Coronavirus Live Updates: States Are Split Over How Quickly to Reopen as Trump Eyes Calendar

The largest states are split on how quickly to reopen as Trump eyes the calendar.

The United States was on track on Saturday to surpass Italy in the total number of confirmed deaths from the coronavirus, reaching its deadliest day on Friday with 2,057 deaths.

Already the pandemic has killed more than 18,000 Americans and put more than 16 million out of work, forcing President Trump into the difficult choice of reopening the country as the country reels economically from the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m going to have to make a decision, and I only hope to God that it’s the right decision,” Mr. Trump said on Friday in his daily news briefing on the coronavirus. The country’s death toll, which has more than doubled over the past week, is now increasing by nearly 2,000 most days. The previous high in the United States was 1,997 on April 7. As of Saturday morning, Italy had reported 18,849 deaths.

As Mr. Trump grapples simultaneously with the most devastating public health and economic crises of a lifetime, he finds himself pulled in opposite directions. Bankers, corporate executives and industrialists are pleading with him to reopen the country as soon as possible, while medical experts beg for more time to curb the coronavirus.

Tens of thousands more people could die. Millions more could lose their jobs. And his handling of the crisis appears to be hurting his political support in the run-up to November’s election. Yet the decision on when and how to reopen is not entirely his. The stay-at-home edicts keeping most Americans indoors were issued by governors state by state.

The president did issue nonbinding guidelines urging a pause in daily life through the end of the month. And if he were to issue new guidance outlining a path toward reopening, many states would probably follow or feel pressure from businesses and constituents to ease restrictions.

But the central question is how long it will be until the country is fully back up and running.

The governors of Texas and Florida, both Republicans, have started talking about reopening businesses and schools in their states, echoing signals from Mr. Trump.

But the leaders of California and New York, both Democrats, are sounding more cautious notes about how quickly things can get back to normal.

“California’s curve is flattening,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a Twitter post on Friday. “But that progress will only hold if we continue to STAY HOME and practice physical distancing.” And Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said that widespread testing for coronavirus antibodies would be required before his state could consider reopening nonessential businesses.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said on Friday that he wanted the state’s businesses to reopen sooner rather than later, insisting that the coronavirus had slowed its spread in some areas, and that it was not as prevalent in Texas as it was in New York, California and other hard-hit states.

Mr. Abbott said he would issue an executive order this week laying out the timetable and standards for reopening Texas businesses. “We want to open up, but we want to open up safely,” Mr. Abbott told reporters on Friday in Austin.

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, said officials in his state were exploring reopening schools in May. But at the same time on Thursday, he made headlines by telling educators that he did not believe anyone under the age of 25 had died of the coronavirus. At least three children have.

At the White House coronavirus briefing on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, said plans to reopen schools posed a risk of spreading infections.

“If you have a situation in which you don’t have a real good control over an outbreak and you allow children to gather together, they likely will get infected,” he said, adding that he was not speaking specifically about Florida.

In Texas, the governor’s announcement came as the state has yet to hit its peak in coronavirus cases; more than 12,000 Texans have tested positive, with 253 deaths. And it came just 10 days after he issued what is effectively a statewide stay-at-home order on March 31, long after most other states had done so.

New York City’s public schools will remain closed through the end of the academic year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Saturday, confirming that more than three months of regular schooling for 1.1 million children will be lost because of the spread of the coronavirus.

Roughly 1,800 schools across the city’s five boroughs have scrambled to adjust to remote learning since they were initially closed on March 16, a sudden shift that has presented educators with perhaps the largest challenge of their careers.

The first few weeks of online learning have already transformed the relationship between the city’s students, parents and educators, who have come to rely on each other in ways unfathomable even a month ago.

“Our educators were asked to learn an entirely new way of teaching,” Mr. de Blasio said Saturday. “They had a week to quickly retool.”

