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Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced that the state is “pulling the emergency brake” on its reopening, reinstating broad restrictions across most of the nation’s most populous state.
The announcement came as the United States reported its 11 millionth confirmed case on Sunday, with one new million cases over the past week alone. The country is averaging 150,000 new cases a day and will probably reach 250,000 total deaths sometime this week.
Daily case reports are rising in 48 states, and with little action from the Trump administration, governors and mayors across the country are taking new steps to try to halt the spread. On Monday, a sweeping stay-at-home advisory went into effect in Chicago and Philadelphia announced strict new rules starting Friday, banning indoor gatherings and closing indoor dining at restaurants. New Mexico is under a two-week lockdown, and North Dakota has imposed a mask mandate. New Jersey has announced limits on gatherings, effective Tuesday.
Mr. Newsom said that California’s daily case numbers had doubled in the last 10 days, the fastest increase the state had seen since the beginning of the pandemic. The state reached one million known cases on Nov. 12, and the next day issued travel advisories.
The increases, he said, cross age and racial or ethnic groups and appear throughout the state.
Most of California’s larger counties were moved back into the most restrictive reopening tier by the governor, meaning that indoor dining and some other businesses would have to shut down again. He said the state was also studying curfew options.
Mr. Newsom added that emergency health care facilities the state set up near the beginning of the pandemic were being prepared. One facility will open in the next week or so in Imperial County, a border county that was hit hard over the summer, he said.
State leaders including Mr. Newsom have told residents not to gather with people from outside their households, and to resist visiting relatives over the holidays.
Much of the recent rise in cases, state officials say, appears to have grown from at-home parties or family gatherings.
But in what is likely to be remembered as one of the governor’s more damaging moments in the pandemic, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Mr. Newsom attended an outdoor dinner for one of his political advisers at the French Laundry, a Napa Valley restaurant, with guests from several households.
The gathering did not technically violate of the state’s rules, because there is no formal limit on the number of households at each outdoor restaurant table, but as critics noted, the governor’s attendance undermined the spirit of restrictions.
Mr. Newsom apologized on Monday, saying that he should have turned around and left when he realized there were more guests at the party than he expected.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on Monday that “more people may die” from the coronavirus as a result of President Trump’s refusal to begin a transfer of power and allow coordinated planning for the mass distribution of a vaccine early next year.
Trying to increase the pressure on Mr. Trump, who continues to falsely proclaim himself the election winner, Mr. Biden criticized the president as an obstacle to the daunting logistical challenges of delivering vaccines around the country and injecting hundreds of millions of Americans, work that won’t begin in earnest until after Mr. Biden is sworn in.
“The vaccine is important. But it’s of no use until you’re vaccinated,” Mr. Biden said, taking questions from reporters after remarks on the virus and the economy. “It’s a huge, huge, huge undertaking.”
“If we have to wait until January 20th to start that planning, it puts us behind,” he added. “More people may die, if we don’t coordinate.”
Mr. Biden’s grim warning about the potentially deadly consequences of a delayed transition was a striking rebuke to the sitting president at a time when most of the country is suffering through a surge in infections from the worst pandemic in 100 years. The message to Mr. Trump was clear: You have failed, and now it’s my turn.
Delivering remarks about the economy and the virus after a virtual meeting with business and labor leaders, Mr. Biden offered a grim assessment of the coming months as the epidemic continues its rapid spread, and criticized Mr. Trump for mismanaging the epidemic, which he promised to “shut down.”
“We are going into a very dark winter. Things are going to get much tougher before they get easier,” Mr. Biden said. He urged Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving next week in groups of 10 or fewer, wearing masks and after quarantining. He said his own family plans were uncertain.
Mr. Biden also said that he would “set an example” for Americans who may be wary of getting vaccinated by accepting it himself. If promising vaccines now in the pipeline continue to prove safe and effective, he said, “I would take the vaccine.”
