Coronavirus Live News Updates – The New York Times

A new projection finds the virus costing the U.S. economy $7.9 trillion. Poor countries face debt crises.

The Congressional Budget Office projected on Monday that the pandemic would inflict a devastating long-term blow on the United States economy, costing $7.9 trillion over the next decade.

Without adjusting for inflation, the agency said, the pandemic would cost $16 trillion over the next 10 years. The estimates were an official tally of the damage from the crisis, reflecting expectations of dampened consumer spending and business investment in the years to come. Much of the diminished output was projected to be a result of weaker inflation, as prices for energy and transportation are expected to increase more slowly than they otherwise would have as Americans pull back on travel.

Phillip L. Swagel, the director of the budget office, cautioned that “an unusually high degree of uncertainty surrounds these economic projections,” because it remained unknown how the pandemic would unfold during the remainder of the year, or how social distancing and any future relief measures enacted by the federal government might affect its impact.

Around the world, developing countries, from Angola to Ecuador to Zambia, have also seen their finances shredded by the pandemic.

The low interest rates of the last decade allowed poor countries to raise money relatively cheaply to finance their growth. As a result, developing countries now owe record amounts of money to investors, governments and others outside their borders: $2.1 trillion for countries ranked as “low income” and “lower-middle income” by the World Bank.

The president of Tanzania has called on “our rich brothers” to cancel his country’s debt. Belarus veered toward a default when a promised $600 million loan from Russia fell through. Lebanon, troubled even before the pandemic, has embarked on its first debt restructuring. And Argentina has defaulted for the ninth time in its history.

Effective immediately, the governor said, groups of 100 people or less will be allowed to gather outdoors while social distancing. Restaurants will also be able to open starting Monday, though tables will be required to be six feet apart.

As the virus persists on a stubborn but uneven path, with meaningful progress in some cities and alarming new outbreaks in others, here is where other states and regions stand:

  • New Jersey’s governor said that retail stores there should be able to reopen on June 15, with limits, and that restaurants could offer outdoor dining. Hair and nail salons could open on June 22.

  • Louisiana’s governor said the state would begin easing restrictions on Friday, allowing venues including churches, malls, bars and theaters to increase capacity to 50 percent, although distancing requirements will be maintained. The mayor of New Orleans said on Twitter that the city would not follow the state’s lead.

  • Some restaurants in Minnesota opened their doors for customers on Monday after Gov. Tim Walz announced last week that people could be seated for outdoor dining, as long as social distancing regulations were in place. Salons were also allowed to open with limited capacity.

  • Despite ongoing outbreaks in parts of Mississippi, the governor announced that all businesses could reopen and that travel restrictions had been lifted. Social-distancing rules remained in effect.

  • The Midwest is still troubled by persistent outbreaks. Virus hospitalizations are on the rise in Wisconsin. New cases are consistently high in Minnesota, particularly around the Twin Cities, where health officials have warned that the escalating protests could increase the risk of infection.

  • In the Northeast, the outlook has seesawed in the other direction. In New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, case numbers have plunged significantly in recent days.

Across the United States, new cases are on a small but steady decline, to about 21,000 a day from more than 30,000 at the peak in April.

But just as some states were making cautious plans to open, curfews were imposed in dozens of cities over the weekend because of the protests that erupted across the country after George Floyd died in police custody in Minnesota.

The unrest injected a new sense of unease — not only because of the police confrontations and looting in some areas, but also because of fears that the virus was spreading in the crowds.

He noted that the state had just hit a big milestone: On Sunday, under 1,000 people tested positive, for the first time since March 16. The percentage of daily positive tests has fallen from over 50 percent to under 2 percent, and the latest daily death toll was 54, down from nearly 800 in April.

“How many super-spreaders were in that crowd?” Mr. Cuomo asked. “How many young people went home and kissed their mother hello, or shook hands with their father, or hugged their father or their grandfather or their grandmother or their brother or their sister, and spread a virus?”