Mr. de Blasio faced enormous pressure from parents and teachers to close the schools as the virus began its spread through New York City in March. After initially resisting, the mayor ultimately shut the system and said, “This is not something in a million years I could have imagined having to do.”

Though New York City is the center of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak, more than a dozen states and many more local school districts have already announced that their public schools would remain closed through the end of the school year.

In recent days, the governors of California, Pennsylvania and Washington announced schools in their states would be closed for the rest of the academic year.

Republicans press for $250 billion to replenish small-business program as governors push for more aid.

Top Republican congressional leaders said on Saturday that they would continue to push for a stand-alone infusion of $250 billion to replenish a fast-depleting loan program for distressed small businesses, rebuffing their Democratic counterparts who demanded conditions on the new money and additional funds for hospitals, state and local governments and food aid.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, said in a joint statement on Saturday that their lawmakers “reject Democrats’ reckless threat to continue blocking job-saving funding unless we renegotiate unrelated programs which are not in similar peril.”

“This will not be Congress’s last word on Covid-19, but this crucial program needs funding now,” they wrote. “American workers cannot be used as political hostages.”

The administration requested quick action to approve the money to bolster a loan program created last month by the $2 trillion stimulus law for small businesses, known as the Paycheck Protection Program. But Democrats blocked an effort by Republicans to push it through the Senate on Thursday during a procedural session, demanding conditions on the new funds and additional aid for hospitals, state and local governments and food aid.

The National Governors Association on Saturday called on lawmakers to allocate at least an additional $500 billion for states and territories to address “budgetary shortfalls that have resulted from this unprecedented public health crisis.”

That amount is more than double what Democrats had proposed adding to the package, which was to be an interim step as lawmakers look toward a far larger package expected to top $1 trillion to build on the stimulus law.

The statement comes a day after both Democratic leaders — Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader — spoke separately with Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, about beginning bipartisan talks to break a stalemate over the funds. A spokesman for Ms. Pelosi, Drew Hammill, said Ms. Pelosi emphasized “that the initiative must not solidify the disparity in access to capital faced by many small businesses in underserved areas” and the need for more funds.

Republicans and Democrats alike support pouring more money into the program, which is meant to keep small businesses open without layoffs as the pandemic batters the economy. It has had a rocky rollout as the administration scrambles to implement the new policy, and small business owners have reported delays in receiving the funds. Economists have warned that more money will be needed to keep businesses afloat.

Prohibit Easter church services? Some governors offer guidance, not orders.

As governors across the United States faced a politically treacherous decision on whether to allow in-person church services on Easter Sunday, some have staked out conflicting positions.

Gov. Eric J. Holcomb of Indiana and Gov. Brian P. Kemp of Georgia are among those urging worshipers to attend online services to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. But while Mr. Holcomb has ordered that Indiana churches must stay closed, Mr. Kemp has left the decision about holding services in Georgia up to individual pastors.

In Kentucky, mass gatherings over Easter weekend are permitted, but anyone who participates must quarantine for 14 days. To enforce this, the state will record the license plates outside large gatherings, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

The governors of Florida and Texas have exempted religious services from stay-at-home orders.

In Kansas — where Republican lawmakers overturned an executive order blocking such gatherings by the state’s Democratic governor, Laura Kelly — worshipers are also free to go to church. Ms. Kelly called the decision to permit gatherings of more than 10 people “shockingly irresponsible,” according to The Wichita Eagle.

The daughter of a woman who died at a Seattle-area nursing home linked to dozens of deaths has filed what appears to be the first coronavirus-related lawsuit against the facility, accusing the company that runs it of fraud.

Debbie de los Angeles said in her lawsuit that Life Care Center of Kirkland, Wash., concealed information “to hide the ongoing danger and threat” at the facility. Her mother, Twilla Morin, died on March 4.

The facility had started noticing an outbreak of respiratory illness in the weeks before Ms. Morin’s death, but the company has said workers did not realize it was coronavirus until testing at the end of February found that the virus was spreading in the region and had reached the nursing home.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in King County Superior Court, accused Life Care of failing to properly report the outbreak, which is now linked to 43 deaths.

