New rule for Trump campaign rallies: Don’t sue if you get the virus.
As President Trump moves to resume indoor campaign rallies, his campaign has added a twist to his optimistic push to return to life as it was before the pandemic: Attendees cannot sue the campaign or the venue if they contract the virus at the event.
“By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to Covid-19 exists in any public place where people are present,” a statement on Mr. Trump’s campaign website informed those wishing to attend his June 19 rally in Tulsa, Okla. “By attending the rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to Covid-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.”
Mr. Trump’s rally in Tulsa, the site of a massacre of black residents in 1921, will be on Juneteenth, a prominent African-American holiday recognizing the end of slavery in the United States. The rally will also be his first since the pandemic forced most of the country into quarantine three months ago, a campaign official said Wednesday. Polls have shown former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. establishing a substantial lead over Mr. Trump.
Oklahoma, a state Mr. Trump won four years ago by 36 percentage points, began lifting restrictions on businesses on April 24 and moved into Phase 3 of its reopening on June 1, allowing summer camps to open and workplaces to return with full staffing.
Of the four states the president announced this week as sites for rallies, three — Florida, Arizona and North Carolina — are seeing rising virus caseloads, while Oklahoma’s infection numbers are steady but not falling.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that people avoid mass gatherings and stay out of crowded places.
Stocks fall in the U.S., and Congress is divided on extending aid.
Stocks on Wall Street on Thursday saw their sharpest daily decline in three months as investors’ confidence was rattled by grim new economic forecasts, another 1.5 million weekly unemployment claims and a worrisome uptick in cases in parts of the United States.
The S&P 500 fell nearly 6 percent, and the Dow Jones industrial average fell by nearly 7 percent. Oil prices also cratered, reflecting the sudden unease that swept across financial markets.
Stocks had been on an upward trajectory for weeks, a rally that stood in stark contrast to a collapse in economic activity but seemed to show that investors were betting on a quick recovery as states lifted stay-at-home restrictions. By Monday, the S&P 500 had climbed about 45 percent from its lows in late March and recouped all of its losses for the year.
As the bad news brought Wall Street’s recent rally to a halt, policymakers remained divided as to their next steps. The Labor Department reported Thursday that another 1.5 million U.S. workers had filed state unemployment claims last week, but Republicans and Democrats in Congress remained at odds over whether to extend federal jobless benefits.
Lawmakers in both parties and administration officials appear to agree that Congress should consider some form of assistance to workers as part of another round of virus aid that is likely to be debated in the coming weeks.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that he was “very seriously considering” backing another round of economic stimulus payments. “It’s a very efficient way for us to deliver money into the economy,” he said, noting that for people who still had jobs, the money was akin to a tax cut. Mr. Mnuchin said he remained optimistic that the economy would rebound during the second half of the year.
Here’s what else is going on with the U.S. economy:
The 1.5 million new state unemployment claims filed last week were the fewest since the crisis began, but still far above normal levels. A further 700,000 workers who were self-employed or otherwise ineligible for state jobless benefits filed new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal aid program.
The Federal Reserve and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development both issued grim economic projections on Wednesday. The Fed forecast that the unemployment rate could stay above 9 percent this year and would be high for the next several years. And on Thursday, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, warned that the first wave of virus cases was not yet over.
Global trade is expected to plunge 27 percent in the April-June quarter compared with the same period last year, the United Nations said on Thursday. For the year, the agency predicted global trade would fall by 20 percent compared with 2019.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, unveiled on Thursday an eight-part plan for reopening the economy and faulted President Trump for his handling of the matter. “Trump has basically had a one-point plan: Open businesses, just open,” Mr. Biden said at a round-table event in Philadelphia. “But it does nothing to keep workers safe and keep businesses able to stay open.”
U.N. warns that the pandemic could produce a surge of child labor.
The economic and social upheavals caused by the coronavirus pandemic already have shortened or ended the school year for more than 1 billion children in 130 countries. Now the United Nations says the scourge is raising a new risk: a drastic rise in child labor.
A joint report released Friday by two U.N. agencies, Unicef and the International Labour Organization, said that millions of children may now have no choice but to toil at low-paying jobs to help their families survive. The shift threatens to reverse 20 years of decline in the use of child labor, the report said.
“As the pandemic wreaks havoc on family incomes, without support, many could resort to child labor,” the director-general of the I.L.O., Guy Ryder, said in the report. It cited studies showing that each percentage point increase in poverty leads to at least a 0.7 percent increase in child labor in some countries.
“In times of crisis, child labor becomes a coping mechanism for many families,” the executive director of Unicef, Henrietta Fore, said in the report. With school closures, the rise in poverty and fewer social services, she said, “more children are pushed into the work force.”
Even when classes restart, the report said, some parents “may no longer be able to afford to send their children to school.”
