A new C.D.C. statement on schools calls for reopening and downplays the potential health risks.
The top U.S. public health agency issued a full-throated call to reopen schools in a package of new “resources and tools” posted on its website Thursday night that opened with a statement that sounded more like a political speech than a scientific document, listing numerous benefits for children of being in school and downplaying the potential health risks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the new guidance two weeks after President Trump criticized its earlier recommendations on school reopenings as “very tough and expensive,” ramping up what had already been an anguished national debate over the question of how soon children should return to classrooms. As the president was criticizing the initial C.D.C. recommendations, a document from the agency surfaced that detailed the risks of reopening and the steps that districts were taking to minimize those risks.
“Reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America’s greatest assets — our children — while taking every precaution to protect students, teachers, staff and all their families,” the new opening statement said.
The package of materials began with the opening statement, titled “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools This Fall,” and repeatedly described children as being at low risk for being infected by or transmitting the coronavirus, even though the science on both aspects is far from settled.
“The best available evidence indicates if children become infected, they are far less likely to suffer severe symptoms,” the statement said. “At the same time, the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant.”
While children infected by the virus are at low risk of becoming severely ill or dying, how often they become infected and how efficiently they spread the virus to others is not definitively known. Children in middle and high schools may also be at much higher risk of both than those under 10, according to some recent studies.
Beyond the statement, the package included decision tools and checklists for parents, guidance on mitigation measures for schools to take and other information that some epidemiologists described as helpful.
The new materials are meant to supplement guidance the C.D.C. previously issued on when and how to reopen schools, with recommendations such as keeping desks six feet apart and keeping children in one classroom all day instead of allowing them to move around.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, reacted to the release on Friday during an event with The Washington Post.
“I think the C.D.C. has put some good guidance down,” Dr. Fauci said. “I just took a quick look at them before I started in the program, which was sent to me by my colleagues at the C.D.C. So I think it’s a sound set of guidelines.”
The new statement released on Thursday is a stark departure from the 69-page document obtained by The New York Times earlier this month, marked “For Internal Use Only,” which was intended for federal public health response teams to have as they are deployed to hot spots around the country.
That document classified as “highest risk” the full reopening of schools, and its suggestions for mitigating the risk of school reopenings would be expensive and difficult for many districts, like broad testing of students and faculty and contact tracing to find people exposed to an infected student or teacher.
A number of virus clusters in the U.S. have been traced back to school-related events or gatherings of teenagers.
While the C.D.C.’s new guidance for opening schools downplayed the risks the virus poses to school-aged children, a number of recent clusters of virus cases around the United States have been linked to school-related events and gatherings of teenagers.
In O’Fallon, Mo., just outside of St. Louis, 19 students from St. Dominic High School and two of their guests tested positive after attending an outdoor graduation ceremony on July 8 that was followed by an off-site prom July 10, the school said in a statement this week.
In Middletown, N.J., officials are investigating a cluster of roughly 20 cases in teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 who contracted the virus after attending a party. “The cases may be related to a house party that allegedly occurred on or about July 11th,” the township said in a statement. New Jersey’s governor urged people with connections to the cluster or the party to cooperate with contact tracers, saying this week that while he does not condone underage drinking, “this isn’t a witch hunt.”
And in Chappaqua, N.Y., a spike in cases was traced to a drive-in graduation that was held in late June for Horace Greeley High School, which was then followed by other gatherings. “We have identified at this point that there are 27 positive cases that tie back to that set of activities,” George Latimer, the Westchester County executive, said at a news conference on July 6.
While children infected by the virus are at low risk of becoming severely ill or dying, how often they become infected and how efficiently they spread the virus is not definitively known. A large new study from South Korea found that children younger than 10 transmit the virus to others much less often than adults do, but that those between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the virus at least as well as adults do.
FEMA has been sending faulty gear to nursing homes fighting to protect the elderly.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been shipping masks, gowns and gloves to 15,000 nonprofit nursing care facilities since June. But many of the shipments have been filled with unusable or low-quality gear.
Nursing home employees said they have opened boxes filled with loose gloves of unknown provenance stuffed into unmarked Ziploc bags, surgical masks crafted from underwear fabric and plastic isolation gowns without openings for hands. Some reported receiving masks with brittle elastic bands that snap when stretched.
None of the shipments have included functional N95 respirators, the virus-filtering face masks that are the single most important bulwark against infection.
“People hate to complain about personal protective equipment they’re getting for free but many of these items are just useless,” said Brendan Williams, president of the New Hampshire Health Care Association, which has been a fielding a flurry of calls about the defective gear from nursing homes it represents. “It’s mystifying that the government would think this is acceptable.”
