Judge Blocks Green Card Wealth Tests, Citing Pandemic Hardships

Deaths top 150,000 in the United States. A $600 unemployment benefit is likely to lapse on Friday, a top official said. In Iran, religious ceremonies and college-entrance exams are in limbo.

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the Trump administration from moving forward with plans to deny green cards to immigrants who have received Medicaid, food stamps or housing vouchers, even on a limited basis — a wealth test that several states, led by New York, sued over during the coronavirus pandemic.

The judge, George B. Daniels of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, granted a nationwide temporary injunction, suspending the eligibility requirements that were introduced last year and that drew several legal challenges, including before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled in January that the Trump administration could move forward with the plan, but that was before the pandemic.

President Trump has sought an expansion of the requirements, but critics argued that they could have a chilling effect for legal immigrants who needed medical treatment or financial aid during the pandemic.

Judge Daniels wrote that the policy “fails to measure up to the gravity of this global pandemic that continues to threaten the lives and economic well-being of America’s residents.”

“No person should hesitate to seek medical care, nor should they endure punishment or penalty if they seek temporary financial aid as a result of the pandemic’s impact,” he added.

Attorney General Letitia James of New York, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday, “This is a major victory to protect the health of our communities across New York and the entire nation.”

It was the latest immigration clash between Democrats and the Trump administration, which was thwarted by the Supreme Court last month from ending a program protecting about 700,000 young immigrants known as Dreamers from deportation. This month, the administration walked back a plan to strip visas from international students who took only online classes at universities or colleges.

California and Florida on Wednesday reported single-day records for deaths, as a number of other states moved to reimpose restrictions to cope with soaring caseloads.

California recorded more than 185 deaths, along with a record number of new cases, more than 12,300, according to a New York Times database. Florida reported more than 216 deaths, surpassing its previous high of 186, which was recorded on Tuesday.

In Hawaii, which set a single-day record with 109 new cases, Gov. David Ige said he would seek to limit social gatherings to 10 people after officials noted large gatherings in parks and beaches. He said he was also asking mayors to consider closing bars.

“I’m very much concerned with what’s happening,” Mr. Ige said. “It is a dropping of our vigilance.”

Rhode Island said it would lower the limit on social gatherings from 25 people to 15 after officials there tracked cases back to a number of large gatherings, including a house party with more than 50 people and a baby shower.

Beginning on Friday, people in Maryland will be required to wear masks in all public buildings, not just in stores and on public transit, as well as in all places outdoors where social distancing is not possible.

In Michigan, officials said they would reduce the number of people who can attend indoor social gatherings to 10 and would close bars for indoor service. Even as the state imposed that restriction, however, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she would allow Detroit’s casinos to open on Aug. 5, though at only 15 percent capacity.

A $600-a-week federal unemployment benefit that has helped keep tens of millions of Americans afloat as the pandemic upended the economy is likely to lapse as scheduled on Friday, a top White House official said Wednesday, as the prospects for a quick compromise between Democrats and the Trump administration on a new round of aid sank further.

“We’re nowhere close to a deal,” Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, told reporters after leaving talks with top Democrats in the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. “It means enhanced unemployment insurance provisions will expire.”

Democrats want to extend the full benefit through January, while Republicans in the Senate have called for scaling it back to $200 per week.

Earlier in the day, President Trump indicated that he did not care about the fate of a broad economic recovery package that lawmakers in both parties, along with members of his own administration, are scrambling to put together before tens of millions of Americans formally lose their jobless benefits on Friday, telling reporters he would rather see a narrow package.

“You work on the payments for the people,” Mr. Trump said, referring to another round of direct payments, “and the rest of it — we’re so far apart, we don’t care.”

Mr. Trump suggested that he wanted to renew a federal moratorium on evictions that expired earlier this month for millions of Americans, saying, “We want to stop the evictions.” But the Republican proposal his administration helped draft has no measure to do so.

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and Mr. Meadows are expected to huddle with Senate Republicans during their weekly policy lunch and meet for the third consecutive day with Ms. Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, later Wednesday afternoon. Democrats have so far rejected the prospect of a narrow package, insisting on a comprehensive package, and Mr. Trump has dismissed the Republican package as “semi-irrelevant.”