Both U.N. agencies are working on a simulation model to examine the impact of the coronavirus on child labor globally and expect to release new estimates on child labor in 2021.
Oregon pauses its reopening for a week, citing new infections.
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 coronavirus 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 in order to give public health experts time to ensure that the virus wasn’t spreading too quickly. She described the move as a “yellow light.”
Ms. Brown made the announcement hours after a top health adviser to Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland publicly pushed back against that state’s latest plans to ease more restrictions on indoor gatherings.
“We can’t let hundreds of cases a day become our new normal,” the health adviser, Dr. Tom Inglesby, the director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote on Twitter.
Here are some other key developments around the country:
An outcry grew in Ohio after a Republican lawmaker, State Senator Stephen A. Huffman, who is also a doctor, asked at a hearing on Tuesday if the high rate of virus cases among African-Americans was because “the colored population” did not wash their hands as well as other groups. State Senator Hearcel F. Craig, a member of the Legislative Black Caucus, called the remarks an example of “systemic racism.”
A young woman whose lungs were destroyed by the virus received a double lung transplant last week at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, the hospital reported on Thursday, the first known lung transplant in the United States for Covid-19.
Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia on Thursday 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 patrons. The order, which goes into effect June 16, also says bars can now hold 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.
Arkansas, which is set to move into its second phase of reopening on Monday, could face a shortage of I.C.U. beds in hospitals across the state, with only 32 percent currently available and cases on the rise, according to Covid Exit Strategy, a group tracking states’ steps to contain the virus. The state saw 288 new cases on Wednesday, according to New York Times data.
As the number of virus cases in Texas continues to climb, with 2,500 new cases added on Wednesday, virus-related hospitalizations are also up. The state has thousands of hospital beds available, but it is running low on its I.C.U. beds, with 70 percent already in use, according to Covid Exit Strategy. The rate of positive tests was nearly 7 percent as of Tuesday, according to Texas data.
Cases in Florida have spiked in recent days, as it becomes an emerging hot spot. There have been more than 1,000 newly reported cases almost every day in the last week, up from daily increases in the mid hundreds in May. Even so, Florida continues to reopen. Walt Disney World, one of the largest tourist sites in the world, plans to reopen in mid-July with a limited number of visitors.
Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado said Thursday that an increase in cases in two neighboring states, Utah and Arizona, was concerning.
The drugmaker Regeneron said on Thursday that it was beginning a clinical trial of an antibody cocktail that it had developed to prevent and treat Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. If the treatments work, they might provide a bridge to a vaccine and possibly a temporary protection to people like health care workers who are at high risk.
Educators told a Senate panel on Wednesday that without a large federal investment in public schools, districts hit hard by the virus would struggle to meet the needs of their pupils this fall as the schools tried to reopen. “We must double down for those who have been most impacted by the Covid crisis if we are to deliver on the promise of education to create a more equitable society,” the superintendent of Denver Public Schools said.
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 Bryson DeChambeau.
Puerto Rico announces plans to reopen its economy, including tourism.
Puerto Rico, which had the earliest and strictest coronavirus lockdown in the United States, announced on Thursday that much of its economy would reopen next week and that tourists would be welcome again beginning July 15.
For nearly three months, anyone arriving on the island by air has been required to enter a two-week quarantine.
Beaches, where access has been permitted only for exercise, will be fully open next week but will close if people start throwing big parties, Gov. Wanda Vázquez said.
“When all these destinations begin to open, Puerto Rico cannot be left behind,” she said, adding that Covid-19 screenings at the airport will continue.
Although she said the island’s lockdown would officially end on Tuesday, after three months, its curfew will not. Instead people will be allowed to stay out until 10 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.
In mid-March, Ms. Vázquez became the first governor in the United States to order a complete shutdown of an economy, doing so at the first signs of the disease on the island. In addition to imposing a curfew, she allowed people to leave the house only to shop for food and other necessities.
As of mid-April, Puerto Rico’s testing rate for the virus was lower than that of any state, prompting public health experts to worry that it could be especially vulnerable once it tried to reopen.
But Ms. Vázquez said on Thursday that locking down the island swiftly had paid off: According to statistics from the Department of Health, 144 people died and 1,403 cases were confirmed. (Nearly 4,000 other cases were deemed “probable,” according to the government data.)
Movie theaters, gyms, museums and spas will be among the businesses allowed to reopen next week. Many will require face coverings. Mass transit remains closed.
“These have been difficult decisions,” the governor said. “If there is a peak in cases, in hospitalizations, I will have no other option or remedy than to resume curfews.”
The virus took 98 days to reach 100,000 cases in Africa — but only 18 days to double from that figure, the World Health Organization announced on Thursday.
