Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Observes Memorial Day, With Tone Varying by State


Memorial Day is met with a varied approach, from strict closures to crowded celebrations.

Those looking to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer in the United States, were confronted by the difficulties of how to gather during a pandemic as the country inched closer to the terrible milestone of 100,000 deaths.

But elsewhere in the country, crowds flocked to the beaches and parks that were open for the holiday weekend. While many maintained social distancing, others partied with abandon.

A video clip taken at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri and posted by a local television anchor showed partygoers packing a pool. The images quickly spread on social media, and by Monday they had been viewed millions of times.

President Trump and the first lady were set to observe Memorial Day on Monday with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony, followed by a visit to Fort McHenry in Baltimore “to honor the American heroes who have sacrificed their lives serving in the U.S. Armed Forces,” a White House statement read.

Elsewhere in the world, measures to ease lockdowns have continued at a gradual pace, with the approaching tourist season a focus for much of Europe as it takes strides back toward public life. Germany allowed hotels, public pools and campgrounds to reopen in several states on Monday, a move welcomed by many as a chance to help revive the tourism industry.

Parts of Spain that were affected particularly badly by the coronavirus, including Barcelona and Madrid, took significant steps toward easing restrictions, with outdoor dining terraces reopening for the first time in months in both cities.

And Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on Monday announced an end to the national state of emergency, but called on the public to continue taking measures to defend against infection.

“We can’t continue to live and work in the way we’ve done until now,” he said.

Around the world, countries are wrestling with the challenge of how to best restart air travel, a cornerstone of modern commerce but also a dangerous vector of coronavirus infection.

As the United States was restricting travel, India, emerging from a nationwide lockdown, was resuming it.

In Europe, the countries that have been most successful at containing the virus looked to broker travel agreements.

Officials in Greece have suggested an “air bridge” with other nations that have minor outbreaks. International flights to Athens are to resume on June 15, and to the country’s other airports on July 1.

On Sunday, Mr. Johnson said the aide, Dominic Cummings, had acted “responsibly, and legally, and with integrity,” despite having made a journey of more than 250 miles from London to Durham, in the north of England, at the height of the national lockdown.

Mr. Cummings is expected to address the controversy on Monday as the calls for him to step down gathered pace.

At least 18 lawmakers from Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party have now criticized Mr. Cummings, as have a number of Church of England bishops. Some scientists and opposition politicians have warned that the episode risks undermining the credibility of government health messages on the pandemic.

The cabinet is scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss easing the lockdown.

Mr. Johnson’s defense of Mr. Cummings on Sunday appeared to have backfired by leaving many questions unanswered and prompting more of his fellow lawmakers to protest.

“The Government should recognise what families have gone through and what people are thinking and saying,” Peter Aldous, a Conservative lawmaker, wrote on Twitter on Monday. “It is thus important that Dominic Cummings should now stand down.”

There were calls for the police in Durham to open an investigation into the whereabouts of Mr. Cummings, including a sighting of him at a location more than 20 miles from the house in which he was staying. At the time, Britons had been instructed only to leave their home for a daily walk or run and not to drive anywhere to take exercise.

It was 1952, and the young men had returned to the industrial towns of western Massachusetts after serving in World War II. They were children from poor families. And they were damaged: shellshocked, learning to live without limbs, unable to communicate what they had seen.

It was to these men that Gov. Paul Dever, who had fought in the war himself, dedicated the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, promising to protect wounded veterans.

But nearly 70 years later, as the coronavirus began spreading across the country, that promise was broken. Of the 210 veterans who were living in the facility in late March, 89 are now dead, 74 having tested positive for the coronavirus. Almost three-quarters of the veterans inside were infected. It is one of the highest death tolls of any end-of-life facility in the country.

There was James Leach Miller, who at 21 was on Omaha Beach on D-Day, crowded into a landing ship with other young men. He died of the coronavirus on March 30.

There was Emilio DiPalma, who at 19 was an Army staff sergeant. He guarded Hermann Goering, the driving force behind the Nazi concentration camps, during the Nuremberg trials. He died of the coronavirus on April 8.

The question of what went wrong at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home will be with Massachusetts for a long time.

Investigations have been opened, several of which seek to determine whether state officials should be charged with negligence under civil or criminal law.

“He died with no care whatsoever,” said Linda McKee, the daughter of Mr. Miller. “There was no one there giving orders.”

In Germany, those fed up with exercising at home and staring at their own four walls will be able to escape on Monday, as hotels, swimming pools and campgrounds were allowed to reopen in several states, the latest step in the country’s efforts to carefully revive the economy.

Strict hygiene rules and limitations govern the new steps. Measures include advance online booking for a time slot at Berlin’s outdoor pools, buffets giving way to advance orders at distanced tables in hotel breakfast rooms and shuttered campground shower rooms in some states. And people are still required to stay five feet from strangers.

More states plan to allow re-openings this week, as the number of new infections in Germany remained manageable, with 289 new cases — many of them concentrated in nursing homes or refugee centers — reported on Monday. Germany has recorded 8,257 deaths since the outbreak began.

Starting on Monday, other parts of Spain, covering areas that are home to almost half the population, reopened public swimming pools and beaches, and restaurants and bars can now serve customers indoors with specific restrictions to avoid overcrowding.

The government said that beginning July 1, it would no longer require foreign tourists to enter quarantine upon arrival.

Greece also allowed cafes, restaurants, and bars to reopen on Monday, while domestic ferry services that shuttle visitors from the mainland to the country’s numerous islands also restarted.

