Coronavirus Live Updates: Florida Breaks Its Record for Most Deaths in a Day


Refrigerated morgue trucks are needed in Texas and Arizona. The Trump administration backed away from stripping foreign students of their visas.

Right Now

More than 900 coronavirus deaths were announced in the United States on Tuesday, including single-day records in Alabama, Florida and Utah.

Image
Credit...Zack Wittman for The New York Times

After Florida reported a record 132 deaths on Tuesday, a group of mayors from Miami-Dade County, the center of the state’s crisis, warned Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, that local officials are running out of time to avoid another painful economic closure.

“There is a significant amount of pressure for us to shut down,” Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami told Mr. DeSantis at an event in the city. “We have between one week and four weeks to get this thing under control, or we will have to take some aggressive measures.”

The mayors took issue with messaging about the pandemic, which has been confusing and inconsistent, from President Trump on down, they said. Mr. DeSantis, who notably wore a mask while speaking indoors, tried to acknowledge how difficult the pandemic has been for Floridians, adding that “people are apprehensive.”

“We have to have a greater sense of urgency,” said Mayor Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, who told the governor point-blank that he should endorse a mask order.

It was an unusual public chiding — though delivered with a light touch — for Mr. DeSantis. The death record in Florida comes as the number of U.S. deaths has begun to rise again after weeks of declines.

More than 900 coronavirus deaths were announced in the U.S. on Tuesday, including single-day records in Alabama and Utah; Oregon matched its daily death record.

The nation was averaging 724 deaths a day as of Monday, up from below 500 a day as July began. While deaths are up nationally, they remain far below the more than 2,200 deaths recorded each day during the deadliest phase of the outbreak in April. But 23 states are reporting more deaths each day than they were two weeks ago, according to a Times database.

By Tuesday evening, more than 65,500 cases of the coronavirus had been announced across the United States, the second-highest daily total of the pandemic. California, Texas, Missouri, Nevada and Oklahoma all set single-day case records.

In some states, like Texas, where the death toll is sharply rising, local officials have responded by putting refrigerated trucks on standby, in order to increase morgue space.

The preparations have only just started, and officials said the situation has not reached the same level of urgency it did in New York City during the early stages of the pandemic, when the city had set up 45 mobile morgues and allowed crematories to work around the clock.

Officials in Texas said the refrigerated trucks were being readied because hospital morgues were filling up and nearing capacity, and additional space would be needed to store bodies.

Eight FEMA vehicles known as mortuary-support trailers were delivered to state officials in early April and 14 additional vehicles are en route, a FEMA spokesman said Tuesday. State and local leaders will determine where the additional trailers will be sent.

In Arizona, two hospital systems in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, also plan to use refrigerated trucks. Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix has said that the county morgue is near capacity and officials are working to secure refrigerator trucks

In Florida, Republican officials are planning to move the three nights of their national convention in Jacksonville from an indoor arena to an outdoor venue, Maggie Haberman reports. It’s still unclear how many people will be allowed to attend the events, people familiar with the discussions said Tuesday.

After Mr. Trump pushed to move the convention to Florida from Charlotte, N.C., last month after North Carolina officials refused to guarantee a convention free of social distancing and other health measures, the fortunes of the two states have diverged. Since June 11, the day the convention was officially moved, the average number of cases reported daily in Florida has grown eightfold.

Harvard Yard was sparsely populated last week.Credit...Tony Luong for The New York Times

The Trump administration has walked back a policy that would have stripped international college students of their U.S. visas if their coursework was entirely online, ending a proposed plan that had thrown the higher education world into turmoil.

The policy, announced on July 6, prompted an immediate lawsuit from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and on Tuesday, the government and the universities reached a resolution, according to the judge overseeing the case.

The agreement reinstates a policy implemented in March amid the pandemic that gave international students flexibility to take all their classes online and remain legally in the country with student visas.