More than 40 percent of all U.S. deaths from the virus have been tied to nursing homes, according to a New York Times analysis, which linked a total of 316,000 infections to 14,000 facilities as of July 15.
FEMA pointed its finger at a private contractor it employs and issued a statement saying it has received complaints “on less than 1 percent of the total PPE shipments to nursing homes.”
The agency began shipping the masks, gowns and gloves this spring to 15,000 nonprofit nursing care facilities whose limited finances have made it difficult to buy protective equipment on the open market. The first cache of shipments was completed in mid-June, and the second round will wrap up by early August.
As the pandemic continues to grow around the world — new cases have risen more than 35 percent since the end of June — troubling resurgences have hit several places that were seen as models of how to respond to the virus.
An outbreak in Melbourne, Australia, has rattled officials after extensive testing and early lockdowns had limited outbreaks for months. Hong Kong — where schools, restaurants and malls were able to stay open — has announced new restrictions in the face of its largest outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic. And cases have surged in Tokyo, which has avoided a full lockdown and relied on aggressive contact tracing to contain flare-ups.
Spain’s reopening has stumbled in the month after it lifted a national lockdown. New cases have quadrupled, with high infection rates among young people, and forced hundreds of thousands of people to return to temporary lockdown.
As governments around the world look to relax rules put in place to combat the virus, the experiences show how difficult it will be to keep outbreaks at bay. And they reflect, in some places, a weakening public tolerance for restrictions as the pandemic drags on.
The scattered resurgences are not driving the pandemic. The biggest sources of new infections continue to be the United States, Brazil and India; the director general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted this week that almost half of all cases worldwide came from just three countries.
But the quick turn for the worse in places that once seemed to have gained the upper hand shows the range of vulnerabilities the virus is able to exploit.
After Spain’s strict lockdown ended, the national government put regional governments in charge of reopening. That led to a patchwork of rules and regulations that varied widely in strictness and enforcement, much as they have in the United States. While the most serious outbreaks have been in northeastern Spain, only two regions — Madrid and the Canary Islands — reimposed requirements to wear face masks outdoors.
In Tokyo, where the recent spikes in cases were attributed to young people congregating in nightlife districts, there have been unnerving signs that infections are now spreading to older people, too — as they have in Florida.
In Hong Kong, which succeeded early on by tightening borders and imposing quarantines, the resurgence has forced the government to re-close some businesses, reimpose mask orders and ask some workers to stay home.
“Once you loosen the restrictions too much,” warned David Hui, the director of the Stanley Ho Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, “you face a rebound.”
Nearly 70,000 cases were recorded in the United States on Thursday, the third-most of any day in the pandemic. The total number of known cases in the country surpassed four million, according to a New York Times database, and the United States also recorded its third consecutive day of at least 1,100 deaths from the virus.
In other news around the nation:
McDonald’s announced on Friday that it would require customers to wear face coverings inside all of its U.S. restaurants, effective Aug. 1. The fast food chain, which had 38,984 U.S. locations as of March 31, joins Kroger, Target, Walmart and dozens of other large restaurant and retail chains that have established mask mandates.
Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington D.C. said on Friday that, starting Monday, travelers from a high-risk area should quarantine for 14 days. The measure will exclude Virginia and Maryland and will apply to people who enter the district after nonessential travel. Students arriving from high-risk areas will also be required to quarantine for two weeks. Local health officials will publish a list of high-risk areas, and update it every two weeks, she said. It was not immediately clear how the measures would be enforced.
Officials in Washington State announced new restrictions on gatherings at restaurants, bars, weddings, funerals and other businesses. “This is not the easy thing to do, but it is the right thing to do,” the governor said in a statement.
Two states on Friday broke their single-day records for cases: Indiana, with more than 1,000, and Oklahoma, with more than 1,140.
On Friday, Florida announced more than 12,440 cases and 135 deaths.
Vermont’s governor announced on Friday that the state would implement a mask mandate on Aug. 1, requiring face coverings to be worn in public spaces, indoors or outside. “Rather than waiting like other states have until it’s too late, I feel we need to act now to protect our gains, which has allowed us to protect our economy,” the governor said.
A conservative think tank has asked the Oregon State Court of Appeals to issue an emergency stay against the governor’s statewide mask mandate. The Washington-based Freedom Foundation filed the challenge on behalf of three plaintiffs who argue that they cannot wear masks because of their medical, psychological or political beliefs. Masks are set to become a statewide requirement for indoor spaces and outdoor areas — when social distancing isn’t possible — on Friday.