On Wednesday, he slammed Republicans for distancing themselves from his efforts to secure funding for a new F.B.I. headquarters in Washington as part of the recovery package, saying that, “Republicans should go back to school and learn.”

Today: A fight has erupted among congressional Republicans over how long and how generously government should help the unemployed during the pandemic. Nick Fandos on what that battle is really about.

So on Friday, at the end of July, one of the key programs in the $2 trillion economic relief package, called the CARES Act, that Congress passed this spring to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, is set to expire. This is the federal unemployment benefit, this extra $600 that the federal government has been putting into unemployment checks, on top of whatever states give the tens of millions of Americans that are out of work.

Right. And the thinking was that state unemployment benefits, which is how most people get by when they are laid off, are kind of stingy. And because these layoffs were so widespread, the federal government needed to step in an unusual way.

That’s right. And you know, $600 was arrived at by congressional Democrats and the Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, as something like a kind of average wage that they thought might be lost across the board. And though some Republicans were uneasy —

— they ultimately set aside their concerns and ended up voting unanimously to put this program and others in place.

So today, Mr. President, the Senate will act to help the people of this country weather this storm.

Right. And I think for many Americans the sense was that this program — $600 a week from the federal government — would probably last as long as widespread unemployment lasted, stemming from the pandemic.

I think that that’s right, that that was the assumption of many Americans. But Republicans never quite viewed it that way.

We have spent a lot of money in the last couple of months. But we’ve done so in the face of an emergency, kind of like the civilian equivalent of World War II.

They saw the whole stimulus bill, including this benefit, as a kind of extraordinary measure for extraordinary circumstances. And that this was kind of a bridge to float the economy and float the American people through this period where the government was asking them to stay home, so that we could get the virus under control.

Look, I supported every one of these bills that has come through. I agree that we need emergency relief to help people, to help people through the crisis as a short-term bridge loan.

But you know, if that was a gamble — and it was, that this is going to be a temporary thing — Republicans do not come out where they want to. The virus has resurged in many states now across the South and West, you know, in states that are traditionally red states and are represented by Republicans.

And the party now has to kind of come to terms with the fact that what they hoped would be a bridge is going to be a lot longer than they initially thought.

We had hoped we’d be on the way to saying goodbye to this health care pandemic. Clearly, it is not over.

Right. Which brings us back to this Friday expiration date. So do Republicans have intrinsic objections to just renewing the $600 a week?

That $600 figure, as we said, was arrived at honestly, but somewhat hastily back in March. And Republicans started voicing concerns at the time.

For 68 percent of people receiving it right now, they are being paid more on unemployment than they made in their job.

And they’ve grown a lot louder since. That $600 from the federal government, on top of whatever states were giving people that were out of work, was simply too generous.

And I’ll tell you, I’ve spoken to small business owners all over the state of Texas who are trying to reopen.

— and they’re calling their waiters and waitresses, they’re calling their busboys. And they won’t come back. And of course they won’t come back. Because the federal government is paying, in some instances, twice as much money to stay home.

So ideologically, many Republicans in Congress were never comfortable with this $600 benefit at that level in the first place. And then, they’re certainly not comfortable with extending it into perpetuity.

So Nick, with this program running out of time, how is this playing out among the Republicans?

So as Republicans are approaching these deadlines at the end of July, they’re looking around and seeing a bunch of different inputs that are really difficult for them. On the one hand, Democrats are, you know, unabashedly and enthusiastically pushing to extend this $600 benefit through the end of the year and as long as it’s needed.

And at the same time, Republicans are having to reconcile themselves to the fact that the virus is spreading around the country. There are signs in the last few weeks that the economy, which was recovering, is starting to potentially soften again. And they recognize for a variety of reasons — economically, for the livelihood of the country, and politically, as they’re looking ahead to November’s elections — that it’s simply not going to be an option not to have a plan.

And so Republicans start trying to put together their own proposal for how to fix unemployment benefits going forward and a range of other programs to keep the economy afloat. And it turns out it’s a lot harder than they think it’s going to be.

Well, it turns out, as they try to unpack this and get into the details of what might we do next, that there’s a pretty big split between two different camps of Republicans.

