All 50 states have begun to reopen, but vast discrepancies remain.
In Connecticut, flags that had been lowered to half-staff during the somber peak of the pandemic were raised high again to signal the state’s return to business.
In Kentucky, gift shops opened their doors.
And across Alaska, restaurants, bars and gyms, which have already been seeing customers for weeks, were getting ready to rev back up to full capacity. “It will all be open,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced, “just like it was prior to the virus.”
As of Wednesday, all 50 states had begun to reopen to some degree, two months after the outbreak thrust the country into lockdown. But vast variations remain in how states are deciding to open up, with some forging far ahead of others. Many began to reopen despite not meeting White House guidelines for progress against the virus, and newly reported cases have been increasing in some states, including Texas and Minnesota, that are moving to ease restrictions. Public health officials warn that moving too fast could risk more outbreaks.
The dynamic has left many business owners and customers to decide for themselves what they think is safe.
“It is still a little scary, considering we don’t exactly know what this is,” said Ipakoi Grigoriadis, whose family owns Pop’s Family Restaurant in Milton, Conn., a diner that reopened its outdoor seating on Wednesday morning.
“It is quite exciting to see our customers we haven’t seen in a while,” she said. But it was not business as usual: Pop’s, like other Connecticut restaurants, now offers outdoor seating only and plans to ramp up to 50 percent capacity gradually. Servers are gloved and masked, and patrons are expected to wear masks as well, except when they are eating and drinking.
Governors are increasingly facing intense pressure to reopen, as millions of Americans have lost their jobs and the unemployment rate spiked to a staggering 14.7 percent. But reopening in Texas, where businesses have been allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity for weeks, looks far different than it does in Illinois, where stores are still limited to curbside pickup.
States in the Northeast and on the West Coast, as well as Democratic-led states in the Midwest, have moved the most slowly toward reopening, with several governors taking a county-by-county approach. (In Washington, D.C., a stay-at-home order remains in effect until June.) By contrast, a number of states in the South opened earlier and more fully. Though social-distancing requirements were put in place, restaurants, salons, gyms and other businesses have been open in Georgia for several weeks.
In a medical research project nearly unrivaled in its ambition and scope, volunteers worldwide are rolling up their sleeves to receive experimental vaccines against the coronavirus — only months after it was discovered.
Companies like Inovio and Pfizer have begun early tests of candidates in people to determine whether their vaccines are safe. Researchers at the University of Oxford in England say they could have a vaccine ready for emergency use as soon as September.
In labs around the world, there is now cautious optimism that a coronavirus vaccine, and perhaps more than one, will be ready sometime next year.
Scientists are exploring not just one approach to creating the vaccine, but at least four. So great is the urgency that they are combining trial phases and shortening a process that usually takes years, sometimes more than a decade.
“What people don’t realize is that normally vaccine development takes many years, sometimes decades,” said Dr. Dan Barouch, a virologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “And so trying to compress the whole vaccine process into 12 to 18 months is really unheard of.”
“If that happens, it will be the fastest vaccine development program ever in history.”
More than one hundred research teams around the world are taking aim at the virus from multiple angles.
A prototype vaccine has protected monkeys from the virus, researches have found.
A prototype vaccine has protected monkeys from the virus, researchers reported on Wednesday, a finding that offers new hope for effective human vaccines.
Scientists are already testing virus vaccines in people, but the initial trials are designed to determine safety, not how well a vaccine works. The research published Wednesday offers insight into what a vaccine must do to be effective and how to measure that.
“To me, this is convincing that a vaccine is possible,” said Dr. Nelson Michael, the director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
Scientists are engaged in a worldwide scramble to create a vaccine against the new virus. Over a hundred research projects have been launched; early safety trials in humans have been started or completed in nine of them.
Next to come are larger trials to determine whether these candidate vaccines are not just safe, but effective. But those results won’t arrive for months.
In the meantime, Dr. Dan Barouch, a virologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and his colleagues have started a series of experiments on monkeys to get a broader look at how coronaviruses affect monkeys — and whether vaccines could fight them. Their report was published in Science.
In one series of experiments, each monkey received pieces of DNA, which their cells turned into viral proteins designed to train the immune system to recognize the virus.
