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- 1 Coronavirus Clusters Cause Uptick in N.Y.C. Positivity Rate
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Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the leading U.S. official on infectious diseases, hit back at President Trump on Wednesday for what he called the misrepresentation of his stance on using masks to curb the coronavirus.
In the presidential debate on Tuesday, Mr. Trump claimed that Dr. Fauci initially said “masks are not good — then he changed his mind.” And when former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said wearing masks could save tens of thousands of lives, Mr. Trump contended that “Dr. Fauci said the opposite.”
Dr. Fauci, whose relationship with his boss has often seemed tenuous at best, took issue with his claims the day after the debate.
“Anybody who has been listening to me over the last several months knows that a conversation does not go by where I do not strongly recommend that people wear masks,” he said in an interview on ABC News’s “Start Here” podcast. The full interview can be heard Thursday, ABC said.
Dr. Fauci explained that “very early on in the pandemic,” the authorities did not recommend masks to the general public because they were worried about shortages and hoarding. But that changed, he said, as it became clear that asymptomatic transmission was spreading the virus and that masks helped stop it.
“I have been on the airways, on the radio, on TV, begging people to wear masks,” Dr. Fauci said. “And I keep talking in the context of: Wear a mask, keep physical distance, avoid crowds, wash your hands and do things more outdoors versus indoors.”
Mr. Trump has often signaled his displeasure with Dr. Fauci, especially as the scientist’s stock has risen with many Americans. He once called him “a major television star” — apparently a compliment — but it was not clear that the president enjoyed sharing the spotlight.
In April, under fire for his slow initial response to the pandemic, the president reposted a Twitter message that said “Time to #FireFauci.” And in July, Trump advisers undercut Dr. Fauci by anonymously providing details to various news outlets about statements he had made early in the pandemic that they said were inaccurate.
Mr. Trump, watching the economy crumble in a re-election year, has been a cheerleader for state officials to reopen. Dr. Fauci has been rather the opposite. Just this week, he was ringing the alarm on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“We’re not in a good place,” he said when asked about the nation averaging 40,000 new coronavirus cases a day.
Dr. Fauci said the increases some states are seeing were especially ill timed, given the approach of flu season.
“You don’t want to be in a position like that as the weather starts getting cold,” he said. “So we really need to intensify the public health measures that we talk about all the time.”
A coronavirus cluster has emerged at a major teaching and research hospital in Boston, Brigham and Women’s, prompting employees to speak out about what they said was a lack of regular and convenient testing for staff members without symptoms.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 33 staff members, and 12 patients who were there for other reasons, have tested positive for the virus. The cluster was first identified last week, the hospital said in a statement.
Hospital policy requires testing all patients for the virus when they are admitted, and daily screening for symptoms thereafter, the statement said. The hospital said it would now test inpatients every three days as well, and on Friday it began offering voluntary testing to its staff. Since then, it said, 6,718 employees have been tested.
In a letter addressed to hospital leadership, a group of employees urged the hospital to go further and introduce mandatory testing of all staff members twice a week, and to keep it going past Oct. 18, when the voluntary testing is set to run out. A hospital spokesman said they would keep this testing “as long as necessary to support our testing needs.”
The letter has been signed by more than 1,000 employees, said Trish Powers, a trauma nurse at the hospital.
“We are literally putting our life on the line,” Ms. Powers said, adding, “We shouldn’t have to fight to be tested.”
A hospital spokesman addressed the letter in an email, saying that expanded testing went into effect before the hospital’s leaders received it. The hospital is providing weekly virtual forums for its staff members, which include an “opportunity for questions and answers” about the hospital’s response to the case cluster, the spokesman said.
So far, the cluster is confined to two inpatient units, the hospital said, noting in the statement that the virus might have spread in a variety of ways, including through a staff member who had mild symptoms and continued to work. In response to a Boston Globe article about the cluster, the hospital’s leadership said it did not in any way blame employees for the outbreak.