New Jersey will allow parents worried about the virus to opt-out of in-person learning and choose remote-only instruction for their children when schools reopen this fall, officials said Friday. The governor had raised the possibility of all-remote learning in New Jersey earlier in the week but did not provide more details until Friday, when the state gave guidance to school districts.
“Our top priority is keeping students, their families, and educators safe,” Gov. Philip D. Murphy said. “To do that, flexibility, local decision-making and empowering parents and educators are all critical.”
Representative John Lewis, the civil rights leader who died July 17, will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda next week, before a public viewing outside. Mr. Lewis’s family discouraged people from traveling to Washington for the event during the pandemic, instead asking for “virtual tributes” using the hashtags #BelovedCommunity or #HumanDignity.
Japan, once considered a model for good outbreak control, has seen a troubling rise in new infections in the past few weeks, with nearly 1,000 new cases reported Friday.
The majority of recent cases — as in other countries that have experienced resurgences — have been among people in their 20s and 30s, who tend to suffer only mild symptoms. But. troublingly, the number of patients requiring ventilators has doubled in less than a week in Tokyo.
Officials have been pointing fingers at Tokyo’s nightlife districts, especially the so-called host and hostess bars on the periphery of the country’s sex industry. The message is clear: The rest of Japan is still doing fine, so economic reopening should continue uninterrupted.
But it is becoming clear that there are other significant sources of new cases. Clusters have been found in nursing homes, schools and a Tokyo theater. And, in a worrisome sign, an increasing number have no traceable links.
The government has resisted reimposing the kinds of restrictions being brought back in places like Hong Kong and Australia, where caseloads that had subsided have spiraled up again. And a domestic tourism campaign has gone ahead, though it leaves out travel to and from Tokyo.
The nation reached a total of 27,956 active cases on Friday, a figure nearly 50 percent higher than at the beginning of the month, and health officials are sounding alarms.
“We are seeing the early phase of exponential growth,” said Kenji Shibuya, director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London and a member of a coronavirus task force assembled by the Japan Medical Association. “If they don’t act promptly and try to contain it as fast as possible,” he said, the virus could spin out of control.
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa announced Thursday that the country’s public schools would shut down for the next four weeks, calling it “a break.” Children had begun returning to school in June in a phased reopening after a four-month shutdown.
Schools are now set to close again on Monday.
“We have taken a deliberately cautious approach to keep schools closed during a period when the country is expected to experience its greatest increase in infections,” Mr. Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation.
A survey released Thursday from researchers at the University of Johannesburg and the Human Sciences Research Council showed that 60 percent of South African adults do not want schools to open again this year.
With at least 408,000 cases, South Africa is the fifth-hardest-hit country in the world and has the highest caseload in Africa, according to a New York Times database.
There were more than 17,000 excess deaths in the country from May 6 to July 14, as compared to data from the past two years, according to a report from the South African Medical Research Council released this week. That is a 59 percent increase in the number of deaths by natural causes than would normally be expected.
“The numbers have shown a relentless increase,” the report said. The council’s president, Glenda Gray, said the excess deaths could be attributed to coronavirus as well as to H.I.V., tuberculosis and noncommunicable diseases “as health services are re-orientated to support this health crisis.”
In other news from around the globe:
France reported a sharp uptick in new cases on Thursday, with more than 1,000 new infections recorded in 24 hours. The rise confirms a weekslong upward trend. Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Friday that travelers from 16 countries arriving into France will have to present a recent negative Covid-19 test or be tested upon arrival. Countries affected by this new measure include the United States, Turkey, India, Israel and Brazil, according to French media, some of which are already barred by the European Union from traveling into the bloc.
In Cochabamba, high in the Bolivian Andes, people line up daily outside pharmacies on the central plaza, eager to buy the scarce elixir they hope will ward off Covid-19: chlorine dioxide, a kind of bleach used to disinfect swimming pools and floors. Experts say drinking it is pointless at best and hazardous at worst
Masks are now required in shops, supermarkets, transportation hubs and when picking up food and drink from restaurants in England. Those who refuse to wear a face covering could be fined up to 100 pounds, or $127. But as the new guidelines came into force on Friday, some supermarkets and coffee shop chains said they would not challenge customers who enter their businesses unmasked.
Germany will offer free coronavirus tests to citizens returning from abroad as part of new measures agreed to on Friday to curb the virus’s spread. Those who fly in from countries considered to be high-risk can undergo tests directly at the airport upon arrival, Jens Spahn, Germany’s health minister said. The tests are voluntary, although officials are exploring the legal possibilities of making them mandatory. Germany recorded 815 new cases on Friday, more than double the number recorded at the beginning of July.
Bring the change you want to see in the world, the Mint urges.
