Coronavirus Live Updates: Virus Resurgence Threatens U.S. Economy

The Four Percent

After attacks by Trump aides, Fauci says focus should be on the virus rather than ‘games people are playing.’

As Trump administration officials have increasingly sought to undermine him in recent days, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and one of the most trusted federal officials working on the pandemic, made his most pointed remarks yet on Wednesday addressing tensions with the White House.

“I cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that,” Dr. Fauci said in an interview with The Atlantic on Wednesday. “I think they realize now that that was not a prudent thing to do, because it’s only reflecting negatively on them.”

He spoke as Trump administration officials have sought to undermine his credibility — first anonymously, over the weekend, and then out in the open. A short op-ed by Peter Navarro, the president’s top trade adviser, published in USA Today on Tuesday evening was headlined “Anthony Fauci has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.” Dan Scavino, the White House deputy chief of staff for communications, posted a cartoon Sunday evening mocking Dr. Fauci.

In the interview Wednesday, Dr. Fauci called the partisan environment around the virus disturbing.

“It distracts from what I hope would be the common effort of getting this thing under control, rather than this back-and-forth distraction, which just doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

Asked to review the government’s response to the pandemic, he said: “We’ve got to almost reset this and say, OK, let’s stop this nonsense and figure out how can we get our control over this now, and looking forward, how can we make sure that next month, we don’t have another example of California, Texas, Florida and Arizona, because those are the hot zones now, and I’m looking at the map, saying we got to make sure it doesn’t happen in other states.”

“So rather than these games people are playing,” he said, “let’s focus on that.”

Mr. Trump distanced himself from the USA Today op-ed piece. “That’s Peter Navarro,” Mr. Trump said of his top trade adviser to reporters on Wednesday, “but I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci.”

But he did not go as far as other administration officials, who earlier in the day had tried to explicitly distance the White House from the piece.

“The Peter Navarro op-ed didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone,” Alyssa Farah, the White House director for strategic communications, wrote on Twitter. “@realdonaldtrump values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his Administration.”

Walmart joins a growing list of companies that are requiring customers to wear masks, including Starbucks and Best Buy.

The Houston Independent School District, the seventh-largest in the nation, announced plans to start the school year virtually on Sept. 8. Students will have at least six weeks of online classes, with a tentative plan to start in person classed on Oct. 19.

The announcement on Wednesday makes Houston the latest major district to shift to online for at least part of the 2021 school year, as the Trump administration has put pressure on schools to resume in-person instruction despite rising caseloads in many states.

Los Angeles and San Diego, the two largest public school districts in California, announced this week that they would be online-only in the fall. New York City, the largest in the nation, is planning a mix on in-person and remote learning, with students expected to return to classrooms between one and three days a week.

The shift to continuing online instruction could make it harder for many parents to return to work, and raises concerns that children will continue to fall behind during the pandemic. Low-income, Black and Hispanic students are suffering most, research has shown. But it falls in line with standards by public health experts which suggest that communities with positive test rates above 5 percent are not ready for reopening.

Only two of the top 10 largest school districts are in communities that have met that public health threshold, according to a New York Times analysis. The greater Houston area has a positive test rate of 14 percent. In other education news:

  • In the San Francisco Unified School District, the upcoming school year will start with distance learning with plans to “gradually phase in a staggered return” when appropriate, officials there announced on Wednesday. In a statement to local parents, the superintendent, Dr. Vincent Matthews, wrote Wednesday, “We hope to provide a gradual hybrid approach (a combination of in-person and distance learning) for some students when science and data suggest it is safe to do so.”

  • In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly announced that she would delay the opening of schools by several weeks, until after Labor Day, saying that schools need time to get masks, thermometers, hand sanitizer and other supplies. “I can’t in good conscience open schools when Kansas has numerous hot spots where cases are at an all-time high & continuing to rapidly rise,” she wrote on Twitter.

  • A group of scientists and educators has recommended that younger children and those with special needs attend schools in person, if possible, offering another element to the contentious debate about how to educate the nation’s children this fall. The prestigious National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine released a report on Wednesday with nine recommendations about reopening schools, among them to prioritize certain students.

  • All students in Prince George’s County, Md., will be distance-learning through February, when officials hope children can return to classrooms.

The new database, called H.H.S. Protect, is not public. Experts including Representative Donna E. Shalala, Democrat of Florida and a former health secretary, accused the administration of trying to politicize the data by taking control of it away from the C.D.C.

Jose Arrietta, the chief information officer for Health and Human Services, said on Wednesday that the new database would feed information to the C.D.C., which would continue to issue reports on the pandemic. Mr. Arrieta said the health agency is considering giving members of Congress access to the new database, and is “exploring the best way” to make information from it available to news organizations, academic researchers and the general public.

The failure to contain the virus in the U.S. is clouding hopes for a rapid economic rebound.