“Look, the only reason people question the vaccine now is because of Donald Trump,” Mr. Biden said. “That’s the reason why people are questioning the vaccine, because of all the things he says and doesn’t say, is it truthful or not truthful, the exaggerations?”
Mr. Biden also said he favors a national mask mandate, and he criticized Mr. Trump and his allies for attacking state and local officials, like Michigan’s governor, for imposing new restrictions to try to contain the skyrocketing case numbers.
“What is the matter with these guys?” Mr. Biden said. “It’s totally irresponsible.”
“There is nothing macho about not wearing a mask,” he added.
The vitriolic reaction came swiftly after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan announced on Sunday evening that she was ordering the shutdown of some businesses and halting in-person learning at high schools and colleges in her state for three weeks to combat a rapid increase in coronavirus cases.
Some came from her usual opponents in the Republican-controlled State Legislature. Leaders of both the Senate and House repeated their complaints that Governor Whitmer, a Democrat, was making decisions on coronavirus restrictions without consulting them.
But when Dr. Scott Atlas, President Trump’s coronavirus adviser, wrote on Twitter Sunday night: “The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept,” Ms. Whitmer said the statement left her “breathless.”
“It’s just incredibly reckless, considering everything that has happened,” Ms. Whitmer told reporters Monday morning, alluding to an alleged right-wing terrorist plot against her. Fourteen people have been charged with planning to kidnap the governor and storm the state Capitol in Lansing over coronavirus shutdown orders.
Three hours after sending his “rise up” tweet on Sunday, Dr. Atlas walked it back, insisting that he “never was talking at all about violence,” but rather about peaceful protest.
The coronavirus has been exploding out of control across the United States in recent weeks, especially in the Great Lakes and Great Plains states. Michigan has recently averaged more than 6,600 new cases a day, five times as many as in early October, and hospitalizations and deaths have been climbing steeply as well.
Experts like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, have warned that another 200,000 Americans could die of Covid-19 by spring if Americans do not more fully embrace public health measures, even if an effective vaccine is widely available soon. But such measures spurred anger and resentment in many places.
Ms. Whitmer’s first executive orders shutting down the state in April were met with large and raucous protests, which included armed protesters invading the state Capitol. Several men who were photographed in the State Senate gallery, dressed in camouflage and carrying military-style weapons, have since been charged in the kidnapping plot.
The governor’s action on Sunday prompted Representative Matt Maddock, a Republican state lawmaker from the Detroit suburbs, to take his frequent criticism of Ms. Whitmer a step further, saying he would try to remove her from office.
“Today, myself and a growing list of Michigan Legislators have decided that @GovWhitmer has crossed the line and will be calling for #ImpeachWhitmer hearings,” he wrote on Twitter Sunday. “The list of violations is long and the call is overdue.”
The restrictions the governor announced Sunday include closing indoor dining at restaurants and bars, shuttering casinos and movie theaters and restricting indoor gatherings.
“As hard as the first months were, the next few months are going to be even worse,” Ms. Whitmer said in her announcement. “We’re in the worst moment of the pandemic to date. We’re at the precipice and we need to take some action.”
The Navajo Nation on Monday reinstated a stay-at-home order for the next three weeks after health officials warned of “uncontrolled spread” of Covid-19 in dozens of communities across the vast reservation.
The move on the country’s largest tribal reservation points to one of the most aggressive efforts anywhere in the United States to fight the coronavirus.
After a devastating outbreak early in the pandemic, Navajo officials made inroads over the summer with vigorous mitigation efforts, only to face a resurgence in cases in recent weeks.
During the time the new order is in effect, residents must shelter in place, all roads in the Navajo Nation are closed to visitors and most government offices will be closed. Essential businesses such as gas stations and grocery stores are allowed to open, but only from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Myron Lizer, the vice president of the Navajo Nation, pleaded with citizens in a Facebook video to avoid driving to towns bordering the reservation, such as Farmington, N.M., and Winslow, Ariz., to reduce transmission risks.