The convergence of the pandemic and the nationwide demonstrations has forced many political leaders to try to strike a difficult balance between expressing support for the right to protest and safeguarding public health.

“If you say, ‘Don’t come out because of the pandemic,’” Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said, “We don’t want people to hear about this as, ‘We are not hearing your concerns, or your concerns are not valid, or we don’t have to change things.’”

Still, he said, “for those who have made their presence felt, made their voices heard, the safest thing from this point is to stay home.” On Monday afternoon, Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio said a curfew in New York City would be in effect from 11 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday.

More than 100,000 Americans have already died of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. People of color have been particularly hard-hit, with rates of hospitalizations and deaths among black Americans far exceeding those of white people.

Public health officials urged anyone who does protest to wear face coverings, use hand sanitizer and maintain social distance. Though some experts said that the fact that the protests are held outdoors could reduce the risk of transmission, the leader of New York City’s contact-tracing effort said that everyone who attended a protest should get tested for the virus.

Mr. Cuomo noted that New York City was set to reopen on June 8 and that he did not want to endanger that effort. “Protest, just be smart about it,” he said. “With this virus you can do many things now as long as you’re smart about it.”

Officials elsewhere have slowed reopening because of the protests. Beaches had been scheduled to open on Monday in Miami-Dade County, Fla., but the mayor said they would stay closed until a curfew prompted by the protests is lifted.

Many of the nation’s governors have spoken in support of the protests, but President Trump, who has been besieged by protests and fires outside the White House, lashed out at them on Monday, warning them that they would look like “jerks” if they didn’t order demonstrators arrested and imprisoned. “You have to dominate,” he told them on a conference call. “If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time.”

In New Jersey, Gov. Philip D. Murphy, who, like Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio, is a Democrat, expressed “solidarity” with the protesters. “It’s one thing to protest what day nail salons are opening,” Mr. Murphy said, “and it’s another to come out, in peaceful protest, overwhelmingly, about somebody who was murdered right before our eyes.”

China said on Tuesday that Wuhan, the city where the pandemic began, had reported no new symptomatic or asymptomatic infections on Monday for the second straight day. Sunday was the first day that both tallies were zero since the city’s outbreak began.

Separately, the European Chamber of Commerce in China issued a report decrying the rapid proliferation in recent years of long-haul international flights to and from second-tier and third-tier Chinese cities. That includes Wuhan, where 19 flights left the city in January alone carrying about 4,000 travelers to New York or San Francisco, according to VariFlight, an aviation data company based in China.

The pandemic has resulted in the temporary suspension of almost all of these services, according to the chamber, which focused its analysis on flights last year and prepared most of its report before the pandemic began. Philippe Bardol, the chairman of the chamber’s aviation and aerospace working group, declined to discuss Wuhan specifically.

A New York Times analysis in March found that international flights from Wuhan and other Chinese cities continued as normal through much of January, even as the outbreak moved across the country. Thousands of people flew out of Wuhan to New York, Sydney, Bangkok and other cities. (Bangkok is where the first known overseas case appeared in mid-January, in a 61-year-old woman who had traveled from Wuhan despite having a fever, headache and a sore throat.)

The pandemic has brought new attention to the steep rise in recent years of nonstop flights to the United States from an ever-lengthening list of cities.

Rapid growth in long-haul flights from second-tier and third-tier Chinese cities before the pandemic meant that people who used to change planes in Beijing or Shanghai could fly straight from Europe into smaller cities instead. Mr. Bardol said that eroded the number of passengers and profitability for European carriers on their routes from Europe to Beijing or Shanghai.

Smaller Chinese carriers tend to be headquartered in second-tier or third-tier cities, which often own stakes in the carriers as well and subsidize their new international flights. Before the pandemic hit, these cities wanted more international flights so as to increase tourism and make themselves more viable candidates when big companies chose where to locate their offices.

