California is the fourth state with at least 100,000 known cases.
California has become the fourth American state with at least 100,000 known coronavirus infections, joining Illinois, New Jersey and New York in a grim group as the nation approaches 100,000 deaths from the virus.
The rising case counts in some California counties have come as other sections of the country, including the Minneapolis area, Wisconsin and parts of the South, have reported more infections. And the increasing number of infections is certain to intensify debates over when and how the country should ease the restrictions that public officials imposed to try to slow the spread of the virus.
In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom seems to be moving closer to handing the reins of reopening to county public health officials.
At least 47 of California’s 58 counties have filed their “county variance attestations” to prove that they meet the state’s criteria to reopen more quickly than the rest of the state, Mr. Newsom said. And he has been in talks with leaders in Los Angeles County, by most measures the hardest-hit part of the state, about the possibility of allowing some areas of the county to reopen more quickly than others.
For now, Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles announced on Tuesday evening that “lower risk” in-store shopping could resume, many pools could open and houses of worship could avail themselves of the new state guidelines.
The growing emphasis on local influence — on Monday, state officials announced that places of worship across the state could reopen at lower capacity only with the approval of their county public health department — could help Mr. Newsom mute his critics, some of whom have gone to court to challenge California’s restrictions.
The gradual changes in California reflect a national shift as states that had previously been among the most locked down begin loosening restrictions, often on a regional basis.
After months of lockdown, Illinois plans to lift restrictions on retail stores, gyms and personal care services in some areas on Friday, though the Chicago area will reopen on its own timeline. Washington D.C., which has also been locked down, is also tentatively planning to open certain businesses on Friday.
In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced on Wednesday that the city would move to the second phase of its reopening plan and allow private gatherings of no more than 10 people, as long as they follow social distancing guidelines.
“Data shows that we are in a position to move forward,” the mayor said in a statement. “We encourage Atlantans citywide to continue to follow all precautionary guidelines as community transmission of Covid-19 still poses a threat to our city.”
The United States, already wrestling with an economic collapse not seen in a generation, is on the precipice of a compounding crisis of evictions, as protections and payments extended to millions of people out of work begin to run out.
Many have been scraping by thanks to temporary government assistance and emergency orders that put many evictions on hold. But evictions will soon be allowed in about half of the states, according to Emily A. Benfer, a housing expert and associate professor at Columbia Law School who is tracking eviction policies.
“I think we will enter into a severe renter crisis and very quickly,” Professor Benfer said. Without a new round of government intervention, she added, “we will have an avalanche of evictions across the country.”
That means more and more families may soon face displacement at a time when people are still being urged to stay at home.
In many places, the threat has already begun. The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled that evictions could begin again. In the Oklahoma City area, sheriffs apologetically announced that they planned to start enforcing eviction notices this week. And a handful of states had few statewide protections in place to begin with, leaving residents particularly vulnerable as eviction cases stacked up.
First-quarter profits shrank at the fastest rate in over a decade, and analysts don’t like what they see coming. In fact, they think things will get worse before they get better, and have revised their forecasts accordingly. Yet investors keep pushing stocks higher.
Any finance textbook’s section on equity prices holds that the direction of the stock market is determined, to a large extent, by the profits and dividends that shareholders expect companies to produce in the future. And academic research has repeatedly shown that when Wall Street analysts revise their forecasts for a company’s profits, it can move share prices.
So going by the conventional wisdom, the current collapse in profit expectations — and analysts’ woeful prognoses for future earnings — should be clobbering share prices. But investors don’t appear to be taking their cues from analysts. The S&P 500 has soared more than 30 percent over the past two months.
It’s been a turbulent period for stocks, with the S&P 500 alternating between gains and losses on a daily basis last week. Wall Street’s turbulent stretch continued Wednesday, and an early rally faded, as shares of large technology stocks declined.
The S&P 500 was slightly lower, giving back some of its gains from the day before. The drop in large technology stocks like Amazon and Microsoft was particularly evident in the Nasdaq composite, which fell about 2 percent.
A retreat in oil prices also weighed on shares of energy producers. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, fell about 6 percent to just above $32 a barrel.
On Wednesday, investors were initially cheered by the news of fiscal stimulus proposals from the European Union and Japan. In Japan, the cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved more than a trillion dollars in stimulus money. In Brussels, the European Commission seemed on the verge of introducing expansive financial measures to support the bloc.
When hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Minneapolis on Tuesday night to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody, the large crowd was both a powerful call for action in the case and a precarious act at a time when the virus is still flaring in the region.
Still, demonstrators gathered for a rare large protest since the pandemic began.
Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis said he understood and supported the rights of people who would protest the episode but asked that protesters wear masks and respect social distancing procedures.
“I encourage people to voice their opinions and anger, their heartbreak and their sadness, because undoubtedly it will be there,” he said.
Many people wore face coverings, and some brought hand sanitizer to help keep people safe. But the group as a whole seemed to send a message that their desire for justice had outweighed any potential safety concerns, as they gathered at the intersection where Mr. Floyd, 46, had been pinned down by the police a day earlier and captured on video saying, “I can’t breathe.”
Protesters yelled full-faced and full throated about Mr. Floyd’s death, and some pulled their masks aside to be fully heard. One woman said, “anyone worried about social distancing should have just stayed home.”
Government-supported research predicted over a decade ago that a pandemic would cause a dire shortage of disposable masks, and multiple federal agencies urged hospitals and policymakers to consider stockpiling elastomeric respirators, which are made of silicone, designed to be cleaned and reused for years and are government-certified to protect at least as well as N95s.
Last year, researchers simulating a pandemic found that health care workers could be rapidly fitted and trained to use the masks, and last month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published guidance on deploying them in response to the virus.
But only a handful of U.S. hospitals are using the masks widely, and the federal government — including the agency that manages the Strategic National Stockpile — has made no effort to boost production or facilitate their distribution, an examination by The New York Times found.
At the same time, the shortage of disposable N95s is so severe that federal regulators have taken the extraordinary step of allowing them to be used multiple times with little-tested decontamination methods.
As the virus continues to spread and medical centers plan for a predicted second wave of infections, health workers who use elastomerics expressed bewilderment at their untapped potential.
“I don’t think that there’s anything we’re doing that is markedly unique that would be difficult to implement anywhere else,” said Dr. Richard Martinello, Yale New Haven Health’s medical director for infection prevention.
Idled industrial facilities likely have elastomerics sitting unused, and more could be produced relatively quickly by repurposing manufacturing lines, according to occupational health experts and industry officials. At least one manufacturer, MSA Safety, has hired additional workers and increased production at a factory in Jacksonville, N.C., and the company says it has the capacity to ramp up further.
The sector was already fragile: Unlike public education, the child care industry operates almost entirely on private tuition payments, and most providers are barely profitable. With closings, many cannot continue to pay landlords or teachers.
Now that more states are allowing child care centers to reopen, those that survived face higher expenses because of additional rules about sanitation and new limits, like no more than 10 children per classroom. In some cases, enrollment is down because parents can no longer afford to pay, or because they are worried about the health risks.
“You really can’t talk about reopening the economy without a conversation about how children are going to be taken care of,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, one of the lead sponsors of a bill — to be introduced in the House today — that would spend $50 billion to cover operating expenses, new safety measures and tuition relief for families. “We cannot let this pandemic set back the next generation.”
House Republican leaders sued Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top congressional officials on Tuesday to block the House of Representatives from using a remote proxy voting system set up by Democrats to allow for remote legislating during the pandemic, calling it unconstitutional, according to three officials familiar with the plans.
House Democrats planned to use the procedures for the first time today, when the chamber will consider an array of legislation, including one bill aimed at punishing China for human rights abuses against the Uighurs.
In a lawsuit that names the House clerk and sergeant-at-arms as defendants, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, and about 20 other Republicans argue that new rules that allow lawmakers to vote from afar amid the virus outbreak would be the end of Congress as it was envisioned by the nation’s founders, Nicholas Fandos and Michael Schmidt report.
Democrats pushed the plan through this month over unanimous Republican opposition. The Republicans asked a federal judge in Washington to strike down the practice immediately — leaving uncertain the fate of legislation the House planned to take up this week using the new procedures — and to invalidate it permanently.
The suit will face an uphill battle in the federal courts, where judges have been reluctant to second-guess Congress’s ability to set its own rules. And it comes as the Supreme Court has been hearing arguments remotely, by telephone. But it fits into a broader push by Republicans, led by President Trump, to put a cloud of suspicion over Democratic efforts to find alternative ways to vote during the pandemic and to portray them as fraudulent attempts to gain political advantage.