“There are those who have been traveling abroad, going to our border towns for shopping and what not, buying hay, food, feed — one thing that we can do is limit that, maybe cut it in half,” Mr. Lizer said.
The Navajo Department of Health listed at least 34 communities at heightened risk of the virus, including places like Sheepsprings, Chichiltah and Tuba City. Officials said the reservation’s death toll from the virus stands at 602 after four new deaths were reported on Sunday, while the number of known cases has reached more than 13,300.
The drugmaker Moderna announced on Monday that its coronavirus vaccine was 94.5 percent effective, based on an early look at the results from its large, continuing study.
Researchers said the results were better than they had dared to imagine. But the vaccine will not be widely available for months, probably not until spring.
Moderna is the second company to report preliminary data on an apparently successful vaccine that offers hope of reining in a surging pandemic that has infected more than 53 million people worldwide and killed more than 1.2 million. Pfizer, in collaboration with BioNTech, was the first, reporting more than 90 percent effectiveness one week ago.
Pfizer and Moderna were the first to announce early data on large studies, but 10 other companies are also conducting big Phase 3 trials in a global race to produce a vaccine, including efforts in Britain, China, Russia, India and Australia. More than 50 other candidates are in earlier stages of testing.
Researchers test vaccines by inoculating some study participants and giving others placebos, and then watching the two groups to see how many people get sick. In Moderna’s study, 95 people contracted Covid: five who were vaccinated, and 90 who received placebo shots of salt water. Statistically, the difference between the two groups was highly significant. And of the 95 cases, 11 were severe — all in the placebo group.
Moderna, based in Cambridge, Mass., developed its vaccine in collaboration with researchers from the Vaccine Research Center, part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the infectious disease institute, said in an interview, “I had been saying I would be satisfied with a 75 percent effective vaccine. Aspirationally, you would like to see 90, 95 percent, but I wasn’t expecting it. I thought we’d be good, but 94.5 percent is very impressive.”
Representative Don Young of Alaska, the longest-serving member of the House and its oldest member, said on Monday that he had been hospitalized over the weekend with the coronavirus but had since been discharged, as two other lawmakers also announced they had contracted the virus.
The trio of announcements underscored how, as the virus resurges across the country, it has also continued to affect members of Congress. Several more lawmakers were in quarantine on Monday after interacting with individuals who later tested positive.
“There has been much speculation in the media on my current condition, and I want Alaskans to know that their Congressman is alive, feeling better, and on the road to recovery,” Mr. Young, 87, said in a statement on Twitter.
Mr. Young, a Republican, had been publicly silent after announcing last week that he had tested positive for the virus, and complained in his statement about “speculation in the media that did not respect my privacy. He said he had been admitted to Providence Hospital in Anchorage for “treatment and monitoring,” without elaborating on the treatment he received or the symptoms he had experienced.
“Very frankly, I had not felt this sick in a very long time,” he said.
Minutes later, Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, the leader of House Democrats’ campaign arm, announced that she too had tested positive for the virus and was “experiencing mild symptoms” but still felt “well.”
And shortly after that, Representative Tim Walberg, Republican of Michigan, announced that he had the virus.
The three are the latest of two dozen or so members of Congress to test positive for the virus since the spring.
Only one other lawmaker, Representative Ben McAdams, Democrat of Utah, 45, has publicly disclosed being hospitalized as a result of contracting the virus.
Hungary and Poland on Monday blocked the European Union’s sprawling coronavirus stimulus package, protesting a provision that would withhold funding from member states that violate the bloc’s rule-of-law standards, an accusation regularly leveled against the two governments, which have spent years co-opting their nations’ judiciary systems.
The two countries, through their ambassadors to the E.U., said they would not approve of the mechanism to raise the 750 billion euros — roughly $890 billion — that would be used to fund recovery efforts in all of the 27 nations that are members of the union.
The move also threatened to derail the bloc’s long term budget, putting a total of 1.8 trillion euros on hold.
The bloc’s economies desperately need the cash: the E.U. is deep into the worst recession since the Second World War, and its poorer members especially rely on the communal funds to bolster their economies back into growth.
