen?

Once you go down this rabbit hole, its going to make your brain bleed, Mr. Chang said.

African-American leaders in Georgia slam the states reopening moves.

Several African-American leaders in Georgia, including the mayors of Atlanta, Savannah and Augusta, criticized the decision by Gov. Brian Kemp to allow gyms, barbershops, tattoo parlors and spas in the state to reopen last Friday, houses of worship to resume in-person services, and restaurants and theaters to reopen on Monday.

That stance seemed to put them in agreement with President Trump, who said the move was too soon. But Stacey Abrams, who ran against Mr. Kemp in 2018, distanced herself from the president.

I give President Trump no credit, she told Jake Tapper on CNN. He actually caused this challenge, by tweeting for weeks that we should liberate our economies. And when someone took him up on it, he did as he normally does, which is bend to what he thinks public opinion is.

Critics of the early reopening include influential clergy members like Jamal Bryant, pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist, an Atlanta-area megachurch, and the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, who is running for the U.S. Senate in a special election against Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Republican appointed to the seat by Governor Kemp. Dr. Warnock is the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist, Martin Luther King Jr.s home church.

Mr. Bryant, in a Facebook Live video, said the reopening was derelict of responsibility and absent of moral integrity, and aimed specifically at places African-Americans like to gather, like salons and barbershops, right after many people had received their stimulus checks.

Mr. Kemp has called his policy a measured return. I think this is the right approach at the right time, he told reporters. Its not just throwing the keys back to these business owners.

When Ms. Abrams was asked about accusations that the governors move showed disregard for black people, she said, I will tell you that, in the state of Georgia, African-Americans comprise 32 percent of the population, yet were 54 percent of the deaths.

She added, We know that communities of color suffer from systemic inequities that can be addressed in this pandemic, but only if the federal government pays attention, and if states do what they can to protect their communities.

U.S. testing needs a huge technology breakthrough.

A different type of coronavirus test is required to screen the U.S. population on the necessary scale, Dr. Birx said Sunday, saying that it will take a huge technology breakthrough to get there.

Whats needed, she said on NBCs Meet the Press, is a screening test that detects antigens, like the screening tests used for flu, strep and other diseases. Antigens stimulate the body to produce antibodies, and are essentially evidence of an immune response.

We have to be able to detect the antigen, rather than constantly trying to detect the actual live virus or the viral particles itself, and to really move into antigen testing, she said. The current RNA tests, which are more precise but more laborious, would then be used to confirm diagnoses.

Dr. Birx also spoke about another category of tests, those for antibodies, which indicate past exposure rather than detect a current infection. She said she thought the World Health Organization was being very cautious in its recent report that found no evidence that people who have recovered from the virus and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.

Reliable antibody tests will be vital as states begin reopening their economies and allowing people to return to work and public spaces. A recent analysis of 14 antibody tests by a team of scientists found that only three delivered consistently reliable results, and even those had some flaws.

On CNNs State of the Union, Dr. Birx did not disagree with the W.H.O.s statement, but she said the C.D.C. and F.D.A. were gathering data that would help improve and refine antibody tests. With all of that data together, I think, its going to create a very clear picture about antibodies, she said.

Dr. Birx acknowledged that the nation was not using existing testing capacities to the fullest. She said the administration was working with states to identify all their testing sites and supply the needed swabs and chemical reagents.

The dilemma for volunteers: Save lives, or stay safe?

In Teaneck, N.J., half of the towns volunteer ambulance corps is out sick, in quarantine or staying home to avoid potential exposure to the coronavirus. In Rockville, Md., a hard-hit Washington suburb, more than 10 percent of the 160-member volunteer ambulance force has stopped taking shifts. And in a rural Iowa county with one of the states highest infection rates, the Dysart Ambulance Service has just 22 volunteers sharing two ambulances and covering 150 square miles.

As the virus has continued its spread into suburbs and rural towns, overwhelming hospitals and emergency medical workers, it also has taken a toll on scores of volunteer emergency response units, many of which are the sole responders in critical and urgent situations.

Even if the worst-case scenarios from Covid-19 dont play out, youre going to have a lot of departments that are in a really difficult spot, said David Finger, chief of legislative and regulatory affairs for the National Volunteer Fire Council, which represents firefighters and other emergency responders.

More than 80 percent of the nations 30,000 fire departments are entirely or mostly volunteer, providing emergency care to about one-third of the countrys population. And while more than 60 percent of the fire departments across the nation provide basic or advanced life support, those in smaller rural communities areas already dangerously short on health care and often dependent on part-time volunteers to transport patients to hospitals are less likely to offer emergency medical services.

Ive never seen anything like this, said Jules Scadden, the director of emergency medical services in Dysart, Iowa, a farming community in Tama County, where an outbreak at a nursing home led to more than 230 positive cases and seven deaths.

The Trump administrations abrupt sidelining last week of Dr. Rick Bright, who led the federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine, is likely to delay progress and cause other complications, according to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who was the F.D.A. commissioner until August 2019.

Speaking Sunday on the CBS program Face the Nation, Dr. Gottlieb praised Dr. Bright, who led the Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA.

He was effective, Dr. Gottlieb said. I think changing leadership in that position right now, certainly, is going to set us back. Its hard to argue that thats not going to have some impact on the continuity. He added. Businesses, companies that need to collaborate with BARDA, are a little bit more reluctant now to embrace BARDA, now that there is a cloud hanging over it and some uncertainty about the leadership.

The drug was repeatedly described by President Trump and his allies as a potential game changer, but in clinical trials so far, the results have been poor.

I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit, he said.

The next aid bill must help states and cities, Democrats say.

As officials warn that a fifth round of federal aid will probably be necessary to mitigate the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, Democrats in Congress are doubling down on their insistence that the next round include money for state and local governments.

Unlike the federal government, states must balance their budgets, and have seen their tax revenue plummet with the shutdown of much of the economy, even as surging unemployment and emergency response needs have drained their resources.

Kevin Hassett, a senior adviser to the White House, acknowledged that the federal government would probably have to help the states. The economic lift for policymakers is an extraordinary one, he said.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has repeatedly said in recent days that he would like to wait before pursuing another sweeping package, given that Congress has already approved nearly $3 trillion in economic aid of various kinds in two months. But Democrats say aid for states and localities cannot wait.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, blocked the most recent bill, which replenished a loan program for small businesses, until it included money for hospitals and testing. But Republicans balked at including more funds for states and localities, and the bill ultimately passed without it.

On Sunday, Ms. Pelosi rejected the suggestion that Democrats could have done more. Asked to respond to criticism from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, Ms. Pelosi said on the CNN program State of the Union: Just calm down. We will have state and local, and we will have it in a very significant way.

As for the most recent bill, she said, Judge it for what it does. Dont criticize it for what it doesnt.

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, declined to weigh in on the debate on Sunday.

This is something well consider but our focus right now is really on execution, Mr. Mnuchin said on Fox News. If we need to spend more money, we will, and well only do it with bipartisan support.

How the virus ravaged an immigrant city near Boston.

Separated from Boston by the Mystic River, Chelsea, Mass., is a world apart, a first stop for immigrant families Lithuanian, Polish, Irish, and more recently, Honduran and Guatemalan who cannot afford the bigger citys sky-high rents.

It has a population density of nearly 17,000 people per square mile, with whole families crowding into single rooms in triple-decker rowhouses, buildings with high rates of lead paint, asbestos and air pollution.

This spring, the virus collided disastrously with the citys overcrowded housing. A warning flare came in the second week of April, when, late at night, a young mother called the city housing authority from the street; she had disclosed her test results to her roommates, and they had kicked her out.