So one of them are the kind of arch conservatives that are really worried about federal spending. People like Ted Cruz.

A number of senators at lunch get up and say, well gosh, we need $20 billion for this. We need $100 billion for this. And they’re just really eager to spend money. I’m, like, what are you guys doing?

Or Rand Paul, who compared his colleagues to a bunch of Bernie bros with the way they were talking.

I find it extraordinary that I just came from a Republican caucus meeting that could be sort of the Bernie bros progressive caucus.

This is insane. It’s got to stop. We’re ruining the country. And there has to be some voice left for fiscal conservatism in this country.

This group is just, frankly, uneasy about the $2 trillion that they spent back in the spring and is not interested in seeing the federal government add to the deficit, add to the debt and further involve itself in the U.S. economy.

I, for one, am alarmed at where the country is heading. I’m also alarmed that my party has forgotten what they actually stand for. There is no difference now between the two parties on spending.

Now, at the other end of the spectrum are a group of more moderate or middle-of-the-road Republicans, who are up for re-election this fall and are actually having to face the voters, in many cases, in swing states or blue states where President Trump and the Republican response to the pandemic have been deeply unpopular. People like Cory Gardner or Thom Tillis —

Well, I think we have to build on what we did with the CARES Act, almost $3 trillion dollars to help individuals, to provide a supplement for unemployment.

— who have really staked their re-election on the government’s response to this crisis, and on showing that they are effectively leading the country through one of its most challenging periods in anybody’s memory. And joining with them on that side —

For weeks now, I have made it clear that further legislation out of the Senate will be a serious response to the crisis.

So Mitch McConnell, the majority leader from Kentucky, and John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas who’s one of his longtime deputies —

— seem to recognize that not only are the fates of individual senators up in the air, but the Republican Party’s prospects up and down the ticket this fall may well be tied up into how they are judged to have handled this crisis. And doing what the conservatives want and basically stopping now and saying, “we’ve done what we need to do” is not an option for that group.

Nick, how much of that debate you just described is being informed by the political realities surrounding the single most important person in the party at this moment, which is President Trump?

I think it’s inescapable for elected Republicans. And it’s not just the way that the public seems to be viewing President Trump and giving him very poor grades on handling the pandemic, which could hurt the whole Republican Party in November. It’s also the kind of erratic nature of his leadership and engagement on this issue itself. And so they’re working with his Treasury secretary to iron out the details. But this is not a negotiation that President Trump is leading or even all that active in. They’re trying to do whatever they can to bail out the party, not to please President Trump in this case.

And that has added another kind of layer of interest and unpredictability to this whole thing which, you know, we have not seen a lot of in the last three and a half years.

Well, I think whether they want to acknowledge it or not, Republicans are starting to sense that their party is really in trouble. That if things aren’t turned around quickly, they may not only lose the White House, but really get wiped out in November. And are thinking in different ways about why that is and what the party may need to look like in a world that’s just starting to dawn on them as a possibility of being kind of post-Trump.

So in other words, this battle over $600 a week and what this entire new version of a relief package looks like, it’s not really just about what’s in a piece of legislation like this. It’s about the identity of the Republican Party at a time where it may need a new identity. Because theoretically, Donald Trump could lose. And the Republican Party would no longer be just the party of Donald Trump.

That’s right. So while they’re very much focused on how is the party going to be viewed in November, they’re really kind of foreshadowing or staking out positioning for this potentially larger battle to come, over what Republicanism really looks like after Donald Trump has defined it for four or five years.

And you know, some of these folks are not new to their positions. But they recognize that there may soon be more of a need to kind of assert their views, and the primacy of those views, against others in the Republican Party.

So Nick, where does this very high stakes ideological battle within the Republican Party, where does it leave this economic relief package?

So it’s up to Mitch McConnell, basically, to try and pull together these different factions and arrive at a bill that deals with the expiring unemployment benefits and a host of other kind of programs and priorities. Basically, to try and reconcile those differences and put together a bill that can be Republicans’ starting point when they go to the negotiating table with Democrats.

And so that’s where we were by the middle of last week. And as he tries to work out those details with the White House and run it by his Republican colleagues, there’s a bunch of snafus along the way. They push past some small deadlines. But in the end, they’re unable to introduce their bill, because those differences turn out to have been more significant than Republicans even wanted to let on.

