U.S. Deaths Climb Toward Daily Record, but More People Are Surviving Infection – The New York Times

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A memorial to Covid-19 victims in Atlanta. 
Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Times

For anyone tracking the daily number of deaths from the coronavirus as a metric of the pandemic’s devastation, Tuesday was a particularly bad day.

The number of virus-related deaths reported in the United States reached 2,216 — the equivalent of one death every 39 seconds, and the highest single-day death count since June 26. The figure has been climbing relentlessly, and health experts expect it to soon approach or exceed the single-day peak from early in the pandemic: 2,752 on April 15.

With the number of new virus cases skyrocketing, it was inevitable that deaths would rise as well, lagging a few weeks behind.

But the numbers may obscure a more hopeful trend: A far smaller proportion of people who catch the virus are dying from it than were in the spring.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the share of cases resulting in death has dropped steadily, from 6.7 in April to 1.9 percent in September.

And survival rates for hospitalized patients also improved swiftly in the spring and summer.

Researchers at three NYU Langone Health hospitals found that the death rate had dropped from 25.6 percent of coronavirus patients in March to 7.6 percent in August, even when controlled for differences in age, severity of symptoms, and underlying health problems.

“In the spring, we didn’t know what we were doing,” said Dr. Leora Horwitz, the lead author of that study and an associate professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Health. “We didn’t know that Covid patients make blood clots, or that it causes kidney disease, or that we didn’t have to rush people onto ventilators, or that we should place them on their stomach, or use steroids. As we learned all that stuff, our care got better.”

But the spring’s successes may not carry over to the winter as new cases rush in, Dr. Horwitz said, especially if hospitals become overcrowded.

“Our death rate can go back up again,” she said. “It’s not fixed in stone, and it could change. And it is changing.”

Dr. Preeti Malani, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Michigan, said she feared that the rise in severe cases would strain hospitals — particularly the quality of nursing — in the coming months, and that death rates would rise.

“In recent months on rounds, I didn’t see anyone die,” she said. “They got better in a few days. It was a good thing. In the spring, we had people in the I.C.U. for weeks and weeks. Now we are beginning to see that — people who are sicker and sicker.”

But Dr. Malani, having watched the improvement in care, is now less afraid for her own safety.

“In the spring, I worried I would get Covid and die,” she said. “I don’t worry about that anymore.”

“We need to remember we’re at war with the virus, not with one another, not with each other,” President-elect Joe Biden said on Wednesday.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday delivered an emotional address to a country beset by pandemic, encouraging Americans to put aside political differences and fight the coronavirus together.

“Looking back over our history, you see that it’s been in the most difficult circumstances that the soul of our nation has been forged,” Mr. Biden said, speaking directly to the camera from a stage in Wilmington, Del.

Casting himself as the leader of a suffering nation who is stepping into a void left by the current occupant of the Oval Office, Mr. Biden delivered an implicit repudiation of President Trump. And he urged Americans to come together to fight the virus.

“I know the country has grown weary of the fight,” he said. “We need to remember we’re at war with the virus, not with one another, not with each other.”

The president-elect urged Americans to wear face masks and practice social distancing.

“None of these steps we’re asking people to take are political statements,” Mr. Biden said. “Every one of them is based on science, real science.”

Boris Epshteyn, right, at a news conference with Rudolph W. Giuliani in Washington last week.
Credit…Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Boris Epshteyn, a member of the Trump campaign legal team, tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday, he said in a tweet.

“I have tested positive for COVID-19. I am experiencing mild symptoms, and am following all appropriate protocols, including quarantining and contact tracing,” he wrote.

Mr. Epshteyn was present at a news conference at Republican National Committee headquarters last week, along with Andrew Giuliani, a White House aide who announced the next day that he had tested positive for the virus.

Mr. Epshteyn has spent lots of time with Rudolph W. Giuliani, Andrew’s father and President Trump’s lead lawyer on efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 elections.

Mr. Giuliani attended a gathering of Republican lawmakers in Gettysburg, Pa., on Wednesday afternoon to talk about allegations of voting irregularities. President Trump was scheduled to join him, but his trip was canceled just before they were to depart by car, after Mr. Epshteyn’s tweet.

In Gettysburg, more than 100 people crowded into the halls leading to the hotel conference room before the hearing started. Once seated, many sat shoulder-to-shoulder without masks. Despite a bottle of hand sanitizer and a tiny handful of masks at a table a few steps from the entrance to the room, there were no other coronavirus protection measures visible for the large indoor gathering.

Mr. Giuliani walked in shortly after 12:30 p.m. He did not wear a mask when he was speaking, but put one on once he had finished. Very few of the state legislators hosting the hearing wore masks, and many sat closer than six feet from one another.

  • Another federal official, John Barsa, of the U.S. Agency for International Development, tested positive for the virus, his office said late Wednesday. Mr. Barsa, who manages the $20 billion agency, had been having in-person meetings at its headquarters this week without a mask, two people familiar with the matter said. He joined USAID as acting administrator in April at the Trump administration’s behest. This month, the night his appointment was set to expire, the administration terminated the agency’s Senate- confirmed deputy administrator, Bonnie Glick, allowing Mr. Barsa to become acting deputy administrator and remain the top-ranking official there. During his tenure the agency has seen personnel chaos, infighting and delays in distributing coronavirus assistance worldwide.

  • Also on Wednesday, the office of Gov. Mark Gordon in Cheyenne, Wyo., announced he had tested positive for Covid-19. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported that Mr. Gordon, a Republican, was experiencing minor symptoms and planned to quarantine and work remotely.

At least 45 people closely connected to the White House — including the president and first lady, aides, advisers and others — have tested positive for the virus since the start of the pandemic.

global roundup

Top Glove employees in Setia Alam, Malaysia, waiting to be transferred to a hospital on Tuesday.
Credit…Fazry Ismail/EPA, via Shutterstock

A Malaysian company that makes disposable gloves used around the world for protection against the coronavirus has been hit by a major outbreak among its workers, many of them foreign laborers who live in crowded dormitories.

The outbreak at 28 factories operated by the company, Top Glove Corporation, has infected more than 2,400 workers this month and driven one of Malaysia’s biggest spikes in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

Until now, Malaysia has been relatively successful in containing the virus, reporting 59,817 total cases and 345 deaths as of Wednesday. But the country of 32.5 million people reported a new daily high of 2,188 cases on Tuesday, topping the previous record of 1,884 set a day earlier.

Top Glove said Wednesday that it had stopped work at 20 factories in the hope of stemming the outbreak.

The company makes disposable gloves and face masks, and has ramped up production because of the pandemic. The United States and Europe are among its biggest customers.

Most of Top Glove’s workers come from developing countries in Asia — including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal — and live and work in crowded conditions where the virus can easily spread. Malaysia’s minister of human resources, M. Saravanan, toured workers’ quarters days ago and said that the living conditions were “terrible,” according to The Star, a Malaysian newspaper.

“We have started investigations and will spare no one if they were found to have flouted labor laws,” he told The Star.

Andy Hall, a labor activist who has long criticized Top Glove, said its workers live in unsanitary and overcrowded dormitories, sometimes packed more than 30 to a room.

“It was obvious it would happen,” Mr. Hall said. “This company has never focused on the welfare of its staff.”

Company officials defended its treatment of workers and rejected assertions that their quarters were crowded and unsanitary.