It dawned on me that this situation was going to replicate itself, said Thomas Ambrosino, Chelseas city manager, and we better have a solution.

For Paul Nowicki, the director of operations for the housing authority in the city, one difficulty has been safeguarding residents in a building when he cannot locate infected people.

Many leaders will face the same stubborn challenge: How, in a country that values its citizens medical privacy and autonomy, can authorities separate the sick from the well?

The question is an urgent one if public life is to resume.

In West Virginia and Ohio, much-needed hospitals are no longer operating.

A wide stretch of West Virginia and Ohio is fighting the coronavirus pandemic with 530 fewer hospital beds than it had last year, after a for-profit company shut down three of the areas larger hospitals.

Beginning in 2014, Alecto Healthcare Services acquired the three hospitals: Fairmont Medical Center in Fairmont, W.Va., Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling, W.Va., and East Ohio Regional Hospital in neighboring Martins Ferry, Ohio. Employees expected the new ownership to put the institutions on solid footing after years of financial struggle.

Instead, decisions made by Alecto wound up undercutting patient care and undermining the hospitals finances, according to more than two dozen interviews with doctors, nurses, other staff members, government officials and patients, as well as a review of court records.

Doctors were fired to save on salaries; many patients followed them elsewhere. Medical supplies ran short. Vendors went unpaid. Finally, one after another, the three hospitals ceased operating.

The counties they serve have already recorded 171 coronavirus cases and nine deaths. Hundreds of people whose lungs were scarred by decades in coal mines are vulnerable to a devastating respiratory syndrome caused by the virus, doctors said.

Weve now got a hospital that existed for over 100 years that, in the middle of a pandemic, sits empty, said Jonathan Board, chairman of the Marion County Chamber of Commerces board of directors, referring to Fairmont.

Read the rest here: Live Coronavirus News and Updates - The New York Times
No 10’s coronavirus briefings: stick to the script and hope no one sees your nose growing – The Guardian

No 10’s coronavirus briefings: stick to the script and hope no one sees your nose growing – The Guardian

May 3, 2020

Not all lockdown masterclasses involve unwelcome exertion. By now, anyone who has been watching the daily Downing Street coronavirus press briefings, even intermittently, should have acquired enough skill in evasion and excuses to present one, if not to a professional standard, certainly as persuasively as the average UK cabinet minister. The following technique can be mastered in as little as six weeks.

1. Congratulate the prime minister if he has produced another child, wish him a great recovery/holiday if he is unavoidably absent. Conscious or not, he is in great spirits. Introduce your scientists. Pray that they include Jenny Harries, Englands deputy chief medical officer, whose deflection methods are unrivalled. Recall, for instance, her wish for a more adult conversation on personal protective equipment, following evidence that shortages are endangering lives.

2. Firm voice on, before an update on the governments step-by-step battle plan to defeat the virus. Recite, slowly and clearly, the five tests. This should use up at least five minutes. Repeat, as required by ministers since 9 March, that the government is taking the right decisions at the right time, based on the latest scientific advice.

3. Solemn face. Report the latest infection and death figures. Condolences. Reflect, instructively, that these grim numbers are a reminder of just how serious the virus is, showing that your five-point plan is correct.

4. A more positive note. Congratulate the heroic frontline, ditto the sacrifice of the British people, in rising to the challenge. You are proud of their determination to turn the tide and win the war. Beating this enemy is a team effort. (The forthcoming press attacks are therefore tantamount to siding with the enemy.)

5. But admit there are challenges. Cannot sugar-coat. Unprecedented times. Select any or all of the following: you are working night and day, round the clock, fighting tooth and nail, unflinchingly and unblinkingly moving heaven and earth and straining every sinew while you move mountains in a herculean, mammoth effort to get to the light at the end of the tunnel.

6. Dont mention care homes.

7. Today, the government can announce it is ramping up something. At pace. Budget of millions. On anything from badges to research. A jingoistic comparison is, at this point, recommended. Although maybe not Boris Johnsons fantasy, from 16 March, that the UK is now leading a global campaign to fight back. Substitute: Our world-leading scientific experts.

8. Finally, recite the approved slogan (on the front of the lecterns, if youve forgotten) and its over to a scientist for the latest curve-flattening data. Since the UK figures will be among the worst in the world, emphasise that comparisons are meaningless.

What follows press questions is not always as straightforward, even now favoured civilians are, in a rare borrowing from Jeremy Corbyn, invited to use up time and, being warmly praised, show up the journalists. Even in our darkest moments, as the first secretary, Dominic Raab, recently said, the crisis has also shone a light on the best among us. Step forward, Lynne in Skipton.

Happily, the virtual plague set-up does afford some defence against hostile interrogation. Observe how the health secretary, Matt Hancock, learned smartly to introduce the next questioner, closing down an annoying one. And remember some journalists will always ask, basically: Are we nearly there yet? Take at least three minutes to revisit the five tests.

Even death-obsessed hacks, rehearsing Britains fatal delays during Johnsons sing Happy Birthday period, may feel awkward about associating an individual minister with failures, effectively, unforgivable negligence. But deploy accompanying scientists, in case of such attacks, as your bespoke, personal protection equipment. We have followed the science and always made the right decisions at the right time.

Try answering a difficult question with Raabs speciality the response to a different one. How many tests completed? Journalists still bringing up Johnsons early pledge of 250,000 a day? Also irrelevant. Were ramping up. Herculean effort. Finest military planners in the world.

On PPE, the guidance is similar: befuddle them with billions of items, deploy the heroic working night and day/all hours God sends and agree, fervently, on the need. So lets hope the heroic frontline isnt wasting it. We need, Hancock warned on 10 April, everyone to treat PPE like the precious resource that it is.

Theres no avoiding care homes. Improvise. Say these were a top priority from the start and hope nobody remembers Johnsons vague advice, as late as 16 March, against unnecessary visits. Hancock recalls, future inquiries will note, that in January one of the first things we knew about this virus was that it had a very strong age profile, as in it was much more dangerous for older people. But he wants to dispute the suggestion that the sector had been desperate for tests, thered been these index ones and no doubt many lives were saved as a result.

That the government, by way of building trust, is committed to defending clear failures with vastly tragic consequences was re-established last week when a returning Johnson depicted almost 27,000 deaths as a good outcome, for not being 500,000. Plainly, if Dominic Cummings did not calculate that such misrepresentations were, regardless of the press mischief, politically advantageous, the briefings would not be happening.

But for all the obfuscation they allow glimpses of the truth. It cant have been the intention to expose the dismaying inadequacies of Johnsons cabinet, selected, as its members mostly were, for loyalty rather than intelligence or experience. It cant have been Cummingss plan to underline the culpability of a leader who bequeaths as his substitute in a national crisis a man you would not trust with a stepladder.

Perhaps the lingering memory of these sessions will be ministers collective adherence to a script composed by the authors of Get Brexit Done, which no death toll is big enough to revise. No scientist should have to take responsibility for that.

Catherine Bennett is an Observer columnist

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Live Coronavirus in the US Updates – The New York Times

Live Coronavirus in the US Updates – The New York Times

May 3, 2020

Governors move ahead with reopening, despite health worries.

Governors across the country forged ahead Monday with plans to reopen their economies, even as the nation hit a grim milestone of 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus and public health experts warned against lifting stay-at-home orders too quickly.

Texas, with its population of nearly 30 million, made one of the most expansive moves toward reopening when Gov. Greg Abbott announced that stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls would be allowed to reopen with limited capacity on Friday. Mr. Abbott had previously lifted some restrictions, but his announcement on Monday brought his state to the brink of a complete reopening.

