Covid-19 Live Updates: Cases Tracker and Vaccine News

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit…Jon Cherry/Getty Images

More than 40 million cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in the United States, according to a New York Times database.

The total number of known infections, more than the population of California, the nation’s most populous state, is a testament to the spread of the coronavirus, especially lately the highly contagious Delta variant, and the United States’ patchwork efforts to rein it in.

Vaccines are effective in preventing severe disease and death, but 47 percent of Americans are not fully vaccinated, allowing the Delta variant more than enough opportunity to inflict suffering and disrupt daily life. Health officials say that most of the patients who are being hospitalized and dying are not vaccinated, and that it is those unvaccinated people who are driving the current surge and burdening the health care system.

Over the past week, new virus cases have averaged more than 161,000 a day, as of Sunday. New deaths are up to 1,560 a day, and hospitalizations are averaging more than 102,000 a day. Those numbers, while very high, remain lower than last winter’s peaks.

Before July 4, President Biden said he hoped for “a summer of freedom.” Instead, the Delta variant became the dominant form of the virus, ravaging unvaccinated populations and filling I.C.U.s in some states.

In an appearance last Wednesday, Gov. Brad Little of Idaho, a Republican, pleaded with people to get vaccinated: “I wish everyone could have seen what I saw in the I.C.U. last night.”

Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia said at a news conference on Monday that the virus had flooded many of his state’s hospitals and closed schools there.

“We’ve got a really big time, big time situation in West Virginia, as it is all across this nation,” said Mr. Justice, a Republican.

After reading a list of people who died in his state from causes related to the disease since Friday, Mr. Justice pleaded with the unvaccinated people of West Virginia to get inoculated.

“We’ve got to get vaccinated for all, not just for you but for everybody — we’ve got to do this,” he said. “We can stop a lot of this terrible, terrible, terrible carnage.”

No U.S. state has more than 70 percent of its population fully vaccinated, according to federal data, and while the average pace of vaccinations ticked upward this summer, it remains far lower than when it peaked in the spring.

Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

Cases in the United States make up nearly a fifth of the known global total, more than 221 million cases as of Tuesday, according to data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. That is likely to be an undercount because of factors like insufficient testing and reporting.

The news came at the end of the Labor Day holiday weekend, not long after Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that unvaccinated Americans should avoid travel.

But data from the Transportation Security Administration suggested people did not stay home in droves. T.S.A. checkpoints recorded 2.13 million travelers through U.S. airports on Friday, close to the number on the Friday before Labor Day two years ago.

Ethan Hauser and Julie Walton Shaver contributed reporting.

Scottish police officers training in August in preparation for the international climate summit, scheduled for Glasgow, Scotland, this year.
Credit…Pool photo by Jane Barlow

A global network of activists called on Tuesday for international climate talks scheduled for November in Scotland to be postponed, arguing that delegates from the most vulnerable nations would not be able to attend because of the pandemic.

The Climate Action Network said in a statement that travel restrictions, surging coronavirus caseloads and low vaccination levels across the world’s poorer countries would make it impossible for many representatives to attend the annual conference, organized by the United Nations and known as COP-26.

An in-person gathering would exclude government officials, activists and others from countries that are on the United Kingdom’s “red list,” meaning they are barred from entry to Scotland unless they are U.K. citizens or residents.

“There has always been an inherent power imbalance between rich and poor nations within the U.N. climate talks and this is now compounded by the health crisis,” the group’s executive director, Tasneem Essop, said in the statement.

The group, which includes more than 1,500 civil-society organizations worldwide, said that a shortage of vaccines in much of the developing world amounts effectively to a travel ban on citizens of those countries. While nearly 59 percent of people in the European Union have been fully vaccinated, and 52 percent in the United States, the figure stands at only 3 percent in Africa.

Organizers of the climate talks have promised to speed vaccines to delegates, but the Climate Action Network said that no shots had been administered so far, and that officials had not clarified whether attendees would be subjected to hotel quarantines that could be prohibitively expensive for civil society groups and representatives of poorer governments.

If the conference goes ahead as planned, “I fear it is only the rich countries and N.G.O.s from those countries that would be able to attend,” said Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a research institute in Kenya.