They said they were surprised by Mr. Saravanan’s comments and said that conditions in the dormitories have improved since his visit.

Top Glove officials said the company had been upgrading the dormitories since the United States, citing evidence that the company had engaged in forced labor practices, imposed sanctions on Top Glove in July, and banned the import of some of its products. In response, Top Glove also has begun paying restitution to affected workers.

Top Glove officials said they hope that the outbreak will be under control in two to four weeks. The company sought to assure its customers that the gloves it produced were not contaminated with the coronavirus.

In other news from around the world:

  • Japan and China, its largest trading partner, have agreed to restart business travel between the countries later this month, the Japanese foreign minister said on Wednesday. Business travelers will be exempt from quarantine if they test negative for the coronavirus and submit an itinerary of their activities. The arrangement does not apply to tourists and follows guidelines similar to the ones that Japan has instituted with Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam.

  • Nepal said on Wednesday that it would resume issuing visas on arrival for visitors to the tiny Himalayan country. Even as Nepal’s coronavirus caseload continues to rise, government officials said they had decided to end a nine-month visa suspension in order to save the country’s critically important tourism sector from collapse. About a million tourists visited Nepal in 2019, but trekking trails have been all but empty since the government placed restrictions on international flights and visas as part of a virus containment strategy. The country of 30 million people has reported about 226,000 infections and 1,400 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

  • President Emmanuel Macron of France said on Tuesday that his country was past the peak of its second wave and that shops could reopen on Saturday. Bars and restaurants are unlikely to reopen until mid-January, he said.

Volunteers offering clothes and hot drinks to residents of the Lucerne Hotel earlier this month.
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

About 200 homeless men will have to vacate a hotel on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that has been used as an emergency shelter during the pandemic, a judge ruled on Wednesday, the latest twist in a contentious case that has been a flash point in one of New York City’s most liberal enclaves.

Judge Debra James of Manhattan Supreme Court said that the court lacked jurisdiction over the dispute and that she would dismiss a lawsuit brought by residents of the Financial District after the de Blasio administration decided to move the men from the Lucerne Hotel on West 79th Street to a different one downtown in September.

The Lucerne is one of 63 hotels the city has temporarily used as shelters since the beginning of the epidemic to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus at dormitory-style shelters where single men and women cannot safely distance.

The city’s strategy sparked legal threats, protests, news conferences and the formation of several neighborhood groups — some opposed to these shelters and others in favor. Caught in the middle of the political push-and-pull are the displaced men whose lives have often been upended by evictions, unemployment and other traumatic events.

Specifics about when the men will have to move from the Lucerne, where they have been since July, to their new home, a Radisson Hotel in the Financial District, were not immediately available.

The decision is a blow to many of the men, who said that they had found a sense of belonging on the Upper West Side and a measure of stability, with the community’s help.

The city first tried to move them to a shelter for homeless families near the Empire State Building, but blowback from residents there led to the decision to send them to the hotel in Lower Manhattan. A neighborhood group promptly sued the city to stop the move.

A lawyer representing some of the men at the hotel said that moving them would deprive them of services and jobs that they were able to get by being at the Lucerne.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson during a play against the Tennessee Titans last week.
Credit…Rob Carr/Getty Images

The N.F.L. has moved the Thanksgiving night showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers to Sunday afternoon after nearly a dozen players and staff members on the Ravens tested positive for the coronavirus. The game, between two A.F.C. North rivals with playoff implications, had been scheduled as football’s marquee national TV broadcast.

“This decision was made out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts,” the N.F.L. said in a statement Wednesday.

The outbreak had forced the Ravens to close its training facility on Monday and Tuesday, and is the largest concentration on a single team since late September, when two dozen players and staff members from the Tennessee Titans tested positive. That round of positive tests, which came in the fourth week of the regular season, forced the league to reschedule several of the Titans’ games during the team and its opponents’ bye weeks. The team was also fined $350,000 for its handling of N.F.L. virus protocol.

This latest postponement comes during Week 12 of the regular season, with every team having exhausted their byes, leaving the N.F.L. with far fewer options for rescheduling. By moving Thursday’s game to Sunday, the league avoided having to adjust the schedule further.

Also on Wednesday, top-ranked Alabama said that Coach Nick Saban had tested positive for the virus and that while he received an inaccurate diagnosis last month, this time it was real.

Saban, who has won five national championships at Alabama, will miss this weekend’s Iron Bowl, the in-state rivalry showdown with No. 22 Auburn.

“We hate it that this situation occurred, but as I said many times before, you’ve got to be able to deal with disruptions this year, and our players have been pretty mature about doing that,” Saban, 69, said on a conference call with reporters less than an hour after Alabama announced his positive test.

The N.F.L. issued new guidance on controlling the virus’s spread on Monday, requiring its teams to enforce wearing masks for players during games when they are on the sideline, capping the number of players who travel with a team to 62 and mandating that coaches who opt for face shields wear additional covering.

A bar in Des Moines earlier this month. 
Credit…Kathryn Gamble for The New York Times

In the before times, Thanksgiving Eve was, perhaps, the busiest bar night of the year. This year, it could become a superspreader event that no one is thankful for.

You might know it by a different name — perhaps Drinksgiving or Blackout Wednesday — but the gist is the same: College students home for the holiday meet up with their hometown friends. It’s a night to flirt and reminisce, then stumble home to sleep in a childhood bed.

“You’re going to see your family on Thanksgiving Day, but the night before is reserved for your friends,” said Mike Pesarchick, 22, the editor in chief of The Griffin, the student newspaper of Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y.

The problems here should be obvious. College students are already at high risk of spreading the virus to the people they love, a danger made even graver as they travel home while cases are spiking nationwide.

And bars are notorious coronavirus hot spots: A Washington Post analysis of cellphone data found that reopening bars was correlated with a doubling of cases. You can’t drink through a mask and alcohol lowers your inhibitions: Making out with a high-school ex may be more than just regrettable this year.

Some health officials are clearly worried. Pennsylvania will not allow bars and restaurants to sell alcohol after 5 p.m. today. In Maryland, police departments have increased staffing to crack down on Covid-19 violations and keep drunken drivers in check. On Long Island, the Suffolk County executive is “particularly concerned” about tonight.

But many other states have allowed bars to stay open, even as cases rise.

Acapulco earlier this month. The C.D.C. has urged Americans to avoid all travel to Mexico due to surging coronavirus cases. 
Credit…David Guzman/EPA, via Shutterstock

With coronavirus cases surging around the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday urged Americans to avoid all travel to Mexico and assigned its highest-level advisory against traveling to the country, which surpassed one million coronavirus cases in the past week.

Although Mexico’s border with the United States has been closed for nonessential travel for months — and will remain closed until at least Dec. 21 — Americans have been able to travel to the country by plane.

The agency’s advisory came with a warning that those who become infected with the coronavirus while traveling abroad can be denied re-entry into the United States.

“If you are exposed to someone with Covid-19 during travel, you might be quarantined and not permitted to return to the United States until 14 days after your last known exposure,” the C.D.C. cautioned.

The C.D.C.’s guidance came two days after agency officials asked Americans to stay home for Thanksgiving, but in the five days since that plea, more than 4.8 million people have been screened by the Transportation Security Administration. On Tuesday, 912,090 people were screened, far fewer than last year’s 2.4 million.

Mexico’s tourism officials were expecting this winter to be a busy one. This month, Southwest Airlines announced that it would resume its weekly nonstop service between Nashville and Cancun, and United Airlines announced that beginning in December it would restart nonstop service between Cleveland and Cancun for the first time since August 2019.

