Where cases are rising, reopening is still mostly full-speed ahead, but there are some ‘yellow lights.’
As the United States emerges from virus-related lockdowns, officials are taking a varied approach as they try to return to some form of normal while acknowledging the public health threat that the pandemic poses.
Underscoring that tension, President Trump is resuming indoor campaign rallies this month, but a disclaimer on his campaign website says that attendees cannot sue the campaign or the venue if they contract the virus at his June 19 rally in Tulsa, Okla.
The Republican National Committee also confirmed on Thursday that Mr. Trump would deliver his Aug. 27 convention speech in Jacksonville, Fla., after his demands for an event without social-distancing rules led to a rift with Democratic leaders in North Carolina, where the Republican convention was originally planned. An R.N.C. official would not say what, if any, safety precautions would be put in place.
Elsewhere around the United States:
Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon said on Thursday that she was pausing efforts to reopen the state’s economy for a week because of a recent rise in virus cases. Ms. Brown said her state — which has had one of the lowest rates of confirmed cases per capita in the nation — was placing county applications for reopenings on hold to give public health experts time to ensure that the virus wasn’t spreading too quickly. She described the move as a “yellow light.”
Puerto Rico, which had one of the earliest and strictest lockdowns in the nation, said that much of its economy would reopen next week and that tourists would be welcome again starting July 15. Beaches, where access has been permitted only for exercise, will be fully open next week but will close if people start holding large parties, Gov. Wanda Vázquez said.
In Maryland, the state’s top health official pushed back after the governor announced an easing of restrictions on indoor gatherings. While Maryland’s rate of new cases has been decreasing in recent weeks, the state reported more than 500 new cases on Wednesday.
Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia signed an executive order lifting the limit on the number of people who can sit together in restaurants and decreeing that servers do not have to wear masks except when interacting with customers. The order, which goes into effect on Tuesday, also says bars can now accommodate up to 50 people or 35 percent of total listed fire capacity, and removes the limit on the number of people who can sit together at indoor movie theaters.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued an emergency rule barring colleges from granting virus relief funds to foreign and undocumented students, including tens of thousands protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, or DACA.
Professional golf returned from a 90-day hiatus on Thursday, when the PGA Tour’s Charles Schwab Challenge teed off in Fort Worth without fans present. “It was interesting but nice to not have to worry about anybody saying something weird,” said the golfer Bryson DeChambeau.
Global stocks began to recover on Friday, one day after a sharp plunge on Wall Street seemed to bring a weekslong rally to a crushing end.
European markets were mildly higher in early trading. That followed a slump in most Asia-Pacific markets that was not quite as severe as Wall Street’s plunge on Thursday.
Futures markets were predicting that Wall Street would open more than 1 percent higher. Prices for U.S. Treasury bonds, often seen as a safe haven by investors, were lower in Asian trading.
Stocks in the United States took a sharp tumble on Thursday, with the S&P 500 index falling nearly 6 percent. The drop was a sudden reversal of weeks of bullish investor sentiment despite the major disruptions to the global economy caused by the coronavirus, as well as other worries like protests in American cities and worsening relations between the United States and China.
While world markets showed signs of stabilizing of Friday, some indicators still reflected deep investor worries. Oil prices, which cratered on Thursday, continued to fall on Friday.
The widow of a Chinese doctor who was censured by the police when he sought to warn colleagues about Covid-19 gave birth to a second son on Friday, a little more than four months after her husband succumbed to the disease.
The widow, Fu Xuejie, posted a photo of her baby on a WeChat account with the message to her late husband, Dr. Li Wenliang: “Husband can you see from heaven? The final gift you gave to me was born today. I will take great care to love and protect our family.” In an interview with local media, Ms. Fu said, “In life he was the most tender husband and father, any need his wife or children had, he would spare no effort to meet.”
Dr. Li was among the first to warn about the coronavirus outbreak, in late December.
While Dr. Li’s personal legacy may be secure, the political impact of his death is not yet certain. When he died in February at 34, he became a symbol of the cost of the authorities’ efforts to withhold information and silence whistle-blowers. Huge numbers of people posted messages on Chinese social media mourning him. His now famous quote, “I think a healthy society should not have just one voice,” led to rare calls for freedom of speech.
In the months since, Beijing has waged a censorship and propaganda campaign to co-opt that story. State media now lionize Dr. Li, an ophthalmologist in Wuhan, as a front-line worker symbolic of the many Chinese medical professionals who gave their lives combating Covid-19.
News of the birth at a hospital in Wuhan was widely publicized in China. Online, posters expressed a bittersweet mixture of grief and joy. One commenter called him the son of a hero, while another likened him to Harry Potter, born to a great father, tragically dead. Others hinted at Dr. Li’s contested legacy.
“I hope when the child grows up he won’t be lectured for telling the truth,” wrote one commenter.
GLOBAL ROUND UP
Doctors in India end a strike that left Covid-19 patients unattended.