The Metropolitan Opera said on Monday that the pandemic had forced the company to cancel its fall season, thrusting the Met into one of the gravest crises in its 137-year history and leaving many of its artists, who have not been paid since March, in dire financial straits.

The announcement by the Met, the largest U.S. performing arts organization, is sure to be watched closely by other presenters who are trying to gauge when it might be safe to invite audiences back for live performances, and how to survive in the meantime.

The Met, which last performed live on March 11, now hopes to return with a gala on New Year’s Eve after its longest interruption in more than a century. The gap is projected to cost the company close to $100 million in lost revenues, a figure that will be partly offset by lower costs and emergency fund-raising efforts.

A study in contrasts: As theaters around the globe were abruptly shuttered by the pandemic, “The Phantom of the Opera” has been soldiering on in Seoul, South Korea, playing eight shows a week for robust audiences.

The musical, with its 126-member company and hundreds of costumes and props, is believed to be the only large-scale English-language production running anywhere in the world. And it has remained open not through social-distancing measures, but an approach grounded in strict hygiene. (The performances are also a testament to South Korea’s rigorous system of test, trace and quarantine, which has kept the virus largely under control.)

The show’s composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, is arguing that its approach can show the way for the rest of the industry.

Hong Kong, a city of 7.5 million people that has just four coronavirus deaths, has been widely praised for its success in controlling the pathogen’s spread.

But the city’s pro-democracy protesters, who have regularly been fined in recent weeks for violating social-distancing rules, have accused the Hong Kong police of enforcing the rules against government critics while ignoring gatherings by establishment supporters and large crowds in nightlife districts.

The Hong Kong authorities have reported a few new local infections in recent days, after weeks with none. At a news conference on Tuesday, the city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, was asked whether it was reasonable to keep limiting public gatherings, given that new infections would likely keep emerging for some time.

“It’s not a matter of taking away people’s freedoms,” Ms. Lam said. “Actually, public health is also part of national security.”

“So when it comes to matters like public security,” she added, “Hong Kong people willingly abide by some of the restrictions in order to protect themselves, their families and society at large.”

On Monday, the Hong Kong police banned a vigil, which had been planned for Thursday, in memory of the people killed in China’s 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests, citing the need to enforce social-distancing rules.

It was the first time the June 4 vigil, which has been held annually since 1990, had been banned. Fears about limits on free speech and political expression have been escalating in Hong Kong, particularly since last week, when Beijing moved to impose new national security laws on the semiautonomous city. Some democracy advocates in the city had wondered whether this year’s Tiananmen vigil might be the last.

The vigil’s organizers said they still planned to go to Victoria Park, where the event is regularly held, even though they expected the police to break up any gathering. They have asked supporters in Hong Kong and around the world to light candles and post the images online.

The organizing body, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, also plans to set up booths around the city, said Lee Cheuk-yan, the group’s chairman. A handful of churches are to hold special services, he said.

“This is one of the characteristics of Hong Kong. We all came out to support democracy in China in 1989,” Mr. Lee said. “We have continued for 30 years, and people are really shocked that we can be persistent.”

President Trump said last week that he would begin the process of ending the United States’ special relationship with Hong Kong in response to the new security laws. The Trump administration has provided few details about its plans, which Chinese officials have cast as the latest attempt by a foreign government to interfere in Hong Kong. Investors have kept a sharp eye on the tensions between the two countries.

Reading a coronavirus study? Here are some tips.

The pandemic has prompted a flood of scientific research, and a lot of people are now reading scientific papers for the first time in an attempt to make sense of the virus.

But that doesn’t make the papers any easier to decipher. They’re full of jargon, for one, and don’t always explain the underlying story. Also: The ongoing flood of papers that have yet to be peer-reviewed includes a lot of weak research and misleading claims.

