Top U.S. health officials go into quarantine after White House staff members tested positive.
In the latest sign of worry that the coronavirus could be spreading through the senior ranks of the Trump administration, three top public health officials have begun partial or full self-quarantine for two weeks after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive.
Representatives for Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, confirmed the precautions on Saturday.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, confirmed a CNN report that he had begun a “modified quarantine” after what he called a “low risk” contact.
The actions came as the Food and Drug Administration has approved the first antigen test that can rapidly detect whether a person has been infected — a development that promises to expand the nation’s testing capacity.
Unlike commonly available coronavirus tests that use polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R., antigen diagnostics work by quickly detecting fragments of the virus in a sample. The tests can provide results “in minutes,” the F.D.A. said, adding that it expected to grant emergency clearance for more antigen tests in the near future.
Now, with the coronavirus set to pose a continued public health risk over the coming months, Democrats are working to export their template for success — intense digital outreach and a coordinated vote-by-mail operation — to other states in the hope that it will improve the party’s chances in local and statewide elections and in the quest to unseat President Trump in November.
“Every American should be able to vote by mail, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
Democrats in battleground states with virtually no history of mail voting have shifted to an all-mail get-out-the-vote effort. President Trump, on the other hand, has repeatedly attacked mail voting, and Republicans have vowed to push ahead with plans to limit its expansion in Michigan, Minnesota and other key states.
In Georgia, more than 1.2 million people have requested absentee ballots for the state’s June 9 primary — compared with 36,200 requests for the 2016 presidential primary. But Pennsylvania Democrats have found themselves struggling to convince wary voters that sending ballots through the mail is safe.
And as the first test of whether Wisconsin Democrats’ April 7 methods can be repeated comes on Tuesday, in a special House election, officials say the contest is less about which candidate wins than it is an exercise in training volunteers and voters in how to vote by mail.
When will the Covid-19 pandemic end? And how?
According to historians, pandemics typically have two types of endings: the medical, which occurs when the incidence and death rates plummet, and the social, when the epidemic of fear about the disease wanes.
“When people ask, ‘When will this end?,’ they are asking about the social ending,” said Dr. Jeremy Greene, a historian of medicine at Johns Hopkins.
In other words, an end can occur not because a disease has been vanquished but because people grow tired of panic mode and learn to live with a disease.
Endings “are very, very messy,” said Dora Vargha, a historian at the University of Exeter. “Looking back, we have a weak narrative. For whom does the epidemic end, and who gets to say?”
With the U.S. economy in crisis, the coronavirus pandemic continuing to spread across the country and the search for a vaccine continuing, top economic officials, governors and pharmaceutical executives are set to appear on the Sunday news shows.
Among the guests will be Kevin Hassett, a White House economic adviser, who is set to appear on CNN’s “State of the Union” and CBS’s “Face the Nation,” days after a Labor Department report showed that the U.S. economy lost 20.5 million jobs last month, pushing the unemployment rate to 14.7 percent, the worst devastation since the Great Depression.
On “Face the Nation,” Mr. Hassett will appear alongside Dr. Christopher Murray of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, whose predictive model of the outbreak has been cited by the White House. Another guest on the program, Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, helped produce a report aimed at helping cities and states know when it is safe to reopen.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, who recently announced a plan to reopen his state, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, who has criticized her state’s plan to reopen, will appear on “State of the Union,” along with Dr. Leonard Schleifer, the chief executive of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. An arthritis drug produced by Regeneron and Sanofi was used to treat the coronavirus but did not help seriously ill patients, early data showed.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is likely to face questions about the economic crisis and the push to reopen when he appears on “Fox News Sunday” along with Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, who took early action to lock down his state. Dr. Tom Inglesby, the director of the Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, will also appear on the show.
Larry Kudlow, a White House economic adviser who recently said that the Trump administration would not consider another stimulus bill in May, will be a guest on ABC’s “This Week,” along with Neel Kashkari, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, who has urged the government to direct aid to those who need it most.
Dr. George Yancopoulos, the president of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, will also appear on the show, along with Dr. Paul Stoffels, the chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, which is involved in the global race to develop a vaccine.
