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Reported crime of nearly every kind has declined this year amid the pandemic. The exception to that has been stark and puzzling: Shootings and homicides are up in cities around the United States, perplexing experts who normally expect these patterns to trend together.
The president and others have blamed protests and unrest, the changing tactics of police officers, and even the partisan politics of mayors. But at least part of the puzzle may lie in sources that are harder to see (and politicize): The pandemic has frayed all kinds of institutions and infrastructure that hold communities together, that watch over streets, that mediate conflicts, that simply give young people something to do.
Schools, libraries, recreation centers and public pools have closed. Nonprofits, churches and sports leagues have scaled back. Mentors, social workers and counselors have been hampered by social distancing.
And programs devised to reduce gun violence — and that have proved effective in studies — have been upended by the pandemic. Summer job programs were cut this year. Violence intervention workers were barred from hospitals. Group behavioral therapy programs meant to be intimate and in-person have moved, often haltingly, online.
“This work is a pat on the shoulder, a touch on the hand, a handshake,” said Del McFadden, the director of the office of neighborhood safety and engagement for the District of Columbia. “All of those things are different now.”
Public health experts had hoped that President Trump, chastened by his own infection with the coronavirus and the cases that have erupted among his staff members, would act decisively to persuade his supporters that wearing masks and social distancing were essential to protecting themselves and their loved ones.
But instead, tweeting on Monday from the military hospital where he had been receiving state-of-the-art treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, the president yet again downplayed the deadly threat.
“Don’t be afraid of Covid,” he wrote. “Don’t let it dominate your life.”
The president’s comments drew outrage from scientists, ethicists and doctors, as well as from some people whose relatives and friends were among the more than 210,000 people who have died in the United States.
“I am struggling for words — this is crazy,” said Harald Schmidt, an assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania. “It is just utterly irresponsible.”
Fiana Garza Tulip, 40, who lives in Brooklyn and lost her mother to the virus, wrote in a text message that she was “reeling” after reading Mr. Trump’s tweet, which she described as a “slap in the face” and a “painful reminder that our president is unfit for office and that he does not care about human life.”
“My mom, a respiratory therapist, couldn’t get tested at her hospital where she worked, she had to look for two days for a testing site while feeling the effects of Covid, she didn’t want to go to a hospital because she said it was worse there and she didn’t want to call an ambulance because it was too expensive. So she stayed home for a week and lost her pulse as soon as the medics put her on a gurney.”
Shane Peoples, 41, whose parents, Darlene and Johnny Peoples, died of the coronavirus on the same day in September, said the president’s comments were frustrating.
“Is he actually trying to put more lives at risk?” Mr. Peoples said. “He needs to be held accountable for the deaths that could have been prevented if he never downplayed it.”
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical School in Tennessee, called the president’s message “dangerous” because it encouraged his followers to ignore basic recommendations to keep themselves safe.
“It will lead to more casual behavior, which will lead to more transmission of the virus, which will lead to more illness, and more illness will lead to more deaths,” Dr. Schaffner said.
Mr. Trump has often ignored the recommendations of public health experts, repeatedly mocking people for wearing masks, for example.
“I don’t wear masks like him,” he said of the Democratic presidential candidate, Joseph R. Biden Jr., at their debate in Cleveland last week. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
Upon Mr. Trump’s return on Monday evening from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he climbed the steps of the White House, turned to face the TV cameras that were carrying the news live, and removed his mask.
European countries that have again restricted residents’ movement in an effort to contain a second wave of the coronavirus are confronting a lack of adherence to the new rules that the World Health Organization attributed to “pandemic fatigue.”
“Citizens have made huge sacrifices to contain Covid-19,” Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, the W.H.O.’s regional director for Europe, said in a statement to the news media on Tuesday. “It has come at an extraordinary cost, which has exhausted all of us, regardless of where we live, or what we do. In such circumstances it is easy and natural to feel apathetic and demotivated.”
Many have expressed their opposition to their countries’ restrictions through demonstrations. In Spain, where the capital Madrid has become the epicenter of a strong second wave, an initial selective lockdown brought out protesters and underscored the divisions between rich and poor.
In Germany, where cases are surging, thousands of people filled the streets over the weekend to protest the measures that have come into force.
Recognizing the apathy and backlash against some restrictions, Dr. Kluge recommended closer consultation with communities to understand their frustrations and said countries should be working with their citizens to form policies that will have their backing.
To combat the fatigue as the holiday season approaches, the W.H.O. advised balancing science, social and political needs and placing empathy at the heart of their approach.