Pennies and dimes are hard to find in many parts of America after pandemic lockdowns disrupted their flow and kept people from exchanging their jars of coins for dollar bills.
The U.S. Mint wants you to know that you can be part of the solution.
“We ask that the American public start spending their coins,” the Mint, which is part of the U.S. Treasury, implored in a statement on Thursday. Or you should deposit them or exchange them for cash, it urged.
“The coin supply problem can be solved with each of us doing our part,” the statement said.
The coin shortage has forced regional Federal Reserve Banks, which distribute change, to institute a rationing system. On June 30, the Fed established a coin task force to deal with the unfolding crisis, complete with “industry leaders in the coin supply chain.”
The shortage has become a problem for many small businesses across America, and the topic of fraught discussions on doomsday Reddit and the local news.
Even big retailers are feeling the penny pinch — Walmart, CVS, Kroger and other chains have begun asking customers to pay with plastic when possible or to use exact change.
While digital payments have become prevalent, change has remained crucial to some parts of the economy: Parking meters, vending machines, amusement parks and even campground showers keep coins in regular use. For the unbanked, cash is an essential part of daily life.
“For millions of Americans, cash is the only form of payment, and cash transactions rely on coins to make change,” the Mint said.
“As important as it is to get more coins circulating, safety is paramount,” it added. “Please be sure to follow all safety and health guidelines.”
What has helped New Zealand successfully fight the virus? Trust.
One of New Zealand’s secrets to its successful virus response may be a simple one: trust.
In a national survey of more than 1,000 people, researchers found that nearly all New Zealanders have adopted hygiene practices known to deter the virus, and their belief in the authorities was at almost 100 percent.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been praised internationally for her government’s pandemic response and for her leadership through the crisis, which saw the country institute a total national lockdown when cases were just beginning. To date, the country has had just 1,556 cases and 22 deaths, and has gone 83 days without community transmission of the virus.
Almost all New Zealanders correctly understand important facts about the coronavirus, with nearly nine in 10 aware of the symptoms, protective behaviors and asymptomatic transmission.
The survey, led by Dr. Jagadish Thaker and Dr. Vishnu Menon of the Massey University School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, also noted widespread approval for how the government has handled the pandemic and praise for Ms. Ardern and the director general of health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield.
“There was a feeling of unity and a sense that we had a leader looking after us, which was in sharp contrast to other leaders in the U.S. and U.K.,” Dr. Thaker said in a statement.
Dr. Thaker noted that the success of New Zealand’s response had become “the envy of the world as our lives return to normality.”
New York City’s $25 billion tourism industry has all but evaporated.
New York City’s abrupt lockdown in March came just before the annual onslaught of tourists as the weather begins to warm. Officials were expecting more than 67 million visitors in 2020, about one-fifth of them from outside the country.
Now the city’s tourism officials have been left wondering how they will ever revive an industry that brought in about $45 billion in annual spending and supported about 300,000 jobs.
In the second week of July, the occupancy rate of New York City hotels was just 37 percent, according to STR, a research firm. That is down from more than 90 percent in recent summers.
“We think it’s too soon to encourage travel and invite folks to come back in,” said Fred Dixon, the chief executive of NYC & Company, the city’s tourism marketing agency. He said that for the past four months the city had had no tourism to speak of and that he was not even guessing how many visitors it would tally for the year.
Among the few tourists in town this week were Shin Roldan, 31, and her new husband, Keith, 30, who live in Morristown, N.J, within commuting distance. They were having a honeymoon of sorts, a few months after a “pandemic wedding” in their backyard, Ms. Roldan said. They had already ridden the tram to Roosevelt Island in the East River and planned to go to the observation deck atop the Empire State Building, which had just reopened.
“We can take a lot of pictures, just the two of us, with nobody else in the pictures,” Mr. Roldan said. “That’s always a problem in New York.”
Reporting was contributed by Dan Bilefsky, William J. Broad, José María León Cabrera, Julia Calderone, Niraj Chokshi, Emily Cochrane, Michael Cooper, Melissa Eddy, Gillian Friedman, Michael Gold, Joseph Goldstein, Abby Goodnough, Maggie Haberman, Hikari Hida, Andrew Jacobs, Annie Karni, Josh Keller, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Patricia Mazzei, Patrick McGeehan, Jesse McKinley, Constant Méheut, Raphael Minder, Elian Peltier, Alan Rappeport, Motoko Rich, Giovanni Russonello, Nate Schweber, Mitch Smith, Megan Specia, Kaly Soto, Jim Tankersley, María Silvia Trigo, Daniel Victor and Lauren Wolfe.