So the Republicans cannot come up with any kind of consensus bill to salvage this program that we’ve been talking about?

So as of Thursday morning, no. And as lawmakers head for the exits for the weekend, without a proposal for how to fix a whole host of programs, they have not arrived at a solution on a range of issues, including what to do about this expiring $600 unemployment benefit. But their staff and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, Meadows, the White House chief of staff, work through the weekend to try and iron out some of these details.

Well, good afternoon, everyone. The Senate Republicans and the administration have been consulting over the last few weeks.

— with what we think is an appropriate amount of additional debt to be added. We think it is about a trillion dollars.

Some of that goes to schools to help them reopen and for more testing and contact tracing.

So with that, I’m going to call on my colleagues who have developed the various —

And on this key question of unemployment benefits, Republicans propose a real overhaul to the way that they would work conceptually.

So they say that for the short term, we’re going to cut that $600 down to $200 a week.

So we want to continue to help the unemployed. But we want to encourage work. And we’ve learned a very tough lesson, that when you pay people not to work, what do you expect?

And they say, that’s just going to buy us time over the next few months for us to basically help states set up a new system, where what we’re going to try and do is make sure that every individual that’s unemployed, between the state government and the federal government ends up getting about 70 percent of what their old wages would have been.

We’re going to have further tax relief for businesses to encourage hiring and rehiring. And we want to do that to encourage people to get back to work and help the employer, in the process, support people in the meantime.

And so what Republicans are trying to do here is keep a safety net in place, but remove what they think is hindering people from going back to work.

Lastly, I hope that Democrats will come to the table and we can work out a bipartisan agreement. Thank you very much.

So in other words, if they can get this program up and operating, it will always make sense from a financial point of view for somebody to go and take their old job back or take a new job back, but not be so draconian that they’re making the economic situation drastically worse, or can be accused of forcing people towards soup kitchens or the streets.

So this is a classic compromise. In other words, we’re going to keep the benefits but not at $600 a week, because they see that as not conservative and not incentivizing an economic recovery.

That’s right. But remember, this is just kind of the first step. This should have been the easy part for Republicans. Because what they have coming is negotiations with Democrats, who are in favor of keeping the benefit totally as it is, and are already lining up to say basically that Republicans are giving a massive economic financial hit to individuals and the economy right when they need it most, and at this moment where the country’s recovery seems to be teetering. Is it going to keep going up? Or is it about to collapse again? And Democrats are not going to settle for $200 for any period of time.

So given all that, what is likely to happen to this Republican bill in the Senate?

So the interesting thing about where Republicans find themselves is, this bill that they’re introducing probably couldn’t even pass the Senate just on Republican votes. And that leaves them in a pretty weak position as they head into negotiations with the Democrats. Because remember, to pass anything into law, even if there’s a Republican president or a Republican Senate, you need the Democrats to get it through Congress. And they have a very long and expensive wish list of things that they’d like to see in legislation. And they’re not going to be easy on the Republicans.

Nick, this may sound like a strange question. But do you think Republicans now regret ever agreeing to these enhanced unemployment benefits? I’m mindful of the fact that it was not a Republican idea. It was Democrats who pushed for it. As you have said, it cuts against a lot of Republican principles. But they agreed to it as a short-term fix. And it turns out it’s not going to be a short-term term fix, because there’s nothing short-term about this pandemic. And it is inevitably hard to take something like this away from people once you give it to them. So is it possible Republicans look back and think we should have never agreed to do this?

I think there may be a small subset of fiscally conservative Republicans that feel that way. But my guess is that the vast majority felt like, hey, we did what we had to do back then in the springtime. I mean, the economy was in freefall, remember. And the course of the virus was highly uncertain. And the fundamental problem for them is that they envisioned the federal government having a relatively short-term role to play in getting the country back on its feet and ready to fight against this virus. And it’s just turned out to be, for a lot of different reasons, a much more complicated, prolonged, expensive fight than they wanted.