Carl Zimmer, a Times science writer, says the best approach is thinking about a paper as a scientist would. “Ask some basic questions to judge its merit,” he writes. “Is it based on a few patients or thousands? Is it mixing up correlation and causation? Do the authors actually present the evidence required to come to their conclusions?”

Social media can help as well, he adds, because leading epidemiologists and virologists have been posting thoughtful threads on Twitter. Just make sure you’re following real experts — not bots that peddle conspiracy theories.

A new outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus has flared up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country that was already contending with the coronavirus as well as the world’s largest measles epidemic.

Congo’s health ministry said the new Ebola outbreak had killed four people and infected at least two more in Mbandaka, a city of 1.2 million people on the country’s western side. A fifth person died on Monday, according to UNICEF, the United Nations agency for children.

Less than two months ago, Congo was about to declare an official end to an Ebola epidemic on the eastern side of the country that had lasted nearly two years and killed more than 2,275 people. Then, with just two days to go, a new case was found, and the clock was reset.

It is unclear how Ebola emerged in Mbandaka, which is about 700 miles west of the nearly defeated outbreak. Congo has been under travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Reported cases of the coronavirus have been mostly limited to the capital, Kinshasa, also in the country’s west. Congo has reported 3,049 cases of the coronavirus, including 71 deaths, but testing is limited so the true scale of the outbreak is unknown.

Six months on, here’s what we know and don’t know about the virus.

Reporters and editors on the health and science desk at The New York Times have compiled their assessments and insights.

Here’s What We’ve Learned …

… And What We Don’t Still Don’t Understand

Black Americans, already hit hard by the virus, face a widening economic chasm.

The coronavirus recession has amplified racial inequalities that may only worsen as the economy begins a slow climb toward recovery.

Unemployment rates for black workers had dipped to an all-time low just before the pandemic, but that changed swiftly as the virus spread. Now, as Americans face what could be a prolonged stretch of high unemployment and suppressed income growth, black households are confronting the prospect of a widening economic divide.

Black workers face discrimination in the workplace and often lose work early in a crisis — and their unemployment rate continues to rise even as the labor market for white workers begins to rebound.

African-American workers also consistently earn less than white workers, partly because they are more heavily concentrated in low-paying service industries. But it is also true that black Americans continue to be underrepresented in the highest-paying jobs and earn less than comparable whites at every education level.

And because they make less, African-American families accumulate less wealth over time. The end result is that they have less money in the bank to make it through extended economic weakness.

Workers across racial and ethnic groups have seen unemployment soar, but many black workers fall into two fraught categories: They are either essential workers exposed to the virus on the front lines, or they have lost their jobs. Black workers make up 11.9 percent of all employees but 17 percent of front-line workers, one study found. And they are dying of Covid-19 at higher rates than white people because of entrenched inequalities in resources and access to care.

Several countries where the pandemic appears to be ebbing marked the beginning of June by easing restrictions. They included South Africa, which lifted its ban on alcohol sales. A drop in murders and traffic accidents had been attributed to the measure, but bootleggers quickly stepped in to meet demand.

Other measures that went into effect on Monday:

  • Students were allowed to return to some elementary schools in England, but many parents decided to keep their children home, concerned that the risks remain too high. Schools also resumed in Greece.

  • A pigeon race involving 4,000 birds marked the reopening of some sports events in Britain, and it was soon followed by a horse race held without spectators.

  • Beaches in Spain reopened, except those near Barcelona, and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao became the country’s first major cultural institution to again allow visitors. Ireland also allowed bathers to return to some beaches.

  • Cinemas began screening films again in Thailand, although their audiences were limited to 200 people and customers must be separated by at least one empty seat. Portugal also reopened movie theaters along with some other businesses. Bars reopened in the Netherlands, Finland and Norway.

  • The Adriatic state of Montenegro, which has declared itself free of the virus, reopened its border to foreigners. The prime minister of Pakistan also lifted restrictions on foreign visitors. Lithuania ended a 14-day quarantine requirement for visitors from dozens of countries.