The move by Hungary and Poland highlighted the lengths to which the two nations are prepared to go to avoid scrutiny over their undemocratic practices at home, even if it means uniting the other 25 countries against them and deepening divisions in the bloc.
The systematic effort by the governing parties in Poland and Hungary to put their judicial systems under increasing political control has garnered widespread criticism from E.U. leaders, but it has rarely resulted in any real punishment.
The Hungarian and Polish governments said their opposition to linking matters related to their judicial systems to the recovery funds was a matter of national sovereignty and that they had been forced to take this step because they were being unfairly targeted by the other European Union members.
A frantic effort to unblock the funding will begin Tuesday, with hopes that an E.U. leaders’ teleconference on Thursday could force the two countries to change course. If instead, E.U. leaders choose to water down rule-of-law conditions for funding, it is likely the European Parliament, which needs to approve the final shape of the stimulus and budget bills, will block them.
Colleen Kelly, a senior digital editor at The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, did not mention Covid or the coronavirus in the short video that she posted over the weekend. All she did was leaf slowly through the 16-page Minnesota section of the Sunday paper. Two-thirds of it was filled with obituaries.
“To me, it was a stark visual example of the number of people who are dying,” Ms. Kelly said in an interview.
These were paid death notices, most commonly submitted by relatives, so not all mention a cause of death, Ms. Kelly said, and when they did include a cause, some were not coronavirus-related. But the same section a year ago would have had six or seven pages of notices, she said, not 10 or more.
Ms. Kelly, who also runs the paper’s Covid-19 page online, knew that Minnesota had just experienced its deadliest week of the pandemic, with 248 deaths reported.
So many of the notices arrived at the last minute that the paper had to pull news articles out of the section to make room, she said. One of the withheld articles was about a number of Republican state legislators — long at odds with their Democratic rivals over how to confront the virus — who have recently tested positive.
Ms. Kelly’s video seemed to resonate online, with viewers posting emojis of broken hearts or tears. It reminded some of a similar video that was posted in Italy in March, bringing home how the disease was scything through the population, especially the elderly.
Minnesota reported 7.553 new cases on Sunday, according to a New York Times database, and the Covid Tracking Project counted 1,424 coronavirus patients in hospitals in the state.
“Minnesota has horrible numbers, so this is not a surprise right now,” Ms. Kelly said, noting that deaths inevitably follow a surge in cases. “It has been trending this way for a while.”
Of course, the divisions in the United States over the pandemic crept into the reaction to her post. One self-identified Republican commented that the people listed in the notices had probably all voted, a reference to false claims that dead people had cast ballots on Nov. 3.
A woman pointed to earlier times in history when the numbers of dead became overwhelming: “Just after the start of WW1 the London ‘Times’ stopped publishing a daily list of the dead.”
Many viewers predicted further grim news ahead, expecting even more pages of death notices to appear in the paper after Thanksgiving.
“Was really hoping that these type of videos wouldn’t be a reality this fall/winter,” wrote one man. “It is going to be a long hard sad winter.”
The N.C.A.A. will consolidate its usually sprawling men’s college basketball tournament to a single city in 2021 instead of holding the games at 13 sites across the United States, in hopes of limiting travel during the pandemic.
The N.C.A.A. announced Monday that it was in preliminary talks with local and state government officials to have Indianapolis host the 68-team Division I men’s tournament, the centerpiece of what hoops fans affectionately call March Madness.
The men’s basketball committee that oversees the tournament determined that a singular location would be more conducive to the “safety and well-being” of the event.
The tournament is usually spread throughout the country in March and April. The 2020 men’s and women’s tournaments were among the first major sporting events in the United States to be canceled as the pandemic took hold in March.
The Final Four was already scheduled for April 3-5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, the city where the N.C.A.A. is headquartered.
The committee is not currently conversing with representatives from other cities, said the N.C.A.A. press officer, David Worlock, but he noted that could change. Officials are not planning to hold the entire tournament at a single, highly restricted site.