While the numbers may have risen so significantly in part because of increased testing, the agency said in a statement that more than half of the 54 countries on the continent were experiencing community transmission. Ten countries were driving the rise in numbers and accounted for nearly 80 percent of all cases, it said. South Africa has a quarter of the total cases.
Of the 5,600 deaths recorded, a majority were in just five countries: Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Sudan.
“For now, Africa still only accounts for a small fraction of cases worldwide,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the agency’s regional director for the continent. “But the pace of the spread is quickening. Swift and early action by African countries has helped to keep numbers low, but constant vigilance is needed to stop Covid-19 from overwhelming health facilities.”
The statement noted the “considerable socioeconomic cost” of lockdowns that were put in place to slow the spread of the virus, particularly on poor and marginalized communities. Many developing countries have begun to relax such measures even as infections surge.
Here are some other developments from around the world:
China has also stepped up its effort to spread misinformation on Twitter, creating tens of thousands of fake accounts that discussed protests in Hong Kong and the Communist Party’s response to the virus, Twitter said on Thursday. The accounts posted messages promoting the Chinese government’s response to the outbreak, Twitter said.
Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, is experiencing a sustained increase in virus cases, about three weeks after millions of people began crisscrossing the country at the end of Ramadan. This week, Indonesia has recorded three consecutive days of about 1,000 new infections each day, with a total of 35,295 cases and 2,000 deaths as of Thursday afternoon.
Concerned about the economic effect on tourism and universities, the European Union is recommending that all member countries open their borders to one another by Monday. The European Commission, the executive branch of the bloc, is recommending a gradual opening to outsiders starting in July.
In Canada, commentary on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s unruly mane has become a national sport. With barbershops and salons set to reopen in Ottawa on Friday, the question is: Will he get a haircut, or will he refrain in solidarity with Canadians in areas still under lockdown?
DeVos makes it official: No virus relief for ‘dreamers.’
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued on Thursday 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.
The rule codifies the Education Department’s disputed reading of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act that Congress passed in March to exclude large swaths of students from accessing emergency relief grants. That includes international students and those living and attending school in the United States under DACA, the Obama-era policy that protects children brought to the United States illegally as children.
Under the emergency CARES legislation, colleges were directed to use half of the roughly $12.6 billion they received to fund emergency grants for students affected by campus closures to pay for expenses like food, housing, child care and technology.
In nonbinding guidance issued in April, Ms. DeVos said that schools should grant the funds to only students who would normally qualify for federal student aid funds, effectively excluding large swaths of noncitizens and American students. In protesting the guidance, higher education advocates pointed out that the legislation did not specify which students were eligible.
After facing a lawsuit over the reading, the Trump administration told a court it would not enforce Ms. DeVos’s order. Now it appears the administration is moving to toughen it.
In a statement on Thursday announcing the rule, Ms. DeVos said it “helps erase any uncertainty some institutions have expressed and helps make sure we can support America’s students facing the greatest needs.”
“It’s clear the CARES Act was written to help Americans recover from the coronavirus pandemic,” Ms. DeVos said in a statement. “U.S. taxpayers have long supported U.S. students pursuing higher education, and this rule simply ensures the continuity of that well-established policy.”
Last month, the California community college system sued the Education Department, arguing that the April guidance was unconstitutional and “likely excludes more than half of all students in the California community college system, including many identified as economically disadvantaged.” In court filings, the department backed off the interpretation, saying that its guidance was “preliminary.” The department said in a court filing just this week that it would resolve the matter later this month.
The rule, which would take effect immediately when it is published in the federal register, will be posted for public comment for 30 days.
President Trump will 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 scheduled to be held.
Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, on Thursday confirmed that the speech would take place at the 15,000-seat VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, where the mayor and the governor are both Republican allies of Mr. Trump’s. An R.N.C. official would not say what, if any, coronavirus safety precautions would be in place.
Republican officials were careful not to refer to the events that will take place in Jacksonville as a convention. Instead, they referred to it repeatedly as the city chosen “to celebrate the renomination of President Donald J. Trump.” The official business of the convention, they said, will still be held in Charlotte, N.C.
The announcement of the speech’s move to Jacksonville capped a furious scramble set off when Mr. Trump and Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina reached a stalemate over how to pull off the convention as originally planned in Charlotte. Mr. Cooper insisted on social distancing measures and face masks inside to protect attendees from the spread of the coronavirus. Mr. Trump rejected those measures, insisting on a packed indoor arena with the look and feel of a country that had returned to business as usual
Many virus patients seem to get better at first, then rapidly decline and are overtaken by an overwhelming immune response that causes the body to turn on itself.
This “cytokine storm” was once an arcane phenomenon familiar mainly to rheumatologists who study when and how the immune system’s safeguards fail.
But it has become increasingly clear in the last few months that, at least in a subset of people who have the virus, calming the storm is the key to survival.