“Both the policy directive and the frequently asked questions would not be enforced anyplace” under the resolution, Judge Allison Burroughs said, adding that the agreement applied nationwide.

The initial guidance, issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, would have required foreign students to take at least one in-person class or leave the country. Students who returned to their home countries when schools closed in March would not have been allowed back into the United States if their fall classes were solely online.

The higher education world was thrown into disarray, with most colleges already well into planning for the return to campus in the fall. Two days after it was announced, Harvard and M.I.T. filed the first of several lawsuits seeking to stop it.

The attorneys general of at least 18 states, including Massachusetts and California, also sued, charging that the policy was reckless, cruel and senseless. Scores of universities threw their support behind the litigation, along with organizations representing international students.

On Tuesday, more than a dozen technology companies, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, also came out in support of the Harvard and M.I.T. lawsuit, arguing the policy would harm their businesses.

A health care worker at a medical center in Texas last month. From now on, H.H.S., and not the C.D.C., will collect data about hospitals and the patients they are treating.Credit...Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

The Trump administration has ordered hospitals to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, beginning on Wednesday, send all coronavirus patient information to a central database in Washington — a move that has alarmed public health experts who fear the data will be distorted for political gain.

The new instructions are contained in a little-noticed document posted this week on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website, Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports. From now on, H.H.S., and not the C.D.C., will collect daily reports about the patients that each hospital is treating, how many beds and ventilators are available, and other information vital to tracking the pandemic.

Officials said the change should help ease data gathering and assist the White House coronavirus task force in allocating scarce supplies like personal protective gear and the drug remdesivir.

Hospital officials want to streamline reporting, saying it will relieve them from responding to requests from multiple federal agencies, though some say the C.D.C. — an agency that prizes its scientific independence — should be in charge of gathering the information.

“The C.D.C. is the right agency to be at the forefront of collecting the data,” said Dr. Bala Hota, the chief analytics officer at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Public health experts have long expressed concern that the administration is politicizing science and undermining the disease control centers; four former C.D.C. directors, spanning both Republican and Democratic administrations, said as much in an opinion piece published Tuesday in The Washington Post. The data collection shift reinforced those fears.

“Centralizing control of all data under the umbrella of an inherently political apparatus is dangerous and breeds distrust,” said Nicole Lurie, who served as assistant secretary for preparedness and response under former President Barack Obama. “It appears to cut off the ability of agencies like C.D.C. to do its basic job.”

The shift grew out of a tense conference call several weeks ago between hospital executives and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator.

After Dr. Birx complained that hospitals were not adequately reporting their data, she convened a working group of government and hospital officials who devised the new plan, according to Janis Orlowski, chief health care officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges, who participated.

But news of the change came as a shock inside the C.D.C., which has long been responsible for gathering public health data, according to two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it. A spokesman for the disease control centers referred questions to the Department of Health and Human Services, which has not responded to a request for comment.

The dispute exposes the vast gaps in the government’s ability to collect and manage health data — an antiquated system at best, experts say.

U.S. ROUNDUP

Facing test processing delays, California once again gives priority to testing symptomatic patients.

Cars lined up at a testing site in Los Angeles last week.Credit...Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

As California grapples with a sharp increase in new coronavirus cases, officials announced a rollback on its testing guidelines that will now prioritize patients who display symptoms of the virus.

Though the state’s testing capacity has increased, “new national supply chain challenges and large volumes of specimens sent to commercial laboratories have resulted in growing delays in processing times,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s head of health and human services, said in a statement on Tuesday.

He said the new rules were needed “so that testing is readily available and affordable to those who need it, especially those communities experiencing the worst impacts.”

Under the new guidelines, people who are hospitalized with Covid-19 symptoms, as well as people who live and work in certain high-risk places — like nursing homes, prisons and hospitals — will have priority over people who work at other essential businesses like grocery stores and who don’t have symptoms.

