Covid-19 News: Live Updates – The New York Times

The U.S. hits seven million cases, with California leading the way.

More than seven million people in the United States have now been infected by the coronavirus.

Though the milestone, reached on Thursday according to a New York Times database, is sobering, it comes as infections in much of the country have in fact been slowing.

The United States has been averaging about 41,500 cases daily, down from the pandemic’s midsummer peak, though states in the Midwest and West are seeing case numbers rise.

In California, officials recorded their 800,000th case since the start of the pandemic. That is more than any other state, but the figure is cumulative, and does not capture the state’s current situation.

With health officials in California testing enough of the population to contain the spread of the virus, the state is reporting a relatively low number of new cases a day, according to the Times database.

More broadly, California the largest state in the country, has had significantly fewer virus cases per capita than other states like Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. California currently ranks 36th among states and territories in known new cases per capita over the past seven days, and 26th in the total number of known cases per capita since the start of the pandemic.

It was less than a month ago that the United States reached six million cases, on Aug. 30. It had taken more than three months for the country to record its first million.

The story of how California came to lead the country in the total number of cases goes back to the spring and summer months, when new cases surged across the Sun Belt states. New cases in California peaked at the end of July when the seven-day average doubled from what it was a month earlier.

It was a far cry from the early days of the pandemic, when most virus cases were in the Northeast and Washington State, and California emerged as a national role model when it became the first state to issue a stay-at-home order.

But the number of cases there began to climb when that order was lifted.

Like health officials in many Sun Belt states, the authorities in California attributed the spike to a premature easing of restrictions. In early July, when virus-related hospitalizations in California were up by more than 50 percent over a two-week period, Gov. Gavin Newsom halted reopening plans and ordered bars and indoor dining closed for most residents.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and top Democrats on Thursday moved forward with the development of a roughly $2.4 trillion stimulus bill that would provide pandemic aid to American families, restaurants and airlines, amid growing pressure from moderates who demanded additional action before lawmakers leave Washington next week to campaign for re-election.

The move to present a new package was the first sign of movement in negotiations between Democrats and the White House that have been stalled since early August, and it came as Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said he and Ms. Pelosi had agreed to revive those talks. But it was far from clear that the measure Democrats had in mind, whose cost is about $1 trillion more than the Trump administration has signaled it could accept, would lead to a deal.

Ms. Pelosi privately told top Democrats that the House could vote on it anyway, which would allow anxious Democrats who have been quietly agitating for more action on a stimulus measure to at least register their support for additional relief. Earlier in the week, she instructed lawmakers to begin work, a move previously reported by Politico.

“We are still striving for an agreement,” Ms. Pelosi told top Democrats in a private meeting on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the remarks who disclosed them on the condition of anonymity. “If necessary, we can formalize the request by voting on it on the House floor.”

The measure being drafted is substantially smaller than the $3.4 trillion package the House approved in May, but it is expected to contain some of the same elements, as well as additional funding for needs Ms. Pelosi said had emerged in recent months.

With Myanmar’s coronavirus cases skyrocketing and its largest city mostly under lockdown, uncertainty is brewing over the potential effects on both the country’s urban food supply and a national election that is just six weeks away.

As of mid-August, the nation of 54 million people had reported only a few hundred cases. But since then, the national caseload has multiplied quickly, reaching 8,515 as of Friday. More than 1,000 infections were reported on Thursday alone.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has one of the world’s lowest testing rates, which suggests that the virus had been spreading undetected for weeks.

“I think the government did not expect the scenario of rapidly rising cases,” said U Aung Thu Nyein, an independent political analyst. “They were complacent. They should have been conducting random tests since late April to find the undetected cases.”

All domestic flights have been grounded, and about 50,000 people are in preventive quarantine. But the country’s health care system is woefully unprepared to handle the pandemic.

The largest city, Yangon, has reported about 90 percent of the country’s new cases. About 400 patients have been ordered to stay in tents inside a local soccer stadium.

Officials are also wrestling with how to supply food to the residents of Yangon, also known as Rangoon, so they can remain at home — a tall order in a country with limited resources.

“The government wants to provide support to all seven million people in Yangon,” said U Khin Maung Lwin, a commerce ministry spokesman. “But it will take time and will be difficult in this time of rising positive cases.”

Another question is how to manage campaigning ahead of a general election that is set for Nov. 8.

The country’s civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, whose political party, the National League for Democracy, won in a landslide five years ago, hopes to hold on to power.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi suspended public appearances earlier this month just as the official campaign season began. But it may be to her benefit that campaigning is prohibited in Yangon and Rakhine State, the site of the first major outbreak.

Democracy activists and the main opposition party have called for delaying the vote to give the candidates a chance to campaign, and to ensure that voters can cast their ballots safely.

