Key Data of the Day

The U.S. passes four million known cases, as hospitalizations and deaths rise.

The number of people known to have been infected with the coronavirus in the United States passed four million on Thursday, another grim milestone in a pandemic full of them, according to a New York Times database.

And it’s not just cases that are rising. The numbers of hospitalizations and deaths reported in the U.S. each day have also been increasing.

Public health experts have warned that the actual number of people infected is certainly far higher than the number of reported cases, and could be up to 13 times as high in some regions.

Cases are trending upward in 39 states, as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and are decreasing in only two. In the past week, cases have risen most quickly, relative to population, in Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. Texas has added more than 10,000 cases each day, on average.

More than 143,000 people have died of the virus in the United States, and experts say that the trend in hospitalizations and deaths often lags weeks behind the trend in cases. Even so, the number of people hospitalized in the country on Wednesday very nearly exceeded the previous high of nearly 60,000, set on April 15 when the outbreak was largely concentrated in New York. Cases are now rising throughout the United States, and hospitals are feeling the strain.

The United States reported its millionth case on April 28, more than three months after the first reported case. The country passed two million cases 43 days later, on June 10, and passed three million on July 7.

The White House and Senate Republicans neared agreement on Thursday on a new economic rescue proposal that includes another round of stimulus payments to individuals, additional aid to small businesses and a partial extension of enhanced unemployment benefits, according to a summary of the agreement that was circulating on Capitol Hill.

The draft summary, which was obtained by The Times, reflects a significant retreat by the White House after days of infighting among Republicans. It does not include a payroll tax cut, a favorite idea of President Trump’s, which administration officials backed away from amid tepid support from Republicans in Congress. It includes $16 billion in funds for new testing that the administration had opposed, and conditions only a portion of education funding on schools reopening.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, who had hoped to roll out his bill early Thursday, instead spent the morning continuing to negotiate with top White House officials over its central elements.

“We’re just having a conversation with the leader, hopefully we’ll be able to resolve this,” Mark Meadows, the White House Chief of staff told reporters as he entered Mr. McConnell’s office Thursday morning.

Among the final sticking points was the language surrounding the amount of additional benefits that the unemployed would continue to receive after a program providing $600 per week in extra aid expires at month’s end.

Republicans agree that they want to slash the jobless payments, which they argue discourage people from returning to work. But while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a television interview that they would seek to limit the new payments to 70 percent of a worker’s wages, the outline suggests the level could rise to 100 percent.

The summary also includes $26 billion for vaccine development and deployment, $20 billion in direct payments to farmers and a total of $105 billion for education, $30 billion of which would be reserved for institutions that reopen. There is no new money for state and local governments to plug budget holes and avert layoffs, but the outline notes that such funds are expected to be added in negotiations with Democrats, who have insisted on hundreds of billions of dollars.

The document did not specify who would receive the direct payments or how much the checks would be.

It includes a substantial expansion of a program to aid small businesses, relaxing the terms of a loan program designed to help them maintain their payrolls and creating a new “working capital” loan to cover operating expenses. The proposal would also more heavily restrict the number of businesses who were eligible, including by requiring evidence of steep revenue losses during the recession.

California and Texas are among the states setting new daily records.

California recorded new highs in both coronavirus deaths and total number of cases on Wednesday, as troubling data emerged across the United States and more than 1,100 deaths were reported for the second consecutive day.

Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia recorded their highest daily case numbers on Wednesday, while Alabama, Idaho and Texas reported daily death records, according to a Times database.

Nationwide, 69,707 new virus cases were reported on Wednesday. Total confirmed cases in the United States passed four million on Thursday.

And 59,628 people were being treated at hospitals on Wednesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. That is near the peak of 59,940 on April 15, when the center of the outbreak was New York. Experts have warned that the data likely undercounts both cases and deaths.

Some, including President Trump, have said that more testing explains the increase in the number of cases, but The Times has found that the recent rise in cases far outpaces a rise in testing.

After warning on Tuesday the virus would get “worse before it gets better,” Mr. Trump shifted back on Wednesday to saying that virus testing was “overrated” and “makes us look bad.” He accused Democrats of sounding the alarm over the virus for political reasons.

“Watch,” Mr. Trump said, “on Nov. 4, everything will open up.”

The 1,130 deaths announced on Wednesday across the United States were the highest single-day death total since May 29, with the exception of two anomalous days in June when large numbers of deaths from unknown dates were reported.

In Texas, which recorded 201 deaths on Wednesday, a steady climb in daily death tolls has matched a similar increase in reported cases.

California recorded at least 155 deaths and 12,162 cases on Wednesday, both records. With more than 422,000 cases, the state has now reported more cases than New York, the early center of the pandemic in the United States.

Louisiana, which is in the middle of its second case surge of the pandemic, surpassed New York as the state with the most known cases per capita in the country, though testing was scarce when cases peaked in New York this spring.