Top White House officials are blocking strict new federal guidelines for the emergency release of a coronavirus vaccine, objecting to a provision that would almost certainly guarantee that no vaccine could be authorized before the election on Nov. 3, according to people familiar with the approval process.
Facing a White House blockade, the Food and Drug Administration is seeking other avenues to ensure that vaccines meet the guidelines. That includes sharing the standards with an outside advisory committee of experts — perhaps as soon as this week — that is supposed to meet publicly before any vaccine is authorized for emergency use. The hope is that the committee will enforce the guidelines, regardless of the White House’s reaction.
The struggle over the guidelines is part of a monthslong tug of war between the White House and federal agencies on the front lines of the pandemic response. White House officials have repeatedly intervened to shape decisions and public announcements in ways that paint the administration’s response to the pandemic in a positive light.
That pattern has dismayed a growing number of career officials and political appointees involved in the administration’s fight against a virus that has killed more than 210,000 people in the United States.
The vaccine guidelines carry special significance: By refusing to allow the F.D.A. to release them, the White House is undercutting the government’s effort to reassure the public that any vaccine will be safe and effective, health experts fear.
“The public must have full faith in the scientific process and the rigor of F.D.A.’s regulatory oversight if we are to end the pandemic,” the biotech industry’s trade association pleaded on Thursday, in a letter to President Trump’s health secretary, Alex M. Azar II, asking for release of the guidelines.
The pandemic has laid bare gender inequities across the country, and women in academia have not been spared. The outbreak erupted during universities’ spring terms, hastily forcing classes online and researchers out of their laboratories.
Faculty with young or school-aged children — especially women — had to juggle teaching their students with overseeing their children’s distance learning from home.
Many universities struggled to put meaningful policies in place to help faculty, especially caretakers and women. During the summer break ahead of this fall semester, administrators at some institutions began to reassess and develop strategies that experts say are a palatable start to stymieing crises stemming from the pandemic.
But the issues that women in academia are facing are not new. Instead, they are more severe versions of longstanding gender gaps that already cause universities to hemorrhage female faculty, particularly women of color, and will require measures that go beyond institutional responses to the pandemic.
Multiple studies have already shown that women have written significantly fewer papers than their male counterparts during the pandemic. Reports showed that at least one-third of working women in two-parent households exclusively provided child care after schools and day cares closed and babysitters quit or were let go.
Years of research have proven that female faculty struggle to balance work and family, often causing them to exit academia — or what experts refer to as “leaking from the academic pipeline.” For those who stay, anecdotal reports and Twitter outcries during the pandemic indicate that female faculty are suffering reduced productivity, which could affect their ability to get tenure.
Some women faced harsher student evaluations during the outbreaks, too. Research shows that gender bias is rampant in end-of-term evaluations, with women and people of color more likely than men to get comments related to “their appearance or the tone of their voice — things that are less closely related to the ability to successfully teach,” said Jenna Stearns, an economist at the University of California, Davis.
Italy’s government is considering making face masks mandatory outdoors all over the country to curb a steady increase in coronavirus cases, the country’s health minister, Roberto Speranza, told the Senate on Tuesday.
“Together with Germany, we are the country that is better withstanding the second wave,” Mr. Speranza said. “But we should not be misled. It would be deeply wrong to think that we are out of it.”
The Lazio Region, which includes Rome, made face masks mandatory outdoors last week.
Mr. Speranza said cases had been growing for nine consecutive weeks across the country, and were not limited to one area as they were early in the pandemic, when Italy became the first European country to lock down in the face of a strong first wave in the northern regions. “Today, no region can feel not at risk,” he said.
For the moment, intensive care units are seeing a manageable number of Covid-19 cases. Patients are on average in their 40s, not their 70s, like in the spring.
In the southern region of Campania, mostly spared by the first wave, cases have been growing so rapidly in recent weeks that the regional president has limited business hours for bars and restaurants, which must close by 11 p.m. Other regions may consider similar measures.
The government is drafting “measures of prudence” for the next month, Mr. Speranza said. Soldiers and policemen will patrol the streets to prevent gatherings of people outdoors, while dance halls and nightclubs remain closed in Italy. The government is also considering limiting the number of guests allowed to attend private parties or ceremonies.
In other news from around the world:
A top World Health Organization official said Monday that about 10 percent of the world’s population may have already contracted the coronavirus. That estimate — which works out to about 760 million people — far exceeds the confirmed global caseload of about 35 million. “This varies depending on country, it varies from urban to rural, it varies between different groups,” the official, Dr. Mike Ryan, said at a special session of the agency’s executive board in Geneva. “But what it does mean is that the vast majority of the world remains at risk.” Another agency official said Monday that the 10 percent estimate had been calculated based on an average of antibody studies from around the world.
