Coronavirus Live Updates: Latest News and Analysis

The Four Percent

At least 97,000 children in the U.S. tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks of July.

At least 97,000 children in the United States tested positive for the coronavirus the last two weeks of July alone, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. The report says that at least 338,000 children have been infected since the pandemic began, meaning more than a quarter have been infected in just those two weeks.

The report comes as parents and education leaders grapple with the challenges of resuming schooling as the virus continues to surge in parts of the country.

More than seven out of 10 infections were from states in the South and West, according to the report, which relied on data from 49 states along with Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam. The count could be higher because the report did not include complete data from Texas and information from parts of New York State outside of New York City.

Missouri, Oklahoma, Alaska, Nevada, Idaho and Montana were among the states with the highest percent increase of child infections during that period, according to the report.

New York City, New Jersey and other states in the Northeast, where the virus peaked in March and April, had the lowest percent increase of child infections, according to the report.

In total, 338,982 children have been infected, according to the report.

Not every locality where data was collected categorized children in the same age range. Most places cited in the report considered children to be people no older than 17 or 19. In Alabama, though, the age limit was 24; in Florida and Utah the age limit was 14.

The report noted that children rarely get severely sick from Covid-19, but another report, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, highlighted how the threat from a new Covid-19-related condition, called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children or MIS-C, has disproportionately affected people of color.

The C.D.C. said that from early March through late July, it received reports of 570 young people — ranging from infants to age 20 — who met the definition of MIS-C. Most of those patients were previously healthy, the report said.

About 40 percent were Hispanic or Latino; 33 percent were Black and 13 percent were white, the report said. Ten died and nearly two-thirds were admitted to intensive care units, it said. Symptoms include a fever, rash, pinkeye, stomach distress, confusion, bluish lips, muscle weakness, racing heart rate and cardiac shock.

A reopened high school in Georgia that drew national attention over images of its crowded hallways has had at least nine coronavirus cases reported in the last week, and is switching to online-only instruction for at least the next two days while the school is disinfected and officials assess the situation.

“At this time, we know there were six students and three staff members who were in school for at least some time last week who have since reported to us that they have tested positive,” Gabe Carmona, the principal of North Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga., said in a letter to parents and guardians of the school’s students on Saturday.

The superintendent of the Paulding County School District, Brian Otott, sent them another letter Sunday advising them about the switch to online instruction for Monday and Tuesday, at the least.

Both letters encouraged parents to check their children’s temperature twice daily and to monitor them for symptoms. Neither letter made any mention of social distancing or wearing masks, which the school has said are encouraged but not mandatory.

Photos circulated widely online last week showed North Paulding students crowded in a school hallway with few in masks. Hannah Watters, a 15-year-old student who posted one of the images, was initially suspended for doing so but the suspension was rescinded.

After the photo spread over social media, Mr. Otott said masks were not required at the school, which has about 2,000 students, because “there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them.”

His experience could raise concerns about how much states will rely on antigen tests to augment other forms of testing that are in short supply. Ohio is one of seven states that said this week that they were banding together to purchase a total of 3.5 million rapid coronavirus tests, including antigen tests, along with other vital supplies. Governor DeWine said on CNN Sunday that he had already been in touch with Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland to talk about the tests and the seven-state agreement.

“If anyone needed a wake-up call with antigens, how careful you have to be, we certainly saw that with my test,” Governor DeWine said. “And we’re going to be very careful in how we use it.”

He added that he would direct any funding from a new federal relief package to expanded testing and helping schools adapt.

“We have doubled our testing in the last four weeks,” he said. “We need to double it again and then double it again. And so that is not going to be cheap to do.”

PCR tests are in short supply nationwide, and turnaround times for results have stretched past two weeks in some parts of the country, rendering the information useless.

Compared with PCR tests, Quidel’s antigen test is more likely to return a false negative result, missing up to 20 percent of cases that PCR detects, though the figure may drop below 5 percent for patients with high virus levels. But Governor DeWine’s antigen test produced the opposite error: a false positive.

He noted on Sunday that antigen tests function especially well as screening tests, delivering a quick preliminary indication that can be confirmed by the more accurate but slower PCR tests.

“The president’s meager, weak and unconstitutional actions further demand that we have an agreement,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said on “Fox News Sunday.”

She, along with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, urged administration officials to resume talks and seek a compromise on a broad relief package.

“The president’s executive orders, described in one word, could be paltry; in three words, unworkable, weak and far too narrow,” Mr. Schumer said on the ABC program “This Week.”

