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.”
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Daniel Brenner for The New York Times
Michael Starghill Jr. for The New York Times
Kholood Eid for The New York Times
Caitlin O’Hara for The New York Times
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.