“We can’t operate in a bubble like, for example, the N.B.A. did this year with its postseason, though we will have similar protocols in place to protect the health and safety of those involved,” he said.
Discussions concerning the Division I women’s basketball tournament are continuing, said Lynn Holzman, the N.C.A.A.’s vice president for women’s basketball. That tournament generally uses more sites than the men’s tournament, with 16 teams hosting first- and second-round games that feed into regional sites and eventually the Final Four, which is scheduled for April 2-4 in San Antonio, Texas.
Philadelphia will enact new restrictions in an attempt to stem rapidly rising case numbers, including banning indoor gatherings and shifting high schools and colleges to remote learning for the remainder of the year, Mayor Jim Kenney announced at a news conference on Monday.
“There is no doubt these changes are necessary,” Mr. Kenney said. “I believe we will get through this if we act with urgency, like we did in the spring.”
Dr. Thomas Farley, Philadelphia’s health commissioner, said the virus was spreading among households, at social gatherings, in nursing homes and at care facilities.
“The bottom line is this: If we don’t do something to change the trajectory of this epidemic, the hospitals will become full, they’ll have difficulty treating people, and we’ll have between several hundred and a thousand deaths by just the end of this year,” Dr. Farley said.
Public and private indoor gatherings involving people from different households are banned entirely; outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people for every 1,000 square feet of space. No food or drink can be served at outdoor gatherings, so that masks can be worn at all times, Dr. Farley said.
The order also bans indoor dining at restaurants, and restricts outdoor dining to four people per table, who must be from the same household. Retail stores and religious centers are allowed to remain open, but are limited to 5 people per 1,000 square feet, or 5 percent of maximum occupancy.
Youth, community and school sports will be canceled. College sports will be allowed to continue, but without spectators. Only employees who cannot work remotely will be allowed to work in offices. Many other indoor facilities, including gyms, libraries and museums, will be closed.
Child care facilities can remain open. Last week, Philadelphia’s school district announced that virtual learning would continue indefinitely, reversing an earlier decision that would have brought students back to the classroom this month.
The restrictions will take effect on Friday and extend until Jan. 1. While officials acknowledged that the ban on private gatherings will not be enforced, they urged residents to comply.
Philadelphia has averaged more than 700 new cases a day in the last two weeks, according to a Times database, and has had more than 52,000 cases since the pandemic began in March, and 1,935 deaths.
Seven months after he battled a serious case of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain announced on Sunday that he was quarantining after coming into contact with a lawmaker later found to be infected.
Mr. Johnson’s office said in a statement that he felt fine and was showing no symptoms.
Experts say it is still too early to know how long immunity to the coronavirus lasts, but reinfection with the virus is thought to be very rare for at least many months after the first illness.
Mr. Johnson went into isolation after the National Health Service’s test-and-trace program contacted him and said he had been exposed to the coronavirus. On Thursday, he spent about half an hour with a member of Parliament who tested positive after feeling ill.
Other than isolating himself, Mr. Johnson is conducting business as usual, officials said. “He will carry on working from Downing Street, including on leading the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic,” his office’s statement said.
The prime minister had a close call with the virus in April, when he was hospitalized and spent three days in intensive care.
Mr. Johnson has been accused repeatedly of taking a lackadaisical approach to the pandemic, but when he emerged from the hospital he appeared chastened.
In an emotional five-minute video, Mr. Johnson thanked the country’s National Health Service, declaring it had “saved my life, no question.”
Over three months in the summer, the portion of people in Britain with detectable antibodies to the coronavirus fell by about 27 percent. Experts say it’s normal for levels of antibodies to drop after the body clears an infection. However, when needed, immune cells already carry a memory of the virus and can churn out fresh antibodies.
In other developments around the world:
Five employees at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva have recently tested positive for the virus, the organization said in a statement on Monday. It is unclear if they were infected on the W.H.O. campus. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 65 staff members stationed in Geneva have tested positive for the coronavirus — 49 of them in the last eight weeks, amid Europe’s second wave of virus cases, the agency said.