Hundreds of doctors in southern India ended a two-day strike on Friday that had left hundreds of coronavirus patients without care.
The strike by doctors at several hospitals in Telangana State began after some of them were assaulted by relatives of a 55-year-old Covid-19 patient at Gandhi General Hospital in Hyderabad, the state capital. Doctors said the man collapsed and died in the hospital after trying to walk to the bathroom against medical advice.
The absence of doctors during the strike at Gandhi General, one of the area’s largest hospitals, produced chaotic scenes in which hundreds of Covid-19 patients were seen milling around its corridors.
The strike ended just as Indian officials announced nearly 11,000 new cases nationwide, the country’s highest single-day toll yet. India’s total caseload, which is approaching 300,000, has overtaken Britain’s to become the world’s fourth-largest.
A representative for the doctors, Dr. Lohith Reddy, said that they called off the strike only after the authorities agreed to distribute patients more equally across the state and deploy Special Forces outside some hospitals.
“If the government doesn’t fulfill its commitments in 15 days, the strike will resume,” he said. “We are already overburdened and we can’t handle rowdy crowds and those who beat doctors.”
India is one of many developing nations where leaders feel they have no choice but to prioritize reopenings and accept surging infections. Yet its public health system is severely strained, and experts believe it may reach a breaking point as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government continues to ease a nationwide lockdown.
Elsewhere around the world:
Britain’s economy collapsed by 20.3 percent in April compared with the month before, a record contraction. The data reflects the first full month of Britain’s lockdown during the pandemic, and will likely add to the push to accelerate the relaxation of rules that have restricted economic activity.
Twitter said on Thursday that China has stepped up its effort to spread misinformation on the platform by creating tens of thousands of fake accounts that discussed the Communist Party’s response to the virus and the Hong Kong protests. The company said it had removed 23,750 accounts that were “highly engaged” in a coordinated effort to spread misinformation, and 150,000 others that were dedicated to amplifying China’s messages through likes and retweets.
The local government in Beijing said on Friday that it would suspend the resumption of school for young primary school students after the appearance of three new cases of Covid-19 in the city. The change affects almost half a million students who were supposed to return to school on Monday. The Beijing Municipal Education Commission did not set a new date for class resumption.
New York churches offer virus testing to communities that need it most.
Over the past few weeks, 24 New York City churches serving communities of color have been transformed into mini-clinics offering free coronavirus tests to all comers.
The initiative, a partnership of the churches, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office and Northwell Health, aims to expand testing among black and Hispanic residents, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Nearly 20,000 coronavirus tests were administered in the initial round of screening, during the first 10 days of May.
Black and Latino New Yorkers have succumbed to Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, at twice the rate of whites, a result of entrenched economic and health disparities, denser housing and a higher risk of exposure on the job.
Participants were asked to preregister by phone, but walk-ins were accommodated so long as they lined up six feet apart and wore masks. Results from that first round of testing at the churches revealed that of 1,000 residents who had symptoms and sought diagnostic testing, nearly 9 percent were positive for the coronavirus.
Of the 18,000 residents who underwent antibody testing, nearly one in three showed evidence of past exposure to the coronavirus.
An additional round of testing at churches in New York City, the Hudson Valley and on Long Island started June 1 and will continue through June 19. The effort has been so successful that it may continue this summer.
A few dozen black-clothed tour organizers and guides twirled white umbrellas to the tune of “Singing in the Rain” outside the Pantheon, one of Rome’s greatest tourist attractions, this week. The problem was, there were very few tourists.
In the days after some of the first lockdown restrictions were lifted, Italians relished the empty streets, rediscovering city monuments and museums that they would normally avoid because of long lines.
But now, frustration is building over the decimation of a crucial industry. Even as travel restrictions are lifted throughout Europe, reluctance to travel beyond national borders remains high. Forecasts for the number of airline reservations to Italy suggest drops of 95.2 percent in June, 82.4 percent in July and 76.4 percent in August, compared with the same periods last year, according to ENIT, Italy’s national tourism agency.
That is nothing short of a disaster, according to tour organizers and guides, who put together events across Italy this week to draw attention to their plight. Many are demanding additional government subsidies for the coming season, when most will be out of work.
“Without tourism, Italy dies,” chanted Ilenya Moro, a tour guide in Rome who helped organize the Pantheon flash mob.
About 3.5 million people in Italy depend on tourism for their livelihoods, including taxi drivers, restaurateurs and waiters, hoteliers and the country’s 25,000 tour guides and 20,000 tour organizers.
In 2018, tourism accounted for around 13.2 percent of Italy’s gross domestic product, contributing about 232 billion euros, or around $262 billion, according to ENIT. In 2019, more than 63 million foreigners traveled to Italy.
Reporting was contributed by Mike Baker, Kate Conger, Rick Gladstone, Jenny Gross, Mike Ives, Annie Karni, Chang W. Lee, Paul Mozur, Roni Caryn Rabin, Frances Robles, Kaly Soto, Chris Stanford, Carlos Tejada and Sameer Yasir.