Government officials in the Boston area are concerned about a potential surge in coronavirus cases. Mayor Marty Walsh said Wednesday that Boston would postpone taking the next step in the city’s reopening plan because an increasing share of tests have been coming back positive: 3.5 percent in the week ended Sept. 26, compared with 2.7 percent the week before.
Referring to the cluster of cases among the hospital staff, Ms. Powers said, “If a lot of us get sick or test positive, then who’s going to take care of the patients if we go into a surge?”
House Democrats abruptly postponed a planned vote Wednesday evening on their latest $2.2-trillion stimulus plan, putting off action until Thursday to leave time for a last-ditch round of negotiations with the Trump administration to produce a deal.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin earlier said that they had made progress in a 90-minute meeting in the speaker’s Capitol office on Wednesday and that they would continue their talks, keeping alive the possibility of a late-stage breakthrough. But Ms. Pelosi’s decision to schedule an evening vote on the Democratic bill — one which Republicans had made clear they could not support — suggested that a compromise remained unlikely.
Her retreat signaled that agreement might in fact still be possible. Two aides, insisting on anonymity to describe private deliberations, said Democratic leaders had decided to allow one more day for talks to bear fruit.
“We made a lot of progress over the last few days,” Mr. Mnuchin told reporters as he left the Capitol. “We still don’t have an agreement, but we have more work to do and we’re going to see where we end up.”
The Democrats’ latest bill shaves $1.2 trillion off their original $3.4 trillion measure, which was passed by the House in May. But the measure was all but guaranteed to die in the Republican-led Senate, with Republicans dismissing it as far too expensive.
“We’re very, very far apart,” declared Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.
But rank-and-file lawmakers in both parties have increasingly been agitating for another vote on a relief package before the elections, as the economic recovery shudders and tens of thousands of workers are either furloughed or laid off as a result of the pandemic.
Democratic leaders appeared disinclined to make many concessions.
Ms. Pelosi, in a private call earlier Wednesday, counseled Democrats that “we’re closer to the inauguration of Joe Biden right now, so we will have our moment,” according to two people familiar with her remarks who disclosed them on the condition of anonymity.
Mr. Mnuchin, speaking on CNBC early Wednesday, said he was giving the talks “one more serious try.” He said he had prepared an offer of around $1.5 trillion, similar to a bipartisan framework a group of lawmakers presented earlier this month. Ms. Pelosi and her top lieutenants rejected that as inadequate.
The Treasury secretary said it would include liability protections for schools and businesses, more economic impact payments, support for airlines and relief money for emergency workers in states.
“More fiscal response will help the economy,” Mr. Mnuchin said.
They came from across the world to ski in the most famous resorts of the Austrian alps.
Jacob Homiller and his college friends flew in from the United States. Jane Witt, a retired lecturer, arrived from London for a family reunion. Annette Garten, the youth director at a tennis club in Hamburg, was celebrating her birthday with her husband and two grown children.
After returning home, Mr. Homiller and four friends tested positive, Ms. Witt fought for her life and Ms. Garten’s family became ill.
They all knew in late February and early March that the coronavirus was spreading in nearby northern Italy, and across the other border in Germany, but no one was alarmed. Austrian officials downplayed concerns as tourists crowded into cable cars by day and après-ski bars at night.
“The whole world meets in Ischgl,” said Ms. Garten.
Then they all went home, unwittingly taking the virus with them. Infected in Ischgl (pronounced “ISH-gul”) or in surrounding villages, thousands of skiers carried the disease to more than 40 countries on five continents. Many of Iceland’s first known cases were traced to Ischgl. In March, nearly half the cases in Norway were linked to Austrian ski holidays.
Nine months into an outbreak that has killed more than one million people worldwide, Ischgl is where the era of global tourism, made possible by cheap airfares and open borders, collided with a pandemic. For decades, as trade and travel drew the world closer, public health policy, enshrined by treaty, encouraged global mass tourism by calling for open borders, even during outbreaks.