On Thursday, Florida reported 173 deaths, setting its single-day record for coronavirus deaths. The state also recorded more than 10,240 cases.

The school attended by President Trump’s son will not fully reopen in person in September out of concern for the coronavirus pandemic, despite the president’s demand that all students be brought back to classrooms in the fall.

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, a private academy in suburban Maryland outside Washington, said in a letter to parents that it is still deciding whether to adopt a hybrid model for the fall that would allow limited in-person education or to continue to hold all classes online as was done in the spring. The school will decide early next month which option to follow.

“We are hopeful that public health conditions will support our implementation of the hybrid model in the fall,” said the letter signed by Robert Kosasky, the head of the school, and David Brown, the assistant head. “As we prepare to make a decision the week of August 10 about how to best begin the school year,” they added, “we will continue to follow guidance of appropriate health officials and refine both our hybrid and distance learning plans.”

If the school does opt for the hybrid model, students in grades 7 through 12 would rotate between on-campus and distance learning, with half of the students learning remotely each week. Barron, 14, has spent the last three years at St. Andrews. At a coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Mr. Trump expressed no discomfort with Barron or his school-aged grandchildren returning to class. “I am comfortable with that,” he said.

U.S. ROUNDUP

Here’s a map of virus hospitalizations in the U.S.

About as many people are now known to be hospitalized with the virus in the United States as during any other time in the pandemic, matching the previous peak in April.

Public health experts say detailed local data on where people are hospitalized — a real-time measure that does not depend on levels of testing — is crucial to understanding the epidemic, but federal officials have not made this data public. The Times gathered data for nearly 50 metropolitan areas, including 15 of the 20 largest cities in the country, from state and local health departments to provide the first detailed national look at where people are falling seriously ill.

The data, as well as interviews across the country, show a far-reaching crisis. The worst-hit areas in Texas and Florida have approached the peak rates of hospitalization that New York, New Orleans, Chicago and other cities hit in the spring. A wide and growing expanse of hot spots around the country — including Las Vegas, Nashville and Tulsa, Okla. — have worsened over the past two weeks.

Not every hospital system is overwhelmed, and new treatments have improved the chances of survival for seriously ill people. But experts say a small but significant proportion of those currently hospitalized will die, and those who survive may face serious long-term health issues.

Months ago, the urgency of the virus outbreak was concentrated in the New York City area. Now, the scale of the crisis is dispersed and harder to grasp.

“There’s this pandemic fatigue,” said Thomas Tsai, an assistant professor of health policy at Harvard University. “All eyes were on New York. Houston is New York now. Miami is New York now. Phoenix is New York now. We need that shared collective urgency.”

Elsewhere in the U.S.:

  • In New York City, the mayor said Thursday that eight public swimming pools are scheduled to open Friday, with seven more next week. There will be social distancing measures to prevent overcrowding in locker rooms and ensure visitors are wearing face coverings when not inside the pool.

  • Two cafeterias used by White House staff members were closed, and contact tracing was conducted, after an employee tested positive, a Trump administration official said on Wednesday.

  • The virus has heightened long-simmering friction in Texas, the largest Republican-led state in the country, with the governor under attack from within his own party, especially over a mask mandate.

After more than three months of slow declines, the number of people filing new claims for state unemployment benefits in the United States rose last week. The Labor Department reported Thursday another 1.4 million new state applications.

The uptick comes just days before an extra $600-a-week jobless benefit is set to expire.

An additional 975,000 claims were filed by freelancers, part-time workers and others who do not qualify for regular state jobless aid but are eligible for benefits under an emergency federal program, the Labor Department announced. Unlike the state figures, that number is not seasonally adjusted.

The stubbornly high rate of new weekly claims more than four months into the pandemic “suggests that the nature of the downturn has changed from early on,” said Ernie Tedeschi, a policy economist at Evercore ISI. It may mean that businesses are shutting down again as cases surge in some places, or that funds from emergency small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program are running out, he said — or worse, something more fundamental.

“It might be that businesses are running through their first line of credit,” he said, “and now they’re facing the music of an economy that has recovered a little bit but not nearly enough.”

During the worst of the Great Recession in 2008-9, the weekly number of claims never exceeded 700,000. Since mid-March, new state unemployment applications have yet to fall below a million.

Congressional lawmakers and the White House are negotiating a roughly $1 trillion coronavirus relief package that would include extending some benefits for unemployed workers.

Restrictions return in Romania after new cases more than tripled in the past month.

New cases are on the rise in Romania, which on Wednesday reported over 1,000 new cases. It was the first time the European country passed that daily milestone since the pandemic began. And on Thursday, that number rose further, to 1,112 new cases and 25 deaths, bringing the country’s total case count to 41,275 with 2,126 deaths.