People flocked to cafes, where groups of up to six can dine, and wait staff wore masks, as did some of the customers. Giannis Neonakis, a manager at a bistro in central Athens, told local news outlets that the first day back was going well,

“Thankfully, people are careful and are getting used to — fortunately or otherwise — such a situation,” he said.

Japan on Monday ended its state of emergency in the Tokyo area and the northern island of Hokkaido, moves that completed the lifting of nationwide restrictions and ushered in the beginning of a new phase in the country’s response.

The measures were lifted for most of the rest of the country earlier this month after a drop in the number of new coronavirus cases led officials to step back initial requests for most businesses to close and individuals to stay home.

The Japanese government does not have the legal authority to impose a lockdown on the country and had instead asked for the public’s cooperation in curbing the virus’s spread. The state of emergency began in Japan’s urban areas in early April before expanding to the rest of the nation by the middle of the month.

The results were more successful than anticipated, defying predictions that the country’s densely populated capital would experience a disaster comparable to what has taken place in New York. As of Sunday, the country had recorded 16,500 coronavirus cases nationwide and 830 deaths, some of the lowest mortality rates among major economies.

Addressing the nation after the announcement, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on the public to continue taking measures to defend against infection, asking them to avoid crowded places.

“We need to make a new normal. Let’s change our thinking,” he said, warning that “We can’t continue to live and work in the way we’ve done until now.”

The staggering American death toll from the coronavirus, now approaching 100,000, has touched every part of the country, but the losses have been especially acute along its coasts, in its major cities, across the industrial Midwest and in New York City.

The devastation, in other words, has been disproportionately felt in blue America, which helps explain why people on opposing sides of a partisan divide that has intensified in the past two decades are thinking about the virus differently. It is not just that Democrats and Republicans disagree on how to reopen businesses, schools and the country as a whole. Beyond perception, beyond ideology, there are starkly different realities for red and blue America right now.

Democrats are far more likely to live in counties where the virus has ravaged the community, while Republicans are more likely to live in counties that have been relatively unscathed by the illness, though they are paying an economic price. Counties won by President Trump in 2016 have reported just 27 percent of the virus infections and 21 percent of the deaths — even though 45 percent of Americans live in these communities, a New York Times analysis has found.

The very real difference in death rates has helped fuel deep disagreement over the dangers of the pandemic and how the country should proceed. Right-wing media, which moved swiftly from downplaying the severity of the crisis to calling it a Democratic plot to bring down the president, has exacerbated the rift. And even as the nation’s top medical experts note the danger of easing restrictions, communities across the country are doing so, creating a patchwork of regulations, often along ideological lines.

Governments and businesses now require or at least recommend the wearing of face masks in many public settings. But as parts of the United States reopen, some doctors were recommending another layer of personal protective equipment: clear plastic face shields.

“I wear a face shield every time I enter a store or other building,” said Dr. Eli Perencevich. “Sometimes I also wear a cloth mask, if required by the store’s policy.”

Dr. Perencevich is an infectious-disease physician at the University of Iowa and the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health Care System. In an opinion article published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, he and two colleagues argued that simple clear-plastic face shields could help reduce the transmission of infections.

There has also been no research on how well one person’s face shield protects other people from viral transmission — the concept called source control that is a primary benefit of surgical and cloth masks.

And yet this spring, Providence received at least $509 million in government funds, one of many wealthy beneficiaries of a federal program that is supposed to prevent health care providers from capsizing during the coronavirus pandemic.

With states restricting hospitals from performing elective surgery and other nonessential services, their revenue has shriveled. The Department of Health and Human Services has disbursed $72 billion in grants since April to hospitals and other health care providers through the bailout program, which was part of the CARES Act economic stimulus package. The department plans to eventually distribute more than $100 billion more.

So far, the riches are flowing in large part to hospitals that had already built up deep financial reserves to help them withstand an economic storm. Smaller, poorer hospitals are receiving tiny amounts of federal aid by comparison.

In the world of performing arts, the coronavirus pandemic has already sunk summer. Now it is felling fall.

“I think 2020 is gone,” said Anna D. Shapiro, the artistic director of the storied Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago. “I’ll be stunned if we’re back in the theater.”

In pop music, the superstars Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber have canceled their performances this year, and there is not much hope for other large events. “It doesn’t seem likely we are going to open in the fall,” said Jay Marciano, the chairman of AEG Presents, one of the industry’s biggest promoters.

Much of the professional theater world is following suit. Guthrie Theater, a prestigious nonprofit in Minneapolis, jolted the industry with its announcement that its next season, which was to feature 12 productions beginning in September, would be scaled back to three, beginning next March.

In South Carolina, Charleston Stage delayed its next season until January, while in Utah, Pioneer Theater Company was aiming for February, and in California, Berkeley Repertory Theater planned to start in “late winter.”

“We won’t have programming this fall,” said Chris Coleman, the artistic director of the theater company at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. “Part of it is the uncertainty of when it’s going to be safe to gather, and part of it is economic — we’ve thought about social distancing, but it makes zero economic sense.”

Reporting was contributed by Iliana Magra, Raphael Minder, Melissa Eddy, Megan Specia, Ben Dooley, Joshua Barone, Jesse Drucker, Sarah Kliff, Mark Landler Stephen Castle, Damien Cave, Joshua Barone, Mariel Padilla, Michael Paulson, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Knvul Sheikh, Ben Sisario, Michael Wilson, Zachary Woolfe, Kai Schultz and Ellen Barry.





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