And honestly, Michael, at this point, it’s hard to see how this situation resolves itself. Usually, when you cover Congress for a while, you can kind of see the pattern of how these negotiations will work. But Republicans really find themselves pretty far up the stream without a paddle right now. And there seem to be risks for them and consequences in every direction.

And it’s going to be a pretty fascinating next couple of weeks to see how and if they can reach an agreement with Democrats — and one that some members of the party feel like doesn’t completely undermine what they stand for.

Of course, weeks is not what people who are on this program have. They have days. Because this thing really does expire on Friday.

That’s right. Many of the people receiving these benefits are living paycheck to paycheck or don’t have a lot of savings to fall back on. There can and will be very real consequences to this delay. And that’s not to mention the whole host of other programs that are being debated by Congress right now that are touching different aspects of people’s lives.

The longer this goes on, the effects just get magnified. Bigger and bigger and bigger. And it frankly makes the problem even harder to solve.

On Monday night, Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, met with White House officials to begin negotiations over a new economic relief package, including federal unemployment benefits.

Suffice to say that we hoped that we would be able to reach an agreement. We clearly do not have shared values.

Little progress was made during the two-hour session. But afterward, the Democratic leaders made one thing clear. Congressional Republicans lack the votes to pass their own bill.

On Monday, the pandemic touched the worlds of politics, business and sports. The Trump administration said that its national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, had contracted the virus, becoming the most senior White House official yet to test positive.

Meanwhile, the parent company of Google — Alphabet — told employees that they would not be expected to return to the office until next summer, suggesting that work-from-home policies will extend well past the end of the year.

Finally, the Miami Marlins canceled two upcoming baseball games after 12 players and two coaches tested positive for the coronavirus. The outbreak was disclosed just four days after the beginning of the baseball season.

My level of concern went from about an eight to a 12. You know, it hits home now that you see half a team get infected and it go from one city to another. So —

Yeah, I got friends on that Miami team. And it really stinks. Now I’m not going to lie. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Seeing those guys go down like that, it’s not good for them. It’s not good for anybody.

Back in April, the United States’ leading authority on infectious diseases expressed hope that no more than 60,000 people in the U.S. would die from the virus. A few weeks later a major research center predicted that the figure would be just over 70,000 people by early August. In May, the president said that between 75,000 and 100,000 people might die.

That the figure has soared so fast and so far beyond those estimates illustrates how difficult it can be to accurately forecast the spread of the virus, or to predict the way citizens and politicians will respond to it.

“The aspect which is really impossible to predict is human behavior,” said Virginia Pitzer, a professor of epidemiology at Yale. “To what extent are people going to socially distance themselves? To what extent are politics going to influence whether you wear a mask? All of these factors are impossible to factor in.”

About 1,000 virus-related deaths a day have been reported over the past week, the worst rate since early June, when the number of fatalities seemed to be falling. Now, daily death counts are rising in 23 states and Puerto Rico.

The first virus-related death in the U.S. was reported in February. The nation passed the 50,000 mark on April 27 and 100,000 deaths on May 27, a milestone The Times commemorated by filling its front page with names of the dead.

As of Wednesday evening, at least 150,909 people were known to have died of the virus in the U.S., out of more than 4.4 million reported infections. And even these figures are likely to be undercounts, experts say.

The Miami-Dade County, Fla., public school system said Wednesday that it would delay the start of the school year by a week to Aug. 31, and that schools would initially open online only.

Alberto M. Carvalho, the superintendent, said he hoped to open schools for in-person instruction on Oct. 5 if virus conditions had improved enough by then.

Miami-Dade is the latest large school district to opt for remote learning, even as Mr. Trump has pushed for in-person instruction and sought to withhold some federal funding from schools that go online. Districts in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, suburban Washington and elsewhere have all decided it is not yet safe to return to in-person instruction.

The Miami-Dade school district is the fourth largest in the nation and the largest in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has pushed hard for students to attend brick-and-mortar schools next month. A few hours before Mr. Carvalho’s announcement in Miami, Mr. DeSantis visited a school in Clearwater, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, to promote school reopenings.

Earlier this month the education commissioner, Richard Corcoran, issued an emergency order requiring schools to open. After a teachers’ union sued, Mr. DeSantis said districts could delay the start of the school year if needed. Several have done so.