In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled a more incremental reopening plan that would allow manufacturing work to resume and offices to reopen next week.

Mr. DeWine was the first governor to shut down schools statewide and has taken among the most aggressive approaches, but he said there was a growing risk to the economy if Ohio did not start reopening.

I think we found the spot that is most likely to cause less damage, more likely to cause good, Mr. DeWine said. But it is a risk, and I fully understand the risk.

New coronavirus infections and deaths appear to be plateauing on a national level, but they are still surging in some of the states and counties reopening this week. Health experts worry that reopening prematurely without sufficient testing, protective equipment and other safeguards could fuel another spike in cases.

Florida and Arizona have stay-at-home orders due to expire on Thursday, but the governors of both states have been vague about their plans. Gov. Ron DeSantis said that while he had discussed how to reopen with other Southern states, Florida required its own rules.

Workers say they are living in limbo as they watch other states reopen and worry about the risks of going back to work versus the bills piling up.

In Nevada, where the stay-at-home order expires on Thursday, Deidra Young, a bartender, feels torn. If my work does call me, I honestly want to say no, Ms. Young said. But will I not get unemployment if I refuse?

It was an agonizing calculation, she said: We all want to go back to work, but we dont want to get sick.

The White House unveils a testing plan, but Democrats are skeptical.

President Trump, under growing pressure to expand testing as states move to reopen their economies, unveiled a plan on Monday to ramp up the federal governments help to states, but his proposal runs far short of what most public health experts say is necessary.

The announcement came after weeks of the president insisting, inaccurately, that the nations testing capability was fully sufficient to begin opening up the country.

An administration official said the federal government aimed to give states the ability to test at least 2 percent of their populations per month, though Mr. Trump did not use that figure at Mondays briefing and it was not in his written plan. Instead, he said the United States would double the number of tests it had been doing.

The plan was met with swift criticism from Democrats, including Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who said in a statement that it said nothing new and will accomplish nothing new.

It doesnt set specific, numeric goals, offer a time frame, identify ways to fix our broken supply chain or offer any details whatsoever on expanding lab capacity or activating needed manufacturing capacity, said Ms. Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate Health Committee.

Perhaps most pathetically, it attempts to shirk obviously federal responsibilities by assigning them solely to states instead, she said.

In the past, the Trump administration has sometimes promised large increases in testing that it has failed to deliver. The administration has also steadfastly resisted calls to nationalize the production and distribution of coronavirus test kits, and the plan Mr. Trump unveiled reiterated that stance, making clear that the states are still primarily responsible for testing and Washington is the supplier of last resort.

Rather than the more comprehensive surveillance testing sought by many public health experts, the administration is focused on a more limited goal of sentinel testing of targeted sites that are particularly vulnerable, like nursing homes and inner-city health centers.

In the seven weeks since the president promised that anyone who needed a test could get one, the United States has conducted about 5.4 million tests, far more than any other country, but still the equivalent of about 1.6 percent of the total population.

A group of experts convened by Harvard Universitys Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics has called for five million tests a day by early June, ramping up to 20 million per day by late July.

In a call with governors, Trump suggests some states should reopen schools.

President Trump suggested to the nations governors on Monday that some should move to reopen their public schools before the end of the academic year, an indication that he is growing impatient with the widespread closures to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

Some of you might start to think about school openings, Mr. Trump said on a conference call with the governors, according to an audio recording obtained by The New York Times. The young children have done very well in this disaster that weve all gone through, so a lot of people are thinking about the school openings.

Addressing Vice President Mike Pence, who was also on the call, Mr. Trump added, I think its something, Mike, they can seriously consider and maybe get going on it.

The presidents nudge on school openings runs counter to the advice of medical experts and came unbidden during a conversation about testing and respirator use.

Mr. Trump reiterated his desire to see schools open Monday evening at the White House, saying, I think youll see a lot of schools open up, even for a short period of time.

At least one state was already moving forward with the possibility of reopening schools. Montana, which has among the fewest cases and deaths, will give schools the option to reopen starting May 7.

Earlier Monday, Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said on CNBC that there was a chance schools in New Jersey would reopen in some fashion before the end of June.

In the portion of the recording obtained by The Times, no governor chimed in to agree or disagree with the president.

Attorney General William P. Barr on Monday asked federal prosecutors around the country to look out for emergency state or local orders issued to contain the pandemic that could also violate constitutional rights and civil liberties, and to fight them in court if needed.

If a state or local ordinance crosses the line from an appropriate exercise of authority to stop the spread of Covid-19 into an overbearing infringement of constitutional and statutory protections, the Department of Justice may have an obligation to address that overreach in federal court, Mr. Barr wrote in a memo.

Matthew Schneider, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, will work with Eric Dreiband, the head of the Justice Departments Civil Rights division, to oversee and coordinate the effort.

Mr. Barr has signaled for weeks that he will combat shutdown orders that violate the Constitution. The Justice Department filed a motion this month in support of a Baptist church in Greenville, Miss., that sued the city and its mayor for outlawing the congregations drive-in church services even as the city allowed drive-in restaurants to serve customers. The city fined churchgoers but later withdrew the fines, and Greenville has since changed its order. Lawyers for the church said that the legal matter would most likely be dropped.

In California, a lawsuit filed on Monday in federal court on behalf of a firearms instructor at a Sacramento gun club and a Republican candidate for Congress charged that the states stay-at-home order unconstitutionally denied them a permit to demonstrate outside the State Capitol last week.

The case is the second this month brought by Harmeet Dhillon, the chairwoman of the states Republican National Committee, and the Center for American Liberty, a civil liberties nonprofit group she founded. An earlier suit argued unsuccessfully that churches had been unfairly deemed nonessential.

Some businesses reopen, but fear may keep customers away.

Many business owners in states that are easing restrictions and allowing some businesses to reopen said they were uncertain about all the new rules, and were trying to make sense of a cacophony of messages from President Trump, governors, county commissioners and mayors.

I couldnt sleep last night because I was so confused, Jose Oregel, who owns a barbershop in Greeley, Colo., said on Monday morning, an hour before he was expecting his first customers, who will get haircuts from barbers wearing masks and gloves.

In Colorado, real estate showings were allowed to restart on Monday as the governors stay-at-home order expired, and pet owners were able to take their animals to the vet for nonemergency operations. At the same time, Denver and many surrounding suburbs extended their closure orders.

In Georgia, where Gov. Brian Kemps decision to let restaurants reopen to eat-in diners on Monday despite an uptick in deaths drew criticism from Mr. Trump, many Atlanta establishments decided not to do so. One restaurant that tried was Rocky Mountain Pizza Company, near the Georgia Institute of Technology. It opened its doors Monday morning, but as of 12:30 p.m., no one had come to sit down for lunch.

I cannot imagine myself going to a pub or a restaurant right now, said Filippos Tagklis, 30, a graduate student at Georgia Tech, as he walked his dog by the restaurant.

Black and Latino Americans entered the coronavirus crisis with lower incomes and less wealth than whites. In the early months of the outbreak, they suffered disproportionately high rates of infection and job loss.

It is a pick-your-poison fact of a crisis that has exacerbated racial and socioeconomic inequality in the United States: The pandemic has knocked millions of the most economically vulnerable Americans out of work. Rushing to reopen their employers could offer them a financial lifeline, but at a potentially steep cost to their health.

Americans who earn $50,000 a year or less are more than twice as likely to say they or a family member have lost jobs amid the crisis as those who earn more than $150,000. Higher earners and whites are far more likely to say they can work from home during the pandemic than lower earners and black and Latino Americans, according to an April poll for The New York Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey.