Senator Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, will appear on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” days after telling a CNN podcast that the country was “not as prepared as we should have been.” He will appear with Dr. Jeffrey Shaman, the chief science officer at Coriell Life Sciences, which has said that it is offering coronavirus analysis and reporting services to labs across the country, at no cost, in response to the pandemic.
The third guest will be Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, who has said that the pandemic could last another 18 months, with waves of infection continuing around the world.
On April 10, Tony Thompson, the sheriff for Black Hawk County in Iowa, visited the giant Tyson Foods pork plant in Waterloo. What he saw, he said, “shook me to the core.”
Workers, many of them immigrants, were crowded elbow to elbow as they broke down hog carcasses zipping by on a conveyor belt. The few who had face coverings wore a motley assortment of bandannas, painters’ masks or even sleep masks stretched around their mouths. Some had masks hanging around their necks.
Five days later, the plant was closed. Tyson said the reason was “worker absenteeism.” As of last week, the county health department had recorded 1,031 coronavirus infections among Tyson employees — more than a third of the work force. Some are on ventilators. Three have died, according to Tyson.
But the plant — Tyson’s largest pork operation in the United States, responsible for almost 4 percent of the nation’s pork supply — didn’t stay closed for long.
As meat shortages hit U.S. grocery stores and fast-food restaurants, political pressure built to reopen plants that had shut down because of virus outbreaks. After an executive order by President Trump declared the meat supply “critical infrastructure” and shielded the companies from certain liability.
New safety precautions have been added at the Tyson plant, and now the question is: Will America’s appetite for meat be sated without sickening armies of low-wage workers, and their communities, in new waves of infection?
As coronavirus cases spiraled upward in New York City, leaders of other big U.S. cities watched with worry, searching for ways to avoid an escalation that might overwhelm hospitals. In Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, fear of explosive growth — the kind that overtook New York City, Detroit and New Orleans — has faded in recent days, but the Chicago area has faced its own stubbornly high numbers.
Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago and its closest suburbs, has added more cases of the coronavirus than any other county in the United States on some recent days. On Friday, it added more new cases than New York City’s five boroughs combined.
“Watching a city of such global importance go through this absolutely horrific experience is so incredibly sad to see, but also of course a cautionary tale for the rest of us,” Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, said of New York City.
She said she had conferred with mayors in many of the country’s largest cities in recent weeks. “All of us have to be prepared,” she said, “and thinking about, ‘How do we not become the next hot spot?’”
As a college semester like no other winds down, with bedrooms replacing classrooms as testing sites, professors are no longer able to keep a close eye out for cheat sheets and wandering eyes.
Into the havoc have come digital proctoring services, which, after years in tech’s niches, are suddenly monitoring hundreds of thousands of students taking millions of at-home exams in myriad time zones.
Privacy advocates are sounding alarms. Investors are taking note. And students are fueling demand with their own testing — of boundaries.
Yet while academic integrity is not a new concern in remote learning — in surveys, about one in three students say they have cheated in online tests, about the same as the proportion who admit to cheating offline — it’s not just students who are now cringing at the online monitoring.
“There has to be a better way,” said Sue Escobar, a professor of criminal justice at California State University, Sacramento. She said she would not use a webcam option that the university added last month to its online testing software, a step that she called “invasive.”
“Sure, we want to minimize cheating,” she said, “but how far do you go?”
Elon Musk, the Tesla chief executive, clashed with health officials in California on Saturday over the reopening of the company’s factory in Fremont, with Mr. Musk pushing for an immediate return and the county’s government seeking a delay of about a week.
In a series of tweets, Mr. Musk said he would move the company’s headquarters out of California to Texas or Nevada. Tesla also took its fight to federal court, filing a lawsuit against Alameda County on Saturday. The company said “the county’s position left us no choice but to take legal action to ensure that Tesla and its employees can get back to work.”
The actions came a day after county health officials told Tesla that it was not yet allowed to resume production of electric vehicles in Fremont because of fears that the coronavirus could spread among the company’s workers. Manufacturers have been allowed to restart work in other parts of the state that have had less severe outbreaks.