The ease and expansion of global travel is why “super-spreader” events helped accelerate the pandemic: Just as skiers in Ischgl carried the virus around the world, congregants at a French megachurch took the disease to Africa, Latin America and across Europe.
Now, at least 1,000 people from dozens of countries intend to sue the Austrian government. A lawyer in Vienna filed the first test cases on Wednesday on behalf of four visitors, two of whom have since died of Covid-19. The lawsuit contends that the government should have closed the resort earlier and warned tourists to stay away.
“They knew, they just weren’t telling anyone,” said Ms. Witt, who is part of the lawsuit.
“Wealth before health,” she said.
Officials in New York City continued to scramble on Wednesday to quell growing clusters of the coronavirus in several neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, as the seven-day average rate of positive test results citywide ticked slightly upward to 1.46 percent.
On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio reported a significant uptick in the citywide daily positivity rate, driven in part by a rise in nine ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens. On Wednesday, the number of ZIP codes where cases were rising at an “alarming rate” grew to 10, health officials said.
The city was also watching seven additional neighborhoods, including parts of Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant, where cases were on the rise.
Still, Mr. de Blasio said the daily positivity rate had dropped to .94 percent, after the city had reported on Tuesday a 3.25 percent rate, the highest it had been since June. It was not immediately clear what explained the fluctuation in the numbers, but a spokesman for the health department said Wednesday that the rate could be influenced by the total number of tests each day.
The seven-day average is a better measure of the spread of the virus over time, officials have said.
The mayor has said that he will automatically shut down public school classrooms — which are all slated to be open by Thursday — if the test positivity rate exceeds 3 percent over a seven-day rolling average. On Tuesday, he said the seven-day average was 1.38 percent.
“We were the epicenter,” Mr. de Blasio said Wednesday. “We fought back. Testing was crucial. We have a problem now, we’re going to overcome the problem. I have no doubt we’re going to beat it back.”
Officials said the city on Wednesday was sending 400 police officers, 300 members of the city’s test and trace program and 250 other employees to the target neighborhoods to distribute masks, step up outreach and education about the virus and crack down on people and businesses violating public health rules.
“Almost 1,000 city employees will be out in these target ZIP codes,” the mayor said.
The city is also trying to ramp up testing in the neighborhoods.
The figures come at a particularly crucial moment, as the city tries to fully reopen public schools this week for in-person learning to hundreds of thousands of students in addition to resuming indoor dining at 25 percent capacity on Wednesday. The restaurant industry, battered by the pandemic, is hoping indoor dining will help ease months of hardship.
“It’s crucial to bringing back more jobs and helping businesses to survive,” Mr. de Blasio said. “But health and safety, as always, come first.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said a major priority for the state is managing 20 hot-spot ZIP codes, including areas in New York City and the Mid-Hudson region.
Those ZIP codes made up 23 percent of all cases in the state, he said, but only represent 6 percent of the overall population. Statewide, the daily positivity rate was 1.02 percent, the governor said. On Monday, the governor reported that the statewide rate was approximately 1.58 percent — a jump from results reported on Sunday and in prior weeks.
“If you don’t control a cluster, a cluster becomes community spread,” he said.
In New Jersey, Gov. Philip D. Murphy said Wednesday that the state’s daily positivity rate was 3 percent, the highest since July.
Seven former commissioners of the Food and Drug Administration have lashed out at the Trump Administration, arguing that political interference threatens to undermine the agency’s credibility as it prepares to approve a coronavirus vaccine.
“If the F.D.A. makes available a safe and effective vaccine that people trust, we could expect to meaningfully reduce Covid-19 risk as soon as next spring or summer,” the authors wrote. “Without that trust, our health and economy could lag for years.”
The statement, published as an opinion piece Tuesday in The Washington Post, was unusual not only for its sharp tone but for the wide political ties of the former commissioners.
Scott Gottlieb was appointed by President Trump and served until April 2019; Robert Califf and Margaret Hamburg, by President Obama; Mark McClellan and Andy von Eschenbach, by President George W. Bush; Jane Henney by President Clinton, and David Kessler by President George W.H. Bush. The position requires a Senate confirmation.
