Coronavirus Live Updates: A Beleaguered U.S. Observes Memorial Day, With Tone Varying by State

Americans took a varied approach to the holiday weekend, with crowded pool parties in some places and shuttered beaches in others. The U.S. banned travelers from Brazil, and India restored domestic flights.

Germany allowed hotels, public pools and campgrounds to reopen in several states, a move welcomed by many as a chance to help revive summer tourism.

Those looking to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer in the United States, were confronted by the difficulties of how to gather during a pandemic as the country inched closer to the terrible milestone of 100,000 deaths.

Local authorities took varied approaches to regulations, and some communities found creative ways to adjust their celebrations, as beaches — including those in New York City — remained closed and restrictions on public gatherings held.

But elsewhere in the country, crowds flocked to the beaches and parks that were open for the holiday weekend. While many maintained social distancing, others partied with abandon.

A video clip taken at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri and posted by a local television anchor showed partygoers packing a pool. The images quickly spread on social media, and by Monday they had been viewed millions of times.

President Trump and the first lady were set to observe Memorial Day on Monday with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony, followed by a visit to Fort McHenry in Baltimore “to honor the American heroes who have sacrificed their lives serving in the U.S. Armed Forces,” a White House statement read.

But the president’s visit to Baltimore, a city he once called “disgusting, rat and rodent infested,” has already drawn protest, and the city’s mayor asked him to rethink the visit. On Sunday, President Trump also came under fire for playing a round of golf at his club in Virginia as the death toll from the coronavirus climbed. A small group of protesters met his motorcade as it pulled up to the entrance, with one person holding a sign that read: “Liar.”

Elsewhere in the world, measures to ease lockdowns have continued at a gradual pace, with the approaching tourist season a focus for much of Europe as it takes strides back toward public life. Germany allowed hotels, public pools and campgrounds to reopen in several states on Monday, a move welcomed by many as a chance to help revive the tourism industry.

Parts of Spain that were affected particularly badly by the coronavirus, including Barcelona and Madrid, took significant steps toward easing restrictions, with outdoor dining terraces reopening for the first time in months in both cities.

And Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on Monday announced an end to the national state of emergency, but called on the public to continue taking measures to defend against infection.

“We can’t continue to live and work in the way we’ve done until now,” he said.

A detailed county map shows the extent of the coronavirus outbreak, with tables of the number of cases by county.

Around the world, countries are wrestling with the challenge of how to best restart air travel, a cornerstone of modern commerce but also a dangerous vector of coronavirus infection.

As some nations have brought their outbreaks under control, they are both reopening their skies and identifying other relatively safe countries to which travel will be allowed.

But nations still in the throes of the pandemic were finding themselves newly closed off, with their people barred from once-accepting airports.

The United States on Sunday added Brazil to a list of countries from which travel is banned. China and members of the European Union had previously been banned from traveling to the United States.

Coronavirus cases have exploded in Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy. The country, which confirmed its first case in late February, now has the largest known outbreak after the United States, with more than 350,000 infections and more than 22,500 deaths.

As the United States was restricting travel, India, emerging from a nationwide lockdown, was resuming it.

In India, where the number of infections has climbed sharply in recent days, airlines began domestic flights on Monday. The reopening of the country’s airspace comes two months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the world’s largest shutdown to contain the coronavirus, ordering all 1.3 billion Indians to stay inside, sealing state borders and halting planes, trains and metro travel.

Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s aviation minister, said domestic flights would run with about a third of operations from Monday. Food would not be served on flights, he said, and passengers would have to wear masks and undergo temperature checks.

In Europe, the countries that have been most successful at containing the virus looked to broker travel agreements.

Officials in Greece have suggested an “air bridge” with other nations that have minor outbreaks. International flights to Athens are to resume on June 15, and to the country’s other airports on July 1.

Britain, still in the grip of one of the world’s worst outbreaks, will make international air travelers isolate themselves for 14 days as of June 8, but is exempting truck drivers, seasonal farm workers and medical staff. In a reciprocal move, France will require visitors from Britain to isolate for 14 days starting on June 8, and air travelers from Spain starting Monday.

As President Trump’s motorcade pulled into his golf club in Virginia on an overcast Sunday, a small group of protesters waited outside the entrance. One held up a sign.