People keeping their plans and continuing to travel for Thursday’s holiday speaks to a sense of pandemic fatigue that many are experiencing, travel industry experts said, but it could also be because many airlines are offering vouchers and credits to travel at a later date, but not refunds.

Americans have agonized over Thanksgiving this year, weighing skyrocketing coronavirus numbers and blunt warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention against gathering with family for a traditional, carbohydrate-laden ritual.

The United States reported more than 2,200 virus-related deaths on Tuesday alone, the highest daily total since May 6. The country’s seven-day average for new cases has also exceeded 175,000 for the first time.

Around 27 percent of Americans plan to dine with people outside their household, according to interviews conducted by the global data-and-survey firm Dynata at the request of The New York Times.

Views on whether to risk Thanksgiving gatherings appear to track closely with political views, with respondents identifying as Democrats far less likely to be planning a multihousehold holiday.

Megan Baldwin, 42, had planned to drive from New York to Montana to be with her parents, but last week, she canceled her plans.

“I thought I would get tested and take all the precautions to be safe, but how could I risk giving it to my parents, who are in their 70s?” she said, adding that they were not happy with the decision.

“All they want is to see their grandkids,” she said, “but I couldn’t forgive myself if we got them sick. It’s not worth it.”

Others decided to take the plunge, concluding that the emotional boost of being together outweighed the risk of becoming infected, after a grim and worrying year.

“We all agreed that we need this — we need to be together during this crazy, lonely time, and we are just going to be careful and hope that we will all be OK,” said Martha Dillon, who will converge with relatives from four different states on her childhood home in Kentucky.

The AAA has forecast a 10 percent overall decline in Thanksgiving travel compared with last year, the largest year-on-year drop since the recession of 2008. But the change is far smaller, around 4.3 percent, for those traveling by car, who make up a huge majority of those who plan to travel — roughly 47.8 million people.

About 912,000 people were screened by the Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday, which was 1.5 million fewer people than were seen on the same day in 2019, according to federal data published on Wednesday.

Airlines are struggling from a dramatic decline in demand that has forced them to drop flights and make big capacity cuts, said Katherine Estep, a spokeswoman for Airlines for America, an industry trade group. “Currently, cancellations are spiking, and carriers are burning $180 million in cash every day just to stay operating,” she said. “The economic impact on U.S. airlines, their employees, travelers and the shipping public is staggering.”

Demand for travel by train is down more sharply, at about 20 percent of what it was last year, said Jason Abrams, a spokesman for Amtrak.

Susan Katz, 73, said she canceled plans to spend Thanksgiving with her daughter last Friday, after watching a monologue by Rachel Maddow, the MSNBC host, describing her partner’s bout of coronavirus and her fear that it would prove fatal.

“Her emotion, Rachel Maddow’s emotion, made it so real, it just moved us,” Ms. Katz said. “I probably called her within a few hours of seeing that.”

Ms. Katz, who lives in Raleigh, N.C., said she would spend the holiday alone with her husband. She is trying to decide whether to bother thawing a turkey breast.

Warnings from experts swayed Laura Bult, 33, to cancel her Sunday flight to St. Louis two days before she was scheduled to leave.

“Doing the small part of being one less person circulating through an airport felt important enough to me,” she said.

Venezuelan women in Colombian refugee camps like this one have suffered a 40 percent rise in gender-based violence in the first nine months of 2020, compared with a year earlier.
Credit…Adriana Loureiro Fernandez for The New York Times

The top refugee official at the United Nations said Wednesday that the rise in coronavirus infections in much of the world has worsened an already extant toxic side effect of the pandemic: the abuse of refugee women and girls.

“We are receiving alarming reports of sharp increases in the risks of gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence, trafficking, sexual exploitation and child marriages,” said the official, Filippo Grandi, the high commissioner for refugees.

In a statement, the U.N. Refugee Agency, the leading provider of assistance to many of the world’s nearly 80 million refugees, attributed the spike in violence in at least 27 countries to “a lethal mix of confinement, deepening poverty and economic duress” caused partly by the pandemic.

The refugee agency reported double-digit increases in gender-based violence in the African nations of Cameroon and the Central African Republic. In Colombia, home to Venezuelans who have fled the dysfunction and mayhem in their own country, gender-based violence increased 40 percent in the first nine months of 2020 compared with a year earlier, the agency said.

In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, which has an enormous population of Rohingya refugees from neighboring Myanmar, the agency said 42 percent of respondents to a survey reported that conditions were now more unsafe for women and girls “inside the home” because of the coronavirus. In particular, the agency said, women and girls risk “intimate partner violence, resulting from tensions over containment measures, movement restrictions and financial difficulties.”

U.N. officials have been warning since the pandemic began that a pre-existing “shadow pandemic” of gender-based violence against women and girls was intensifying because of the health crisis. U.N. Women, an agency that promotes gender equality, said in a statement on Wednesday that for every three months the coronavirus lockdowns continue, an additional 15 million women are expected to be affected by violence.

Frontline health care workers have been the one constant, the medical soldiers forming row after row in the ground war against the raging spread of the coronavirus. But as cases and deaths shatter daily records, foreshadowing one of the deadliest years in American history, the very people whose life mission is caring for others are on the verge of collective collapse.

In interviews, more than two dozen frontline medical workers described the unrelenting stress that has become an endemic part of the health care crisis nationwide. Many related spikes in anxiety and depressive thoughts, as well as a chronic sense of hopelessness and deepening fatigue, spurred in part by the cavalier attitudes of many Americans who seem to have lost patience with the pandemic.

Surveys from around the globe have recorded rising rates of depression, trauma and burnout among a group of professionals already known for high rates of suicide. And while some have sought therapy or medications to cope, others fear that engaging in these support systems could blemish their records and dissuade future employers from hiring them.

In Texas, a critical care physician battles the lingering memories of the summer weeks when his entire family was sickened with Covid-19, after he came home from the hospital infected.

In New York, an emergency room nurse grapples with the trauma of the spring, as cases once again rise ahead of the winter months.

In Arizona, an emergency medicine physician deals with the déjà vu of a local outbreak — an eerie echo of the swell in New York he experienced in March, April and May.

In Colorado, a geriatrician fights to find hope amid a slew of nursing home deaths and the stigma of seeking mental health treatment during the nation’s time of crisis.

America’s health workers, they said, will not benefit from empty words of praise. The recent rises in cases could have been prevented. “It’s so disheartening. We’re coming here to work every day to keep the public safe,” said Jina Saltzman, a physician assistant in Chicago. “But the public isn’t trying to keep the public safe.”

And on the front lines, health workers are no stronger or safer than anyone else. “I’m not trying to be a hero. I don’t want to be a hero,” said Dr. Cleavon Gilman, the Arizona emergency physician. “I want to be alive.”

A drive-through testing site in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Visitors without appointments were not able to receive tests because of high demand.
Credit…Bryan Denton for The New York Times

Early in the pandemic, public health workers all over the United States launched efforts to trace outbreaks back to their origins, whether at busy restaurants or crowded meatpacking plants. But with the virus now spreading rapidly in much of the country, overwhelmed state and local health officials are scaling back those contact tracing efforts, or even abandoning them altogether.