“Every parent needs to have a choice about their kid’s education, whether they want to continue with distance learning — I think that’s the parents’ right — or whether they would like that in-person instruction, because I know a lot of students really need that,” Mr. DeSantis said. But Mr. Carvalho said even a hybrid model, with some students going to school and others learning online, would not be feasible with the virus so prevalent in Miami-Dade.

Researchers have estimated that the states’ decisions to close schools last spring probably saved tens of thousands of lives and prevented many more infections. Still, the authors acknowledged that their findings are not broadly applicable today, and experts caution that the findings highlighted a period when few precautions were in place.

A Times survey of every public four-year college in the country, as well as every private institution that competes in Division I sports or is a member of an elite group of research universities, revealed at least 6,300 cases tied to about 270 colleges over the course of the pandemic. And the new academic year has not yet begun at most schools.

Alabama said Wednesday that in addition to school employees, students in second grade through college must also wear masks.

A Times survey of hundreds of schools represents the most comprehensive look at the toll the virus has already taken on the country’s colleges and universities.

The current economic downturn is the most severe in our lifetimes. It will take a while to get back to the levels of economic activity and employment that prevailed at the beginning of the year. And it will take continued support from both monetary and fiscal policy to achieve that. As we have emphasized throughout the pandemic, the path forward for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain, and will depend in large part on our success in keeping the virus in check. Indeed, we have seen some signs in recent weeks that the increase in virus cases and the renewed measures to control it are starting to weigh on economic activity. A full recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it’s safe to re-engage in a broad range of activities. The path forward will also depend on policy actions taken at all levels of government to provide relief, and to support the recovery for as long as needed. The Federal Reserve’s response to this crisis has been guided by our mandate to promote maximum employment and stable prices for the American people, along with our responsibilities to promote the stability of the financial system. We are committed to using our full range of tools to support the economy in this challenging time. We have held our policy rate near zero since mid-March, and have stated that we will keep it there until we are confident that the economy has weathered recent events, and is on track to achieve our maximum employment and price stability goals.

The Federal Reserve left interest rates near zero on Wednesday and pledged to keep supporting the United States economy as the pandemic continues to depress economic growth and sideline millions of workers.

“The path of the economy will depend significantly on the course of the virus,” the central bank said in its post-meeting statement. “The ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term.”

Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, said at a news conference following the meeting that the pace of the economic recovery was “far from certain” given the uncertainty surrounding the virus, which has surged in certain spots around the country. While employment ticked up in May and June, recent up-to-date labor market data show signs of slowing as efforts to slow infection weigh on activity again, Mr. Powell said.

He also predicted a long slog ahead for workers in certain sectors of the economy, even once the economy reopens more fully, particularly those that involve “lots of people getting together in close proximity” like restaurants, bars, hotels and other places.

“There won’t be enough jobs for them,” he said. “There will be a need both for more support from us and for more fiscal policy.”

Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina said that restaurant employees and patrons would be required to wear masks beginning Monday. He also said that more businesses — including concert venues, theaters, stadiums, arenas and gymnasiums — would be allowed to operate beginning Monday as long as they follow certain restrictions, including limiting capacity to 50 percent of occupancy or 250 people, whichever is less.

Representative Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican who has frequently refused to don a face covering in the Capitol, confirmed on Wednesday that he had tested positive ahead of a planned trip with President Trump on Air Force One. Hours later, Speaker Pelosi announced a new mandate requiring lawmakers and staff to wear masks on the House floor, on penalty of removal. Mr. Gohmert has participated in congressional hearings this week, including Tuesday’s Judiciary Committee session with Attorney General William P. Barr, during which he did not wear a mask. He said he was not experiencing symptoms.

Florida, which is in the grip of a serious outbreak, announced that all state-supported drive-through and walk-up testing sites would close Thursday at 5 p.m. because a major storm is forecast. Officials noted that tents at the test sites would not be able to withstand tropical storm force winds. Sites are expected to reopen by Wednesday at the latest.

In a move long sought by advocates, California has stepped up its efforts to track whether the virus is affecting L.G.B.T.Q. people at disproportionate rates. State health officials announced Tuesday that health care providers and labs would be required to collect and report to the state data that patients give voluntarily about their gender identity and sexual orientation, in addition to their age and ethnicity.