Mr. Trump and his advisers have said that he does, but he has made scant effort to demonstrate it this Memorial Day weekend. He finally ordered flags lowered to half-staff at the White House only after being badgered to do so by his critics and otherwise took no public notice as the American death toll from the coronavirus pandemic approached a staggering 100,000.

While the country neared six digits of death, the president who repeatedly criticized his predecessor for golfing during a crisis spent the weekend on the links for the first time since March. When he was not zipping around on a cart, he was on social media embracing fringe conspiracy theories, amplifying messages from a racist and sexist Twitter account and lobbing playground insults at perceived enemies, including his own former attorney general.

This was a death toll that Mr. Trump once predicted would never be reached. In late February, he said there were only 15 coronavirus cases in the United States, understating even then the actual number, and declared that “the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.” In the annals of the American presidency, it would be hard to recall a more catastrophically wrong prediction.

It was 1952, and the young men had returned to the industrial towns of western Massachusetts after serving in World War II. They were children from poor families. And they were damaged: shellshocked, learning to live without limbs, unable to communicate what they had seen.

It was to these men that Gov. Paul Dever, who had fought in the war himself, dedicated the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, promising to protect wounded veterans.

But nearly 70 years later, as the coronavirus began spreading across the country, that promise was broken. Of the 210 veterans who were living in the facility in late March, 89 are now dead, 74 having tested positive for the coronavirus. Almost three-quarters of the veterans inside were infected. It is one of the highest death tolls of any end-of-life facility in the country.

There was James Leach Miller, who at 21 was on Omaha Beach on D-Day, crowded into a landing ship with other young men. He died of the coronavirus on March 30.

There was Emilio DiPalma, who at 19 was an Army staff sergeant. He guarded Hermann Goering, the driving force behind the Nazi concentration camps, during the Nuremberg trials. He died of the coronavirus on April 8.

There was Sam Lococo, who at 20 joined the Navy and was shipped out to the South Pacific. He was part of a team that sent out whaleboats to rescue Kamikaze pilots after they had crashed into the Pacific. He died April 16.

The question of what went wrong at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home will be with Massachusetts for a long time.

Investigations have been opened, several of which seek to determine whether state officials should be charged with negligence under civil or criminal law.

The conditions inside the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home were so chaotic that some of the family members of those who died cannot recount them without breaking down.

“He died with no care whatsoever,” said Linda McKee, the daughter of Mr. Miller. “There was no one there giving orders.”

Japan on Monday ended its state of emergency in the Tokyo area and the northern island of Hokkaido, moves that completed the lifting of nationwide restrictions and ushered in the beginning of a new phase in the country’s response.

The measures were lifted for most of the rest of the country earlier this month after a drop in the number of new coronavirus cases led officials to step back initial requests for most businesses to close and individuals to stay home.

The Japanese government does not have the legal authority to impose a lockdown on the country and had instead asked for the public’s cooperation in curbing the virus’s spread. The state of emergency began in Japan’s urban areas in early April before expanding to the rest of the nation by the middle of the month.

The results were more successful than anticipated, defying predictions that the country’s densely populated capital would experience a disaster comparable to what has taken place in New York. As of Sunday, the country had recorded 16,500 coronavirus cases nationwide and 830 deaths, some of the lowest mortality rates among major economies.

Addressing the nation after the announcement, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on the public to continue taking measures to defend against infection, asking them to avoid crowded places.

“We need to make a new normal. Let’s change our thinking,” he said, warning that “We can’t continue to live and work in the way we’ve done until now.”

As businesses reopen, the authorities and medical experts counsel that the country must remain vigilant against the threat of a second wave, which could quickly undo progress in controlling the coronavirus’s spread.

While Japan’s case count is low, it has also carried out much less testing than other countries, raising anxiety that there could be a reservoir of undiscovered asymptomatic cases in the country.

Damien Cave, the Times’ bureau chief in Sydney, writes about the resumption of classes in Australia.

I made my daughter her favorite breakfast this morning and packed extra snacks in my son’s lunchbox. Not even a soaking rain could dampen my mood — if my wife and I could have popped champagne at 8 a.m. we would have.