Sweden will reduce the limit on public gatherings to eight people from 300, as part of a new approach that runs counter to the country’s previously lax virus restrictions. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said during a news conference on Monday that the tighter restrictions would last for at least four weeks and were the “new norm” for the country. “Don’t go to the gym. Don’t go to the library. Don’t have dinners. Don’t have parties. Cancel,” he said.
India will fly doctors into the region around New Delhi, double the number of tests it carries out and ensure that people wear masks, in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus in the capital, officials said on Sunday, according to Reuters. “Delhi has witnessed a huge surge in daily active cases which is likely to worsen over next few weeks,” the health minister, Harsh Vardhan, said in a tweet.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. warned that a “very dark winter” was ahead and called on Congress to pass an economic stimulus package immediately to help workers struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
In his first economic address since winning the election this month, Mr. Biden said he supported a national mask mandate to help curb the rise of the virus and that Congress should provide trillions of dollars in fiscal support to workers, businesses and state and local governments.
“For millions of Americans who’ve lost hours and wages or have lost jobs, we can deliver immediate relief and it need be done quickly,” Mr. Biden said. “Congress should come together and pass a Covid relief package” along the lines of the $3 trillion bill that House Democrats passed earlier this year.
Mr. Biden said that combating the virus remained the most urgent matter, however, and called on President Trump to begin the transition process quickly.
“More people may die, if we don’t coordinate,” he said.
Mr. Biden also said that he wanted to see a mask mandate in the United States, reiterating his request for state and local officials to require citizens to wear face coverings as cases surge during the cold winter months. Aiming fire at the Trump administration, he criticized the president and his advisers for attacking leaders of states like Michigan who have imposed new restrictions on businesses to contain rising case numbers.
“What the hell’s the matter with these guys?” Mr. Biden said. “It’s totally irresponsible.”
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, speaking before Mr. Biden, said they were focused on “opening this economy responsibly and rebuilding it so it works for working people.”
Earlier on Monday, Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris spoke with business and union leaders to discuss the recovery, including Mary Barra, the chief executive of General Motors; Sonia Syngal, the chief executive of Gap; Satya Nadella, the head of Microsoft; Richard Trumka of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and Rory Gamble, president of the United Auto Workers.
“They represent very different perspectives, but I’m convinced we can all come together around the same table to advance areas of common ground,” Mr. Biden said. He underscored the importance of unity between business leaders and unions and said that unions would have more power under his watch.
Mr. Biden said he supported a robust stimulus package such as the $3 trillion bill that House Democrats passed earlier this year, and he insisted that funding for states and cities needs to be included in such legislation. The president-elect said that sick leave and money for child care were also priorities, arguing that people should not have to choose between working and caring for others.
His speech came at a perilous moment for the recovery.
Credit card data and other indicators suggest that consumers began to pull back spending this month as infection, hospitalization and death rates from the virus surge nationwide. States have begun to impose new restrictions on economic activity in an effort to tamp down the spread.
But stock markets were rising again on Monday, encouraged by news that Moderna’s vaccine for the virus appears to be highly effective.
Still, widespread distribution of a vaccine that would allow Americans to resume anything close to normal levels of travel, dining out and other types of spending on services that have been crushed by the pandemic is likely months away.
Economists continue to call for a new and immediate round of aid from Congress to help people and businesses weather the difficult time before the rebound is complete.
Tourism in New York City will need at least four years to recover from the free-fall triggered by the pandemic, according to a new forecast from the city’s tourism promotion agency, a somber assessment that reflects the major obstacles to the city’s economic recovery.
The return of international visitors, who stay longer and spend much more than domestic visitors, will be even slower, the agency forecasts.
“It’s going to be a very slow build initially,” said Fred Dixon, the chief executive of the agency, NYC & Company.
