‘The Pandemic Remains a Public Health Emergency,’ W.H.O. Says

The World Health Organization extended its declaration of a global health emergency as the coronavirus pandemic continues to grow.

The Covid-19 crisis has illustrated that even the most sophisticated health systems have struggled to cope with a pandemic. W.H.O. has grave concerns about the potential impact the virus could have as it starts to accelerate in countries with weaker health systems. Of course, the pandemic remains a public health emergency of international concern. We will continue working with countries and partners to enable essential travel needed for pandemic response, humanitarian relief and cargo operations, and for countries to gradually resume normal passenger travel.

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The World Health Organization extended its declaration of a global health emergency as the coronavirus pandemic continues to grow.CreditCredit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

As the global caseload surges past 7 million, the W.H.O. issues a warning.

The World Health Organization reported on Monday that the number of new daily cases worldwide had hit a new high on Sunday, a sign that the pandemic appeared to be worsening.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organization’s director general, told reporters that more than 100,000 new cases had been reported on nine of the previous 10 days, and that Sunday’s tally — 136,000 cases — was the highest single-day tally so far.

The pandemic has sickened more than 7 million people worldwide, according to a New York Times database. As of Tuesday morning, at least 405,400 people had died, and the virus had been detected in nearly every country.

Dr. Tedros said that three-quarters of the new cases reported on Sunday came from just 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia. He urged people who are demonstrating against racism round the world to practice social distancing and other measures to prevent new infections.

Also on Monday, a W.H.O. scientist stirred confusion by saying that asymptomatic transmission was not a significant factor in the spread of the virus, as many public health experts had assumed for months.

On Twitter, Beijing tries to shape the global narrative about the virus and more.

Credit…Getty Images

As the Trump administration lashes out at China over a range of grievances, Beijing’s top diplomats and representatives are using the president’s favorite online megaphone — Twitter — to slap back with a pugnaciousness that is best described as Trumpian.

Behind China’s combative new messengers, a murky hallelujah chorus of sympathetic accounts has emerged to repost them and cheer them on. Many are new to the platform. Some do little else but amplify the Beijing line.

No doubt some of these accounts are run by patriotic, tech-savvy Chinese people who get around their government’s ban on Twitter and other Western platforms. But an analysis by The Times found that many of the accounts behaved with a single-mindedness that could suggest a coordinated campaign of the type that countries have carried out on Twitter in the past.

China’s Twitter campaign comes as it battles the United States for control of the global narrative on the pandemic. China was criticized for its early mishandling of the outbreak. But with the United States in turmoil — upended first by the epidemic and now by protests — Beijing sees a chance to define itself as a global leader and press its interests in Hong Kong and beyond.

Here’s what was happening in Hong Kong on Tuesday:

  • Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong’s beleaguered flag carrier, said that the territory’s government would plow nearly $4 billion into it and assume a direct say in its operations.

  • Hundreds of protesters gathered in several Hong Kong shopping malls to commemorate the one-year anniversary of a march that became the start of the city’s biggest political crisis in decades. The protest movement eased this winter as the virus spread, but has lately re-emerged, albeit on a smaller scale.

The W.H.O. says asymptomatic transmission is rare, confounding experts.


Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

For months, scientists have warned that asymptomatic people infected with the virus are still capable of spreading Covid-19. It has been seen as one of the insidious characteristics of the contagion and a factor in its ability to have infected now more than 7 million people globally.

But on Monday, a scientist for the World Health Organization said that asymptomatic transmission was not a significant factor in the spread of the virus, a statement with far-reaching implications. It has created some confusion among experts seeking more information from the W.H.O.

“That fundamentally changes our understanding of how this virus is spread and what we should do as a response,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of Harvard’s Global Health Institute. “This is not a minor, technical clarification. The implications of what is being said are very, very substantial, and it requires a lot more context and explanation than W.H.O. is providing right now.”

On Monday, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the W.H.O.’s technical lead for Covid-19, said, “It still appears to be rare that an asymptomatic individual actually transmits onward.”

Instead, Dr. Van Kerkhove said governments should focus more attention on controlling the spread among people with symptoms.

“We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing,” she said. “They are following asymptomatic cases, they are following contacts, and they are not finding secondary transmission onward. It’s very rare. Much of that is not published in the literature.”

Later on Monday she cited a W.H.O. report published June 5, which said that based on evidence from contact tracing, “asymptomatically infected individuals are much less likely to transmit the virus than those who develop symptoms.”