The authors argued that a vaccine must be more than just safe and effective. “People will also have to choose to take it,” they wrote. “This depends on widespread confidence that the vaccine approval was based on sound science and not politics.”
The former commissioners added that the Trump administration was undermining “in deeply troubling ways” the public belief that their judgment was “grounded in science.”
They noted that the White House has said that it might try to influence the F.D.A.’s scientific standards for vaccine approval, or block the agency from issuing further guidance on its criteria for judging a vaccine’s safety and benefits: “This pronouncement came just after key leaders at the F.D.A., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health all publicly supported that guidance.”
The implications of the administration’s interference were “potentially dire,” they added. “When the F.D.A. approves a Covid-19 vaccine, will Americans accept it?”
Leaders from 16 major life-science companies pledged on Wednesday to collectively work to get their Covid-19 diagnostic, treatment and vaccine products to the developing world in a variety of ways, including donations, not-for-profit price models and tiered pricing.
There is mounting concern that poor countries may be shut out of lifesaving products in the marketplace, especially as the United States and other countries strike deals to buy billions of dollars’ worth of potential vaccines before they have received regulatory approval.
A number of groups — among them the public-private partnership GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — have been trying to work out their own deals to get vaccines, treatments and tests to low- and middle-income countries. Bill and Melinda Gates joined in signing the pledge.
The companies signing the pledge were AstraZeneca, Bayer, bioMérieux, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eisai, Eli Lilly, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Merck KGaA, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, and Sanofi.
They said they would support “global mechanisms,” but made no specific commitments in their statement.
Separately, Johnson & Johnson announced Wednesday that it would make 500 million doses of its vaccine available to low- and middle-income countries. Previously, AstraZeneca agreed to supply 300 million doses of a vaccine to low- and middle-income countries. To increase access to its drug, Remdesivir, Gilead has licensed the drug to pharmaceutical companies without collecting royalties.
The pledge document called on countries, multilateral institutions, other corporations, and nongovernmental organizations to “provide sufficient, dedicated, sustainable, and timely funding for the procurement and delivery of the tools necessary to end the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Making the global deals work would require roughly $38 billion, much of it from wealthier countries. While Britain and the European Union have made financial commitments, the United States has not.
The Tampa Bay Lightning won hockey’s top trophy on Monday from within the confines of a 24/7 pandemic bubble in western Canada, and without any fans in the arena to watch.
The team had been living under a strict hygiene regimen that included daily coronavirus testing since the National Hockey League’s extended postseason began in late July.
But by Wednesday, they were back in Florida with the Stanley Cup in tow, greeting the hordes of unmasked fans who had turned out to celebrate their victory. No one appeared to mind that the state had passed 700,000 confirmed coronavirus cases a few days earlier and was still reporting about 16,000 per week — roughly on par with the weekly caseload in Morocco or the Philippines.
Wednesday’s celebration began with a boat parade by Lightning players through downtown Tampa, and segued into a party in a local stadium that was attended by about 12,000 to 15,000 people, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
“It almost feels like what we’re doing now is, like, wrong,” one fan, Wes King, told one of the newspaper’s reporters on the riverfront.
Photos from the event showed thousands of unmasked fans cramming together on the bank of the Hillsborough River as unmasked players from the Lightning floated by on motorboats, drinking beer and puffing on cigars.
Other unmasked players slapped hands and posed for selfies with fans who had jammed together into a receiving line, and even allowed fans to drink from the cup, as winning teams normally do.
“So … why did they spend months in a bubble if they were just going to go Covid crazy the minute they were released?” one Canada-based Twitter user wrote. “Not the brightest bulbs.”
The N.H.L. was the first of the four major North American pro sports leagues to complete a season during the pandemic. It chose to base its playoff “bubbles” in Toronto and Edmonton because of their relatively low infection rates, especially compared with cities in the United States.