“There is some justice in knowing that they will now be obligated to provide the family with answers and account for their actions,” Ms. de los Angeles said in a statement.

Federal and state regulators inspected the facility in March and identified a range of problems, including a failure to notify state officials about the rise in respiratory infections and a failure to have a backup plan after the facility’s primary clinician fell ill. The company now faces a fine of more than $600,000 and other sanctions.

Tim Killian, a spokesman for Life Care, said the company couldn’t comment on the lawsuit. “Our hearts go out to this family and the loss they have suffered during this unprecedented viral outbreak,” he said.

Elizabeth Schneider hated to appear to be violating rules that were meant to protect others, and that she knew relied on collective determination to enforce.

But the state health department said people who had tested positive for the coronavirus were allowed to leave self-isolation seven days after their first symptom and three days after their last fever. By those metrics, she was free to fly to Tucson, Ariz., to visit her parents.

She would be more useful there, she had reasoned, as her family’s designated grocery shopper. Especially since her mother has asthma.

But re-entry to a society that is largely shut down can also come with a new sense of isolation, Ms. Schneider found.

“I thought to myself, ‘Should I mention to them that I had it?’” she said of her fellow passengers on her mostly empty flight. “Ultimately I chickened out.”

As recently as mid-March, fewer than 5,000 people in the United States had tested positive for the new coronavirus. Some are still coughing, or tethered to oxygen tanks. Many have died. But the first large wave of Covid-19 survivors, likely to be endowed with a power known to infectious disease specialists as adaptive immunity, is emerging.

They linger in grocery store aisles and touch doorknobs without flinching. They undertake not entirely essential travel. They have friends over. They hug. And they are sometimes guilt-ridden, about possibly having spread the disease before its existence was widely known, and about recovering when others did not.

Several dozen spoke to The New York Times about what it was like to recover.

Most people in the United States are under a form of stay-at-home order to try to squelch the coronavirus, yet some still have reasons for wanting to drive across parts of the country.

But are road trips advisable? Or even feasible?

The Constitution guarantees the right to enter one state and leave another, but jurisdictions can require quarantines or statements of purpose. Some states have sought out — and some residents have threatened — visitors from states with more serious outbreaks. And Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, has said the White House coronavirus task force continues to consider restricting some domestic travel.

With the situation in flux, people considering a long-distance drive should follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and research the situation in the places they plan to visit. To help, The Times has compiled a guide for closings, restrictions, food options and hotel reservations.

With the United States responding to the coronavirus by closing schools and businesses and instructing people to avoid nonessential travel, California’s governor was the first to issue a stay-at-home order. Yet one public school in the state remains open.

In a rural San Joaquin Valley community where many adults work in citrus and walnut groves, students can still attend kindergarten through eighth grade at Outside Creek Elementary.

Derrick Bravo, the school’s principal, superintendent and eighth-grade teacher, said he had leaned on advice from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which suggested that some small schools outside dangerous areas could remain open. Gov. Gavin Newsom has not shut down the school, though it is within his power to do so.

Last week, 21 students — about a quarter the school’s normal attendance — showed up for classes.

“We thought about just our rural area and the resources available for our kids,” Mr. Bravo said.

There have been more than 500 virus-related deaths and more than 21,000 cases in California, and denser population areas appear to be much more susceptible to the virus’s spread. In San Francisco, the mayor said on Friday that 70 people had tested positive at the city’s largest homeless shelter.

San Francisco has tried to protect its homeless population by spacing out beds in shelters and lifting its ban on tent encampments. Many streets, largely empty of other residents, are now lined with camping tents that city workers ensure are kept at least six feet apart.

A tour of The Times: At Home.

What does “the weekend” mean when so many people will be right where they were all week? It might mean a chance to experience art and culture, or beauty or a new routine.

Our reporters and critics offer some options on a new page, At Home.