Revealing the trail of transmission from one person to another is a key tool for containing the spread of an infectious disease. Within 48 hours of testing positive, patients receive a phone call from a trained contact tracer, who conducts a detailed interview, and then hunts down each new person who may have been exposed, warning them to quarantine and get tested.

That, at least, is how it’s supposed to work.

Now, with the United States recording a staggering two million new cases in less two weeks and 42 states recording sustained caseload increases, public health agencies are making hard choices about how much they can still realistically learn, and acknowledging that contact tracing efforts can no longer be expected to contain the virus’s spread.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance that called on health departments to focus contact tracing efforts on people who had tested positive within the past six days and especially those who were at the greatest risk of infecting others. Patients infected more than 14 days ago should not be traced, the new guidance says.

States like Pennsylvania, which had already been revising its tracing protocols, have announced that they will follow the C.D.C.’s new guidance.

Dr. Nirav Shah, who heads Maine’s coronavirus response, explained how his state would scale back its ambitions: Contact tracers would touch base with each new patient only once, and not throughout the course of their illness, to make sure they were well and quarantining.

“Unfortunately, going forward, we have had to make a difficult decision, and I wanted you to hear about that difficult decision from me,” he said when announcing the change.

“Sadly, in Maine and throughout the country, the virus is moving faster and spreading faster than the ability of states to train and deploy new public health investigators.”

Similar decisions were being made all over the country.

New Hampshire last week said that it would only trace cases of people connected to outbreaks or in specific at-risk age or racial groups.

Minnesota’s Itasca County this month said that it was abandoning contact tracing, advising the public that, “if you are in a group setting, just assume that someone has Covid.”

In North Dakota, state officials said last month that they could no longer have one-on-one conversations with everyone who may have been exposed. Aside from situations involving schools and health care facilities, people who test positive were advised to notify their own contacts, leaving residents largely on their own to follow the trail of the outbreak.

Public health experts remain hopeful that contact tracing remains useful in identifying clusters and determining the broad contours of how and where infections are spreading.

“There are diminishing returns when the outbreak is out of control, like it is currently, but the returns aren’t zero,” said Dr. Thomas Tsai, a health policy researcher at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The discourse around our treatments tends to be all or nothing.”

Crystal Watson, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said contract tracers should give first priority to the patients most at risk of spreading the virus.

“It still saves lives, it still breaks chains of transmission,” she said. “Every person we can get to quarantine at home, who is not out in the community — that contributes to reduction in incidence.”

Rich DiPentima, New Hampshire’s former chief of communicable disease and epidemiology, said contact tracing capacity much of in the United States has been weak since the pandemic began, so it is no surprise that it can’t keep up now.

“We have a situation where we missed the boat in the beginning,” he said of the situation in his state. “Then you throw up your hands, saying you can’t do this any more.”

Credit…Uli Seit for The New York Times

People infected with the coronavirus may shed extremely high amounts of virus in their stool even before they show symptoms — if they ever do — suggesting that testing wastewater may offer health officials a way to spot budding community outbreaks early, researchers have found.

Scientists at M.I.T. and elsewhere compared coronavirus concentrations in sewage from an urban treatment facility in Massachusetts with Covid-19 cases in the same area and found that changes in coronavirus levels in wastewater preceded rises and falls in positive test results by four to 10 days.

Their study has yet to be peer-reviewed, but the findings, along with those in a study published in the October issue of Nature Biotechnology by Yale researchers, suggest that sewage surveillance could play an important role in helping contain the pandemic.

The practice might give public health officials warning about infection upticks perhaps a week earlier than clinical-testing data alone can. That means that they could issue health advisories or order closings sooner, giving those measures a better chance of working.

Had such monitoring been available early in the pandemic, heath officials might have realized sooner that the virus was spreading in communities on both coasts and been better able to forecast where emergency medical workers and scarce supplies like personal protective gear and ventilators would be needed.

“You would want any additional information you could get about the severity and location of the virus,” said Ted Smith, an associate professor of medicine and director of the Center for Healthy Air, Water and Soil for the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute at the University of Louisville

Early diagnostic testing was so limited, Dr. Smith said, that “our ability to see the prevalence of the virus was really compromised.”

Sugarbush Resort, in Vermont.
Credit…Caleb Kenna for The New York Times

Last week, Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont announced newly tightened quarantine rules for anyone visiting the state, which could mean fewer out-of-state visitors to area ski slopes and fewer dollars coming into a hospitality industry badly hurt by the pandemic.

With international destinations out of reach and domestic air travel feeling risky, the state had the biggest ski market in the nation — New York and the Northeast corridor — at its doorstep, and the state’s 20 alpine and 30 cross-country ski destinations were feeling optimistic.

But the governor’s announcement last Tuesday of virus-containment measures, combined with a huge spike in cases across the Northeast, triggered a wave of cancellations at hotels and inns and fear among tourism-dependent businesses that travelers would shun Vermont this winter because of the pandemic.

Visitors who do travel to Vermont must now commit to a 14-day quarantine (at home or in state), or a quarantine of seven days followed by a negative Covid-19 test. The new rules hit hard at a big market for Vermont — people who drive up for the weekend and who are unlikely to quarantine for a week for two or three days of skiing.

The Vermont economy depends on winter ski-season visitors who spend more than $1.6 billion a year in the tiny state, according to the Vermont Ski Areas Association. Vermont is something of a crown jewel of Eastern skiing, annually recording the most skier-day numbers in the East, around 4 million per season, a figure that rivals Utah. New Hampshire, by comparison, sees a little over 2 million per winter.

Ski resort operators, particularly in southern Vermont, which draws more weekenders from Connecticut, New Jersey, and the Albany and Long Island areas of New York than their northern counterparts, said the quarantine will hurt.

“We’re going to feel that,” said Bill Cairns, the president of Bromley Mountain Resort.

A view of Manhattan from Brooklyn. Thanksgiving will be a more lonely experience for New Yorkers this year.
Credit…John Taggart for The New York Times

Though her mother lives in Arizona, Cecily Smith typically spends Thanksgiving in New York City with friends who feel like family.

Some years, they shared holiday meals at restaurants. Other times, they held potlucks in cramped apartments.

But with the country in the grip of a surging pandemic, Ms. Smith will spend Thanksgiving this year alone in her Harlem apartment, making herself cocktails and binge-watching Netflix. Her friends, she said, plan to do the same.

“I know I’m going to be lonely,” said Ms. Smith, 46, who has lived in the city for about 20 years. “It is lonely. This is a whole lonely experience.”

The pandemic has altered holiday plans all over the United States this year. But in a bustling city where traditions often extend beyond family to bring friends and acquaintances around the table, the loneliness can especially gnaw.

The Daily Poster

Listen to ‘The Daily’: A Day at the Food Pantry

Soaring numbers of New York City residents face food shortages as a result of the pandemic. Here are some of them.

transcript

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0:00/37:26

37:26

transcript

Listen to ‘The Daily’: A Day at the Food Pantry

Hosted by Michael Barbaro; produced by Annie Brown, Stella Tan and Austin Mitchell; and edited by Mike Benoist and Lisa Tobin.