Dr. Jha said that a finding of that magnitude, if true, should not have been casually revealed in the middle of an hourlong news conference. It deserves an entire briefing on its own.

“Asymptomatic spread is what makes controlling this disease so incredibly hard,” Dr. Jha said. If that’s not the case, he added, “then that changes the ballgame. It’s too big a finding to be shared in passing.”

According to Dr. Avantika Singh, a researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital and co-author of a study on asymptomatic transmission, an infected person is most likely to spread the virus in the few days before the onset of symptoms. She said she was “highly curious” to hear more from the W.H.O., and to see the evidence behind Dr. Kerkhove’s statements, which seem to contradict the commonly held belief.

“We are not commenting specifically on the W.H.O.’s findings because we haven’t seen them,” said Dr. Hanalise V. Huff, the other author of the study. “But given the evidence, it’s pretty convincing that asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread exists.

In other news from around the world:

  • Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the president of the United Nations General Assembly, said that world leaders would not come to New York for their annual gathering in September, a first in the U.N.’s 75-year history.

  • A 14-day quarantine period for all travelers arriving in Britain took effect on Monday, to the anger of the country’s travel industry and doubts over the practicality of the new rules.

  • With cases rising sharply in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday that the country would “put the brakes” on plans to relax more restrictions in the days to come. .

  • Canada reopened its border on Monday to immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Anyone showing symptoms will remain barred, and everyone will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

New York City began a tentative reopening.





‘Based on the Numbers, We Can Reopen,’ Cuomo Says of New York

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York City will begin its first phase of reopening since the coronavirus outbreak forced a severe lockdown.

We didn’t, we didn’t just stop the increase. We bent the curve, and we brought the spread down dramatically. And you look at where we are today — 100 days later later — we are continuing our decline. The rest of the country is still spiking. How remarkable is that? Why are we reopening? Because these numbers say we can. It’s no guess, there’s no ideology, based on the numbers, we can reopen. We are doing more tests than any state in the United States. We’re doing more tests than any country on the globe per capita. That’s why I have confidence saying to 19 million people, “We can do this.” What does Phase 1 reopening mean? It means companies, businesses can reopen pursuant to specific guidelines. This is not reckless reopening.

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York City will begin its first phase of reopening since the coronavirus outbreak forced a severe lockdown.CreditCredit…Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

Commuters wearing face masks waited for freshly scrubbed trains on a subway platform in Manhattan. Construction workers lined up to get their temperatures checked so they could get back on the job. The lights were back on in some neighborhood stores, and their doors were unlocked for curbside and in-store pickup — though many others remained shuttered and boarded up.

For the first time in months, New York City was officially back in business on Monday, with as many as 400,000 people returning to work in construction, manufacturing and limited retail operations.

“We’re not out of the woods, but we are on the other side, certainly,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

The first coronavirus case was confirmed 100 days ago in the city that became a center of the pandemic, where more than 205,000 people have been infected and 22,000 people have died. On Sunday, there were an additional 35 deaths statewide, and the city’s health commissioner said on Monday that the city was still in “a moderate transmission phase.”

Major challenges remain. More than 885,000 jobs have vanished, and the city budget hemorrhaged tax revenue and now faces a $9 billion shortfall over the next year.

To allay concerns about a typically crowded subway system, Mr. Cuomo rode the No. 7 line on Monday morning. “If the subway isn’t safe for me, then I wouldn’t ask anyone else go on the subway,” he said afterward.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced that the city would add more bus lanes and close some streets to cars to allow buses to move more quickly, though it was not as many miles as the transit agency had requested.

Cathay Pacific, battered by the virus, receives a nearly $4 billion government bailout.


Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

The Hong Kong government is bailing out Cathay Pacific Airways, its beleaguered flag carrier, by injecting nearly $4 billion and taking a direct stake in its operations.

Like airlines around the world, Cathay Pacific was shaken to its core as its passenger traffic shrank to near zero amid the coronavirus pandemic. The airline said last month that its year-to-date losses totaled $580 million. So far this year, it has asked its employees to take unpaid leave, announced cuts to executive pay and grounded half of its fleet.

Cathay has also been hit by a year of anti-China protests, in which citizens have expressed fear over China’s encroaching grip over the semiautonomous territory, and the airline’s shares lost 20 percent of their value.

In a filing to Hong Kong’s stock exchange on Tuesday, Cathay said the Hong Kong government would inject nearly $4 billion into it through loans and other means. As part of the terms of the bailout, the government will take an undisclosed stake in the carrier, a move that gives it a direct say in its operations through two “observer” boardroom seats.