Simon Mongey and Alex Weinberg, economists at the University of Chicago, released a study last month that found those workers were disproportionately nonwhite, low income, born outside the United States and not college graduates.

There could be immense and devastating income effects that could be involved with this evolving depression, said William A. Darity Jr., a leading scholar of economic discrimination in the United States. Inequality, he said, has been horrendous in recent years, and I can only imagine those disparities would get worse.

The known U.S. death toll exceeds 50,000, with nearly a million cases.

More than 50,000 people have died from the virus in the United States, which has more confirmed cases and deaths than any other nation, according to a tally by The New York Times.

And as the outbreak spread, the nations total number of confirmed cases continued to climb toward one million, reaching more than 987,000.

The tally does not include more than 5,200 people in New York City and smaller numbers in other states and U.S. territories who died and are believed to have had the virus. Many of those patients were not tested, a consequence of a strained medical system and a persistent lack of testing capacity.

Even as case numbers have stabilized in some hard-hit cities, including New Orleans and Seattle, other places have seen growth.

The counties that include Los Angeles and Chicago added more than 1,000 new cases on several recent days. In Massachusetts, numbers surpassed 54,000 on Sunday, up from 38,000 a week earlier. And across the Midwest and Great Plains, production at meatpacking plants had slowed or stopped because of large outbreaks, including one that sickened more than 1,000 people in South Dakota.

In New York, hundreds of deaths are announced each day, though those numbers are far below their peak earlier this month. Now, 60 percent of voters in New York City say they personally know someone who tested positive, and 46 percent know someone who died of the virus, according to a poll by the Siena College Research Institute.

Congressional leaders announced on Monday that the House and Senate would both return to session in Washington next week despite a stay-at-home order from the citys mayor.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said that his chamber would modify routines in ways that are smart and safe, but that Americans expected senators to be working.

House leaders said they would also convene on Monday but told lawmakers to anticipate a scaled-back voting schedule and more emphasis on restarting work by committees that will conduct oversight of the Trump administrations virus response and other routine business.

Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat, said the House would vote next week with or without Republican support to change its rules to allow proxy voting and virtual committee meetings abilities that could allow the chamber to operate more fully on a remote basis in the weeks ahead.

Still, some Democratic lawmakers were uneasy about packing back into the Capitol at a time when health experts have repeatedly warned against travel and group gatherings. On a Democratic conference call on Monday, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida, called the plan to return dangerous, according to two people on the call who described the private discussion on the condition of anonymity.

Amid high demand for small-business aid, the website for processing loans crashes.

Less than an hour after the Small Business Administration on Monday morning resumed taking requests for another $310 billion in emergency aid for small businesses, its computer system for processing the loan applications crashed.

Its obvious the system is simply flooded right now, said Craig Street, the chief lending officer at United Midwest Savings Bank in Columbus, Ohio. Its been very stop and start, with no real way to know whether it is working other than to keep hitting the submit button.

It was a rocky resumption for the Paycheck Protection Program, a stimulus initiative that offers small companies forgivable loans to cover their payrolls. The program began early this month, but its initial round of funding $342 billion was depleted in 13 days and the agency stopped accepting requests, leaving hundreds of thousands of borrowers frozen out until Congress provided a new funding round last week. The government began accepting applications for it at 10:30 a.m. on Monday.

Officials at the Small Business Administration, which is managing the program, did not immediately respond to questions about the technical problems that lenders were reporting with E-Tran, the agencys computer system for processing loans.

A New York Times investigation found that dozens of large but lower-profile companies with financial or legal problems had received large payouts under the program, according to an analysis of the more than 200 publicly traded companies that have disclosed receiving a total of more than $750 million in bailout loans. Some companies, including Potbelly Sandwich Shops, the Los Angeles Lakers and Shake Shack, said they would return their loans.

Data shows more people are going outside and more often.

The changes in behavior, tracked using cellphone location data, have been measured in the past two weeks and can be seen in all but three states.

Lei Zhang, director of the Maryland Transportation Institute at the University of Maryland, College Park, which is leading the research, said that the data suggested that people were growing increasingly restless and that they were increasing the chances that they would interact with others and possibly spread the virus.

This virus doesnt go home because its a beautiful sunny day around our coasts, Mr. Newsom said.

He said he would present more details on reopening the economy on Tuesday but stressed that any relaxation of the states shutdown would be contingent on definitive evidence of a decline in hospitalizations and a ramped up ability to test for the virus, among other conditions.

The comments came as six counties in the Bay Area that put in place the nations first shelter-in-place orders in March announced that the orders would be extended through the end of May. At the same time, the governor has come under pressure to ease restrictions in areas less affected by the pandemic.

Oil prices are collapsing again.

Oil prices plunged on Monday, with the American benchmark hurtling toward the $10 a barrel mark, as fears about a global glut in crude continued to weigh on energy markets.

But the S&P 500 rose more than 1 percent, and European benchmarks rose 1 to 3 percent after a broadly higher day in Asia.

Since last week, investors have been panicked about oil storage facilities running out of capacity as producers continued to pump oil even as demand collapsed. That concern is most acute in the United States, where storage facilities in Cushing, Okla., are expected to reach capacity in May.

It is one reason the collapse in futures of American crude has been so much sharper than the global benchmark. On Monday, West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, was down about 27 percent at a little more than $12 a barrel. At the same time, Brent crude, the global benchmark, was down about 9 percent to just above $19 a barrel.

One factor behind the difference in price is that the Cushing facilities are landlocked, reachable only by pipeline, whereas Brent supplies can be reached by boat and either stored there or placed at facilities around the globe. Investors betting on an eventual rebound in oil prices are filling oil tankers up with as much as two million barrels per vessel and parking them out at sea.

Global cuts in oil production are set to start on Friday, after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, along with Russia and other producers, agreed to reduce daily output by 9.7 million barrels a day, which is close to 10 percent of global output.

The C.D.C. expands its list of symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added six possible symptoms of the virus to its list, a step that reflects the broad variation and unpredictability of the effects of the illness.

Echoing the observations of doctors treating thousands of patients, the federal health agency this month changed its website to cite chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell as possible indicators of Covid-19.

The C.D.C. had listed just three symptoms: fever, cough and shortness of breath. The agency made no public announcement when it added the new symptoms to its website on April 18, and it did not immediately respond to questions about the revised list.

The revised C.D.C. list differs somewhat from the symptoms described by the World Health Organization on its website: fever, dry cough and tiredness. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, sore throat or diarrhea, the W.H.O. says. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.

The White House canceled and then rescheduled Mondays daily task force briefing.

Never mind. Less than two hours after the White House canceled the daily coronavirus news briefing, it rescheduled it, saying that the president would make an announcement on testing.

The White House has additional testing guidance and other announcements about safely opening up America again, Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, wrote on Twitter. President @realDonaldTrump will brief the nation during a press conference this evening.

The White House scheduled the newly slated news conference for the Rose Garden at 5 p.m., the same time the briefing was originally scheduled before it was canceled shortly before lunch. Some of Mr. Trumps aides and allies had expressed concern that the briefings had become a liability for the president, and he himself said over the weekend that they were not worth the time & effort. But Mr. Trump has rarely resisted news media appearances for long.

A House panel opens an investigation into Trumps decision to halt W.H.O. funding.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday announced it would open an investigation into Mr. Trumps decision to halt funding to the World Health Organization, calling the move a political distraction from the administrations lackluster response to the pandemic.