Previously, state and local officials had encouraged anyone who wanted to get tested to sign up. In a virtual news conference, Dr. Ghaly said California was also exploring opportunities for pooled testing, a strategy that could help identify infections in large groups more quickly.

The rollback on testing comes as more states around the country have scrambled to ramp up testing, which has resulted in tighter supply chains and longer turnaround times in the nation’s most populous state.

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, announced on Monday the most sweeping rollback yet of reopening plans. As of Monday, California was averaging 8,334 new cases per day over the past week, compared with 3,041 new cases per day, on average, a month earlier, according to a New York Times database. In other news from around the United States:

  • North Carolina will allow schools to reopen in the fall, but at no more than half their usual capacity, the governor announced on Tuesday. He said districts could meet the capacity restriction by, for example, having students attend on alternate days. Everyone would have to wear masks. And districts could opt to continue with all-remote instruction, the governor said.

  • New York, grappling with how to keep the virus suppressed, will now require travelers from Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin to also quarantine for 14 days. Delaware has been removed from the list of such states with accelerating outbreaks, which now number 22, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday. New Jersey and Connecticut are also asking travelers from those states to quarantine. Travelers arriving at New York airports starting Tuesday are required to fill out a form with their personal information and planned whereabouts, or face a $2,000 fine.

  • More than 1,000 employees of the C.D.C. have signed a letter calling for the agency to address “a pervasive and toxic culture of racial aggressions, bullying and marginalization” against Black employees. The pandemic has both highlighted and exacerbated racial inequities in the United States. A C.D.C. spokesman said the C.D.C. director has already responded to the letter, but did not provide details.

  • For the third time in its 120-year history, Philadelphia is canceling its Mummers Parade as the city is banning all public events involving more than 50 people for the next seven months.

  • A Michigan man was fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy on Tuesday after the authorities said that man got into a heated argument with a fellow customer over the man’s refusal to wear a mask inside a store as he was required to under a new state order.

Video
Video player loading
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said at a digital event at Georgetown University on Tuesday that there was “no doubt” of more infections.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday that the United States was “unequivocally” seeing a rise in coronavirus infections, continuing to put him at odds with Mr. Trump’s reassurances that more cases are the product of increased testing.

“There is no doubt that there are more infections, because the percentage is increasing,” Dr. Fauci said at a digital event sponsored by Georgetown University, referring to the ballooning rate of positive test results in many states. He added that the spike in cases across the country would inevitably be followed by more hospitalizations and deaths.

But the younger average age of those infected in recent weeks, he said, would likely sustain mortality rates lower than those several months ago.

In a question about the politicization of coronavirus information, one of the event’s hosts mentioned the White House’s recent anonymously-attributed distribution of what it said were Dr. Fauci’s misjudgments in the early days of the coronavirus. (Several White House officials this week have denied any attempts to undermine Dr. Fauci, but Dan Scavino, the White House deputy chief of staff for communications and one of Mr. Trump’s most trusted advisers, undercut that message by sharing an insulting Facebook cartoon. )

Dr. Fauci was asked whom Americans should trust.

“You can trust respected medical authorities. You know, I believe I’m one of them. So I think you can trust me,” Dr. Fauci said, grinning coyly. “For the most part, you can trust respected medical authorities who have a track record of telling the truth.”

And he spoke about the importance of the World Health Organization, which Mr. Trump has criticized repeatedly and moved to withdraw from amid the pandemic.

“They are an imperfect organization,” Dr. Fauci said. “They have made mistakes, but I would like to see the mistakes corrected and for them to be much more in line with the kinds of things that we need.”

“There are some very good people at the W.H.O.,’’ he said. “So I hope this kind of tension between the United States and the W.H.O. somehow ultimately gets settled in a favorable way, because the world does need a W.H.O. for outbreaks like this.”

A vaccine maker reports more details of an early, encouraging study.