Cathay’s announcement came on the same day that hundreds of protesters gathered in Hong Kong shopping malls to commemorate the one-year anniversary of a protest march that became the start of the city’s biggest political crisis in decades.

Ahead of the announcement, rumors had swirled around a possible takeover by Air China, a Chinese state-owned enterprise. That stoked fears about China’s encroachment not only in the city’s politics but its finance sector.

Even before the contagion spread, Cathay Pacific’s fate looked increasingly uncertain.

Last year, it fell under withering criticism from China’s state-run propaganda machine after several of its employees participated in protests or spoke out in support of them on social media. The airline shuffled its leadership in an effort to deflect the fray, but Chinese customers avoided Cathay anyway, sending its traffic plummeting.

More broadly, the protests drove Chinese tourists to avoid Hong Kong, hitting travel-related businesses hard. Police officers and protesters even clashed last summer in Hong Kong’s slick airport, where Cathay is headquartered.

The S&P 500 erased its losses for the year.

On Monday the S&P 500 climbed back above where it began the year — before the pandemic brought the United States economy to a grinding halt, before more than 110,000 Americans died from the coronavirus.

A late-day rally pushed the index into positive territory for 2020, effectively erasing one of the most tumultuous periods in recent American history from the financial record. Stocks rose 1.2 percent, on the same day that economists said the United States fell into a recession in February.

Even though the economy has begun to reopen, it is hard to overstate how disastrous the past three months have been. Tens of millions of people are unemployed, corporate earnings have plummeted, and industries like tourism, retail and entertainment may never fully recover.

But in the stock market, it’s like the pandemic never happened.

“Investors seem to have decided that the past three months were just a bad dream that we’re waking up from,” said Scott Clemons, the chief investment strategist for private banking at Brown Brothers Harriman, an investment bank.

The actions of the federal government have helped. Early on, the Federal Reserve announced it would provide a backstop by using its emergency lending powers to buy assets — from municipal to corporate debt — with newly printed money. Also, it began snapping up government-backed bonds.

That had the effect of keeping bond prices up and yields low. Investors, looking for better returns, began putting their money into the stock market.

“It’s the only way that you can kind of explain what’s going on, is that people really do believe that there is no downside in equity ownership,” said James Montier, a member of the asset management team at Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Company, a Boston-based asset management company.

California allows movie theaters to reopen on Friday, under certain conditions.


Credit…Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Movie theaters in California could reopen as soon as Friday if they limit auditorium capacity to 25 percent, according to guidelines released on Monday by the California Department of Public Health. County public health officials must still give their approval.

Many states have allowed theaters to reopen. But California theaters are especially important to the film business. Los Angeles and its suburbs make up the nation’s No. 1 moviegoing market by ticket sales. (The New York area, where no reopening date has been announced, is second.) The Bay Area is also a major market. To justify a national release — Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” for instance, is scheduled for July 17 — studios need theaters in most top markets to be operating.

In clearing the way for theaters to relight their marquees, California health officials asked for face masks to be worn for all patrons, except when eating or drinking, and for groups to be seated at least six feet apart in a “checkerboard” style. They also suggested that theaters provide ticket holders with designated arrival times so that they could enter “in staggered groups.”

Air travel in the U.S. is picking up, fueled by vacationers.


Credit…Josh Ritchie for The New York Times

The largest U.S. airlines are preparing for a limited rebound next month as more Americans book vacations in places like Florida and national parks in the West.

After cratering in April as a result of the pandemic, the number of travelers and airline and airport employees filtering through the Transportation Security Administration’s airport checkpoints has steadily climbed in recent weeks. The low point arrived on April 14, when the agency screened fewer than 90,000 people, just 4 percent of those screened on the same date last year. On Sunday, the agency screened more than 440,000 people, about 17 percent of last year’s number and the best day since March.

Investors appear to have noticed those numbers, and airline stock prices have surged. American Airlines is up nearly 90 percent since Monday morning last week, United Airlines is more than 70 percent higher, and Delta Air Lines is up more than 45 percent.

Still, the airline industry’s reckoning is far from over.

Industry executives and analysts generally agree that it is likely to be several years before airlines fly as many people as they did before the pandemic. Airlines are still losing tens of millions of dollars every day. That number is shrinking, but the losses are expected to continue through the end of the year.

Generally, a flight needs to be about three-fourths full for an airline to turn a profit; most are far from it because airlines can’t or won’t fill up planes.