On Sunday, the Republican Party sued California’s governor and the state’s secretary of state in an attempt to strike down an executive order dispatching mail-in ballots to every registered voter there, deriding it as an “illegal power grab” and part of Democrats’ “partisan election agenda.”
Mr. McCarthy has also called the proxy voting system a “power grab” by Democrats. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, suggested he might not take up any legislation passed by the House when a quorum of members was not physically present.
“There will be enormous constitutional questions around anything the House does if they fail to demonstrate a real quorum but plow ahead anyhow,” Mr. McConnell said last week.
The new procedures adopted by the House allow any absent lawmaker to designate another member who is physically present to record a vote on his or her behalf during periods when the speaker, the clerk and the sergeant-at-arms agree there is a state of emergency because of the virus.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York is meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House on Wednesday. The governor said one of his priorities would be discussing unfinished infrastructure projects in need of federal approval, including an AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport and a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River.
“You want to restart the economy, you want to reopen the economy, let’s do something creative,” Mr. Cuomo said, appealing to the president’s push to reopening businesses around the country. “You have an infrastructure that’s crumbling, you need to jump start the economy, you need to create jobs, do it now.”
The president and Mr. Cuomo have had an acrimonious relationship during the course of the virus’s rapid spread across New York City, which still remains the center of the disease in the country.
Mr. Cuomo has recently begun easing some restrictions around most of the state, while leaving the city on what he has labeled a “pause.” The city’s mayor has said he hoped it could begin reopening in the first half of June, but it has yet to meet benchmarks on available hospital beds and contact tracers.
Working on the front lines of the pandemic can be hazardous, but staying home isn’t safe either for the emergency responders, pharmacists, home health aides, grocery clerks and deliverymen who fill River Park Towers in the Bronx.
Even a ride down the elevator is risky. Residents often must wait up to an hour to squeeze into small, poorly ventilated cars that break down frequently, with people crowding the hallways like commuters trying to push into the subway at rush hour.
There is talk that as many as 100 residents have been sickened by the virus at the two massive towers rising above the Morris Heights neighborhood along the Harlem River. But no one knows for sure, since the leader of the tenant association died from Covid-19 in April.
“It’s the death towers, you could say that,” said Maria Lopez, 42, a resident with a variety of health issues, including asthma, who has watched 10 of her neighbors being taken away by paramedics.
It has spread building by building in neighborhoods like Morris Heights that have been unable to fight back, reflecting a legacy of institutionalized racism, poverty, cramped housing and chronic health problems that have put their residents at higher risk of getting sick and dying.
That contract was signed nearly two years ago, and moving a 50,000-person, multimillion-dollar event less than three months before it happens would be extraordinary.
But Mr. Trump — in contrast to the host committee that is coordinating the event — threatened on Monday to move the convention unless Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina provided a “guarantee” that there would be no virus-related restrictions on the size of the event. Mr. Cooper, a Democrat, refused to do so.
“I will say that it’s OK for political conventions to be political, but pandemic response cannot be,” Mr. Cooper said at a news conference on Tuesday. “We’re talking about something that’s going to happen three months from now, and we don’t know what our situation is going to be.”
Mr. Cooper added that his office had asked the Republican National Committee to provide a written proposal for holding the convention safely.
Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, a Republican, tweeted at Mr. Trump on Tuesday, saying that his state “would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said he, too, would be delighted to host: “Heck, I’m a Republican — it would be good for us to have the D.N.C., in terms of the economic impact when you talk about major events like that.”
A group of Democratic lawmakers from the Washington area told the Trump administration this week that they believed it would be “impossible” to safely stage a major celebration around Independence Day in the nation’s capital this summer.
“Given the current Covid-19 crisis, we believe such an event would needlessly risk the health and safety of thousands of Americans,” the lawmakers — two senators, seven representatives and the District of Columbia’s non-voting House delegate — wrote in a letter to the defense and interior secretaries.
Mr. Trump, a vocal proponent of patriotic displays that critics have sometimes condemned as extravagant or politically motivated, suggested in April that Fourth of July festivities in Washington would have more limited attendance.
“This year, most likely, we’ll be standing six feet apart,” Mr. Trump said. “We’ll have to do that in a very, very interesting way. And we’ll even do it greater, so we’ll leave a little extra distance.”