Attacking the W.H.O., rather than the Covid-19 outbreak, will only worsen an already dire situation by undermining one of our key tools to fight the spreading disease, Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Mr. Trump said earlier this month that he planned to cut off American funding for the organization, blaming the agency for a 20-fold increase in cases worldwide and claiming the W.H.O. had become too China-centric.

His criticisms mirrored those of Republican lawmakers who have accused the organizations leaders of being too trusting of Beijing regarding Chinas response.

The Democratic-led House recently created an oversight panel focused on the Trump administrations response.

Houston reels from oil-market chaos on top of a virus shutdown.

Cities across the country are struggling under the economic shadow of the virus. But few have to deal with the collapse of their fundamental industry the way Houston, the self-proclaimed energy capital of the world, has as oil prices have plummeted.

On the same day that the price for U.S. crude oil fell to about $30 below zero a mind-bending concept that signaled the first time oil prices had ever turned negative Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston stood before reporters and delivered the grim news, his words muffled by the black mask covering his face.

City employees would soon be furloughed, the mayor announced, but he declined to say how many. The Houston Zoo, he said, could expect to see funding deferred under what he called the worst budget that the city will deal with in its history.

Officials there are bracing for worse.

Weve probably seen within weeks the same amount of economic shock that used to occur in years, said State Senator Paul Bettencourt, a Houston Republican whose district includes a stretch of Interstate 10 that is home to Shell, ConocoPhillips and other oil and gas giants. Weve gone through this before. The problem is we didnt do it in the middle of a pandemic.

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Representative Max Rose’s Son Was Born Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic. – The New York Times

Representative Max Rose’s Son Was Born Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic. – The New York Times

May 3, 2020

WASHINGTON As lawmakers gathered in the well of the House in the early hours of March 14 to vote on a sweeping coronavirus relief bill, Representative Max Rose, Democrat of New York, felt that the pandemic that had already begun spreading through the ranks of Congress was about to upend life as he knew it.

Hundreds of miles away in New York, his wife Leigh Rose, unaware that votes had finished just before 1 a.m., was frantically calling him, and then his roommate, Representative Jared Golden, Democrat of Maine, to let him know that his life was about to change in a much different way.

Buddy! Mr. Rose recalled Mr. Golden saying when he finally tracked Mr. Rose down. Youre having a kid.

The baby the Roses had long planned to adopt was about to be born, three weeks early. Now, the pair is navigating the first months of parenthood in the middle of a pandemic, figuring out how to secure formula and diapers in a shuttered city all while Mr. Rose juggles trips back and forth from Washington to vote. In the middle of it all, the first-term congressman from Staten Island deployed for two weeks with the National Guard to assist with coronavirus relief.

Think about this world that hes been brought into, startlingly different than the world was just several months before, Mr. Rose said of his newborn son. We just really want him to be safe, and happy, and healthy. Its scary.

But what a story of his birth, he added.

The prospect of parenthood had been simmering beneath the tumultuous events of Mr. Roses freshman term: a month after he took office during the nations longest government shutdown, the couple began pursuing the adoption process. The months of arduous paperwork and uncertainty continued through Mr. Roses adjustment to a weekly commute between Staten Island and Washington, and a summer of congressional investigations.

In November, as the impeachment inquiry consumed Capitol Hill, the couple learned they had been matched with a birth mother, whom they declined to identify out of respect for her privacy, and began preparing to welcome their baby in April. But in the wee hours of a Saturday morning in March, as Mr. Rose voted on coronavirus relief legislation, Ms. Rose learned that their son was about to be born right then. She jumped in her car and drove through the night to reach New England.

Miles Benjamin Rose was born at 2 a.m., and Mr. Rose got the first flight out of Washington later that day to meet his son.

Theres so many families that are going through exactly what were going through I mean with newborns with young children at home, Ms. Rose said. Were definitely not alone.

As the couple drove back to New York with their son, the city had begun to completely shutter to stem the spread of the virus. They agreed that Mr. Rose, an Afghanistan combat veteran who is a captain in the Army National Guard, should deploy to help with the citys response to the pandemic. He was the first member of Congress to do so, citing a desire to take a more personal role in providing relief to his constituents.

It was a decision that kept Mr. Rose physically apart from Ms. Rose and Miles for a month, during the deployment and then the mandated two-week isolation period to ensure that Mr. Rose had not contracted the coronavirus.

It was the right thing to do, Mr. Rose said. It was important to serve in this capacity at this moment.

Everybody is sacrificing far more than we have, he added, pointing to the doctors and nurses he met who were isolating in basements or hotels for far longer periods of time to protect their families and maintain their work.

Ms. Rose acknowledged the challenge of the circumstances, but added: Theres so many people that are struggling, and its so important for Max to take care of the people in our district.

In the moments when Mr. Rose could come home during his deployment, he would eat dinner on the trunk of their car in the garage 10 feet away from where Ms. Rose would stand with the baby. But then Mr. Rose had to isolate himself for another two weeks, keeping him from holding Miles, who is just starting to coo and smile, until Friday.

The pair has also tapped into the growing network of parents on Capitol Hill with young children. They ticked off a list of Mr. Roses Democratic colleagues Representatives Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, Pete Aguilar of California, Josh Gottheimer, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey and Antonio Delgado of New York among them and their spouses, who have repeatedly checked in on the couple in recent days.

I lean on them they understand the experiences that we have, said Ms. Rose, who recently joined a Zoom call with a dozen congressional spouses to check in.

It remains unclear, they said, how the couple will handle Mr. Roses trips to Washington, where coronavirus cases continue to escalate. The House is expected to return the week of May 11. Mr. Rose said having a newborn at home had only intensified his desire to institute a remote voting policy in times of emergency, to ease the burden on congressional families.

And the work on Capitol Hill and its consequences, he said, have become even more personal for him now that he is a father.

Were going to continue to find joy in our family, and the little moments each and every day, Mr. Rose said. And that joy and that optimism and that hope is even more important right now, because when we say that were all in this together, its our family with everyone elses.

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Berkshire Hathaway Lost $49.7 Billion in First Quarter Stung by Coronavirus – The New York Times

Berkshire Hathaway Lost $49.7 Billion in First Quarter Stung by Coronavirus – The New York Times

May 3, 2020

Not even Warren E. Buffett was spared financially from the coronavirus, as his conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway, reported a $49.7 billion loss in the first quarter on Saturday, reflecting the outbreaks toll on an investment portfolio that includes big stakes in major airlines and financial firms.

The loss was Berkshires biggest ever and a sharp swing from a $21.7 billion profit in the same quarter a year earlier. The conglomerates vast array of investments exposed it and Mr. Buffett, long considered one of the worlds top investors to huge swaths of the battered American economy.

Its total investment loss for the quarter, without accounting for operating earnings, was $54.5 billion. By comparison, its investment gain in all of 2019 was $56.3 billion.

Berkshire said it continued to sell stock in April, totaling $6.5 billion, plowing that money primarily into supersafe Treasury bills. Later Saturday, at his annual shareholders meeting, Mr. Buffett suggested that some of those sales involved Berkshires reversing its roughly 10 percent in the four largest U.S. airlines.

Berkshires investment loss tracked the overall slide in stock markets: The S&P 500 dropped 20 percent in the first quarter. (The companys biggest holdings are also mainstays of the S&P 500: American Express, Apple, Bank of America, Coca-Cola and Wells Fargo, with those stakes amounting to nearly $125 billion.)

The loss overshadowed a 6 percent rise in Berkshires operating earnings, which track the performance of the companys owned-and-operated businesses like the insurer Geico. Mr. Buffett regards that as a better measure of the companys overall performance and has long argued that quarterly paper gains or losses on its investments are often meaningless in understanding its overall health.