Soaring numbers of New York City residents face food shortages as a result of the pandemic. Here are some of them.

annie brown

— I don’t know.

stella tan

Yeah, that must be it, right?

annie brown

What’s that — that must be it there. Yeah, the Halal food pantry. All right, it’s 7:04 on a Friday morning. [CAR HONKING] The pantry doesn’t open for another couple of hours. And people are already lined up down the block. They’ve brought baskets or little portable chairs so they can sit down while they wait. And they’re waiting for it to open.

nikita stewart

Yes. So before the pandemic, I had covered pantries. And, you know, there would be a few people in line. If you were walking past, you might not have known that it was a pantry. But when the pandemic hit, the need was just unbelievable. You had job loss, but you also had this pandemic that made it difficult for a lot of people to actually volunteer at the pantries. So a lot of smaller pantries have closed. And I’m not saying, like, a few. Like hundreds closed because they were mainly run by elderly volunteers who just could not be exposed to the virus.

annie brown

So as the number of people who need food assistance is growing, the number of pantries has actually diminished. So these things are happening at the same time.

nikita stewart

Yes. And one of the reasons you also see so many people in this line is because this line serves a lot of immigrants. And so it’s like, what are you going to do if you’ve lost your job and you have no public assistance? Getting in this line, you know, this is not a choice. This is a necessity.

michael barbaro

From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is “The Daily.”

For the last eight months, all over New York City —

ali

I actually got up around 3:00 a.m. And when I looked, I saw the line just already there.

michael barbaro

— lines have wrapped around food pantries.

ali

People are going to wait, like, seven, eight hours just to get some groceries.

michael barbaro

As a million city residents face new food shortages in the wake of the pandemic.

ali

Wow, man, it’s something else. I’ve never seen anything like this, though. I never thought our food pantry would be something like this, or there would be such a big need. Covid just changed a whole lot of things. It has changed entire way of life.

michael barbaro

Today: As we approach Thanksgiving, a holiday defined by food, social services reporter Nikita Stewart with the story of one day at one food pantry in Brooklyn.

It’s Wednesday, November 25.

volunteer

(MAKING ANNOUNCEMENT) Social distancing, six feet apart. You are too close — yeah, it’s loud — you are too close together.

nikita stewart

Earlier this fall, I went with Daily Producers Annie Brown and Stella Tan to Council of Peoples Organization, or COPO, a food pantry in a neighborhood called Midwood in Brooklyn. As other pantries have closed, this one has seen its demand skyrocket.

mohammad razvi

We’d never expected this much. I never expected it. We thought it was — we were doing like 60 clients a week. And now it’s just unbelievable. Thousands — at least 2,000 on the line.

nikita stewart

We meet up with Mohammad Razvi, the executive director and founder of COPO.

mohammad razvi

— is a community based organization that is to help our Americans and new Americans to fulfill their American dream.

nikita stewart

Mohammad himself is an immigrant —

mohammad razvi

I came here when I was about 6 years old with my parents, immigrating from Pakistan.

nikita stewart

— and grew up nearby.

mohammad razvi

I grew up in the Sheepshead Bay projects in Brooklyn. My dad was running two jobs. My mother was running two jobs. I grew up on food stamps. Myself, my kids also. But I worked and I worked and I worked. And you know, I got to running five different businesses. And then 9/11 happened. And after 9/11, people came to my stores, saying, I need help for immigration services. And I ultimately gave up all my businesses. I sold it all off. And this is all I do for the past 18 years.

[car honking]
nikita stewart

COPO operates out of a storefront on busy Coney Island Avenue. By 10:00 a.m., two lines have formed on the sidewalk.

volunteer

(MAKING ANNOUNCEMENT) Essential workers should be on the left side.

nikita stewart

To one side are seniors and first responders. They’ll be given food first. And on the other side is everyone else, in a line that wraps all the way around the block.

volunteer

(MAKING ANNOUNCEMENT) I want a straight line so we can start soon, please.

nikita stewart

A series of tents are set up in the street where parking spots once were.

stella tan

— in this tent that they set up.

nikita stewart

Filled with boxes and boxes of fresh produce and canned goods.

stella tan

And pallets of food. I see some canned corn, canned collard greens, chickpeas.

nikita stewart

It’s a lot of food, literally hundreds of boxes.

[indistinct chatter]
nikita stewart

Dozens of volunteers are running around, getting everything organized and ready to be handed out.

mohammad razvi

So the plan for the day is, as the line grows, there’s going to be 1, 2, 3, 4 people who are going to start to give them tickets.

ali

55, 56, 57.

mohammad razvi

And they’re going to say, OK, please do not lose your slip. Otherwise you will lose your spot in line. Because that’s a huge thing we learned.

pantry-goer

(SHARPLY) She came about 15, 20 minutes ago. Don’t give her no number.

ali

Please, let me take care of this. It’s OK. I don’t want to argue. Please just go back.

mohammad razvi

People were fighting. I’m like, I can’t believe it. You know, you guys, don’t fight, please.

ali

OK, for now, just let it be, please. It’s one extra person right now. Just let it be. It’s OK.

mohammad razvi

So this starts at 10:30. So we’re going to have a team — what time is it? Is it almost time?

volunteer

Almost.

mohammad razvi

Oh, five minutes now. Let me go tell Kelsey. Where is she? Oh, give me a second. (CALLING OUT) Dillard! Dillard.

10

25, get Kelsey, do the group. OK, we’re going to start, guys.

nikita stewart

At 10:30, after hours of volunteer prep work and hours of people waiting in line, it’s finally time to give out food.

mohammad razvi

Go, guys! Who’s my number one? You’re number one. Vamos aquí. ¿Qué paso? Hold this. Thank you, auntie. Come this way.

nikita stewart

One after another, people step up with their empty bags or carts and move down a line of volunteers.

mohammad razvi

Oh, she gets the carrots. Then the watermelon, then the beets, then the onions. And then we get the cucumbers, the canned fruits, tuna and tomatoes. And then we get rice, and then we got the beans and a gallon of milk. Oh, and we got eggs — egg whites. Wonderful. There you go. And then you’re also going to get cilantro.

volunteer

Here you go, ma’am.

pantry-goer

OK, thank you. [INAUDIBLE] cilantro [INAUDIBLE]?

volunteer

You already got cilantro, right?

nikita stewart

As people start to be served —

[music]
annie brown

Shall we walk?

mohammad razvi

Yeah, go on.

annie brown

We’d love to speak with some people in line.

mohammad razvi

OK, so let’s talk.

nikita stewart

We take a walk down the block to meet folks who are waiting.

annie brown

Hi there.

sabira

Hi.

annie brown

Can you give your name? What’s your name.

sabira

My name’s Sabira.

nikita stewart

And how old are you?

sabira

I’m 55.

And I’m unemployed. Because our store fired us, because store filed for bankruptcy. And I was a register cashier.

nikita stewart

How long have you been coming here?

sabira

Already like second month, I think so. We found out they’re giving food, and we start coming.

nikita stewart

And what time did you get here today?

sabira

I came here like around 4 o’clock. And I just put my cart —

annie brown

4 a.m.

sabira

Yes, 4 a.m. to put my cart and go home, and then come back 8 o’clock.