Nicolas Maduro, the leader of Venezuela, has said his son and sister plan to take part in clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine developed in Russia. The vaccine, called Sputnik V, has not been tested in late-stage clinical trials that show whether a vaccine is effective and can find rare side effects. Russia is now conducting those trials inside Russia and in Belarus and Venezuela. Russia also plans to test the vaccine in Brazil, India and the United Arab Emirates. Mr. Maduro said he planned to take the Russian vaccine once the trial is completed.
Ireland will enact more restrictive coronavirus measures starting at midnight on Tuesday, but will not impose the full lockdown recommended by some of its public health officials. The implications of a strict lockdown are “severe and very different to those we faced earlier this year,” said Prime Minister Micheal Martin on Monday, adding that it put “hundreds of thousands” of jobs at risk. Instead, the rest of the country will join the city of Dublin and the county of Donegal in a move to Level 3 restrictions for three weeks. Those rules ban social gatherings and indoor events. Bars and restaurants will remain open, with restrictions. The country has reported a spike in infections not seen since earlier in the pandemic, with at least 3,100 new cases in the past week.
The first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, is considering implementing a “circuit breaker” lockdown as she warned that infection levels were increasing in “pretty much every part of the country.” On Monday, Scotland reported 697 new cases of the virus. The country’s cabinet will meet on Tuesday to decide on tighter restrictions. Government advisers have advocated for a two-week lockdown to stop the spread of the virus and help buy time ahead of winter. Ms. Sturgeon said on Monday that the term “circuit breaker” could mean a number of things and she would give as much notice as possible before any new restrictions go into effect.
Germany’s Parliament, the Bundestag, required masks to be worn inside its building starting Tuesday, as the number of virus cases continues to rise. Although social-distancing rules were introduced in the Bundestag early in the pandemic, wearing masks was only encouraged until now. While most lawmakers wore masks when not speaking, some, especially those from the far-right Alternative for Germany party, did not. The new rule will be in effect until at least Jan. 17. Four districts in Berlin, including the one where the Bundestag is, have now surpassed the level of 50 infections per 100,000 people in a week, making them hot spots.
Miami-Dade Public Schools welcomed its youngest students back to classrooms on Monday, beginning a phased process that by the end of the week will make it the largest district in the country to reopen for five-day-a-week in-person instruction for all students who want it.
District officials said the first day of school for about 22,000 pre-kindergartners, kindergartners, first graders and students with special needs at about 300 schools went smoothly. Just over half of the district’s roughly 345,000 students signed up to attend school in-person this fall, with the rest continuing to learn remotely.
Last week, New York City, the nation’s largest district, began hybrid schooling for about half of its 1.1 million students. But unlike in Miami, the nation’s fourth largest district, students in New York receive a mixture of in-person and remote instruction.
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican and a Trump supporter, mandated that all of the state’s schools reopen fully this fall, despite a surge in coronavirus cases over the summer that has only partially abated, leaving the state with a lingering high volume of cases. The state allowed only the three largest counties — Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach — to continue offering fully remote instruction past Aug. 31.
The Miami-Dade school board originally planned to begin a phase reopening on Oct. 14, but moved up its opening date under pressure from the state, despite concerns from some board members and the teachers union that schools were not fully prepared.
For as long as the coronavirus pandemic has stalked New York City, Tatsiana Vazgryna has been looking for work near her home in southern Brooklyn.
After a halting search, the last week brought some hope. With her 9-year-old daughter returning to in-person public school, Ms. Vazgryna thought she would have time to prioritize her job search over child care.
Then, on Sunday, Ms. Vazgryna learned that Mayor Bill de Blasio, worried about an uptick of cases in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, planned to close schools in nine ZIP codes. Her daughter’s elementary school in Bensonhurst would be among those shut, giving Ms. Vazgryna less time to visit stores and restaurants for work.
“You can’t do that with school,” she said.
On Monday afternoon, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo effectively pre-empted the mayor’s plan, saying he would keep businesses open in the affected areas but allow schools to be closed. An hour later, Mr. de Blasio said the matter was unsettled and city officials were still planning to close businesses “until we hear otherwise.”
The back and forth between the governor and the mayor, only the latest instance of a rocky relationship that has marked their tenures, left residents of the neighborhoods in limbo over how exactly their lives may be altered in the coming days.
But even without clarity, those residents were still staggering from a potential shutdown that threatened to reverse the progress that New York City has made in the months since it was a global epicenter of the pandemic.
“Just when we thought we had a little life again, we’re going back to a living hell,” said Shonna Hawes, an event designer who lives in Kew Gardens, Queens.
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