Most coronavirus vaccines are intended to coax the immune system to make antibodies that latch onto the spike protein and destroy the virus. Dr. Barouch and his colleagues tried out six variations.
Some of the vaccines provided only partial protection, but other vaccines worked better. The one that worked best trained the immune system to recognize and attack the entire spike protein of the coronavirus. In eight monkeys, the researchers couldn’t detect the virus at all.
“I think that overall this will be seen as very good news for the vaccine effort,” said Dr. Barouch. “This increases our optimism that a vaccine for Covid-19 will be possible.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly released more detailed guidance for schools, businesses, transit systems and other industries hoping to reopen safely amid the coronavirus pandemic after fear that the White House had shelved the guidelines.
The 60-page document, which a C.D.C. spokesman said was uploaded over the weekend, but which received little notice, adds great detail to six charts that the C.D.C. had released last week. The guidance provides specific instructions for different sectors to detect and trace the virus based on exposure and risk after the pandemic. Here are some key elements.
If a person in a school building tests positive, schools should evaluate the risk and consider a brief dismissal of about 2-5 days, to clean and disinfect the building, coordinate with local health officials and contact trace. The C.D.C. offers different measures based on the level of community spread.
As restrictions across the country on restaurants and bars ease, the C.D.C. recommends owners give workers at a higher risk of getting sick a job that limits the person’s interaction with customers. The agency also suggests opening with limited seating initially to allow for social distancing. Once fully reopened, the C.D.C. recommends having a clear policy about when employees should stay home if sick and rules on hygiene, including at times wearing face coverings.
When mass transit resumes its full service, the agency recommends being prepared to adjust routes based on the different levels of virus spread and to coordinate with local health officials about prevention strategies, such as wearing a face covering.
For businesses that provide child care during the pandemic, the C.D.C. recommends having plans in place, for example, to have substitute workers if staff members are sick, and requiring staff and children older than two to wear face coverings.
The guidance describes the balance of slowing the virus’s spread with the economic threat of shuttering most businesses, and largely mirrors a draft version that was previously shelved by the White House, but with some changes.
The document omits a section on “communities of faith” that had troubled Trump administration officials and also tones down the guidance in several instances. For example, language that initially directed schools to “ensure social distancing” became “promote social distancing,” and the phrase “if possible” was added in several sentences.
Severe flooding struck central Michigan on Wednesday after two dams were breached by rain-swollen waters, forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents at a moment many had been wary of leaving their homes amid the pandemic.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer implored residents to take the threat seriously and evacuate immediately, but added that they should continue to observe precautions related to the virus, including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing — something she acknowledged would be difficult in the temporary shelters that had been set up.
“To go through this in the midst of a global pandemic is almost unthinkable,” she said. “But we are here, and to the best of our ability we are going to navigate this together.”
There have been at least 52,337 cases in Michigan, and at least 5,017 people have died.
The failures on Tuesday of the Edenville Dam and the Sanford Dam, about 140 miles northwest of Detroit, led the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood warning for areas near the Tittabawassee River. Residents in nearby towns, including Edenville, Sanford and Midland, were evacuated
As news of the disaster spread Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump took to Twitter and threatened to withhold federal funds to Michigan if the state proceeded to expand vote by mail efforts. (He made a similar threat against Nevada.) The president then followed up with a Tweet saying that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the military had been deployed to Michigan to assist with disaster response.
The president is scheduled to visit a Ford Motor Co. plant that is manufacturing ventilators in Ypsilanti, Mich., on Thursday. This is his first trip to the state since January, and comes at a time when his campaign advisers are increasingly concerned about his chances there.
The president’s latest broadside, on Twitter, came as the pandemic has raised concerns around the nation about how people can vote safely.
The president inaccurately accused Michigan of mailing ballots to its residents. In fact, its secretary of state sent applications for mail ballots, as election officials have done in other states, including those led by Republicans. He also threatened to withhold funds from Nevada, where the Republican secretary of state declared the primary an all-mail election, and where ballots are being sent to voters.
As most states largely abandon in-person voting because of health concerns, Mr. Trump, along with many of his Republican allies, have launched a series of false attacks to demonize mail voting as fraught with fraud and delivering an inherent advantage to Democratic candidates — despite there being scant evidence for either claim.
“Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” the president tweeted Wednesday morning. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”
His threat to withhold federal funding cam as the state was grappling with a devastating flood; soon after he announced that the federal government would help.
An hour later he made a similar threat against Nevada, saying the state had created “a great Voter Fraud scenario” and adding “If they do, ‘I think’ I can hold up funds to the State.”
Mr. Trump’s outbursts come as the White House and his re-election campaign are confronting polls showing the president trailing his Democratic rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., both nationally and in key swing states. The White House did not respond to requests for comment or elaboration.
Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, quickly clarified on Wednesday that the state is not mailing ballots to all Michigan voters. On Wednesday she began mailing ballot applications to all registered voters.
Religious gatherings of up to 10 people can resume in New York State on Thursday if attendees wear masks and socially distance, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Wednesday.
“I think that even at this time of stress and when people are so anxious and so confused, I think those religious ceremonies can be very comforting,” he said. “But we need to find out how to do it, and do it safely and do it smartly.”
It is particularly significant for Jewish congregations, where a minyan, defined as 10 people over the age of 13, is required for a worship service.
The announcement came as only three regions in the downstate area, including New York City, remain under the state’s shutdown orders. Statewide, another 112 people had died.
Mr. Cuomo also released the results of antibody testing in some of low-income New York City neighborhoods hit hardest by the virus.
In many of them, more than 1 in 3 residents tested positive for antibodies, a far higher rate than citywide rate of about 20 percent, he said. In two neighborhoods, Brownsville in Brooklyn and Morrisania in the Bronx, more than 40 percent of people tested had antibodies.
Another public health hazard has surfaced in New York City amid the pandemic: Vaccination rates for childhood disease — whooping cough, measles, chickenpox — have dropped precipitously, putting children at risk, the mayor said.
The Justice Department cautions California on rules restricting religious gatherings.
The Justice Department warned California this week that it believed the state’s restrictions to combat the virus discriminated against religious institutions.
In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, department officials complained that the state’s reopening plan allowed for restaurants and shopping malls to reopen before religious institutions could hold worship services. They also objected to the state’s current policy limiting how members of the clergy could be classified as essential workers.
“Simply put, there is no pandemic exception to the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights,” said the letter from the head of the department’s Civil Rights Division and the four U.S. attorneys in California.
The officials also said that while the department “does not seek to dictate” to California, they insisted that any restrictions must treat secular and religious activities equally.
A spokesman for Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Federal judges previously declined to block Mr. Newsom’s restrictions on religious gatherings. In one case, brought by a church in Lodi, a Federal District Court judge denied a request for a temporary restraining order and wrote that in unusual circumstances like a pandemic, “the judiciary must afford more deference to officials’ informed efforts to advance public health — even when those measures encroach on otherwise protected conduct.”
The Justice Department’s missive to Mr. Newsom was not connected to any specific case, but it represented another phase of its efforts to curb state and local restrictions — especially around religious institutions — during the pandemic. Last month, the department went to court in support of a Baptist church in Mississippi that had challenged local restrictions.
Less than a week after lawmakers approved a major rule change, Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday formally initiated the remote work period for the House, jump-starting a 45-day period when remote voting can be used in the chamber.
With the move, the House will now be able to use proxy voting, which allows lawmakers to give specific instructions on each vote to a colleague authorized to vote on their behalf. Votes are expected in the chamber next week, and several lawmakers had previously expressed frustration with the need to travel to Washington during the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement came after the Sergeant-at-arms, in consultation with Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the Capitol physician, sent Ms. Pelosi a letter formally notifying her of “an ongoing public health emergency due to a novel coronavirus.”
In direct contrast, however, Senator Mitch McConnell, on Wednesday highlighted the Senate’s ongoing presence in Washington, outlining how “over here in the United States Senate, the lights are on, the doors are open, and we are working for the American people.”
Mr. McConnell, the majority leader, thanked Dr. Monahan — a Navy doctor whose office is responsible for the care of both chambers and the Supreme Court — for his continued guidance, saying that it has allowed the Senate to operate “smartly and safely” during the pandemic.