Many blame the spike partly on a ruling by the country’s Constitutional Court in early July, which said that the authorities couldn’t enforce mandatory quarantine or hospitalization based on governmental decrees. Instead, such measures could be taken only through parliamentary legislation, it said.

Lawmakers rushed to fill this void, passing a bill late last week that went into effect on Tuesday. However, between July 2 and July 20, 972 people who had tested positive for Covid-19 were released from the hospital against medical advice, according to government data, while 3,680 people with coronavirus declined to be hospitalized. (An earlier version included an inaccurate number for those cases.)

Romania was quick to respond to the initial threat of the virus, declaring a state of emergency on March 16 and issuing large fines for those found outside their homes without valid written reasons. A month ago, the country had less than 300 new cases a day.

The recent rise in new cases has put many in Romania on edge. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said earlier this week that he would order local lockdowns if daily cases rose above 1,200, and on Wednesday lockdown measures were imposed on two villages experiencing outbreaks.

In a statement on Wednesday, after the 1,000-cases-a-day milestone was passed, President Klaus Iohannis described it as a sad day.

“It is up to each of us and all of us together to stop the spread of the epidemic,” he said. “No law can stop a virus. We need everyone to contribute.”

In New York, disputes fester over the blame for virus-related deaths at nursing homes.

More than 6,000 people have died of the virus in nursing homes and other long-term facilities in New York State. That death toll surpasses the number of fatalities in several states, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has faced heated attacks from Republicans in Washington and elsewhere over his response to the crisis.

Mr. Cuomo has returned fire, accusing his foes of politicizing a human tragedy and arguing that the blame for the number of deaths lay with infected health care workers, not his own policies.

The death toll has also drawn questions from Mr. Cuomo’s fellow Democrats, who rule the State Legislature and have scheduled hearings on the issue next month.

The tension and pain surrounding the topic have bled into the debate over a related bill that is expected to be passed on Thursday by the Legislature.

The bill was initially devised to void a last-minute provision buried into the state budget just before it passed in early April. The provision gave nursing homes and hospitals broad immunity from lawsuits stemming from their failure to protect residents from death or sickness caused by the coronavirus.

The current bill opposing that provision is far weaker than the original effort, with the immunity merely narrowed.

“This is just a first step,” said the bill’s lead sponsor, Assemblyman Ron Kim, of Queens, where nearly 1,000 nursing-home residents died. “We’re coming back after the hearings to see how we can provide retroactive justice for anyone who feels like they’ve been wronged.”

Belgium’s prime minister issued broad new mask-wearing requirements on Thursday, including for pedestrians outdoors, and warned of even stricter measures if coronavirus infections continued to rise in the country.

The policy change reflects growing European fears of a second wave. As infections declined on the Continent and attention turned to the out-of-control spread in parts of the United States, many Europeans have grown more complacent about socializing.

Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said that visitors to outdoor markets and pedestrians on commercial streets must wear masks. Masks were already mandatory in indoor public spaces. Ms. Wilmès also required restaurants, bars and hotels to collect phone numbers from all customers to help contact-tracing efforts.

“The future will depend on the behavior of everyone,” Ms. Wilmès said at a news conference. “These are not suggestions, but orders.”

Other European countries have also reinstituted some restrictions, including Slovenia and Spain, where regional health officials have urged millions of people in and around Barcelona to stay home.

Belgium has had one of the world’s highest death tolls in proportion to its population, largely because of outbreaks in nursing homes. A strict lockdown appeared to bring the spread of the virus under control, but after a phased reopening, new cases have begun rising sharply again, with most infections linked to social settings like parties.

“The second wave has started,” Marc Van Ranst, a virologist and government adviser, said last week.

Elsewhere in the world:

  • The surge of cases could be slowed if the world’s poorest people receive a temporary basic income, enabling them to stay at home, according to a United Nations report released on Thursday. It would cost at least $199 billion a month to provide fixed-term basic income to 2.7 billion people in 132 developing countries, the report said, allowing these people to pay for their food, and health and education expenses.

  • China’s National Health Commission issued new safety guidelines on Thursday for the country’s meat processors, citing outbreaks at plants in the United States, Germany and Britain, and the high risks of transmission in crowded processing plants.

  • The Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, passed a law early Thursday that expands the government’s powers in imposing coronavirus restrictions and lessens parliamentary oversight of them. The legislation, which was ratified in a 48-35 vote, was criticized by opposition lawmakers: “Tonight, Israel’s government gave up on its most important partner in dealing with the coronavirus crisis — the Knesset,” Yair Lapid, the head of the opposition, wrote on Twitter.

U.S. landlords are jumping the gun as an eviction moratorium wanes.

As the number of U.S. cases has grown, another disturbing trend has emerged: landlords commencing eviction proceedings even though the federal CARES Act still protects millions of tenants.