Some companies that used small-business loans to retain or rehire workers are now beginning to lay off employees as those funds run out while business activity remains depressed. Expanded benefits for unemployed workers, which research shows have been propping up consumer spending throughout the spring and early summer, are scheduled to expire at the end of July, while more than 18 million Americans continue to claim unemployment.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago warned on Wednesday that she is ready and willing to tighten restrictions in her city if cases continue to grow, citing bars that have broken capacity rules recently and new infections among young people.

“I won’t just turn the car around,” she said. “I’m going to shut it off, I’m going to kick you out and I’m going to make you walk home.”

Chicago is “on the precipice” of dangerous growth in cases, Ms. Lightfoot said. On Wednesday, the city reported 192 cases, the mayor said, though if the daily rate rose above 200, she would take steps to impose more restrictions.

Beaches along Lake Michigan, normally a huge draw during the summer, have been closed and will remain closed indefinitely.

Three quarters of the countries that responded to a new survey by the World Health Organization reported disruptions in immunization programs through May.

The report, the second to show a drop in vaccinations because of the pandemic, said that at least 30 measles vaccination campaigns were or are at risk of being canceled. It added that other vaccine programs that require three doses, for diseases like diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, reported a substantial drop in the number of children who received vaccinations.

“Vaccines are one of the most powerful tools in the history of public health, and more children are now being immunized than ever before,” Dr. Tedros said in the statement. “But the pandemic has put those gains at risk.”

He added that vaccines can still be administered during the pandemic.

The study, conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said there are a variety of reasons more parents are not getting their children vaccinated. Some are reluctant to leave home, some face restrictions on movement, interruptions to transportation, economic hardships and the fear of exposure to the coronavirus. It also noted that many health workers have been redeployed to work on the pandemic, as well as a lack of protective equipment.

As record temperatures sear the South and Southwest, the outbreak makes it harder to open cooling centers.

Temperatures have been soaring across the South and the Southwest, reaching record highs in areas grappling with some of the worst virus outbreaks in the nation — making it more difficult to protect people who are at risk from extreme heat.

San Antonio hit 106 degrees on Monday, tying the July record. Monitors at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport hit a blazing 114, matching the old record. Austin hit a high of 108 degrees — three degrees above the old record.

Such heat can disproportionally affect the vulnerable: people without the means to buy an air-conditioner or crank it up to full blast. Cities typically open cooling centers, in places like community recreation centers, where people can escape the heat. But the virus has introduced complications in a moment when people are being discouraged from congregating indoors.

Austin’s cooling centers now require visitors to maintain social distancing and to wear masks, said Matthew Lara, a spokesman for the city’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “You don’t want to cram 30 people into a room and call it a cooling center,” he said.

On Wednesday, the National Weather Service said that the most punishing heat would begin to abate across the South, but, like a hot bubble under the nation’s wallpaper, “will be on the increase for the eastern U.S. and for the northern High Plains.”

The new reports do find evidence that people with Type O blood may be slightly less likely to be infected. But the effect is so small that people shouldn’t count on it. “No one should think they’re protected,” said Nicholas Tatonetti, a data scientist at Columbia University.

Even if blood types don’t matter much for treating people with Covid-19, they could reveal something important about the basic nature of the disease.

That’s because blood type influences how your immune system fights against infections. People with Type A blood do not make the same kind of antibodies as people with Type B blood, for example. It is conceivable that these molecular differences in the immune system explain the purported link between blood type and coronavirus infections.

The government in the Philippines has empowered the police to fan out home-to-home in search of infected people. The move has triggered an uproar among human rights groups, which accused President Rodrigo Duterte’s government on Wednesday of employing repressive tactics.

As the number of infected nears 60,000 nationwide, with the death toll now surpassing 1,600, health authorities are under tremendous pressure from a public increasingly wary of Mr. Duterte’s brutal anti-drugs tactics that have left thousands dead.

The plan, termed “Care Strategy,” lets police officers accompany health workers in search of people who may be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.

The government said anyone who could not satisfy the requirements for home quarantine — one room, having their own bathroom, and not living with elderly or pregnant people — are to be taken to a private facility.

“This move reveals the Duterte government’s continuing reliance on police and militaristic approaches to solve a public health emergency,” said Ephraim Cortez, the secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, a group that provides counsel to the poor.

Well-known Filipino human rights lawyer, Chel Diokno, said the government strategy would further sow terror.

Mr. Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque on Tuesday compared the private facilities for patients to a “paid for vacation.”

U.S. national parks could be the next battleground in reopening.

Pressure is mounting to close Grand Canyon and other national parks in states across the South and the West that are seeing rising cases.

Reporting was contributed by Julia Calderone, Ben Casselman, Michael Cooper, Maria Cramer, Manny Fernandez, Dana Goldstein, J. David Goodman, Jason Gutierrez, Maggie Haberman, Makiko Inoue, Isabella Kwai, Apoorva Mandavilli, Patricia Mazzei, Sarah Mervosh, David Montgomery, Claire Moses, Sean Plambeck, Motoko Rich, Katie Rogers, John Schwartz, Eliza Shapiro, Mitch Smith, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan, Jim Tankersley, Lucy Tompkins, Hisako Ueno, David Waldstein, Elizabeth Williamson and Carl Zimmer.

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