The virus has infected more than 16,989,500 people and has been detected in nearly every country.

After roughly 100 days without any confirmed cases of local transmission, a coronavirus outbreak has struck Vietnam. And it’s rapidly spreading in the nation of 95 million people.

The surge of the virus in the country, which has so far recorded fewer than 450 cases, demonstrates the dangers of the virus even in the places that appeared to have done almost everything right. Japan, China, Australia and South Korea, all of which seemed to have their outbreaks reasonably under control, recorded spikes on Wednesday.

The health ministry in Vietnam said that the strain of virus detected in the coastal city of Danang was different from ones that circulated during an earlier round of local transmission, suggesting that virus was imported.

Both medical experts and residents are spooked by the surge. “This outbreak is more dangerous than the previous one because it is happening at the same time in many places,” said Nguyen Huy Nga, the dean of public health and nursing at Quang Trung University in Binh Dinh Province. “We do not know the source.”

Hours after clusters of cases were confirmed in Danang hospitals this week, officials said they would be shutting the city’s airport. Up to 80,000 local tourists who had traveled to the city would be evacuated, the authorities said.

Vietnam is the largest country in the world without a single confirmed death from the virus. Here are other developments from around the globe:

A union representing FedEx pilots called on the delivery company on Tuesday to suspend operations in Hong Kong after its members were subjected to quarantine facilities under “extremely difficult conditions.”

Ashleigh Barty, the top-ranked women’s singles player, has confirmed that she will not play in the United States Open in New York because of concerns about traveling during the pandemic. ”I don’t feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position.,” Barty, an Australian, said. The Open is still set to begin on Aug. 31. The last time the tournament was held without the top women’s singles player was 2010, when Serena Williams withdrew because of a foot injury.

Across the Middle East, celebrations for Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice that marks the end of the hajj this weekend, will be tamer this year. About 2.5 million Muslims from around the world performed the pilgrimage to Mecca last year. This year, Saudi Arabia said it would allow as few as 1,000 pilgrims, all from within the kingdom.

The agriculture minister of Zimbabwe, Perrance Shiri, who led a military unit that massacred thousands of civilians during civil strife in the 1980s and helped plot the coup that overthrew the country’s longtime strongman leader, Robert Mugabe, in 2017, has died of coronavirus, according to local media reports. Mr. Shiri was 65 (an earlier version misstated his age), and was thought to have contracted the virus from his driver, who also died recently.

Australia recorded its deadliest day since the pandemic began, with all 13 fatalities on Wednesday reported from the southern state of Victoria, which also had 723 new cases. A total of 21 new cases were recorded in other states, as the authorities tightened borders and local restrictions.

Sending patients from hospitals to nursing homes to free up hospital beds early in the pandemic has been described as “reckless” by lawmakers in Britain, the BBC reports. The death toll in British care homes has been a defining scandal of the pandemic for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Drinkers in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, now must make reservations for seats on patios. The measure was introduced after Dr. Vera Etches, the city’s medical officer of health, expressed concern that a rise in cases among people in their 20s was partly related to long lines outside bars.

In its battle to contain the coronavirus, Iran is facing tough decisions on how to proceed with coming marquee academic and religious events: the annual university entrance exam and a holy month of Shia mourning rituals.

The university entrance exam, which ranks and matches students with universities and is known as “konkur,” usually takes place in June. But it was delayed because of the virus and millions of recent high school graduates remain in limbo, not knowing if they can attend college this fall.

Commemorating the holy month of Muharram, the first of the Islamic lunar calendar starting on Aug. 20 this year, and Shia Islam’s most important holiday, Ashura, which takes place during that month, has turned into another thorny issue for the government. Every year Iran stages grand religious ceremonies to honor the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

The event is deeply rooted in Iranian culture and identity. Black banners drape street walls, and every neighborhood hosts nightly prayer gatherings in mosques or people’s homes. Thousands march in street processions and take part in charity food handouts.

“We are at the peak of this disease now in most of the provinces and especially Tehran,” said Dr. Minou Mohrez, the health ministry’s top infectious disease specialist and a member of the government’s coronavirus committee. “All public gatherings must be banned to the extent possible.”