A nurse administering a virus test in Los Angeles last week.Credit...Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

An experimental coronavirus vaccine made by the biotech company Moderna provoked promising immune responses and appeared safe in the first 45 people who received it, researchers reported on Tuesday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Moderna’s vaccine, developed by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was the first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in humans, and the company announced on Tuesday that large, Phase 3 tests would begin on July 27, involving 30,000 people. The vaccine uses genetic material from the virus, called mRNA, to prompt the immune system to fight the virus.

The report Tuesday provided details on findings the company announced on May 18 in a news release that was criticized for lacking data. Moderna defended itself at the time, saying that as a publicly traded company it had a legal obligation to disclose results that could affect its share price, and that the actual data would be published later.

The results are from an early, Phase 1 study that was designed to test low, medium and high doses of the vaccine to gauge both its safety and its ability to create immunity. The participants were 45 healthy adults, ages 18 to 55, who received two vaccinations 28 days apart.

After the second shot, all the participants developed so-called neutralizing antibodies, which can inactivate the virus in lab tests.

More than half the participants had side effects, including fatigue, chills, headaches, muscle aches and pain at the injection site. Some had fever. One person who received the low dose developed hives and was withdrawn from the study. None of the side effects was considered serious.

Experts not involved with the study said that the results were encouraging, but that it was still early.

Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said that the neutralizing antibodies and other immune responses were a good sign, but that it was not known yet whether they would actually protect people against the virus, or how long they would last.

He said that only a large controlled study could determine whether the vaccine is truly safe and effective.

Otherwise, he said, “it’s reading the tea leaves.”

Global roundup

England is mandating face coverings in shops and supermarkets, the government announced.

Video
Video player loading
The new mask order will put England in line with other European countries and with some other parts of Britain.CreditCredit...Andrew Testa for The New York Times

After months of equivocation over mandating face coverings to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain announced on Tuesday that people in England would be required to wear masks inside shops and supermarkets.

The reversal, set to take effect next week, caps months of dithering over face coverings in England that many scientists found mystifying — and uneasily reminiscent of delays in imposing a lockdown in March, a decision that cost thousands of lives and has left Britain with one of the highest death rates in the world.

More than 50,000 people in Britain have died from the virus, the third-highest total in the world, and the majority of the deaths were in England.

In mandating face masks, England followed the path of other European countries, like Germany and Italy, and other parts of the United Kingdom, like Scotland, which had already mandated face coverings. (Each country in the United Kingdom has power over its own public health measures and has moved at different speeds on matters like face coverings and reopening shops.)

Unlike in the United States, where feelings about masks often fall along political lines, England’s hesitation stemmed in part from a scientific debate among advisers about the masks’ usefulness.

Masks have been mandatory on public transportation in England since mid-June. The government had previously encouraged masks in enclosed spaces, but Mr. Johnson resisted wearing one himself until Friday.

The government has indicated that the police, rather than shop owners, will enforce the new rules, with anyone who refuses facing a fine up to 100 pounds, or $125.

  • France celebrated it’s roughly 1.8 million public health workers as heroes during Bastille Day celebrations on Tuesday, a day after granting them 8 billion euros ($9.06 billion) in pay raises. President Emmanuel Macron also said on Tuesday he wanted to make mask wearing mandatory in enclosed public spaces, perhaps as soon as August.

  • Researchers on Tuesday reported strong evidence that the virus can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to a fetus. A baby born in a Paris hospital in March to a mother with Covid-19 tested positive and developed symptoms of inflammation in his brain, said the doctor who led the research team. The baby, now more than 3 months old, recovered without treatment, the doctor said, adding that the mother, who needed oxygen during the delivery, is healthy. The virus appeared to have been transmitted through the placenta.

  • An Egyptian journalist who was jailed last month on charges of spreading fake news died from the virus on Monday, officials said, amplifying concerns that the pandemic is spreading inside Egypt’s crammed prisons. The reporter, Mohamed Monir, 65, was detained after appearing on Al Jazeera, the Qatari-owned channel that is banned in Egypt. He was released July 2 after falling ill, and last week he posted a video on Facebook saying he was struggling to breathe.