The four-month pause in eviction cases imposed by the act is not set to expire until the end of this week. But landlords in Tucson, Ariz., filed dozens of eviction cases last month without waiting for the federal moratorium to end. And advocacy groups say the same thing has happened in other states.

Some state and local governments have also imposed eviction moratoriums, but the CARES Act’s moratorium is the widest, covering as many as 12.3 million renters who live in apartment complexes or in houses financed with a federally backed mortgage. However, the CARES Act does not penalize landlords who violate the moratorium.

The Private Equity Stakeholder Project, a consumer advocacy group, said it had found more than 100 eviction filings in apparent violation of the CARES Act in Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts and Texas.

And in a survey of 100 Legal Aid lawyers in 38 states, all but nine said they knew of illegal eviction attempts in their cities.

The owner of Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant, which just a few years ago was one of the country’s largest clothing retailers for women and girls, filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, after declining sales and high debt were made worse by coronavirus shutdowns.

The company, Ascena Retail Group, will close “a select number” of Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, LOFT and Lou & Grey stores as well as all of its Catherines locations, the company said in a Chapter 11 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Virginia.

The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on retailers, especially apparel sellers and other mall-based chains. Ascena, based in Mahwah, N.J., is at least the ninth prominent retailer to file for bankruptcy since early May, following Brooks Brothers, Sur La Table, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus Group, J.C. Penney, Lucky Brand, Stage Stores and GNC.

The surge of coronavirus cases could be slowed if the world’s poorest people receive a temporary basic income, enabling them to stay at home, according to a United Nations report released on Thursday.

The pandemic is spreading by more than 1.5 million new virus cases a week, but in some places it may not be possible for workers to take measures like isolating. In developing countries, seven out of 10 workers can’t earn money if they are at home, according to the United Nations Development Program report, “Temporary Basic Income: Protecting Poor and Vulnerable People in Developing Countries.”

It would cost at least $199 billion a month to provide fixed-term basic income to 2.7 billion people in 132 developing countries, the report said, allowing these people to pay for their food, and health and education expenses.

Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Program, said the introduction of a temporary basic income might have seemed impossible a few months ago, but “unprecedented times call for unprecedented social and economic measures.”

“Bailouts and recovery plans cannot only focus on big markets and big business,” he said in a statement.

Adding that up to 100 million more people have so far been forced into extreme poverty this year, the report suggested that countries could pay for this measure by repurposing the funds they would use to service their debt.

A convent in Michigan has lost 13 sisters to the virus.

They worked and lived together at a Michigan convent, some for more than a half century. In the end, 13 Catholic nuns, ranging in age from 69 to 99, would also die in the same way, of Covid-19 and its effects — 12 of them within a month of one another, according to their order.

The virus, which preys on the elderly and thrives anywhere people are in close contact, may have posed a particular danger to the sisters, who live communally at the Convent of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Livonia, Mich.

The deaths cut deep in the communities where the sisters worked in schools, libraries and the medical field, their order, the Felician Sisters, said in a statement.

For example, Sister Celine Marie Lesinski, who died at 92, worked for 55 years in education, including 27 years as a librarian. Sister Victoria Marie Indyk, who died at 69, was a nursing professor at Madonna University and was known for leading nurses on mission trips to support the order’s mission in Haiti.

Major League Baseball begins a shortened season on Thursday, and the Times columnist Tyler Kepner writes that the only certainty is lots of uncertainty:

Baseball makes you wait. That is part of its old-world charm. The story takes time to reveal itself, pitch by pitch, inning by inning, game by game by game by … well, you get the idea. Players weather a rigorous six-month schedule, with few days off. No other professional athletes spend as many days performing.

So what will it look like now, after more than four months in hibernation since the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in mid-March? We will find out Thursday, when Major League Baseball begins its 60-game schedule with two games: the Yankees at the Nationals in Washington, and the Giants at the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Get ready for rule changes, extensive safety protocols and a whole lot of unknowns.

“It’s hard for those of us in baseball because we want to be knowledgeable about what’s going on,” said the longtime broadcaster Jim Kaat, 81, who pitched for 25 seasons in the majors, “and sometimes the toughest thing to say is, ‘I don’t know.’”

Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Julia Calderone, Emily Cochrane, Patricia Cohen, Keith Collins, Matthew Conlen, Julia Echikson, Nicholas Fandos, Manny Fernandez, Gillian Friedman, Lazaro Gamio, Kit Gillet, Matthew Goldstein, J. David Goodman, Maggie Haberman, Christine Hauser, Juliana Kim, Tyler Kepner, Iliana Magra, Sapna Maheshwari, Sarah Mervosh, Katie Rogers, Eileen Sullivan, Jim Tankersley, Daniel Victor, Neil Vigdor, Allyson Waller and Elaine Yu.



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