Players, team and league staff members, and medical officers were fenced off inside “secure zones” that included hockey arenas, practice facilities and hotels. Broadcasters stood at a social distance while interviewing players on the ice. And many players went weeks, or months, without seeing their families.
Even the league’s commissioner, Gary Bettman, had to produce negative tests during a weeklong home isolation, then quarantine in his hotel room for several days, before he could present the Stanley Cup to the Lightning.
“There’s no harder championship to win,” Mr. Bettman said before handing the trophy to the team’s captain, Steven Stamkos. “The gauntlet that you have to run to hoist this trophy is unbelievable, and never more unbelievable than this year.”
South Africa will begin allowing some international tourists to enter the country on Thursday, for the first time since a national lockdown took effect in March.
But in a blow to hopes of reviving the country’s key tourism sector, at least a dozen high-risk European countries — those whose infection rate exceeds that of South Africa, including Britain, France, Russia, Iceland and the Netherlands, as well as the United States and most of Latin America — will remain on a no-fly list.
South Africa has reported 672,572 cases of the virus, including 16,667 deaths, the highest official death toll on the continent. But the infection rate has slowed drastically in recent weeks, and President Cyril Ramaphosa eased restrictions this month.
“We have arrived at a point where the infection rate has started to go down, and we believe we can now accommodate the process towards a return to a more normal side of business in South Africa,” Naledi Pandor, the foreign minister, said Wednesday in a televised address, noting that the developments had occurred “in the context of a new normal.”
The list of permitted countries will be reviewed every two weeks, Ms. Pandor said.
The announcement comes ahead of what would normally be the beginning of a new tourism season — when colder weather in the northern hemisphere starts luring up to 10 million foreigners annually to the country’s pristine beaches and luxurious game safaris.
Many of those visitors come from countries with major outbreaks, including Brazil, the United States and Britain, or countries otherwise on the banned list, such as the Netherlands. Several major airlines, including British Airways and KLM, had said they were planning to resume daily flights to South Africa as restrictions eased, and had started taking bookings.
No African countries were on the list, and leisure travelers will be permitted from countries deemed “low risk.”
Visitors will be required to have travel insurance, and to present a negative P.C.R. test performed no more than 72 hours prior to arrival. Business travelers, diplomats and those with critical skills will be permitted to enter starting Thursday, even if they are coming from countries considered high-risk.
Border closures and national lockdowns have devastated Africa’s $39 billion tourism industry. In South Africa, tourism employs some quarter of a million people directly, although more than double that number of jobs remain threatened by the lockdown, according to Tourism South Africa.
The Federal Protective Service, Russia’s answer to the Secret Service, has helped build a virus-free bubble around President Vladimir V. Putin that far outstrips the protective measures taken by many of his foreign counterparts.
Russian journalists who cover Mr. Putin have not seen him up close since March.
The few people who meet him face-to-face generally spend as much as two weeks in quarantine first.
And the president still conducts his meetings with senior officials — including with his cabinet and his Security Council — by video link from a spartan room in his residence outside Moscow, which has been outfitted with a disinfectant tunnel that visitors must pass through.
The contrast between the behavior of Mr. Putin and that of his people looms especially large now as a second wave of the pandemic threatens to wash over Russia. In Moscow, where people packed indoor bars and restaurants all summer with few masks in sight, the number of daily reported new cases tripled to more than 2,300 in the last two weeks.
As the coronavirus spread, Mr. Putin’s Russia has often been compared to the United States and Brazil, two other large countries with leaders who played down the disease’s risk and saw it spiral out of control.
But while President Trump and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil have chafed against restricting their own movements, Mr. Putin has retreated into an intricate cocoon of social distancing — even as he has allowed life in Russia to essentially return to normal.
In other developments around the world:
In India, an ambitious new study of nearly 85,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 600,000 people found to have been in contact with them, reports that India now has more than six million cases, second only to the United States. Among the findings of the study: The median hospital stay before death was five days in India, compared with two weeks in the United States, possibly because of limited access to quality care. And the trend in increasing deaths with age seemed to drop off after age 65 — perhaps because Indians who live past that age tend to be relatively wealthy and have access to good health care.