The industry is critical to the city, providing as many as 400,000 jobs and drawing $46 billion in annual spending, by NYC & Company’s estimates. Its wipeout has devastated several sectors of the economy, including hotels, restaurants and Broadway theaters.
Mr. Dixon said the rebound hinges on the distribution of an effective vaccine, which public health officials have said could happen by late spring or early summer. Until then, the flow of visitors will remain at a trickle, he said.
New York drew a record 66.6 million visitors in 2019 and was on pace for even more this year, Mr. Dixon said. NYC & Company estimates that 12 million people visited the city this year before the shutdown and the total in the ensuing nine months may reach only 10 million, a figure that includes all of the nurses and other essential workers who arrived in response to the coronavirus crisis.
In the city, coronavirus infections have continued to rise. On Friday, 75,000 people were tested — the highest number of tests in a single day, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio. The city recorded 1,057 positive virus tests the next day; Mr. de Blasio contributed the uptick in cases in part to the large testing that occurred. The citywide seven-day average positive rate is 2.77, as of Monday.
With the drugmakers Moderna and Pfizer both announcing strong data from clinical trials, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to soon review safety and efficacy data for what may be the first Covid-19 vaccine in the United States, in hopes of immunizing some Americans soon after.
But about a half-dozen states and the District of Columbia have planned an extra layer of scrutiny: committees that would vet any vaccine reviewed by the F.D.A., a step many public health experts and officials deem unnecessary given a federal review process they describe as meticulous.
The committees — most of them in states led by Democratic governors — are in part a response to the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic and concerns that political considerations would influence vaccine approvals.
“The people of this country don’t trust this federal government with this vaccine process,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said in September when announcing his state’s vaccine committee.
The reviews are intended to help persuade a hesitant public to get shots once they are approved. Recent polls show that between a third and half of Americans would be reluctant to get a coronavirus vaccine.
But some health officials and experts worry that the state reviews could instead create inconsistency and sow doubt about a crucial tool in stopping the global contagion.
Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said state leaders were undermining the expertise of the F.D.A., which he called the “most rigorous organization in the world.”
“We want shots in arms within 24 hours,” Mr. Mango said at a news briefing last month for Operation Warp Speed, the federal effort to secure a vaccine. “Any delay that the state wants to impose will be a delay in getting its citizens — its most vulnerable citizens — vaccines. We think it is actually counterproductive for them to talk about this.”
The tension between states and the federal government illustrates a heightened politicalization of vaccines and their approvals, a process routinely accepted by physicians and public health departments across the country.
At the Marine Corps basic training facility in San Diego, recruits are taught that every weapon must be clean enough to eat with, every bed must have exact creases, every bootlace must be flawless.
And now, every face must wear a mask.
The military can’t work from home, so when the coronavirus pandemic hit, leaders decided they had no choice but to fight through it. Nowhere is that harder than at basic training installations like Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, where hundreds of new recruits from around the country arrive each week.
A few missteps early on led to quarantines, but since then a strict but simple strategy of hygiene and social distancing has been strikingly successful at keeping the virus out of the ranks: As of Saturday, the Marine Recruit Depot had no known cases.
The U.S. military as a whole has had only 777 Covid-19 hospitalizations so far since the pandemic began, out of 1.3 million active-duty troops — and only nine have died.
Marine recruits spend their first two weeks quarantining in a hotel, doing mandatory exercise in their rooms. After that, their interactions with the outside world are strictly limited. They eat, sleep and train in isolated platoons so the virus can be contained if an outbreak does occur.
“It’s not that hard — it’s discipline,” said Nelson Santos, a drill instructor. “Just follow instructions, attention to detail. Wash your hands, wear a mask. Don’t go anywhere you don’t need to.”
The precautions have also sharply reduced the incidence of other diseases among recruits, like influenza. Military leaders say they plan to retain many of the new safety practices even after the pandemic recedes.
As the number of coronavirus cases continues to reach record highs in the United States, nervous businesses are reacting by cutting services and tightening rules on mask mandates and purchase limits.