The talks — which were canceled last November because of the pandemic — are formally known as the Conference of the Parties, and include representatives of the countries that signed the U.N. pact to fight climate change. At or before the meeting, scheduled from Nov. 1 to Nov. 12, countries are expected to announce how they plan to strengthen their climate action targets.

In April, Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage climate activist, said that she would not attend this year’s talks unless all participants could be vaccinated equally.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia said that he needed to return to official business after visiting his family, and had acted within the rules by not quarantining.
Credit…Mick Tsikas/EPA, via Shutterstock

Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended traveling to his home state for Australian Father’s Day over the weekend, prompting a backlash in a country where millions of people have been unable to see loved ones because of strict measures against Covid-19.

Mr. Morrison, speaking to Sky News, said he understood why people were frustrated, but that he had acted within the rules when he traveled to New South Wales to see his family. He added that he needed to get back to the capital on official business and that politicians were not required to quarantine for 14 days.

More than half of the nation’s population is under lockdown as states experience prolonged outbreaks of the Delta variant.

Australia got off to a sluggish start vaccinating its population and has seen the average number of daily new cases nearly double to 1,548 in the past two weeks. About 51 percent of the population has at least one vaccine dose, below the 62 percent in the United States and 72 percent in Britain.

Individual states in Australia have set different guidelines, with Queensland and South Australia imposing harsh border restrictions on travelers from New South Wales and Canberra, the capital. Australians have reported being rejected for exemptions to attend funerals and visit dying relatives in other states.

On Sunday, which was Father’s Day in Australia, people gathered on either side of a plastic barricade at the border between New South Wales and Queensland to see family members.

Australians on Twitter criticized Mr. Morrison’s actions, with comments like “One rule for all the other dads separated by border closures and one rule for the Prime Minister,” and “What a disgrace of a leader.”

In 2019, Mr. Morrison faced harsh backlash for going on a family trip to Hawaii while Australia suffered record wildfires. Mr. Morrison cut his vacation short soon after the news broke.

Waiting for shuttle buses to mandatory government-designated quarantine hotels in the arrivals hall at the Hong Kong International Airport last month.
Credit…Jerome Favre/EPA, via Shutterstock

Hong Kong said it would allow fully-vaccinated residents to return to the city from five additional countries and relaxed restrictions on travelers from mainland China, moving away from some of the world’s strictest measures against the coronavirus.

The loosening of rules is expected to remove a significant hurdle for travelers. It is also a step toward focusing more on preventing severe illness and death, rather than stopping the spread of the virus completely. Singapore and South Korea have also eased rules in the past few weeks and leaders there are now acknowledging that the virus may be a permanent part of life.

While Hong Kong’s previous approach had kept new cases at or near zero, business leaders and residents expressed concern that stringent quarantine restrictions would damage the economy. Travelers from countries deemed high risk by officials have been required to quarantine for three weeks, including those who have been vaccinated.

The eased restrictions come after 53 percent of the city’s population has been fully vaccinated and no new local cases have been reported in the last three weeks, according to the health authorities.

Hong Kong residents from India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand and South Korea can now enter the city if they are fully vaccinated, according to a news release, but must still quarantine for two to three weeks.

The addition of those five nations raises the number of countries from which residents are granted entry to 49, in addition to mainland China and Macau.

Quarantine-free travel will restart on Wednesday for Hong Kong residents arriving from mainland China and Macau, said Carrie Lam, the chief executive, at a news conference on Tuesday morning.

Hong Kong will also allow as many as 2,000 nonresidents to enter from the mainland and Macau each day without needing to quarantine starting a week from Wednesday.

Tiffany May contributed reporting.

The Florida A&M University campus in Tallahassee hosts a pop-up vaccination site for students returning to campus. The vaccination is optional and mask wearing cannot be enforced in the state.
Credit…Aileen Perilla for The New York Times

The American College Health Association recommends vaccination requirements for all on-campus higher education students for the fall semester. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends face coverings, regardless of vaccine status, for indoor public spaces in areas where the rate of infection is high.

But this is not how it has worked out on more than a few campuses.