But it is hard to ignore the damage to a portfolio that includes stakes in financial firms like Bank of America and American Express, both of which reported steep drops in earnings for the first quarter, and four of the biggest U.S. airlines. (Berkshire also disclosed that the value of its stake in Kraft Heinz on its books exceeds the market value of that holding by about 40 percent, and warned that it might have to take a write-down on the investment in the future.)

Even some of the conglomerates wholly owned businesses, like the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad and retailers like Sees Candy, were hurt by the lockdowns that have shaken the U.S. economy. Still, Geico reported a 28 percent gain for the quarter, to $984 million, while Berkshires overall insurance investment profits rose modestly because of increased dividend income for the company.

The first-quarter results, in which Berkshire reported having $137.3 billion in cash, were released ahead of its first-ever online-only shareholder meeting. Sometimes described as a kind of Woodstock for capitalists, the meeting is usually a weekend-long Omaha extravaganza celebrating all things Buffett and Berkshire.

This year, it was a decidedly more subdued affair, reflecting the limits on mass gatherings and travel of the Covid-crisis era. Mr. Buffetts longtime business partner, 96-year-old Charlie Munger, did not attend, staying at home in Los Angeles.

It just didnt seem like a good idea to have him make the trip to Omaha, Mr. Buffett said, adding, Charlie is in fine shape, and hell be back next year.

Mr. Buffett was joined instead by Greg Abel, Berkshires vice chairman overseeing all of the companys non-insurance companies, who sat at a separate desk some distance from Mr. Buffett.

Instead of facing thousands of adoring and affluent shareholders, Mr. Buffett, noting that he hadnt had a haircut in seven weeks, held forth in an almost completely vacant Omaha arena that seats more than 17,000, as his comments were livestreamed.

Discussing the breakdown in the financial markets that prompted the Federal Reserve to drastically ramp up efforts to pump in fresh cash, he said, We came very close to having a total freeze of credit.

When it came to Berkshires stake in the airlines, Mr. Buffett said, I just decided that Id made a mistake.

He added that because of the pandemics impact on travel, the airline business and I may be wrong, and I hope Im wrong but I think it, it changed in a very major way.

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The coronavirus has exposed the imbalances in modern Britain – The Guardian

The coronavirus has exposed the imbalances in modern Britain – The Guardian

May 3, 2020

The words are straining to come out. Boris Johnson hero worships Winston Churchill so it is obvious how the prime minister will pitch this weeks announcement of the plan to get Britain out of lockdown.

In late 1942, victory in the north African desert had suggested that the tide of the war might have turned but Churchill was cautious. Now this is not the end, he said in a speech at Londons Mansion House. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Yet one reason it had taken Britain more than three years for this moment to arrive was that the country had been ill-prepared for war, something Churchill had complained about ceaselessly in speeches during the 1930s demanding rearmament against the fascist threat.

Johnson is unlikely to dwell on this chapter of Churchills career, but the fact remains that the country was ill-equipped to fight Covid-19 in February 2020, just as it was to fight Hitler in September 1939. Whats more, everything the government has done in the past two months makes that clear.

As in the 1930s, a decade of austerity, of penny-pinching and cheeseparing has taken its toll. Then it was a shortage of Hurricanes and Spitfires; this time it was a lack of trained nurses, intensive-care beds and ventilators.

One consolation for Neville Chamberlain when he eventually abandoned appeasement was that Britain still had formidable industrial capacity that could be converted to war production. The hollowing-out of manufacturing in successive waves over the past 40 years means that option no longer exists.

Britain still has world-class manufacturers but they operate in only a small number of sectors. The aversion to anything resembling an industrial strategy has left the country highly exposed to long supply chains. Most of these start in China, which as the NHS found when it took delivery of unusable ventilators cannot always be relied upon.

Nor has the UKs much-vaunted financial sector proved to be all that useful in a crisis. Despite government guarantees, the high street banks have been reluctant to lend, with the result that many businesses will not survive. Banks are quite prepared to provide mortgage loans where they can lend against an asset that on past form will appreciate over time: they are not really interested in lending to newly formed IT companies with bags of growth potential but which lack a financial track record. The decision by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to provide 100% loans for small businesses is proof that the system of providing business support is not fit for purpose.

The same applies to the welfare safety net. One of the lessons of the 1930s was that many of the men who were called up were in poor physical shape to fight as a result of disease, malnutrition and poor housing. Britain is a much richer and healthier country than it was 80 years ago, but poverty still kills. The Office for National Statistics data showing that the death rate in the most deprived parts of the Britain is double the rate in affluent areas tells its own story.

For the past decade, the governments narrative has been that the benefits system is too generous and that savings must be made. Yet within days of the lockdown being announced Sunak was increasing universal credit because the payments were not enough to live on. That remains the case.

The job of actually fighting the current war the poor bloody infantry in this instance has been groups whose role in keeping the economy going has long been overlooked: bus drivers, supermarket shelf-stackers, care home workers, nurses prominent among them. These are people who cant do their jobs from home, but who are putting themselves at risk after having just suffered a decade of public sector pay freezes and stagnant living standards. They are unlikely to react well to any attempt by the government to reimpose austerity once the economy is out of quarantine. The lesson of Labours landslide election victory in 1945 is that voters will look back at the pre-crisis world and come to a simple conclusion: never again.

Johnson knows this, which is why he is saying that this time the government will look after the people who suffer and not just the banks. Making good on this pledge will take some doing, and means learning some lessons.

The first is that getting the right big picture, macro-economic structure, right is crucial. It is not, though, just a question of repudiating austerity and gunning for as much activity as possible: growing the economy has to be consistent with greening the economy.

The second lesson is a bigger state has to be a smarter state, and that requires ceding more power to a local level. Britains heavily centralised approach to Covid-19 testing has compared badly to Germanys devolved model, for example.

A switched-on state would demand a price for the unprecedented amount of support it is providing. That might mean taking a stake in mid-sized manufacturing businesses, as the employers group Make UK has suggested. It would also mean bigger companies agreeing to put workers on boards, signing up to carbon-reduction targets or domiciling themselves in the UK for tax purposes. There should be no free lunches.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the imbalances in modern Britain. It has highlighted the need for more community-based banks, for more investment in vocational education, for an industrial strategy that encompasses the everyday economy as well as trendy hi-tech sectors, and for a stronger social safety net. Above all, it has made the case for greater national self-sufficiency so that we will be more resilient next time.

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The coronavirus has exposed the imbalances in modern Britain - The Guardian
Fomo haunted me for years  but the coronavirus pandemic cured me – The Guardian

Fomo haunted me for years but the coronavirus pandemic cured me – The Guardian

May 3, 2020

Six weeks in. How many more three-hour hikes can we take? How many more of natures arrangements of branches, fallen logs, colossal tree trunks, lichens, mosses, babbling brooks and antics of squirrels, can we gaze upon and marvel at?

How far can we take our amateur ornithology before it becomes the kind of obsession that defines the birder?

We got a new dog. We are cooking elaborately. I am sewing, patching holes in things. I am writing.

Im also sleeping 11 hours a night, on average. Wait, what? How did that happen? The woman who hasnt slept more than five hours straight a night for most of the last decade?

It took me a while to identify the cause: I have finally gotten over my Fomo, acronym for fear of missing out. Fomo haunted my nights for years, a rat in the dark at 2am, scratching up for review all the things I did not do to stay ahead of the game during the day.

Now, Fomo, like the handshake, belongs to another age.