Tesla, which noted that it was “the last major carmaker remaining in California, and the largest manufacturing employer in the state with more than 10,000 employees at our Fremont factory and 20,000 statewide” — outlined in a blog post its rationale for pushing to reopen, and detailed on how it plans to proceed.
“Frankly, this is the final straw,” Mr. Musk said on Twitter. “Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will depend on how Tesla is treated in the future.”
The factors that made New York City the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic — its density, tourism and dependence on mass transit — complicate a return to any semblance of normalcy.
States like Colorado, Georgia and Texas have let stay-at-home orders lapse and businesses like nail salons and retail stores reopen, and New York State is anticipating a partial reopening this month, mostly in rural areas. But the city is far from meeting the public health metrics necessary to reopen, from available critical-care beds to new hospital admissions for the virus.
The virus has killed more than 19,000 people in New York City, a death toll that exceeds those in all but a small number of countries, or in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan and Texas combined. While the outbreak is receding in the city, more than 1,000 new positive cases were reported on at least three days last week, for a total that now tops 181,000.
The key to reopening is containing the virus, and that will take a vast infrastructure of testing and contact tracing unlike anything the United States has ever seen, public health experts say.
How long might it take to restart New York City’s economy?
Said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last week: “Nobody can tell you.”
The call in early February from the White House Situation Room came as a surprise to Rick Bright: Peter Navarro, President Trump’s trade adviser, wanted him to come present his ideas for fighting the coronavirus, alone.
Dr. Bright, whose tiny federal research agency was pursuing a coronavirus vaccine, had long been at odds with his boss at the Department of Health and Human Services, Robert Kadlec. And his White House visits, twice in a single weekend, exacerbated those tensions. “Weekend at Peter’s,” Dr. Kadlec quipped in the subject line of an email that expressed his displeasure.
The hostility between these two key officials in the government’s response to a pandemic that has claimed more than 75,000 American lives burst into public view last week when Dr. Bright — who was dismissed last month as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority — filed a formal whistle-blower complaint.
The document accuses Dr. Kadlec and other top administration officials of “cronyism” and putting politics ahead of science.
Whether or not the charges are ultimately proven, the 89-page complaint along and other documents and interviews point to infighting at the Health and Human Services Department, the sprawling agency that includes BARDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and other arms of government, as officials there struggled to combat the worst public health crisis in a century.
Motoko Fujishiro Huthwaite, part of a team of 345 people from 14 countries — collectively known as the Monuments Men and Monuments Women — who preserved cultural treasures and artworks during and after World War II, died on Monday in Taylor, Mich., outside Detroit. She was 92.
Robert M. Edsel, founder and chairman of the Monuments Men Foundation, said the cause was complications of the coronavirus.
Ms. Huthwaite was the last of the Monuments Women, who originally numbered 27. Richard M. Barancik is the last of the 318 Monuments Men.
They were immortalized in a 2014 movie, “The Monuments Men,” directed by George Clooney and starring him and Matt Damon. The movie was based on the 2009 book of the same title by Mr. Edsel and Bret Witter. Mr. Edsel is now writing a book on the Monuments Women.
During the war, a small, special force of American and British art historians, museum directors, curators and others started out steering Allied bombers away from cultural targets in Europe and overseeing temporary repairs when damage occurred. Their numbers grew, and after the war they tracked down more than five million objects stolen by Nazi Germany and returned them to the countries from which they came.
In the Pacific theater, their mission was chiefly to assess damage to cultural treasures, prevent looting and return stolen objects. In the course of their work they came across many works of art that no one from the West had ever seen.
This required a tremendous amount of inventorying and record keeping, which was where Ms. Huthwaite came in.
Getting the whole family to move more.
It’s easy to be stationary when there’s nowhere to go, and children tend not to respond well to formal workouts. Here are some ideas to help the whole family — from the youngest to the oldest — get up and move a bit more, without it feeling like work.
Reporting was contributed by Neal E. Boudette, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Michael Corkery, Michael Crowley, Reid J. Epstein, Tess Felder, Emily Flitter, J. David Goodman, Shawn Hubler, Gina Kolata, Sharon LaFraniere, Michael Levenson, Ben Protess, Michael Rothfeld, Michael D. Shear, Mitch Smith, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Ana Swanson and David Yaffe-Bellany.