[music]
annie brown

How long have you been coming here to this pantry?

pantry-goer 1

About two months.

pantry-goer 2

About six months.

pantry-goer 3

Last week I came, and that’s it.

stella tan

May I ask how old you are?

pantry-goer 4

I’m 14.

stella tan

14. And how long have you been coming to this food pantry?

pantry-goer 4

I would say a few months, basically, because my mom, she worked at a nursing home. And my dad, he used to be like a food vendor. So we had no source of income. So we had to resort to here. And it was very helpful. And it helped us —

nikita stewart

We heard this kind of stuff from nearly everybody, that they started coming only in the past few months. And they had to come because of job losses due to the pandemic.

pantry-goer 5

I’m working for the hotel, housekeeper.

pantry-goer 6

Making donut, Dunkin’ Donuts.

pantry-goer 7

I sing opera.

pantry-goer 8

I worked at Stouffer’s, the package department.

nikita stewart

How did you feel coming to the pantry for the first time?

pantry-goer 9

Oh, my goodness. I feel so depressed. Because I never go to the line for food. Because always working. I had 30 years in the company working. So I said, oh my god. But you know, it does help a lot.

nikita stewart

What’s your name?

natasha

Natasha.

nikita stewart

Natasha. And how old are you, Natasha?

natasha

I’m 32.

nikita stewart

When did you start coming?

natasha

So when the Covid-19 started, that’s when we started coming. Because my husband has lost his job and I have two kids.

nikita stewart

What does your husband do for a living?

natasha

So he’s a cab driver.

nikita stewart

Oh.

natasha

Yeah. And it was very, very, very hard for us. Because before, I would think that food pantries is something where people go, they’re homeless people. But I didn’t know that we, as a family, we would be ever in need.

nikita stewart

What did you see in your kitchen — or what did you not see in your kitchen where you thought, I have to go to the pantry?

natasha

Yeah, before, were able to — we could go to the store at anytime we want. We buy any kind of snacks for the kids, to have lots of vegetables, lot of fruits, lot of whole-grain pasta and all this. And my older one is 4. He was used to going to the store with us and buying whatever he wanted. So it was not easy task to explain to him that, right now, we’re just not able to do that. But slowly, slowly, he understand. And now, whenever we go to the store, he’s like, OK, how much is this and how much is this? Can we afford that?

nikita stewart

You talked about snacks for your kids. What have you not been able to give them that you could before your husband lost his job?

natasha

Mostly fruit.

nikita stewart

What’s their favorite fruit?

natasha

My favorite fruit or their favorite fruit?

nikita stewart

Both. What’s your favorite and what’s their favorite?

natasha

So they really like cantaloupe. Yeah, they really like cantaloupe and watermelon. And that’s what I like, too, the watermelon and cantaloupe.

mohammad razvi

All right, so let’s go over there.

nikita stewart

Hi.

pantry-goer

Hi there.

nikita stewart

How are you?

pantry-goer

Hi, good.

nikita stewart

What time did you get here today?

pantry-goer

Oh, I get like 8:00, 8:30, yeah.

nikita stewart

Mm-hmm. And how long have you been coming to the pantry?

pantry-goer

Oh, this is the first time I’m coming here.

nikita stewart

Oh, this is the first time?

pantry-goer

Yes. I heard this is a halal place. And I’m a Muslim. And I like to come here to get halal food.

nikita stewart

OK. How old are you?

pantry-goer

I’m 25.

nikita stewart

And are you working right now?

pantry-goer

I actually work in a Burger King. And they are open right now, but I am really scared to go there because I have old parents to take care of. And I’m living in a one-bedroom apartment. So I don’t have a place to quarantine for them. So yeah, it’s really hard time for us. I don’t know how I say the word. It’s like I feel like I’m a poor person right now, and out of money. I never thought about it. Because I thought U.S.A. is a dream place where I can live my life. I mean, if it’s not wearing a mask, then I would never come, I think. Because of the mask, I feel like I can protect my identity. Like no one can see me. And I can come here and get food.

annie brown

What would you be afraid of if you weren’t wearing a mask? Why not come?

pantry-goer

Because, like, maybe my neighbor or maybe someone will see me. And I don’t want to be in the situation to get free foods. Because I can work. But yeah, this is the nightmare for us.

But actually I didn’t know there would be a long line. So yeah, now I feel like I’m not alone like that. Yeah.

stella tan

So my name is Stella. What’s your name?

maria

Maria.

stella tan

Maria. And may I ask how old you are?

maria

28.

stella tan

And I see that you have one on the way. How many months are you?

maria

7 and 1/2.

stella tan

7 and 1/2. Wow. Almost there. And you’re carrying so many bags right now.

maria

Yeah.

nikita stewart

And what made you first start coming to the pantry?

maria

Because I lost my job. I was working on the daycare. I mean, we have to eat. [CHUCKLES] And I’m a single mother, and I’m pregnant. And I said, oh my god, what am I going to do? So it was horrible for me. I mean, I’m supposed to have twins. But for this virus, it’s like — and I lost my job. So it was like depressed and everything. So I lost one. But —

nikita stewart

I’m sorry.

maria

— it was difficult. But now it’s much better. Yeah, thank God. And this has helped a lot.

nikita stewart

Do you know what you’re having?

maria

A girl. [CHUCKLES]

nikita stewart

A girl. Do you have a name yet?

maria

Yes. Yes. It’s Ayana (sp).

nikita stewart

Oh. Why Ayana?

maria

It’s Ayana, it’s a Mexican name. It’s for our village. So it means “gift from the sky.” In the future maybe she could have, like, strong woman. Like right now, before she born, she’s, like, fight for the life and everything. So I think she’s going to be a great woman, fighter and everything. Yeah, that’s what I think.

[music]
annie brown

What number are you on?

ali

678. And we still have three hours to go.

michael barbaro

We’ll be right back.

mohammad razvi

Keep moving, keep moving. I need you to keep moving. Thank you so much. Quickly, guys. [INAUDIBLE] come on.

[sirens]
annie brown

Shall we get an update from —

nikita stewart

Mohammad.

annie brown

— Mohammad about the food situation? Can I ask you for an update about where we are with the amount of food? What have you run out of?

mohammad razvi

I’ve run out of the milk. Milk is on its way. I ran out of the vegetables. And I ran out of a whole bunch of other stuff.

annie brown

Yeah. [LAUGHS]

nikita stewart

This really is slim pickings. Remember, when we first arrived, this whole tent was filled with food. And now I just see boxes and boxes of canned tomatoes. But, like —

stella tan

Some black beans.

nikita stewart

— the cabbage is gone. The watermelons went first. What else was out here? Like —

stella tan

Cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, onions.

nikita stewart

The carrots and potatoes, just gone.

stella tan

All the produce is gone.

nikita stewart

The produce is gone. And for a lot of people, that’s the most expensive thing. So a bag of black beans, we could find for $1.00 or $2.00. Produce is very different. Seeing this right now, at — what time is it — at 2:20, it now gives me a better understanding of why people work here at 4 a.m., and people were putting their carts down at 1 a.m.

mohammad razvi

Keep moving, keep moving. No, no!

volunteer

No, you cannot take the oil. I need you to move forward.