  • Consumers in Europe are going on shopping sprees as their economies reopen, offering hope that a fragile recovery from a deep recession may be taking hold.

Masks for sale in Missouri in April.Credit...Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

The authors of the study said they could not be certain about all the factors that may have helped avert an outbreak. But they pointed to mask policies in the city of Springfield and at the salon where the stylists worked, Great Clips.

The findings reinforce what scientists have been saying for months.

“Face masks are essential,” said Juan Gutiérrez, a mathematical biologist at the University of Texas at San Antonio who models coronavirus transmission, but wasn’t involved in the study. “This gives us a path to move forward.”

Both stylists fell ill in mid-May and continued to work with clients for about a week after their first symptoms, before their infections were confirmed. They came into close contact with 139 people.

None of these clients reported feeling sick in the weeks after they had been exposed, though not all of them responded to interview requests for the study. Of the 100 or so who did respond, 67 voluntarily agreed to be tested for the virus, and were found to be negative.

The researchers reported that the clients and their stylists wore masks for the duration of almost all the encounters documented by the study, with most opting for cloth coverings or surgical masks.

Amazon, Kroger and other big U.S. retailers have ended some pandemic pay raises for essential workers.

Shoppers waiting to enter a store in the Bronx in April.Credit...Desiree Rios for The New York Times

Many retailers across the United States have quietly stopped paying their employees “hero pay,” despite surging virus numbers across the country. Their rationale is that the panic buying that flooded stores during the early days of the pandemic has waned.

Stop & Shop is the latest retailer to end the 10 percent pay raise it previously gave its 56,000 employees, as an acknowledgment that their work was essential and appreciated. Amazon, Kroger and Albertsons have also ended pandemic hourly pay raises, though some of them continue to give out bonuses. ShopRite said it planned to end its $2-an-hour raise early next month.

Infection remains a very real threat, especially in environments like retail stores where it can be difficult to maintain social distance. And as cases rise in dozens of states, many workers say the job of the essential retail worker has actually become even more difficult.

The politicization of mask wearing has not helped. Store employees now risk heated and even violent confrontations when they remind customers and colleagues alike to cover their faces.

“What we are doing is still very risky,” said Eddie Quezada, a produce manager at a Stop & Shop store on Long Island who contracted the virus. “We should get at least something for that.”

But while health threats and other challenges for workers remain, the economics for their employers have changed. The surging sales of March, which allowed some retailers to pay for raises, have slumped at some stores.

Video
Video player loading
The traditional Bastille Day parade down the Champs-Élysées in Paris was canceled because of the pandemic, but France celebrated public health workers as heroes.CreditCredit...Pool photo by Christophe Ena

As the pandemic continues, many parents, struggling to balance work and child care, are hiring nannies again. But some parents are looking for new qualifications, including whether a caregiver had the virus, is willing to relocate or has teaching experience.

Reporting was contributed by Liz Alderman, Sarah Almukhtar, Pam Belluck, Aurelien Breeden, Niraj Chokshi, Michael Cooper, Michael Corkery, Jill Cowan, Reid J. Epstein, Nicholas Fandos, Manny Fernandez, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Emily Flitter, Jacey Fortin, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Michael Gold, Dana Goldstein, J. David Goodman, Erica L. Green, Maggie Haberman, Shawn Hubler, Miriam Jordan, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Dan Levin, Patricia Mazzei, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Constant Méheut, Sarah Mervosh, David Montgomery, Benjamin Mueller, Azi Paybarah, Alan Rappeport, Dagny Salas, Nate Schweber, Michael D. Shear, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Mitch Smith, Eileen Sullivan, Jim Tankersley, Lucy Tompkins, Declan Walsh, Noah Weiland and Sameer Yasir.