Singapore’s civil aviation authority said that the city state would no longer require visitors from Vietnam or most of Australia to self isolate, starting on Oct. 8, as long as they pass a Covid-19 test on arrival and have not traveled to other countries in the two weeks leading up to the flight. The new rules do not include the Australian state of Victoria, which reported 15 new cases on Thursday. Self-isolation requirements were lifted for travelers from Brunei and New Zealand on Sept. 1.
A health official in Russia said that early clinical trials have been completed on a second vaccine, moving it closer to registration under the Russian approach of approving vaccines for emergency use before beginning late-stage trials to determine whether they are effective. Russia registered its first Covid-19 vaccine — one based on common cold viruses — in August, and is now offering a small number of doses outside of trials to people at elevated risk of infection, like health care workers. Western vaccine experts criticized the Russian approach as potentially dangerous.
A former president and opposition politician in Ukraine, Petro O. Poroshenko, announced on Wednesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus amid a flurry of virus-related disruptions to Ukrainian politics. The Parliament said on Wednesday that it had canceled plenary sessions until Oct. 20 because of rising infections. The speaker, Dmytro Razumkov, said at least 10 members of Parliament tested positive before the shutdown.
South Korea said on Wednesday that it would impose a fine of up to $85 on anyone caught without a mask in high-risk areas like outdoor gatherings and public transportation, starting on Oct. 13. As people in the country began on Wednesday to celebrate Chuseok, a major holiday that runs through the weekend, health officials reported 113 new cases, the highest daily tally in five days.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia have declared states of emergency to deal with rising cases. In the Czech Republic, the order comes into effect on Monday. “If we don’t do anything, we will end up in a situation when all our hospital beds will be filled with Covid patients,” said Health Minister Roman Prymula. Slovakia’s state of emergency begins Thursday and will be in place for 45 days, Prime Minister Igor Matovic said on Facebook. The country will also evaluate what happens when residents travel for All Saints Day, on Nov. 1, a national holiday and busy travel time.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany warned citizens that infections will probably rise and called for vigilance. “I appeal to you all, follow the rules that will be in effect in the next while,” she said in a prepared speech during a budget debate. “We have a difficult time ahead of us with autumn and winter approaching.”
Facing pressure from Florida officials, the school board in Miami-Dade County voted on Tuesday to begin opening classrooms nine days earlier than planned. The district’s youngest students can now return to schools on Monday, with nearly all students who have opted for in-person instruction returning by the end of next week.
The decision will make Miami-Dade, the fourth-largest school system in the United States and the largest in Florida, with roughly 345,000 students, by far the biggest public school district in the country to offer students in-person classes five days a week. About half of the district’s families have opted for in-person learning.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican and ardent supporter of President Trump, has followed the president’s lead by demanding that all schools in Florida reopen for in-person learning. The state allowed only its three largest counties, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, to continue offering fully remote instruction past Aug. 31.
Last week, the Miami-Dade school board had voted to reopen schools on Oct. 14, with all students returning by Oct. 21. The board expressed concerns about whether schools were fully prepared to implement safety measures to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. On Wednesday, the 14-day average positivity rate reported for the county was 4.46 percent.
But on Friday, the board received a letter from the state’s education commissioner, Richard Corcoran, calling on the district to fully open schools by Oct 5. The district feared that if it did not comply, the state might withhold funds.
Broward County, Florida’s second-largest district, is currently planning to open schools on Oct. 14 and received a similar letter from Mr. Corcoran. The board will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday, but the superintendent, Robert Runcie, has said that he believes the district should stick with its planned date.
New York City, the largest district in the country, has been gradually reopening schools, but on a hybrid model, with students allowed to split their time between in-person and remote learning.