[interposing voices]
annie brown

Seems like a fight over whether or not she can have more oil.

mohammad razvi

No, no, no, no.

annie brown

Oh, that must be so hard.

mohammad razvi

It is, it is, because everybody is saying they need. I know everybody needs, but we’ve got to share with everyone. And that’s the objective. Oh, I’m so worried.

volunteer

Come on, guys, come on, come on, come on!

mohammad razvi

Right this way. I’m still waiting on my milk.

annie brown

Aw, what are you worried about?

mohammad razvi

I was supposed to get 10 pallets of milk and yogurt, which also I wanted to distribute.

annie brown

And it hasn’t come.

mohammad razvi

It hasn’t come. So you know, it happens.

annie brown

And so what’s happened with the line?

mohammad razvi

So we told them to wait, because in nine minutes I should have a truck here.

volunteer

So nine minutes?

mohammad razvi

Yeah, hopefully in nine minutes.

volunteer

OK, I heard 40 minutes.

mohammad razvi

No, he said 2:30. So it’s 2:20.

nikita stewart

Mohammad stops the line just before 2:30 to wait for a big shipment of milk and yogurt to arrive. It’s now nearly four hours since the food started to be distributed.

pantry-goer

Look, please, I’ve been waiting a long time. I was already on line. I was, like, down the block. Can I just have what I want? Do I have to wait here?

volunteer

No, if you don’t want to wait for the milk —

pantry-goer

I can be patient, it’s fine.

volunteer

Do you want to wait for the milk?

pantry-goer

Yes, of course.

volunteer

OK, gotcha.

annie brown

It’s 2:40 in the afternoon. The milk and the yogurt was supposed to arrive at 2:30 and it’s still not here. And now people are getting upset.

pantry-goer

I just needed a cigarette break. [GROANS] You know what I’m saying? But I can’t have one. [CHUCKLES] I don’t know what else to do, OK?

nikita stewart

There’s just a lot of tension. And that’s what I’ve seen in pretty much every pantry I have gone to. There is some kind of complaint or argument, either between people who are in line or the people in line versus the volunteers.

annie brown

It must be so frustrating to be at the mercy of whenever the food arrives.

nikita stewart

Well, here’s the thing about covering poverty. What hurts me the most is the lack of choices and the waiting. People who have nothing, the waiting is horrible.

I don’t think people understand how valuable time is. And the time (TEARFULLY) you have to take.

annie brown

Yeah.

nikita stewart

For most of my life, I tried not to think about this stuff. I didn’t want to think about poverty. So most my journalistic career, I spent covering politics and political corruption. And then, in 2015, The Times asked me if I would be interested in covering social services. And I had to ask myself why I hadn’t covered social services in all the years that I had been a reporter. And I realized that it was just because it hit too close to home.

My family went in and out of poverty. Sometimes there were these great, prosperous times, and there were other times that we were on food stamps. And I have those memories of going to pick up my free lunch card. Sometimes I didn’t go pick it up, because I was afraid someone would see me. And other kids would be like, oh, why aren’t you eating today? And I’d be like, oh, I’m not hungry. And that was so not true. I was starving.

And for the most part my family kept food. But there were times when the food stamps had run out and it wasn’t the first of the month yet. And I remember this time when my mom was at work. My sister and I, we opened the refrigerator, we opened the freezer, and there was very little there except for these two frozen burritos. We had been washing the dishes. And when I went to open my burrito, it fell into the soapy water and I couldn’t eat it. And I remember my sister split her burrito with me. And that’s what we ate that day.

(TEARFULLY) And it’s something I’ll never forget. Just thinking about that sharing and the necessity of sharing. And so it’s really hit me during the pandemic, reporting on the people who’ve been in the lines. Because I think about those frozen burritos.

And there’s this tendency for people like me, who’ve experienced poverty, to not talk about it. You want to forget about it, like it didn’t happen. But if we all keep this secret, it creates this stigma where there shouldn’t be one. So I’m glad I’m able to talk about my family’s poverty now, at least a little bit.

annie brown

Did anyone —

stella tan

Yeah, where is the truck?

annie brown

I don’t know.

nikita stewart

It must be down there.

[engine revving]
annie brown

I have had the feeling that the truck is about to arrive for about 45 minutes now. The line’s gotten longer.

nikita stewart

I know. I thought it was going to be over. And then I’m like, oh, more people have shown up now.

annie brown

Yeah.

[car honking]
nikita stewart

Around 3 o’clock —

annie brown

(HESITANTLY) And looks like this is it.

nikita stewart

— the dairy truck finally arrives.

[crowd cheering]
nikita stewart

Volunteers get to work unloading it. And Mohammad starts the line moving again.

mohammad razvi

Wow.

annie brown

How do you feel now?

mohammad razvi

I feel so good now. I just wanted to get that stuff to them. No, you go to go in line. It’s OK. It’s all good. I’m not going to drink all that milk. The line is back on Avenue H. I’m going to take a look.

annie brown

What’s that?

mohammad razvi

The line is back to Avenue H. [COUGHS]

annie brown

Oh no. [PIANO MUSIC]

nikita stewart

For another hour, Mohammad and his dozens of volunteers shepherd person after person through the line, giving out whatever they’ve got left.

stella tan

How do you feel about what you ended up getting today?

pantry-goer

Actually, I feel really great. Because they gave us the organic milk — organic chocolate milk. That will be great for my kids. They love chocolate milk. Yogurt — it’s also organic. So my kids would love that. Cucumbers are good for salad. I love that too. I find this food super healthy. And I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here and to get the free food.

stella tan

Awesome. Thank you so much.

pantry-goer

Thank you, sweetie.

stella tan

Take care.

[music]
nikita stewart

By 4 o’clock, the sidewalk that had been filled with people all day is empty.

[music]
mohammad razvi

It’s all good.

annie brown

What do you say?

mohammad razvi

Thank God. Thank God we were able to get everybody on the line.

annie brown

Yeah.

mohammad razvi

I just don’t want anybody to be turned away.

annie brown

Yeah.

mohammad razvi

You know, because they’re here, they need.

ali

It feels good, you know? You gotta count your blessings. I mean, it’s a blessing for us to be in these people’s lives. For me it definitely is.

nikita stewart

This is Ali, one of COPO’s staff members.

ali

It’s a big thing going on over here. And I hope it continues. I really do hope it continues after December 31. Because that’s like cutoff right now. We don’t know what to do after that.

stella tan

What do you mean that’s the cutoff?

ali

In terms of funding. This is a private foundation. The city didn’t give us anything. So we’re trying to get money from the city to continue this. But they’re doing a lot of cuts in the budget.

nikita stewart

So most pantries in the city operate through private funding. And there are these big question marks about how they’ll manage this winter, when the pandemic is expected to get even worse. In the past, before the pandemic, a lot of the pantries relied on big-time contributors who could give $100,000, $500,000 — a million dollars. And that money has kind of dried up. I talked to this one director. He’s been calling all of his big-time contributors. And they’re saying right now they don’t know what the stock market is going to do. So they don’t know what they’re going to be able to give. This is all really bad news for millions of New Yorkers who are getting in line these days, and tens of millions of people around the country who rely on pantries for their literal survival. You show up at a pantry and you wait for hours, and they might run out of food. And if you’re struggling financially, you can give up certain things. You can give up new clothes. And maybe you don’t give gifts to your kids or your grandkids this Christmas. But you can’t not eat.

mohammad razvi

Thank you so much for coming. Please, right this way. Let me just get my last ravioli out. [CHUCKLES]

nikita stewart

Mohammad has been on his feet for nine hours, nonstop.

mohammad razvi

Thank you. Oh, no, thank you for being here, guys.

nikita stewart

And he’s a little worse for wear.

annie brown

So she we take account of your state at the end of the day? You have a bloody finger.

mohammad razvi

Oh, that’s OK. [CHUCKLES]

annie brown

You have a lost voice. And you have dog poop on your shoe.

mohammad razvi

Oh no.

annie brown

[LAUGHS]

mohammad razvi

I got to wash my feet now.

annie brown

[LAUGHS]

mohammad razvi

But it’s beautiful. There’s no line.

annie brown

There’s no line. All right, thanks so much.

mohammad razvi

God bless. Take care, guys.

nikita stewart

Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

stella tan

Thank you.