I realized this a few days ago, while glancing in the mirror at my gray roots and looking down at my unkempt toenails. How swiftly the true body emerges from the polish and preening. At least I am not alone. No one else from millionaires to paupers is getting shined up or going anywhere. Im not missing any premieres with movie stars or other Manhattan diversions. I am not going to hear about a dinner party to which I alone was not invited. Nobodys got good hair right now.

The pandemic has exposed how much of our previous lives hung on vanity.

Of course we are still playing the old game. Instagramming gourmet food, candlelit dinner tables (I am a bit guilty of this), pets (guilty also), and sharing the more attractive angles of our Isolation Castles. For city people this means their apartments and brownstones, for us lucky enough to have houses in the country, flowers and fields and trees.

Fomo still lurks. A woman I follow on Instagram is married to one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. Early in the lockdown, she posted a video of herself in her bathrobe carrying a barista-worthy caffe latte, taking a brisk walk from one end of her California mansion to the other. The video lasted three or four minutes, involved several staircases, football fields of light-filled spaces, glimmers of ultra-modern furniture, breezeways of floor to ceiling glass revealing paradisal gardens. She was perspiring and breathing hard by the end of the video stroll. It was hard work covering all that ground.

Lacking the one-percenter concert-hall-size house, the rest of us have wanly stayed au courant by posting pictures from travels past selfies from before sheltering in place rendered us gray and flabby, or, as my husband says, before we gained the Covid-19 pounds.

Our governor calls this time a pause. New York state is on pause. But how hard it is to pause and do nothing! Once trees and lichens and darning socks and cooking fail to divert, a great darkness waits for our attention.

We are being stalked by a virus that attacks our lungs. Practitioners of traditional Chinese acupuncture believe unacknowledged grief sits in the lungs, leaving damage. Im not going to go all Gwyneth Paltrow, but it does seem reasonable to associate sorrow at least metaphorically with our lungs. Sobbing is, after all, a respiratory action.

Ive seen it. My mother, an Iraqi immigrant to the United States, developed pneumonia during the early days of the first Gulf war. She sat for 72 hours watching the bombardment on live TV and never cried. Then her back started to hurt. An X-ray found the shadow.

A few weeks ago, I had a bad cough. I didnt have a fever and it wasnt a dry cough, so I couldnt get tested for Covid-19 without a trip to a hospital. On the eighth day of being sick a sunny afternoon, forsythia in golden profusion all around us, birds chirping I saw a picture of the mass graves being dug in New York and started sobbing. Almost immediately I felt better.

I, in my great good fortune, sleep well while our medics work without protective gear. Every hour, every minute, right here and nowhere else, is precious, a new luxury. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are dying without loved ones nearby. Machines are lowering coffins into trenches in New York City. The list of possible lamentations is long. We could chant all day and night for months, sob loud enough to echo from New York to the monasteries of Tibet. For the dead, the sick, the koalas burned alive in Australia, the planet combusting with fossil fuel

I might never know if I had the virus. But for now, Im cured of Fomo.

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Coronavirus: BofA says US consumer spending starting to rebound  as it happened – Financial Times
Home | Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Outbreak

Home | Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Outbreak

May 3, 2020

Review your symptoms

Use the CDCs self-checker to help make decisions and seek appropriate medical care regarding COVID-19.

Wash hands often with soap and water 20 seconds or longer (or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol).

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The Covid-19 Riddle: Why Does the Virus Wallop Some Places and Spare Others? – The New York Times

The Covid-19 Riddle: Why Does the Virus Wallop Some Places and Spare Others? – The New York Times

May 3, 2020

The coronavirus has killed so many people in Iran that the country has resorted to mass burials, but in neighboring Iraq, the body count is fewer than 100.

The Dominican Republic has reported nearly 7,600 cases of the virus. Just across the border, Haiti has recorded about 85.

In Indonesia, thousands are believed to have died of the coronavirus. In nearby Malaysia, a strict lockdown has kept fatalities to about 100.

The coronavirus has touched almost every country on earth, but its impact has seemed capricious. Global metropolises like New York, Paris and London have been devastated, while teeming cities like Bangkok, Baghdad, New Delhi and Lagos have, so far, largely been spared.

The question of why the virus has overwhelmed some places and left others relatively untouched is a puzzle that has spawned numerous theories and speculations but no definitive answers. That knowledge could have profound implications for how countries respond to the virus, for determining who is at risk and for knowing when its safe to go out again.

There are already hundreds of studies underway around the world looking into how demographics, pre-existing conditions and genetics might affect the wide variation in impact.

Doctors in Saudi Arabia are studying whether genetic differences may help explain varying levels of severity in Covid-19 cases among Saudi Arabs, while scientists in Brazil are looking into the relationship between genetics and Covid-19 complications. Teams in multiple countries are studying if common hypertension medications might worsen the diseases severity and whether a particular tuberculosis vaccine might do the opposite.

Many developing nations with hot climates and young populations have escaped the worst, suggesting that temperature and demographics could be factors. But countries like Peru, Indonesia and Brazil, tropical countries in the throes of growing epidemics, throw cold water on that idea.

Draconian social-distancing and early lockdown measures have clearly been effective, but Myanmar and Cambodia did neither and have reported few cases.

One theory that is unproven but impossible to refute: maybe the virus just hasnt gotten to those countries yet. Russia and Turkey appeared to be fine until, suddenly, they were not.

Time may still prove the greatest equalizer: The Spanish flu that broke out in the United States in 1918 seemed to die down during the summer only to come roaring back with a deadlier strain in the fall, and a third wave the following year. It eventually reached far-flung places like islands in Alaska and the South Pacific and infected a third of the worlds population.

We are really early in this disease, said Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Research Institute. If this were a baseball game, it would be the second inning and theres no reason to think that by the ninth inning the rest of the world that looks now like it hasnt been affected wont become like other places.

Doctors who study infectious diseases around the world say they do not have enough data yet to get a full epidemiological picture, and that gaps in information in many countries make it dangerous to draw conclusions. Testing is woeful in many places, leading to vast underestimates of the viruss progress, and deaths are almost certainly undercounted.

Still, the broad patterns are clear. Even in places with abysmal record-keeping and broken health systems, mass burials or hospitals turning away sick people by the thousands would be hard to miss, and a number of places are just not seeing them at least not yet.

Interviews with more than two dozen infectious disease experts, health officials, epidemiologists and academics around the globe suggest four main factors that could help explain where the virus thrives and where it doesnt: demographics, culture, environment and the speed of government responses.

Each possible explanation comes with considerable caveats and confounding counter-evidence. If an aging population is the most vulnerable, for instance, Japan should be at the top of the list. It is far from it. Nonetheless these are the factors that experts find the most persuasive.

Many countries that have escaped mass epidemics have relatively younger populations.

Young people are more likely to contract mild or asymptomatic cases that are less transmissible to others, said Robert Bollinger, a professor of infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. And they are less likely to have certain health problems that can make Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, particularly deadly, according to the World Health Organization.

Africa with about 45,000 reported cases, a tiny fraction of its 1.3 billion people is the worlds youngest continent, with more than 60 percent of its population under age 25. In Thailand and Najaf, Iraq, local health officials found that the 20-to-29 age group had the highest rate of infection but often showed few symptoms.

By contrast, the national median age in Italy, one of the hardest hit countries, is more than 45. The average age of those who died of Covid-19 there was around 80.

Younger people tend to have stronger immune systems, which can result in milder symptoms, said Josip Car, an expert in population and global health at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

In Singapore and Saudi Arabia, for instance, most of the infections are among foreign migrant workers, many of them living in cramped dormitories. However, many of those workers are young and fit, and have not required hospitalization.