“Despite the pandemic, the minimum norms of the democratic election process must be guaranteed,” said U Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint, the executive director of the People’s Alliance for Credible Elections, an independent election monitoring group. “There is a need to guarantee the rights of political parties and candidates to freely campaign and drum up support.”

A federal judge barred the Trump administration on Friday from ending the 2020 census a month early, the latest twist in years of political and legal warfare over a contested population count that was delayed for months because of the pandemic.

In U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Judge Lucy H. Koh issued a preliminary injunction preventing the administration from winding down the count by Sept. 30, a month before the scheduled completion date of Oct. 31. She also barred officials from delivering completed population data to the White House on Dec. 31 rather than the April 2021 delivery date that had previously been set out.

The ruling came after evidence filed this week showed that top Census Bureau officials believed ending the head count early would seriously endanger its accuracy.

In one July email, the head of census field operations, Timothy P. Olson Jr., called it “ludicrous” to think a curtailed population count would succeed. A second internal document drafted in late July said a shortened census would have “fatal data flaws that are unacceptable for a constitutionally mandated national activity.”

The Trump administration had argued that it needed to end census-taking early to begin processing state-by-state population data or it would miss a statutory Dec. 31 deadline for sending population figures to President Trump.

In a 78-page opinion, Judge Koh said that internal Commerce Department and Census Bureau documents showed that both agencies knew the earlier deadlines could not be met without a high risk of creating a flawed population count. They also knew that the pandemic gave them ample legal justification for missing the December deadline for delivering data to the president, she wrote.

The Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, did not immediately react to the ruling.

Rio de Janeiro’s annual Carnival parade will be delayed next year for the first time in more than a century amid concerns about the coronavirus, the Brazilian news media reported on Thursday.

During a typical Carnival, which is held during the peak of summer in the southern Hemisphere, rambunctious street parties and performances paralyze the city of six million people.

But that could now be an epidemiologist’s nightmare in a country that has so far reported more than 4.5 million cases and nearly 140,000 deaths, and whose president, Jair Bolsonaro, announced in July that he had tested positive.

Rio de Janeiro alone has reported more than 250,000 cases, including more than 11,000 in the past week, according to a New York Times database.

The event’s key organizer, Rio’s League of Samba Schools, said on Thursday that the parade could not be held safely in February as scheduled because of the pandemic, the newspaper O Globo reported. The league said it was looking into other dates.

“We must await the coming months for definition about if there will be a vaccine or not, and when there will be immunization,” the league’s president, Jorge Castanheira, told reporters on Thursday, according to The Associated Press. “We don’t have the safety conditions to set a date.”

It was unclear whether the street parties that normally take place alongside the official parade would still occur.

Carnival was last postponed in 1912, after the death of Brazil’s foreign relations minister, The A.P. reported, but revelers still partied in the streets.

In other international news:

  • The Hong Kong police on Friday banned a pro-democracy march planned for Thursday, China’s National Day, an annual event, citing the pandemic and disruptions at past protests. The Civil Human Rights Front, the organizer of the march, said it would appeal the decision. In a letter shared by the organizer, the police cited the government’s ban on public gatherings of more than four people, a rule that has been extended until Thursday, as one of the reasons for outlawing the protest. Hong Kong recorded two new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, both of which were linked to previous infections. The city has gradually lifted other social-distancing measures in recent weeks.

  • Israel tightened its second national lockdown, as new measures went into effect on Friday that require everyone except essential workers to stay home from work. The new restrictions, which come in the midst of the Jewish High Holy Days, allow gatherings only outdoors, with a maximum of 20 people — all of whom must have traveled no further than 1,000 meters from their homes.

  • South Korea announced new social-distancing guidelines on Friday as millions of people prepared to travel to their hometowns during one of the country’s biggest holidays. The Chuseok holiday runs from Wednesday to Oct. 4. and poses a new challenge for health officials who have been struggling to contain infections. Starting Monday, villages cannot hold community parties of more than 50 people indoors and more than 100 outdoors, and facilities for entertainment, including drinking, will be closed in provincial towns. “The country’s virus situation depends on how we spend the Chuseok holiday,” the health minister, Park Neung-hoo, said.

  • North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, offered a rare apology on Friday for the killing of a South Korean fisheries official who was shot at sea by soldiers from the North, according to South Korean officials. The officials said the soldiers had poured oil on the man’s body and set it on fire for fear that he might be carrying the coronavirus — an assertion that North Korea denied.

Reporting was contributed by Choe Sang-Hun, Emily Cochrane, Mike Ives, Isabel Kershner, Saw Nang, Richard C. Paddock, Azi Paybarah, Alan Rappeport, Jeanna Smialek, Mitch Smith, Michael Wines and Elaine Yu.

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