Finally, after seven weeks at home filled with Zoom lessons, fractions, overdue assignments, TikTok and a few tears, our two children were returning to their real-life classrooms full time.

“I’m not excited for school,” my daughter, Amelia, 9, told me, as we made our way to morning drop-off in downtown Sydney. “I’m excited for normal life!”

The announcement of a full return came suddenly last week. In our house, cheers rattled the windows. We’d seen Australia’s infection rates decline, and wondered when the moment would come. Schools, we felt, brought only minimal risk and great benefits.

But as I watched other parents this morning, some in masks, others with hand sanitizer, I couldn’t shake the sense that “normal life” had already narrowed.

Amelia tells me that hugging at school now brings a scolding. Dance is still canceled. Balthazar, her brother, who is 11, will also probably not be going to bush camp with his class next month — a sixth-grade milestone he’d been looking forward to since last year.

I want to believe that these small sacrifices are not what they’ll remember. I want to believe they’ll look back and recall these insular months as a special interlude, yes, with some arguing, but also with a lot of Snickerdoodles, art projects and funny family videos too.

Our children said they were surprised to discover how hard their parents worked. I come away with a deeper understanding of my children as students — now I know my usually quiet son learns best not alone but in groups, even if that means sitting across from me; and my daughter, it turns out, is far more diligent than her chattiness suggests.

There’s a part of me that will miss them now that they’re gone. But I don’t want them back, not just because that would mean a second wave of the virus; also because school, we now know more than ever, is a beautiful luxury.

The Trump administration’s unsubstantiated claims that the coronavirus pandemic was set off from a Wuhan government laboratory are “pure fabrication,” the head of the lab was quoted as saying in Chinese state news media on Sunday.

Wang Yanyi, who leads the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said that the institute first received a sample of the virus at the end of December. By that point, the virus had been circulating in Wuhan, a major travel hub, for weeks.

“We didn’t have any knowledge about the virus before that, nor have we ever met, researched or kept the virus,” Dr. Wang said.

Scientists are still studying how the outbreak first happened. Most of them believe that the virus was passed from bats to humans via an intermediary species, one that was probably sold at a wet market in Wuhan late last year.

President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have repeatedly sought to tie the novel coronavirus to the Wuhan institute, though most U.S. intelligence agencies remain skeptical that conclusive evidence of such a link can be found.

On Sunday, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, appeared on “Face the Nation” and “Meet the Press,” accusing Chinese officials of carrying out a cover-up of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The coronavirus has infected more than 5.3 million and killed more than 340,000 in its spread around the world. The United States is suffering by far the largest known outbreak. China says it has contained the virus, but Russia confirmed 8,599 new cases in the last 24 hours alone.

Congregations across the United States were still using Facebook or YouTube to hold services on Sunday, or were taking part from their cars in church parking lots.

The dispute has become distinctly political, as growing numbers of churches pushed back against restrictions on in-person worship and as President Trump threatened on Friday to try to overrule governors who refuse to open houses of worship.

“Some governors have deemed the liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s not right. So I am correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential.”

Houses of worship can already open legally in more than half the states, but many had decided to remain closed while working out their next steps. Many that are considering opening for in-person worship soon have been mapping out new seating arrangements or foot traffic flows.

The idea of reopening is an especially difficult issue for African-American churches, as the coronavirus has been infecting and killing black people at disproportionally high rates.

Leaders of the Church of God in Christ, a historically black denomination with about six million members worldwide, were urging pastors not to begin reopening until at least July.

“The moral safe choice is to wait,” Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., the church’s presiding bishop, said. “We don’t think now is the time, and neither do the scientists and doctors we consult with.”

As President Trump presses U.S. officials to reopen houses of worship, some European countries have already taken the plunge — sometimes with dire consequences.

In Germany, which for weeks now has allowed religious services, 40 churchgoers became infected with the coronavirus during a service at a Baptist church in Frankfurt, the health authorities said.

France took tentative steps on Sunday to reopen churches, mosques and synagogues. Officials were nudged by a legal challenge to a blanket ban on public worship that was not set to be lifted until the end of May.

In Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher reopened after a two-month lockdown. On the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians crowded into streets early Sunday in defiance of coronavirus restrictions, including many who demanded that the Palestinian authorities reopen mosques for Eid al-Fitr, the festival for the conclusion of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Governments and businesses now require or at least recommend the wearing of face masks in many public settings. But as parts of the United States reopen, some doctors were recommending another layer of personal protective equipment: clear plastic face shields.