This week, though, the lawmakers asked the administration to shelve any plans entirely. The Washington area has struggled to contain the virus, and they warned that holding a mass gathering along the National Mall would be perilous.
Thousands of people attended a “Salute to America” event last year, which Mr. Trump had pledged would be a “show of a lifetime.” The president was flanked by Bradley armored vehicles and M1A2 tanks at the event, held at the Lincoln Memorial.
“The administration, including your agencies, should be focusing on helping American families, not on a vanity project for the president,” the lawmakers wrote.
For months, college sports leaders have declared that if classes do not resume on campus this fall, football and other sports would not be played. But even then, some believe exceptions can be made if there is other limited student activity, and there is increasing pressure to find ways to play.
Though campuses remain largely shuttered for the summer, signs of reopening for football have emerged in the last two weeks.
The Southeastern and Big 12 conferences voted Friday to open their training facilities in early June for voluntary workouts, following the end of an N.C.A.A. ban on on-campus sports activities. The Pac-12 joined them Tuesday, after Commissioner Larry Scott suggested in a CNN interview that athletes would be safer on campuses than at home. The expectation is that by mid-July, teams could begin practicing.
This push to reopen, coming when about two-thirds of states are not showing a decline in cases, demands extraordinary steps: sanitizing facilities, widespread testing and social distancing in a sport whose very essence is contact.
And there’s no guarantee that if the season begins on time, it will finish as scheduled.
As Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12 commissioner, said in a webinar with other college administrators, in which he described college campuses as petri dishes for the transmission of infectious diseases: “It isn’t a matter of when we’re going to have outbreaks, it’s a matter of how big they are and how we go about triaging.”
Other sports executives have been grappling with how they can stage competitions. On Wednesday, the National Women’s Soccer League laid out an ambitious, and potentially risky, plan to return to the field late next month for its first games since the pandemic interrupted the start of its 2020 season.
Under the schedule that league officials outlined Wednesday morning, the nine teams would gather in Utah in late June and complete their entire seasons as a 25-game tournament over 30 days.
The tournament — the first game is set for June 27 — will be the league’s first competition since last October’s championship game, and will succeed only through a mix of careful planning, extensive virus testing, strict health protocols and no small amount of good fortune.
And all of it hinges on the players’ willingness to participate, the absence of new outbreaks and hundreds of tests before and after the games arrive in Utah.
And for the hesitant, their single greatest concern is their fellow audience members, who they worry will show up without masks or ignore social-distancing rules.
A Times/Siena College Research Institute poll, administered to New York State voters between May 17 and May 21, sought to gauge how soon New Yorkers would be comfortable attending live performances like Broadway shows. It showed a wariness of attending live theater performances, and pop and classical music concerts if they were to resume around Sept. 1, as well as a high bar for social distancing at venues that some industry leaders say it would not be possible for them to meet.
Broadway industry leaders have said that their theaters will remain shuttered at least through Labor Day. Many believe that January is the earliest likely reopening date. The industry is seen as one of the most difficult to reopen because Broadway shows are often populated by tourists and seniors, two groups who seem likely to return to Times Square more slowly than others, and because of the close quarters onstage, backstage and in the audience.
Charlotte St. Martin, the president of the Broadway League, a trade organization representing producers and theater owners, said the group was exploring every safety protocol from temperature checks to drones that disperse disinfectant. Social distancing, however, “won’t work for Broadway,” she said.
Global updates: Japan and Europe have major stimulus plans.
Two of the world’s biggest economies said today that they would pump trillions of dollars into propping up hard-hit businesses, industries and individuals.
The clear plastic guards may be easier to wear, disinfect and reuse than cloth or surgical face coverings, although they don’t entirely replace the need for masks.
Is your family more “together,” or less?
All this time together with your family may have led to greater feelings of connectedness. Or maybe you are experiencing more moments of the complete opposite: more bickering, fighting and frustrations. Here is some advice for getting through those rough patches.
Reporting was contributed by Alan Blinder, Eileen Sullivan, Maggie Astor, Karen Barrow, Lindsey Rogers Cook, Jill Cowan, Andrew Das, Nicholas Fandos, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Winnie Hu, Julia Jacobs, Sarah Mervosh, Chris Hamby, Claire Cain Miller, Matt Phillips, Michael S. Schmidt, Mitch Smith, Kaly Soto, Matt Stevens, David Waldstein and Billy Witz.