More than 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities have adopted vaccination requirements for at least some students and staff, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. In an indication of how political vaccination has become, the schools tend to be clustered in states that voted for President Biden in the last election.

But at some campuses, particularly in Republican-led states with high case numbers — including the state systems in Georgia, Texas and Florida — vaccination is optional and mask wearing, while recommended, cannot be enforced. Professors are told they can tell students that they are “strongly encouraged” or “expected” to put on masks, but cannot force students to do so. And teachers cannot ask students who have Covid-like symptoms to leave the classroom.

At least nine states — Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Tennessee — have banned or restricted school mask mandates. It is unclear, education officials say, whether all of these prohibitions apply to universities, but public universities depend on state funding.

A smattering of professors have resigned in protest over optional mask policies, one in the middle of class. Most are soldiering on. But the level of fear is so high that even at universities that do require vaccination and masks, like Cornell and the University of Michigan, professors have signed petitions asking for the choice to return to online teaching.

Universities are caught between the demands of their faculty for greater safety precautions, and the fear of losing students who might drop out if schools return to another year of online education.

“It’s kind of a cat-and-mouse game,” said Peter Lake, an education law professor at Stetson University.

Professors said that Delta blindsided them. They signed up to teach in-person classes in March, before reports of breakthrough infections of vaccinated people. Now their institutions are making it hard, if not impossible, for them to back out.

Keivon Whitfield, right, interviews for a job at Express Employment Professionals in Maryland Heights, Mo. in June.
Credit…Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

Expanded unemployment benefits that have kept millions of Americans afloat during the pandemic expired on Monday, setting up the abrupt cutoff of assistance to 7.5 million people as the Delta variant rattles the pandemic recovery.

The end of the aid came without objection from President Biden or his top economic advisers, who have become caught in a political fight over the benefits and are now banking on other federal help and an autumn pickup in hiring to keep vulnerable families from foreclosure and food lines.

The $1.9 trillion economic aid package Mr. Biden signed in March included extended and expanded benefits for unemployed workers, additional weeks of assistance for the long-term unemployed and the extension of a special program to provide benefits to gig workers who traditionally do not qualify for unemployment benefits.

Monday’s expiration means that 7.5 million people will lose their benefits entirely and another three million will lose the $300 weekly supplement.

Republicans and small business owners have assailed the extension of aid, contending that it has fueled a labor shortage by discouraging people from looking for work. Liberal Democrats and progressive groups have pushed for another round of aid, saying millions of Americans remain vulnerable.

Evidence so far suggests the programs are playing at most a limited role in keeping people out of the work force. States that ended the benefits early, for example, have seen little if any pickup in hiring relative to the rest of the country.

Even in the industries that have had the hardest time finding workers, many people don’t expect a sudden surge in job applications once the benefits expire. Other factors — child care challenges, fear of the virus, accumulated savings from previous waves of federal assistance and a broader rethinking of Americans’ work preferences in the wake of the pandemic — are also playing a role keeping people out of work

A quarantine area in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Monday.

A man who returned to his home in southern Vietnam after traveling to Ho Chi Minh City for work received a five-year prison sentence on Tuesday for spreading the coronavirus, state news media reported.

The man, Le Van Tri, 28, was convicted of “spreading dangerous infectious diseases” to eight people, one of whom died from virus complications, the state-controlled newspaper Thanh Nien said. His sentence for failing to comply with Covid-19 quarantine restrictions also included a fine of 20 million dong, around $880.

Mr. Tri returned to his home in Ca Mau Province by motorcycle in July after a surge in virus cases in Vietnam, which had prompted a tightening of restrictions in Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s largest.

He failed to comply with instructions from health care personnel at travel checkpoints to self-quarantine for 21 days and report his travel history on forms, the Thanh Nien report said. Among the people he spread the virus to were members of his family, it said.

The verdict came after a one-day trial at the People’s Court of Ca Mau.

Vietnam long prided itself on containing the virus, but has struggled to maintain that success since a new wave of infections emerged in late spring. It had a daily average of 12,471 new cases as of Tuesday, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, and had fully vaccinated just under 3 percent of its population, according to the Our World in Data Project at Oxford University.

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