At least a dozen candidate drugs to treat the virus rely on this premise. A few devices that purify the blood, as dialysis machines do, are also being tested. One promising drug made by Roche is in several clinical trials, including a late-stage trial in combination with the antiviral drug remdesivir. And a recent paper in the journal Science Immunology described preliminary data on a drug that stems the flood of cytokines at its source and seems to lead to rapid recovery.
When immune cells first encounter a pathogen, they release molecules called cytokines to recruit even more cells to the fight. Once the danger recedes, the immune system usually turns itself off. But occasionally, “it doesn’t shut up,” said Dr. Jose Scher, a rheumatologist at New York University Langone Health. “The immune system goes on and on and on and on.”
This unrelenting response can exhaust the immune system; shut down lungs, kidneys and the liver; and prove fatal. It can do so even in young people and children who have no underlying conditions.
The New York Police Department’s official policy is that officers should wear masks when interacting with the public, but the widespread absence of masks is striking. While officers may forgo face coverings for different reasons, the images have fueled a perception of the police as arrogant and dismissive of protesters’ health.
“If you’re out here to protect the public, it starts with you,” said Chaka McKell, a carpenter who recently attended a protest.
In a statement on Wednesday, the department dismissed the criticism about the lack of masks as petty.
“Perhaps it was the heat,” the department’s press office said in a statement. “Perhaps it was the 15-hour tours, wearing bullet-resistant vests in the sun. Perhaps it was the helmets. With everything New York City has been through in the past two weeks and everything we are working toward together, we can put our energy to a better use.”
On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that while there were legitimate reasons for officers to remove their masks, such as to take a drink of water, the city remained “in the middle of a pandemic.”
The city is still reporting hundreds of new cases each week. As of May 29, 901 uniformed members — about 2.5 percent — were out sick, down from 19.8 percent in April. As of that same date, 5,627 members of the Police Department had returned to work after testing positive.
Here are other important developments in New York:
Fauci says he supports the World Health Organization.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, said in an interview with CBC News that he supported the World Health Organization. President Trump, under criticism for his handling of the response to the virus, has said that the W.H.O. is responsible for significant failures in the crisis and that he plans to halt American funding for the organization.
“I would hope that we could continue to benefit from what the W.H.O. can do at the same time that they continue to improve themselves,” Dr. Fauci said, adding, “The world does need the W.H.O., as imperfect as it is.”
While the W.H.O. has made missteps, he said, it has also done “a lot of good.”
As the Senate’s top Democrat, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, accused Mr. Trump of being “too quick to sideline” his coronavirus task force, the White House on Thursday sent an email to staff about the gradual return to the office.
“We are excited to begin the gradual, safe return of staff to the EOP Campus,” said an email from the White House management office, referring to the Executive Office of the President.
The email instructed staff members to contact their supervisors about when they would return: “Each component and supervisor has been advised to take into account many considerations that may impact who comes back, including office space, public transit, availability of child care and staff who have or are taking care of someone who has underlying health conditions.”
After two members of the White House staff — one of Mr. Trump’s personal valets and Katie Miller, the spokeswoman for Vice President Mike Pence — tested positive last month, the White House asked more staff members to work from home, increased usage of masks and more rigorously screened people who entered the complex.
Families weigh the risks of getting pregnant during a pandemic.
As states start reopening, thousands of people are still trying to solve a dilemma: Should they get pregnant during a pandemic with so many unknowns, or delay the decision and potentially give up on their dream to grow their family?
Much of what we know about how the virus affects pregnant women and children is based on limited data, and the potential long-term effects are unclear. Add to this economic uncertainty and an unemployment rate worse than in any previous postwar recession, and the choice to conceive becomes even more fraught. Those who are undecided might consider waiting, experts advised, but for some families — especially older individuals — that could prevent them from ever carrying a child.
The Times spoke with six households about how the virus changed their approach to family planning. Some were determined to conceive, pushing aside worries about the pandemic, while others took a more cautious approach. But all of them had one thing in common: They struggled with their decision and hoped they made the right call.
Reporting was contributed by Mike Baker, Hannah Beech, Christina Caron, Michael Cooper, Nick Corasaniti, Jacey Fortin, Rick Gladstone, Michael Gold, Dana Goldstein, Denise Grady, Erica L. Green, Jenny Gross, Tiffany Hsu, Thomas Kaplan, Annie Karni, Patrick Kingsley, Apoorva Mandavilli, Raphael Minder, Claire Moses, Tara Parker-Pope, Monika Pronczuk, Alan Rappeport, Frances Robles, Katie Rogers, Simon Romero, Kaly Soto, Matt Stevens, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Ana Swanson, Eileen Sullivan, Katie Thomas, Laetitia Vancon, Daniel Victor, David Waldstein, Michael Wilson, Michael Wines, Li Yuan and Karen Zraick.