In the past week, an astonishing one million cases were recorded in the country, and states have responded to the growing crisis by enforcing stringent measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. News of Moderna’s encouraging results on a vaccine on Monday gave some relief to Wall Street investors, but business are bracing for what could be a long winter as strict lockdown orders are put into effect.
American Airlines slashed flights between the United States and London in December by about two-thirds as coronavirus cases surge on both sides of the Atlantic, threatening already anemic international travel. The schedule adjustment leaves just one daily American flight to London next month, out of Dallas, after the airline dropped limited service from New York, Chicago and Charlotte, N.C.
Kroger, the grocery chain, has started to limit items that were in high demand during earlier surges in the pandemic, including bath tissue, paper towels, disinfecting wipes and hand soap. Customers can purchase only two of each of those products. The policy, enacted earlier this month across all Kroger stores and its website, was put in place “to ensure all customers have access to what they need,’’ the company said in a statement.
Wegmans added new items to the list of products with purchase limits. As of this past weekend, customers at the regional grocery chain can buy only one package of facial tissues and two packages of napkins. Since the spring, the company has restricted other items that have been in short supply during the pandemic, including disinfecting wipes and toilet paper. There are also limits on antacids and Wegmans brand peanut butter. To prevent shortages, the company said, it had been working to “build up our own holiday and winter reserves, in our own warehouses as well as at our suppliers.”
On Monday, Costco began requiring all members, guests and employees at all locations to wear a face mask or face shield. Previously, members who could not wear a mask because a medical condition were exempt; now, they must wear a face shield if they cannot wear a mask. “This updated policy may seem inconvenient to some, however we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience,” Craig Jelinek, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement.
Chancellor Angela Merkel came to an agreement with Germany’s 16 state governors on Monday to recommend stricter virus protocols — but put off a decision on whether to prolong the country’s partial lockdown, which is set to expire at the end of the month.
The new — but nonbinding — recommendations focus on gatherings. Germans are being asked to limit their interactions to only one other household as much as possible. People with cold symptoms were also asked to quarantine, even if they had not been exposed to the virus.
“Every contact that can be avoided is a good one when it comes to the fight against the pandemic,” said Ms. Merkel in a news conference.
The daily tally of new cases has started to stabilize under the partial lockdown, which began two weeks ago. The rules outlined on Monday were designed to lower infections to such a point that authorities can efficiently track and trace new infections. The government also pledged to supply free FFP2 masks, similar to N95s, to people especially vulnerable to Covid infections.
Ms. Merkel acknowledged that the governors had pushed back on making the new recommendations legally binding. Stricter measures affecting schools, which remain open, were also dropped after the governors rejected a proposal from the federal government to cut class sizes by half.
She and the governors will meet again in a week to consider new binding rules, and whether the partial lockdown can be ended by the end of the month as planned.
The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request from inmates in a Texas geriatric prison to reinstate a federal district judge’s order instructing officials to take steps to protect them from the coronavirus pandemic.
As is the Supreme Court’s custom in ruling on emergency applications, its brief order was unsigned and gave no reasons. But Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan, issued an 11-page dissent.
The case was brought by two prisoners at the Wallace Pack Unit, a state geriatric prison in Grimes County, Texas. The inmates — Laddy Valentine, 69, who is serving a 25-year sentence for child sexual abuse, and Richard King, 73, who is serving a life sentence for murder — said prison officials had not taken adequate steps to protect them, and that conditions at the prison violated the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishments.
A district judge agreed, but an appeals court issued a stay of his injunction while the appeal moved forward.
In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor said the Supreme Court should have stepped in.
“The people incarcerated in the Pack Unit are some of our most vulnerable citizens,” she wrote. “They face severe risks of serious illness and death from Covid-19, but are unable to take even the most basic precautions against the virus on their own.”
“If the prison fails to enforce social distancing and mask wearing, perform regular testing and take other essential steps, the inmates can do nothing but wait for the virus to take its toll,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “Twenty lives have been lost already. I fear the stay will lead to further, needless suffering.”