The shuttering of the American education system severed students from more than just classrooms, friends and extracurricular activities. It has also cut off an estimated 55 million children and teenagers from school faculty whose open doors and compassionate advice helped them build self-esteem, navigate the pressures of adolescence and cope with trauma.
But the challenges hard-wired into online learning present daunting obstacles for the remote guidance counselor’s office, particularly among students from low-income families who have lost jobs or lack internet access at home. And mental health experts worry about the psychological toll on a younger generation that was already experiencing soaring rates of depression, anxiety and suicide before the pandemic.
“Not every kid can be online and have a confidential conversation about how things are going at home with parents in earshot,” said Seth Pollak, director of the Child Emotion Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Desperate to safeguard students’ emotional well-being amid the isolation and financial turmoil, teachers are checking in during video classes, counselors are posting mindfulness videos on Facebook and school psychologists are holding therapy sessions over the phone.
Hospital executives and doctors, wary of what comes next, are asking whether this is a lull before a new wave of cases or a less chaotic slog. At hospitals, staff members are preparing for both possibilities.
Elmhurst is decontaminating rooms as managers try to persuade residents to come in now for emergencies and elective surgery as soon the governor lifts a ban imposed in March. Brooklyn Hospital Center is nervously waiting for those numbers to rise again.
At the same time, a new survey of nearly 23,000 nurses across the country shows continued concern over inadequate personal protective equipment as well as a lack of widespread testing among health care workers.
Many nurses remain fearful of becoming ill because they do not have the equipment they need to remain safe, according to the union that conducted the survey, National Nurses United, which has more than 150,000 members in the United States.
The survey, conducted from April 15 through May 10, includes responses from both union members and nonunion nurses in all 50 states. It found that a vast majority of nurses, 87 percent, reported having to reuse personal protective equipment, including respirators, a practice that the nurses said would not have been allowed before the pandemic.
More than 100 nurses have died of the disease, according to the union, and at least 500 of those surveyed said they had already tested positive. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed reported they had not yet been tested.
Specialists — including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert — say the jury is still out on whether the drug might help prevent infection or help patients avoid hospitalization. Mr. Trump’s frequent pronouncements and misstatements — he has praised the drug as a “game changer” and a “miracle” — are only complicating matters, politicizing the drug and creating a frenzy in the news media that is impeding research.
“The virus is not Democrat or Republican, and hydroxychloroquine is not Democrat or Republican, and I’m just hopeful that people would allow us to finish our scientific work,” said Dr. William O’Neill, an interventional cardiologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, who is studying hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic in health care workers.
“The worst thing in the world that would happen,” he added, “is that at the end of this epidemic, in late September, we don’t have a cure or a preventive because we let politics interfere with the scientific process.”
President of Purdue University draws criticism over remarks on risk to young people.
As he laid out his plans for the fall semester, the president of Purdue University, Mitch Daniels, said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday that young people faced “essentially zero lethal risk” from Covid-19.
The remarks from Mr. Daniels, who served two terms as the governor of Indiana, drew criticism on social media, as there is still much to learn about how the coronavirus affects younger populations and how they might unknowingly spread the virus.
In March, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that nearly 40 percent of patients sick enough to be hospitalized were between 20 and 54 years old. More recently, neurologists in New York, Detroit, New Jersey and elsewhere have reported a sudden increase in unexplained strokes among younger patients that may be linked to the virus.
Mr. Daniels said that Purdue, located in West Lafayette, Ind., would carry out a new hybrid approach to teaching that would protect both its staff and students during the upcoming fall semester.
“We’ve learned over the past two months where the real risk and danger reside. That will be our area of focus with everything we do — from physical facilities to the way we teach,” Mr. Daniels said. “We’re going to have to work as hard on the cultural aspects as the physical.”
New measures include having fewer people in classrooms, requiring masks for all students, building plexiglass barriers for teachers to stand behind, and having students take at least one course online.
Students will also be expected to maintain social distancing, practice good hygiene, have their temperature taken every day and self-quarantine if they experience symptoms. The university will also be conducting coronavirus testing and tracing, Mr. Daniels said.