Mr. Trump’s top economic advisers were on the defensive Sunday about whether the president had the authority to bypass Congress, which retains the constitutional power of the purse, and redirect billions of dollars in spending. But there was some acknowledgment that the measures were not as potent as congressional action would be.

“The downside of executive orders is, you can’t address some of the small business incidents that are there,” said Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, in a prerecorded interview that was broadcast Sunday on Gray Television. “You can’t necessarily get direct payments, because it has to do with appropriations. That’s something that the president doesn’t have the ability to do. So, you miss on those two key areas. You miss on money for schools. You miss on any funding for state and local revenue needs that may be out there.”

Like many communities, Kansas City, Mo., has been having a tough time lately, and it will get tougher if Congress and the White House can’t reach a deal on more aid, the city’s mayor, Quinton Lucas, said on Sunday.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus coordinator, recently named Kansas City as one of 10 potential coronavirus hot spots around the country because of troubling signs in its testing data. Daily case counts have been declining, but the city is experiencing huge backlogs in testing that are delaying results by as much as two weeks, making them nearly useless in heading off the spread of the disease.

What will it take to address the problem? “Money,” Mr. Lucas said Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” “We need more resources to get more testing, to get faster testing through.”

Kansas City’s Covid-19 response has already cost the city millions, and without federal aid, a growing budget deficit may soon force officials to start furloughing workers and eliminating jobs.

“This isn’t just theoretical for us,” he said. “These are issues that are significant and in the now, and so we are looking for a deal.”

Kansas City has delayed the start of its school year until after Labor Day to buy more time to make its schools safe to reopen. But the schools need more money to buy protective equipment and implement social distancing measures, Mr. Lucas said.

He said it was difficult to make the right decisions locally without clear guidance from the federal government: “I’m a lawyer by training. I talk to doctors and health care professionals here, but these are calls necessarily that sometimes mayors may not be equipped to make, or some governors.”

Pfizer strikes a deal with Gilead, the maker of remdesivir, to manufacture the urgently needed drug.

With the number of severely ill patients rising and with remdesivir, the only drug shown to speed recovery, in short supply, an urgent need to quickly increase remdesivir production has arisen. Some U.S. hospitals have been forced to ration the drug, using various systems to decide who should get it.

Now, in a rare agreement between drug companies, Pfizer has entered into an agreement with Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, to manufacture the drug at a facility in Kansas. It is meant to be part of an effort to quickly increase the drug’s supply.

Pfizer will be one of 40 companies in North America, Europe and Asia that will be making the drug. Gilead says it plans to produce more than two million courses of treatment by the end of 2020. It says it also will produce another several million doses of remdesivir in 2021 if they are needed.

Remdesivir is an anti-viral drug that failed as a treatment for hepatitis C but was tested in Covid-19 patients because it seemed effective against the virus in laboratory studies and because its safety had already been determined. It is supplied intravenously.

The evidence of its effectiveness against the new coronavirus comes from a federal study of 1,000 hospitalized patients who received remdesivir or a placebo. Preliminary results were announced on April 27, and on May 1, the Food and Drug Administration gave the drug emergency use authorization, allowing Gilead to sell remdesivir even though it has not yet been approved. The price for a five-day course is $3,120.

Gilead explains the supply problems by saying it is difficult and time consuming to make remdesivir. The company says manufacturing is “a long, linear chemical synthesis process that must be completed sequentially and includes several specialized chemistry steps and novel substances with limited global availability.”

Radhika Kumar goes to work every morning hoping to save lives. As a contact tracer for Los Angeles County, her job, at least on paper, entails phoning people who have tested positive for the coronavirus, along with others they may have exposed, and providing them with guidance on how to isolate so as not to infect others.

If that sounds easy, it is not.

To persuade people to cooperate, she has to get them to trust her. She has to convince them that they might be infected, even if they have no symptoms. She has to let people curse at her and hang up, then she has to call them back the next day.

And if she wants them to heed her advice, she has to listen, really listen, to how scared they are that if they stay home from their jobs, they might not be able to feed their families.

“Sometimes it can really get to you,” she said. “The other day I had one young lady, and she was screaming on the phone, ‘You don’t understand — I have three kids. I have to go to work.’”

“I kept calling back and calling back,” Ms. Kumar said. “I’m very relentless like that. I thought about it all night — what am I going to do? I called her again first thing in the morning, and I was so relieved when she picked up.”

Even as officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to tout the effectiveness of contact tracing, and state and local health agencies across the United States deploy new armies of tracers, tracking down everyone with the coronavirus is proving to be a Sisyphean task.

On Sundays, thousands of residents of Portsmouth, N.H., find a poem nestled inside the city’s Covid-19 newsletter.

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