  • Visitors were allowed into two of Italy’s biggest tourist attractions: the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel, and the Colosseum.

The police in New Delhi were roundly criticized for their role in anti-Muslim violence this year. Now they’re on the front line of the city’s fight against the virus.

They are manning hundreds of checkpoints and running patrols across the city. They are often the first to respond to calls for potential cases and coordinate the medical response. They are preparing and serving meals to desperately poor people in many locked-down communities.

The force has used these efforts to rehabilitate its image, which had been tarnished by evidence of police brutality during nationwide protests over a divisive citizenship law.

The criticism that followed was demoralizing to rank-and-file officers. M.S. Randhawa, a commissioner of the New Delhi police force, said the virus campaign was “a morale booster for the staff.”

Stocks on Wall Street edged higher.

U.S. stocks posted modest gains on Monday, continuing a recent climb that had left the S&P 500 with its best two-month gain in 11 years.

The gains were small, though, and came after a weekend of violence and unrest in the United States. The S&P 500 rose less than half a percent. Shares of some retailers that said they were temporarily closing some stores in response to protests took a hit. Target was down more than 2 percent.

European markets closed about 1 percent higher on Monday, though markets in Germany and a number of other countries were closed for a holiday. Asian markets rose strongly, paced by an increase of more than 3 percent in Hong Kong and more than 2 percent in mainland China shares.

The rally in stocks has come as investors have bet the worst of the economic damage caused by the pandemic could be over. In another sign of this on Monday, an index of U.S. manufacturing activity rose in May. The index was 43.1 last month, up from 41.5 in April, which was the lowest level in more than a decade, the Institute for Supply Management said. However, it was still below 50, which connotes an economy still in contraction.

A referendum on changes to Russia’s Constitution that would allow President Vladimir V. Putin to remain in office for another 16 years was rescheduled for July 1, after a long delay because of the pandemic.

Russia is the third hardest-hit country after the United States and Brazil. Moscow, the capital, has accounted for more than 40 percent of total reported infections, which numbered 414,878 on Monday, and more than half the deaths in the country.

To calm concerns that the Kremlin was gambling with public health in pursuit of its political agenda, Anna Popova, the head of the state agency leading efforts against the virus, spoke at a video conference of officials along with Mr. Putin and offered assurances that holding the referendum on July 1 would be safe for the public.

The head of the Central Election Commission, Alla Pamfilova, suggested that the vote could be spread over six days to avoid crowds at polling stations.

Moscow city authorities on Monday also helped to prepare the way for the vote, the centerpiece of the Kremlin’s political plans for the year. After nine weeks in lockdown, Moscow reopened parks, shopping malls, car dealerships and many other businesses but restricted entry to people wearing masks and gloves.

Bad weather and confusion over the rules kept many residents indoors nonetheless, and provoked mockery on social media.

Reporting was contributed by Ian Austen, Julie Bosman, Keith Bradsher, Emily Cochrane, Michael Cooper, Stacy Cowley, Antonio de Luca, Jeffrey Gettleman, Christina Goldbaum, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Christopher Flavelle, Jacey Fortin, Jack Healy, Andrew Higgins, Jin Wu, Caroline Kim, Patrick Kingsley, Gina Kolata, Hari Kumar, Su-Hyun Lee, Jane L. Levere, Denise Lu, Apoorva Mandavilli, Raphael Minder, Andy Newman, Matt Phillips, Roni Caryn Rabin, Alan Rappeport, Rick Rojas, David E. Sanger, Eric Schmitt, Jennifer Schuessler, Dionne Searcey, Karan Deep Singh, Mitch Smith, Eileen Sullivan, Umi Syam, Dave Taft, Carlos Tejada, Mary Williams Walsh, Edward Wong, Ceylan Yeginsu, Elaine Yu and Karen Zraick.

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