[music]

[PHONE RINGS]

mohammad razvi

Hey. Good morning.

stella tan

Good morning, Mohammad. How are you?

mohammad razvi

I’m doing wonderful.

stella tan

Good. Thank you for taking my call. I know it’s a busy time.

mohammad razvi

Yes, absolutely. So talk to me. What’s going on?

stella tan

Well, so I guess I’ll start here. So when we visited you last, it was already six months into the pandemic. And people were making the food pantry into a routine. But now it’s November. It’s getting cold. It’s getting dark. We’re heading into the winter and the holidays. And it feels like it would be more difficult now to wait outside the food pantry for hours. And I just wonder, have you felt a change in people’s mood or their approach to the food pantry as it’s gotten colder?

mohammad razvi

The mood hasn’t changed, but they’re still in need. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But we’re trying to purchase these heaters. You ever seen in the restaurants, the heaters are in the tents outside? It looks like a little umbrella. So they get a little bit of warmth. And we’re trying to see how we’re going to speed it up. You know, we’re just trying.

stella tan

Yeah. Well, tomorrow is Friday. And so that is the food pantry’s day. And will you be opening?

mohammad razvi

Yeah, we are. I’m receiving, right now, as we speak about, I don’t know, a few hundred turkeys for Thanksgiving.

stella tan

Wow.

mohammad razvi

Yeah, they called me yesterday. They said, Mo, you’re going to have turkeys. I said, oh, thank God. You know, I was almost in tears. I was like, I didn’t know what I was going to do for Thanksgiving for the people, you know? So they’re sending me a trailer of turkeys. And I’m like, oh my God, it’s going to be so great. So we’re going to be able to distribute it tomorrow. And people are going to be so happy.

stella tan

And in terms of, like — because last time the line was around the block. And so are you still seeing people wait around the block in the morning?

mohammad razvi

Absolutely, yeah. Yeah, they still wait. I mean, I was just listening to the news. There’s no stimulus check or nothing. They’re in a deadlock. And it’s going to be even more difficult because it’s going to be finished on December, I think, 31 — the unemployment checks, the assistance that the federal government’s giving. So it’s really, really more stressful what’s going to happen with the people.

stella tan

And you mentioned that your own funding could run out by the end of the year. Is that still the case?

mohammad razvi

Yes, for the food pantry it’s still the case. And we’re actually talking to our board members and our private donors, trying to figure out how we can raise more funds. We need to.

stella tan

What happens on January 1 if you don’t have more funding?

mohammad razvi

Honestly, I’m going to — I mean, my staff, I’m going to ask them, please, be volunteers for now. Right now I have staff almost of — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 staff members. And it might go down to, like, two staff members, and continue on a smaller base. And we’re going to just dwindle down. We’ll probably cut the hours less. I don’t know what else to do.

[music]
stella tan

How are you feeling about those changes and sort of looking at the end of the year?

mohammad razvi

I’m very stressed out. Because we really don’t want to stop this program at all now.

stella tan

OK, well, thank you so much, Mohammad. Good luck.

mohammad razvi

All right. God bless.

stella tan

Bye bye.

mohammad razvi

Thanks. Bye bye.

michael barbaro

We’ll be right back.

[music]

Here’s what else you need to know today. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Minnesota all certified Joe Biden’s election victory, rebuffing efforts by President Trump to delay the process. Those certifications, combined with those in Georgia and Michigan, have left Trump with few ways to block or overturn the election results. And U.S. stock markets surged to record levels on Tuesday after the Trump administration began the transfer of power to Biden, and after Biden appointed Janet Yellen, an advocate of government intervention in the economy, as his Treasury secretary.

archived recording (donald trump)

The stock market Dow Jones industrial average just hit 30,000, which is the highest in history. We’ve never broken 30,000.

michael barbaro

The Dow Jones industrial average, which fell below 20,000 points at the start of the pandemic, surpassed 30,000 on Tuesday, a milestone that President Trump, during a news conference, called “historic.”

archived recording (donald trump)

That’s a sacred number. 30,000. Nobody thought they’d ever see it.

michael barbaro

That’s it for “The Daily.” I’m Michael Barbaro. See you on Monday, after the holiday.

With a second wave bearing down, officials have urged Americans not to travel, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo limited private gatherings to 10 people for the foreseeable future and Mayor Bill de Blasio implored people to skip the crowded feasts that generally mark the holiday.

The city’s holiday staples will also be missing. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has cut its route to one block, and movie theaters, long an antidote for holiday loneliness, remain closed. Restaurants have limited capacity, a rainy forecast does not favor outdoor dining and many people remain uncomfortable eating indoors.

In Orchard Park, N.Y., demonstrators on Monday protested business shutdowns ordered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Credit…Libby March for The New York Times

Applications for unemployment benefits in the United States rose for the second week in a row last week, the latest sign that the nationwide surge in coronavirus cases is threatening to undermine the economic recovery.

More than 827,000 people filed first-time applications for state unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Wednesday. That was up 78,000 from a week earlier, before adjusting for seasonal patterns, and more than 100,000 from the first week of November, when weekly filings hit their lowest level since pandemic-induced layoffs began last spring.

Another 312,000 people filed for benefits under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which covers freelancers, self-employed workers and others who don’t qualify for state benefits.

Unemployment filings have fallen dramatically since last spring, when more than six million people a week were applying for benefits. But progress has stalled in recent months, and the data reported Wednesday suggests it could be going in reverse.

Other evidence tells a similar story. Consumer confidence fell in November, the Conference Board reported Tuesday, and private-sector data on job postings, hours worked and consumer spending show either a loss of momentum or outright declines in November.

“We have definitely seen a slowdown since Labor Day, and in the last few weeks it’s actually gone into a decline,” said Dave Gilbertson, a vice president at UKG, which provides time-tracking software to about 30,000 U.S. businesses.

Economists worry that the slowdown could deepen in coming weeks, as consumers pull back on spending and cities and states reimpose business restrictions, something that has already begun to happen in California, Michigan and other states.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel before a news conference in Berlin Wednesday, when Germany’s state governors agreed to extend restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Credit…Pool photo by Odd Andersen

BERLIN — As daily infections in Germany remain high, Chancellor Angela Merkel and state governors agreed to stricter rules and an extension of the country’s partial lockdown through December.

“Once again we need a concerted effort,” Ms. Merkel said at a news conference after her meeting with the state governors. “Patience, solidarity, discipline will be put to a hard test once again.”

The new restrictions include: limiting gatherings to five people (not counting children under 14) from up to two households; obligatory mask usage in outdoor shopping areas, in front of stores and in store parking lots; and stricter rules regarding how many people can be in shops at the same time.

Schools will remain open, but new rules — like mandatory masks during lessons and part-time physical education classes — will go into effect in regions with high rates of infection.

The current lockdown was announced at the end of October for the month of November and was designed to allow some loosening of rules during the holiday season, the most important annual celebration in Germany. The announcement Wednesday included an exception allowing up to 10 people to meet between Dec. 23 and Jan. 1.

Although the exponential increase of daily infections seen earlier this month has leveled off, the authorities are still registering an average of more than 18,000 new infections a day, according to a New York Times database, and the number of very sick and dying patients continues to rise. On Tuesday the German authorities registered 410 deaths, a record.

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