Hundreds of migrant children and teenagers have been swiftly deported by American authorities during the pandemic without the opportunity to speak to a social worker or plea for asylum from the violence in their home countries — a reversal of years of established practice for dealing with young foreigners who arrive in the United States.
The Trump administration is justifying the new practices under a 1944 law that grants the president broad power to block foreigners from entering the country to prevent the “serious threat” of a dangerous disease. And on Tuesday, it extended the stepped-up border security that allows for young migrants to be expelled at the border, saying the policy would remain in place indefinitely and be reviewed every 30 days.
In March and April, 915 young migrants were expelled shortly after reaching the American border, and 60 were shipped home from the interior of the country.
During the same period, at least 166 young migrants were allowed into the United States and afforded the safeguards that were once customary. Customs and Border Protection has refused to disclose how the government was determining which legal standards to apply to which children.
“The fact that nobody knows who these kids are and there are hundreds of them is really terrifying,” said Jennifer Nagda, policy director of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. “There’s no telling if they’ve been returned to smugglers or into harm’s way.”
A new survey of nearly 23,000 nurses across the country shows continued concern over inadequate supplies of personal protective equipment like masks and respirators as well as a lack of widespread testing among health care workers.
Even as most states are beginning the process of reopening and hospitals are starting to offer elective procedures like hip replacements and colonoscopies, many nurses remain fearful of becoming ill with Covid-19 because they do not have the equipment they need to remain safe, according to the union that conducted the survey, National Nurses United, which has more than 150,000 members in the United States.
The survey, conducted from April 15 through May 10, includes responses from both union members and nonunion nurses in all 50 states.
“We still can’t get testing,” said Deborah Burger, one of the union’s presidents, in an interview. “We still can’t get the P.P.E. that we need.”
“Almost four months into this, we are still having the same issues,” she said.
The survey found the vast majority of nurses, 87 percent, reported having to re-use personal protective equipment, including respirators, a practice that the nurses say would not have been allowed before the pandemic.
More than 100 nurses have died of the disease, according to the union, and at least 500 of those surveyed said they have already tested positive for the virus. Most nurses, 84 percent of those who participated in the survey, reported they had not yet been tested for a possible infection.
Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that he may try to convene world leaders at Camp David for the annual G7 meeting as a further sign of “normalization” as the United States and many other countries begin to reopen.
“Now that our Country is ‘Transitioning back to Greatness’, I am considering rescheduling the G-7, on the same or similar date, in Washington, D.C., at the legendary Camp David,” Mr. Trump wrote in a Twitter post. “The other members are also beginning their COMEBACK. It would be a great sign to all – normalization!”
Mr. Trump agreed to hold the summit at his presidential retreat in Maryland after initially saying the gathering would happen at the Trump National Doral resort near Miami. Critics said it was inappropriate for him to host a diplomatic event at one of his properties.
It is unclear whether Mr. Trump has discussed the idea with other G7 leaders and how willing they may be to travel abroad with the large staff and security entourages they require.
After the virus struck, the G7 agreed to hold the gathering by video for the first time. It is scheduled for June 10-12. The group is made up of the United States, Germany, Japan, France, Britain, Canada, and Italy.
Keep up with global coverage.
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Aching neck? Sore back? We can help.
If you have been working from home for many weeks now, your body may be feeling the impact of a not-so-ideal setup. Craning your neck and cramping wrists are doing some damage to your body. The good news? It doesn’t take much to fix your situation. Here are some stretches and simple work-from-home tricks that can help.
Reporting was contributed by Eileen Sullivan, Alan Blinder, Michael Cooper, Reid J. Epstein, Nick Corasaniti, Hiroko Tabuchi, Knvul Sheikh, Noah Weiland, Katie Benner, Reed Abelson, Ben Casselman, Jim Tankersley, Mike Baker, Dan Levin, Karen Barrow, Carl Zimmer, Jan Ransom, Reid J. Epstein, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Andy Newman, Michael Gold, Caitlin Dickerson, Sheri Fink, Neil Genzlinger, Shawn Hubler, Sarah Mervosh, Michael Crowley, Annie Karni, Daniel Victor, Sarah Maslin Nir, Anna Schaverien, Kaly Soto, Chris Stanford, Vanessa Swales and Sheryl Gay Stolberg.
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