Despite the relatively small numbers of travelers, some are concerned the people moving around the country more, whether, via airplane or other modes of transportation, will help drive infection rates higher.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington released new, higher figures on Monday, estimating that 145,728 people in the country could die from coronavirus by August. That number is an increase of about 5,000 from its projection earlier in June and of about 10,000 from a projection made at the end of May.

Ali Mokdad, a professor of global health at the institute, said the reason for the higher numbers is because of increased mobility.

“We have been showing from our data that Americans are more likely to be mobile right now,” he said.

The increased mobility comes as a result of restrictions being loosened, Dr. Mokdad said, noting that it’s still a “little bit early to tell what will happen due to the protests.”

Instead, he pointed to states reopening and the anticipation around that, as well as Memorial Day.

“We have seen a spike in mobility around Memorial Day,” he said.

As its death toll soars, Brazil scrubs statistics from a government website.


Credit…Victor Moriyama for The New York Times

As the virus tore through Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro came under blistering criticism for sabotaging the isolation measures imposed by states, encouraging mass rallies by his supporters and lashing out about the soaring death toll, saying, “What do you want me to do?”

Now that the outbreak in the country has gotten even worse — it has more confirmed infections than any country but the United States, and the highest daily death tolls in the world — Mr. Bolsonaro’s government has decided to stop reporting the cumulative toll of the virus altogether.

Brazil’s health ministry on Friday took down the website where it had been reporting virus statistics. And then, when it came back online on Saturday, the site omitted the historical data, leaving out how many people had already been infected or killed.

Lawmakers and health experts quickly attacked Mr. Bolsonaro, condemning the government’s decision to withhold statistics and criticizing his administration’s practice of downplaying the danger of the virus.

Mr. Bolsonaro, who initially described the virus as a “measly flu,” says the challenge of the outbreak is dwarfed by the economic fallout of stay-at-home measures, and that the real danger is rising unemployment.

He has come under withering criticism for joining crowded protests; ordering the armed forces to produce hydroxychloroquine, an unproven medication for the virus; and fighting with his own health officials as the crisis intensified.

Trump wants to restart large campaign rallies within weeks.

President Trump has instructed campaign aides to arrange for him to resume his political rallies in the coming weeks, people familiar with his plans said on Monday, asking them to figure out how to deliver the crowds he wants even though cases are rising throughout the country.

Mr. Trump’s obsession with restarting packed events has put him at odds with health experts, including those in his own administration, who have urged caution. It has also created a conflict between him and Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, a Democrat, who has so far resisted the president’s demands to relax social-distancing measures before the Republican National Convention, which was initially set to be held in Charlotte in August.

Campaign rallies became a topic of discussion last week, when Mr. Trump assembled key members of his re-election effort to discuss recent polling that showed him losing ground to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his Democratic challenger.

A senior White House official said the president had been frustrated by his internal polling, and resuming campaign events were one way his team hoped that Mr. Trump could recapture momentum. The official said Mr. Trump’s campaign team was closely monitoring state reopenings to determine which potential venues were increasing seating capacity. The typical Trump rally venue holds at least 8,000 people.

“Americans are ready to get back to action, and so is President Trump,” Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, said in a statement on the development, which was first reported by Politico. “The great American comeback is real, and the rallies will be tremendous.”

Before the convention, Mr. Cooper wanted to require social distancing and face masks, both of which are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mr. Trump, bristling that the terms of his own event were being dictated to him, wanted a full stadium with a previrus look and feel, or nothing at all.

Republican officials are now on the hunt for a new venue. Mr. Trump is scheduled to travel to Dallas on Thursday for a fund-raiser.

U.S. roundup

Meatpacking plants and prisons continue to drive outbreaks in U.S. hot spots.


Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Thirty-nine of the 40 largest known virus clusters in the United States are in food processing or correctional facilities, according to a New York Times database. As the number of new cases in the country has plateaued at about 20,000 each day, major clusters have continued to emerge in prisons, jails and meatpacking plants.

Around Austin, Minn., where cases have grown to 504 from 36 a month ago, at least 186 cases have been tied to a local pork processing facility. In Kings County, Calif., at least 918 people have been infected at three state prisons, accounting for more than half the county’s total cases. And in northern Utah, the site of an outbreak at a meat processing plant, case numbers have exploded over the last week.