The coronavirus has profoundly altered daily life in America. In a matter of weeks, pillars of industry essentially ground to a halt. Airplanes, restaurants and arenas were suddenly empty. And in many states, businesses deemed nonessential have been ordered closed.

One economist’s assessment: “This is the sharpest decline in consumer spending that we have ever seen.”

Using data from Earnest Research — which tracks and analyzes credit card and debit card purchases of nearly six million people in the United States — The New York Times looked in detail at which sectors have expanded amid the pandemic-led lockdowns of daily life and which have been hardest hit.

Burning Man, the annual arts event that draws tens of thousands to the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, has joined the list of high-profile gatherings to fall prey to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers of the event, which was to have been held from Aug. 30 to Sept. 7, said on Friday that they would not build Black Rock City, the “temporary metropolis” that is created each year for the event. They said the yearly gathering injected $75 million into the Nevada economy.

“Given the painful reality of Covid-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, we believe this is the right thing to do,” organizers said on their website.

They said they hoped to create an online version of Black Rock City this year, though details were sparse. A tool to refund people who had bought tickets is also being created.

This will be the first year that the gathering, which began in San Francisco in 1986 and moved to the Black Rock Desert in 1990, will not be held on site.

In mid-March, Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey announced the first coronavirus-linked death in the Northeast. Since then, there have been more than 18,400 virus-related deaths in the United States, and the toll grows by the hour.

But the health care network that runs the Hackensack hospital now has its eye on reaching another, more hopeful, milestone: finding a treatment for the disease caused by the virus.

As part of a newly approved federal trial, researchers at the network, Hackensack Meridian Health, are preparing to infuse patients fighting for life with antibody-rich blood plasma donated Wednesday by a neonatal doctor who recovered after contracting the virus.

The hope is that the plasma will boost patients’ immune systems and help them survive the virus.

“The idea would be to try to prevent them from getting worse,” said Dr. Michele Donato, the chief of stem cell transplantation and cellular therapy at the Hackensack hospital’s cancer center.

The Rev. Leah Klug isn’t a stickler on religious rituals. As a hospital chaplain in the Seattle area, she makes do with the supplies she can find. Recently, she performed an anointing of the sick with mouthwash because she had no oil on hand. She is accustomed to reading psalms above the steady beep of a heart monitor.

Last month, she visited the room of a Covid-19 patient where she performed commendation of the dying. A nurse stood just outside, holding a phone on speaker so the woman’s family could say goodbye.

Ms. Klug lowered a container of oil toward the patient’s head. She read out a gospel verse. Then she suddenly felt a grief so profound that it seemed to swallow up her words. “It’s not supposed to be like this,” Ms. Klug recalled having thought to herself. “Her family is supposed to be here.”

As emergency rooms are flooded by coronavirus patients and I.C.U.s exceed their capacities, hospital chaplains are finding their jobs changing. Certified in clinical pastoral work and tending to people of all faiths, chaplains are no strangers to daily tragedies.

They serve as vessels for the grief and fear of patients and their families. They grasp the hands of the dying. When called upon, they deliver blessings to hospital workers.

But now chaplains are carrying more of their own grief and fear. Many worry about contracting with the virus and bringing it home to their families. They struggle to keep pace with new regulations that change how they minister to patients dying alone at a frequency that few have seen before.

“We are walking in the valley of the shadow of death, along with our patients and their families,” said the Rev. Katherine GrayBuck, a chaplain at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. “My work usually brings me close to the end of life, and to death, but this is a whole new era.”

Reporting was contributed by Adam Goldman, Manny Fernandez, Amy Harmon, Emily Cochrane, Jason M. Bailey, Peter Baker, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Heather Murphy, Alan Rappeport, Giovanni Russonello, Adeel Hassan, Eliza Shapiro, Mike Baker, Tracey Tully, Emma Goldberg, Karen Schwartz, Sam Sifton, Marc Tracy, Lauren Leatherby and David Gelles.

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