The government of President Hassan Rouhani, under pressure from religious and educational establishments, has pushed back on the idea of canceling the events, insisting that both will be held with health protocols observed.

“We will not allow anyone to question these annual Muharram commemorations and blame them for the surge in Covid-19 cases,” Mr. Rouhani said on Wednesday.

The chairman of the House select committee investigating the government’s coronavirus response is accusing the White House of suppressing its own dire state-by-state assessments of the virus’s spread and keeping science-based public health recommendations a secret as Mr. Trump insists the pandemic is under control.

The chairman, Representative Jim Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, sent a letter Wednesday to the White House coronavirus task force, demanding that it make its internal assessments public. On Tuesday, The New York Times published the most recent task force report, which identified 21 “red zone” states and offered public health guidance like imposing statewide mask orders or close bars and gyms.

“We are primarily concerned right now with the difference that seems to be existing between what the White House is saying publicly and what it is saying and doing privately,” Mr. Clyburn said in an interview, adding, “Covid-19 is recognized by this White House as being much more serious in their private dealing with it.”

Mr. Clyburn also sent letters to the Republican governors of four “red zone” states — Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma — asking them to produce internal correspondence with the administration, as well as proof that they are following the task force’s recommendations. The letter sent to the task force was addressed to Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator.

“This unpublished report recommends far stronger public health measures than the Trump administration has called for in public — including requiring face masks, closing bars, and strictly limiting gatherings,” Mr. Clyburn wrote. “Yet many states do not appear to be following these unpublished recommendations and are instead pursuing policies more consistent with the administration’s contradictory public statements.”

Mr. Clyburn does not have the power to compel the documents, unless he issues a subpoena — and even then, the Trump White House has ignored such legally binding requests. Mr. Clyburn stopped short of saying he would subpoena the documents, but his committee, created by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has broad authority to investigate the government’s response and will hear from three top health officials, including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci at a hearing on Friday. Dr. Birx is not scheduled to testify.

Only a few weeks into the rollout of New York City’s much-heralded contact-tracing program, which began on June 1 and was a vital initiative in the effort to contain the virus and to reopen the local economy, the newly hired contact tracers were already expressing growing misgivings about their work. The city’s new Test and Trace Corps hired about 3,000 contact tracers, case monitors and others.

Some contact tracers described the program’s first six weeks as poorly run and disorganized, leaving them frustrated and fearful that their work would not have much of an impact. They spoke of a confusing training regimen and priorities, and of newly hired supervisors who were unable to provide guidance. They said computer problems had sometimes caused patient records to disappear. And they said their performances were being tracked by call-center-style “adherence scores” that monitor the length of coffee breaks but did not account for how well tracers were building trust with clients.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration acknowledged that the program had gotten off to a troubled start, but said that improvements had been made.

“All signs indicate that the program has been effective in helping the city avoid the resurgence we’re seeing in other states,” Avery Cohen, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo estimated on Wednesday that the state would be facing a $30 billion budget shortfall over the next two years — including $14 billion this year — if the federal relief aid bill does not include funding for state governments. He warned of possible 20 percent cuts in funding that would affect state agencies and aid to local governments, schools and hospitals.

The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles will allow driving schools, starting on Wednesday, to conduct remote learning for pre-license driving courses, Mr. Cuomo said. Driving schools can hold courses over video chat programs like Zoom and Skype.

Talking about money is always difficult, but new financial hardships may be hitting those closest to you, making these conversations all the more important. It doesn’t have to be awkward.

Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Ian Austen, Hannah Beech, Pam Belluck, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Weiyi Cai, Julia Calderone, Benedict Carey, Michael Cooper, Michael Corkery, Chau Doan, Farnaz Fassihi, Nicholas Fandos, Farnaz Fassihi, Lauryn Higgins, Danielle Ivory, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Isabella Kwai, Alex Lemonides, Michael Levenson, Patricia Mazzei, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Claire Moses, Jeffrey Moyo, Sharon Otterman, Amanda Rosa, Jeanna Smialek, Mitch Smith, Eileen Sullivan, Jim Tankersley, Neil Vigdor, and Elaine Yu.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/29/world/coronavirus-covid-19.html

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