In Dodge County, Wis., where there are 400 total cases, at least 245 people have tested positive at Waupun Correctional Institution. And in the county that includes Storm Lake, Iowa, case numbers have grown to 1,142 from 18 over the course of a month. At least 591 employees of a Tyson plant in that city have tested positive.

Here are other developments from around the United States:

  • There are some hopeful signs in the data. In most of the Northeast, infection numbers continue to fall. Parts of the Midwest, including Illinois and Ohio, have seen new case reports trend steadily downward. And some of the counties with the most cases per capita — including Cass County, Ind., the site of a large meatpacking outbreak, and Trousdale County, Tenn., where more than 1,300 people at a prison became ill — have reported fewer than 10 new cases in June.

  • A man who attended “multiple house gatherings” on the New Jersey shore infected at least a dozen people in Pennsylvania with the virus, health officials said. Officials in Bucks County, Pa., said in a statement on Saturday that of the 33 new cases in the county, 11 were tied to an individual who visited a New Jersey beach “during the past two weeks.” On Monday, an official said that a 12th infection had been linked to the man. “This is exactly why we can’t let our guard down now, even if it feels ‘safe’ to be at the beach,” said Dr. David Damsker, the director of the Bucks County Health Department. New Jersey’s governor said the state would allow public and private swimming pools to reopen on June 22.

  • Florida’s last remaining closed beaches, in Miami-Dade County, will reopen on Wednesday, the mayor’s office announced. The beaches, which closed 81 days ago, were supposed to reopen on June 1 but did not because of a nightly curfew imposed after protests over the killing of George Floyd.

  • Casinos along the Las Vegas Strip reopened their doors last week to a flood of visitors after a 78-day hiatus. But figuring out when and where people contract the virus and then quickly tracing their contacts poses a particular challenge in Las Vegas, where guests outnumbered residents by 20 to 1 last year.

A new option for college essays: ‘How I Spent My Quarantine.’

The Common Application, the system used by more than 900 colleges in the United States, is giving high school students who are applying to college in the fall a chance to talk about how the virus has changed the course of their lives and education.

The application is known for its personal essay question, in which students are invited to write about their backgrounds, interests, successes and obstacles they have surmounted. Admissions officers say a strong essay can help tip the scales for admission.

The additional virus essay, which is optional, is for hardships caused by the pandemic, like a family member becoming sick or dying, schoolwork disrupted by poor internet service or a parent’s job loss because of the economic crisis.

The pandemic has shuttered schools, moved classes online and canceled extracurricular activities and graduation ceremonies for millions of high school students. Many standardized test dates were canceled, leaving students scrambling to sign up for scarce makeup exams.

Officials at the Common App, as it is known, said the question was adopted in response to demand from college admissions officers. They have also added a space for high school counselors to describe the effects of the pandemic on their schools.

Jenny Rickard, the chief executive of the Common App, said the new essay also allowed students to write about communal calamities like forest fires or hurricanes, and that the topic might be expanded to include the recent protests against police brutality.

“It’s already such an anxious time applying to college, and then you add a pandemic into the mix,” Ms. Rickard said. “We wanted to provide that space.”

A technological lifeline during a pandemic.

The pandemic has caused the way we communicate to evolve, and our relationship with technology is being pushed into new territory. Although states are slowly reopening, much of our professional and personal lives will continue to be lived almost entirely online for the foreseeable future.

Reporting was contributed by Azam Ahmed, Ian Austen, Kim Barker, Brooks Barnes, Jo Becker, Ronen Bergman, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Keith Bradsher, Quoctrung Bui, Letícia Casado, Stephen Castle, Damien Cave, Niraj Chokshi, Michael Cooper, Jesse Drucker, David Enrich, Vanessa Friedman, David Gelles, J. David Goodman, Michael Gold, Anemona Hartocollis, Winnie Hu, Mike Ives, Aaron Krolik, Ernesto Londoño, Angela Macropoulos, Anatol Magdziarz, Salman Masood, Patricia Mazzei, Jesse McKinley, Claire Cain Miller, Raphael Minder, Paul Mozur, Derek M. Norman, Aimee Ortiz, Mariel Padilla, Azi Paybarah, Matt Phillips, Elisabetta Povoledo, Monika Pronczuk, Adam Rasgon, Katie Rogers, Margot Sanger-Katz, Matthew Sedacca, Anna Schaverein, Seth Schiesel, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Mitch Smith, Kaly Soto, Alexandra Stevenson, Eileen Sullivan, David Waldstein, Edward Wong, Sameer Yasir, Elaine Yu, Raymond Zhong and Karen Zraick.