Along with youth, relative good health can lessen the impact of the virus among those who are infected, while certain pre-existing conditions notably hypertension, diabetes and obesity can worsen the severity, researchers in the United States say.

There are notable exceptions to the demographic theory. Japan, with the worlds oldest average population, has recorded fewer than 520 deaths, although its caseload has risen with increased testing.

And Dr. Jha of Harvard warns that some young people who are not showing symptoms are also highly contagious for reasons that are not well understood.

Cultural factors, like the social distancing that is built into certain societies, may give some countries more protection, epidemiologists said.

In Thailand and India, where virus numbers are relatively low, people greet each other at a distance, with palms joined together as in prayer. In Japan and South Korea, people bow, and long before the coronavirus arrived, they tended to wear face masks when feeling unwell.

In much of the developing world, the custom of caring for the elderly at home leads to fewer nursing homes, which have been tinder for tragic outbreaks in the West.

However, there are notable exceptions to the cultural distancing theory. In many parts of the Middle East, such as Iraq and the Persian Gulf countries, men often embrace or shake hands on meeting, yet most are not getting sick.

What might be called national distancing has also proven advantageous. Countries that are relatively isolated have reaped health benefits from their seclusion.

Far-flung nations, such as some in the South Pacific and parts of sub-Saharan Africa, have not been as inundated with visitors bringing the virus with them. Health experts in Africa cite limited travel from abroad as perhaps the main reason for the continents relatively low infection rate.

Countries that are less accessible for political reasons, like Venezuela, or because of conflict, like Syria and Libya, have also been somewhat shielded by the lack of travelers, as have countries like Lebanon and Iraq, which have endured widespread protests in recent months.

The lack of public transportation in developing countries may have also reduced the spread of the virus there.

The geography of the outbreak which spread rapidly during the winter in temperate zone countries like Italy and the United States and was virtually unseen in warmer countries such as Chad or Guyana seemed to suggest that the virus did not take well to heat. Other coronaviruses, such as ones that cause the common cold, are less contagious in warmer, moist climates.

But researchers say the idea that hot weather alone can repel the virus is wishful thinking.

Some of the worst outbreaks in the developing world have been in places like the Amazonas region of Brazil, as tropical a place as any.

The best guess is that summer conditions will help but are unlikely by themselves to lead to significant slowing of growth or to a decline in cases, said Marc Lipsitch, the director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard University.

The virus that causes Covid-19 appears to be so contagious as to mitigate any beneficial effect of heat and humidity, said Dr. Raul Rabadan, a computational biologist at Columbia University.

But other aspects of warm climates, like people spending more time outside, could help.

People living indoors within enclosed environments may promote virus recirculation, increasing the chance of contracting the disease, said Mr. Car of Nanyang Technological University.

The ultraviolet rays of direct sunlight inhibit this coronavirus, according to a study by ecological modelers at the University of Connecticut. So surfaces in sunny places may be less likely to remain contaminated, but transmission usually occurs through contact with an infected person, not by touching a surface.

No scientist has proposed that beaming light inside an infected person, as President Trump has suggested, would be an effective cure. And tropical conditions may have even lulled some people into a false sense of security.

People were saying Its hot here, nothing will happen to me, said Dr. Domnica Cevallos, a medical investigator in Ecuador. Some were even going out on purpose to sunbathe, thinking it would protect them from infection.

Countries that locked down early, like Vietnam and Greece, have been able to avoid out-of-control contagions, evidence of the power of strict social distancing and quarantines to contain the virus.

In Africa, countries with bitter experience with killers like H.I.V., drug-resistant tuberculosis and Ebola knew the drill and reacted quickly.

Airport staff from Sierra Leone to Uganda were taking temperatures (since found to be a less effective measure) and contact details and wearing masks long before their counterparts in the United States and Europe took such precautions.

Senegal and Rwanda closed their borders and announced curfews when they still had very few cases. Health ministries began contact tracing early.

All this happened in a region where health ministries had come to rely on money, personnel and supplies from foreign donors, many of which had to turn their attention to outbreaks in their own countries, said Catherine Kyobutungi, executive director of the African Population and Health Research Center.

Countries wake up one day and theyre like, OK, the weight of the country rests on our shoulders, so we need to step up, she said. And they have. Some of the responses have been beautiful to behold, honestly.

Sierra Leone repurposed disease-tracking protocols that had been established in the wake of the Ebola outbreak in 2014, in which almost 4,000 people died there. The government set up emergency operations centers in every district and recruited 14,000 community health workers, 1,500 of whom are being trained as contact tracers, even though Sierra Leone has only about 155 confirmed cases.

It is not clear, however, who will pay for their salaries or for expenses like motorcycles and raincoats to keep them operating during the coming wet season.

Uganda, which also suffered during the Ebola contagion, quickly quarantined travelers from Dubai after the first case of coronavirus arrived from there. Authorities also tracked down about 800 others who had traveled from Dubai in previous weeks.

The Ugandan health authorities are also testing around 1,000 truck drivers a day. But many of those who test positive have come from Tanzania and Kenya, countries that are not monitoring as aggressively, leading to worries that the virus will keep penetrating porous borders.

Lockdowns, with bans on religious conclaves and spectator sporting events, clearly work, the World Health Organization says. More than a month after closing national borders, schools and most businesses, countries from Thailand to Jordan have seen new infections drop.

In the Middle East, the widespread shuttering of mosques, shrines and churches happened relatively early and probably helped stem the spread in many countries.

A notable exception was Iran, which did not close some of its largest shrines until March 18, a full month after it registered its first case in the pilgrimage city of Qum. The epidemic spread quickly from there, killing thousands in the country and spreading the virus across borders as pilgrims returned home.

As effective as lockdowns are, in countries lacking a strong social safety net and those where most people work in the informal economy, orders closing businesses and requiring people to shelter in place will be difficult to maintain for long. When people are forced to choose between social distancing and feeding their families, they are choosing the latter.

Counter-intuitively, some countries where authorities reacted late and with spotty enforcement of lockdowns appear to have been spared. Cambodia and Laos both had brief spates of infections when few social distancing measures were in place but neither has recorded a new case in about three weeks.

Lebanon, whose Muslim and Christian citizens often go on pilgrimages respectively to Iran and Italy, places rife with the virus, should have had high numbers of infections. It has not.

We just didnt see what we were expecting, said Dr. Roy Nasnas, an infectious disease consultant at the University Hospital Geitaoui in Beirut. We dont know why.

Finally, most experts agree that there may be no single reason for some countries to be hit and others missed. The answer is likely to be some combination of the above factors, as well as one other mentioned by researchers: sheer luck.

Countries with the same culture and climate could have vastly different outcomes if one infected person attends a crowded social occasion, turning it into what researchers call a super-spreader event.

Because an infected person may not experience symptoms for a week or more, if at all, the disease spreads under the radar, exponentially and seemingly at random. Had the woman in Daegu stayed home that Sunday in February, the outbreak in South Korea might have been less than half of what it is.

Some countries that should have been inundated are not, leaving researchers scratching their heads.

Thailand reported the first confirmed case of coronavirus outside of China in mid-January, from a traveler from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pandemic is thought to have begun. In those critical weeks, Thailand continued to welcome an influx of Chinese visitors. For some reason, these tourists did not set off exponential local transmission.

And when countries do all the wrong things and still end up seemingly not as battered by the virus as one would expect, go figure.

In Indonesia, we have a health minister who believes you can pray away Covid, and we have too little testing, said Dr. Pandu Riono, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Indonesia. But we are lucky we have so many islands in our country that limit travel and maybe infection.

Theres nothing else were doing right, he added.

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