“I wear a face shield every time I enter a store or other building,” said Dr. Eli Perencevich. “Sometimes I also wear a cloth mask, if required by the store’s policy.”

Dr. Perencevich is an infectious-disease physician at the University of Iowa and the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health Care System. In an opinion article published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, he and two colleagues argued that simple clear-plastic face shields could help reduce the transmission of infections.

The idea is not just a thought experiment. In Singapore, preschool students and their teachers will receive face shields when they return to school next month. Local health experts recommended that teachers in Philadelphia wear shields when schools reopen, and a teachers’ union in Palo Alto, Calif., requested them as well.

But it can be difficult to imagine Americans being willing to put on more protective equipment. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have shirked wearing masks in settings that would seem to call for them, and simple face-covering requirements have led to conflicts at grocery stores and restaurants.

There has also been no research on how well one person’s face shield protects other people from viral transmission — the concept called source control that is a primary benefit of surgical and cloth masks.

A multibillion-dollar institution in the Seattle area invests in hedge funds, runs a pair of venture capital funds and works with elite private equity firms like the Carlyle Group.

But it is not just another deep-pocketed investor hunting for high returns. It is the Providence Health System, one of the country’s largest and richest hospital chains. It is sitting on nearly $12 billion in cash, which it invests, Wall Street-style. In a good year, that generates more than $1 billion in profits.

And this spring, Providence received at least $509 million in government funds, one of many wealthy beneficiaries of a federal program that is supposed to prevent health care providers from capsizing during the coronavirus pandemic.

With states restricting hospitals from performing elective surgery and other nonessential services, their revenue has shriveled. The Department of Health and Human Services has disbursed $72 billion in grants since April to hospitals and other health care providers through the bailout program, which was part of the CARES Act economic stimulus package. The department plans to eventually distribute more than $100 billion more.

So far, the riches are flowing in large part to hospitals that had already built up deep financial reserves to help them withstand an economic storm. Smaller, poorer hospitals are receiving tiny amounts of federal aid by comparison.

In the world of performing arts, the coronavirus pandemic has already sunk summer. Now it is felling fall.

Even as reopened barbershops, beaches and bookstores herald the resumption of economic life across America, concert promoters, theater presenters, orchestras and dance companies are ripping up their 2020 calendars and hoping 2021 will mark a new beginning.

“I think 2020 is gone,” said Anna D. Shapiro, the artistic director of the storied Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago. “I’ll be stunned if we’re back in the theater.”

In pop music, the superstars Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber have canceled their performances this year, and there is not much hope for other large events. “It doesn’t seem likely we are going to open in the fall,” said Jay Marciano, the chairman of AEG Presents, one of the industry’s biggest promoters.

Much of the professional theater world is following suit. Guthrie Theater, a prestigious nonprofit in Minneapolis, jolted the industry with its announcement that its next season, which was to feature 12 productions beginning in September, would be scaled back to three, beginning next March.

In South Carolina, Charleston Stage delayed its next season until January, while in Utah, Pioneer Theater Company was aiming for February, and in California, Berkeley Repertory Theater planned to start in “late winter.”

“We won’t have programming this fall,” said Chris Coleman, the artistic director of the theater company at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. “Part of it is the uncertainty of when it’s going to be safe to gather, and part of it is economic — we’ve thought about social distancing, but it makes zero economic sense.”

Sources: New York Times database of reports from state and local health agencies and hospitals (coronavirus cases); Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (election results, except Alaska)

Reporting was contributed by Raphael Minder, Melissa Eddy, Megan Specia, Ben Dooley, Joshua Barone, Jesse Drucker, Sarah Kliff, Mark Landler Stephen Castle, Damien Cave, Joshua Barone, Mariel Padilla, Michael Paulson, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Knvul Sheikh, Ben Sisario, Michael Wilson, Zachary Woolfe, Kai Schultz and Ellen Barry.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/25/world/coronavirus-live-updates.html

World news – Coronavirus Live Updates: A Beleaguered U.S. Observes Memorial Day, With Tone Varying by State

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