United Teachers of Dade, the union representing Miami-Dade teachers, had praised the board’s decision last week to delay reopening schools. On Tuesday, the union’s president, Karla Hernandez-Mats, criticized the reversal, saying that “the pressure from President Trump and Governor DeSantis proved to be far greater a force on our school board than our pleas for public health and safety.”
Relatives of people killed by the virus in the United States are organizing a national day of mourning for victims and survivors of the pandemic, to be held in Washington on Sunday, Oct. 4.
The event reflects grass-roots efforts that are gaining momentum around the country to acknowledge the losses experienced by thousands of families. At least 206,700 people have died from the virus in the United States as of Wednesday, with hundreds more added every day. Infectious disease experts warn that the way things are going, the death toll could surpass 300,000 by the end of the year.
The ceremony, called the National Covid-19 Remembrance, will involve a service held in the Ellipse, a park directly south of the White House. Organizers say the socially distanced event will include a moment of silence led by faith leaders, live and recorded musical performances and the installation of 20,000 empty chairs on the Ellipse, each one representing 10 or more lives lost during the pandemic. The singer Dionne Warwick, a former United States ambassador of health, is scheduled to host the ceremony.
The mobilization for the ceremony comes as President Trump has been trying to play down the impact of the virus, claiming it “affects virtually nobody.” As they call on political leaders to do more to curb the spread of the virus, organizers say they are drawing inspiration from previous remembrances for victims of gun violence, of the AIDS epidemic and of terrorist attacks.
“The lack of recognition has compounded people’s grief and trauma,” said Chris Kocher, executive director of Covid Survivors for Change, an organization created in June that is leading the remembrance effort. “We want to give folks a space where their loved ones can be honored and remembered.”
President Trump will travel to Wisconsin this weekend for two large outdoor campaign rallies, even as the White House coronavirus task force warned that the state is in the “red zone” for new cases and that “intense virus transmission is seen throughout the state.”
“To the maximal degree possible, increase social distancing mitigation measures until cases decline,” the task force urged Wisconsin officials in a Sept. 27 report obtained by The Times.
On Wednesday, officials in Wisconsin reported 26 new deaths, a single-day record. The previous record was 22, reported on May 27.
Mr. Trump, who trails former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the polls in a state he narrowly won in 2016, will speak at airports in La Crosse on Saturday and Green Bay on Sunday, his campaign website says. Both areas are categorized in the report as red zones themselves.
The president’s rallies have often prompted criticism from public health authorities about the lack of social distancing and the absence of masks. One held on Sept. 17 in Mosinee, Wis., drew an estimated 5,000 people.
After that event, the White House task force warned officials in Wisconsin that the virus was surging in their state and advised them to become more vigilant.
“Wisconsin has continued to see a rapid worsening of the epidemic in the last week with the governor declaring a health emergency,” the report said. The state’s rate of new cases in the past week is the country’s third highest.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier reported that Mr. Trump was going ahead with the rallies despite the warnings.
On Tuesday, during the first presidential debate, Mr. Trump boasted about the rallies and mocked Mr. Biden for avoiding large in-person events. “We have tremendous crowds as you see and, literally, on 24 hours notice, and Joe does the circles and has three people someplace,” Mr. Trump said.
As New York City begins allowing indoor dining at 25 percent capacity on Wednesday, its neighbor across the Hudson River offers a preview of what may be in store for struggling restaurants.
Restaurants in New Jersey are three weeks ahead of New York in offering indoor dining, also at reduced capacity. But with a 25 percent cap on indoor dining, some restaurant owners said the costs and the staffing levels needed to provide a safe restaurant experience outweighed the benefits.
“We can’t cover our bills at 25 percent,” said, Jeanne Cretella, the president of Landmark Hospitality, a restaurant group. She has the Liberty House restaurant in Jersey City and Felina in suburban Ridgewood. “And we are at a point where we’re starting to get a little nervous once outside dining is no longer possible.”
During a summer of struggle, expansive outdoor seating options and takeout buoyed some restaurants that still had to cover rent and other expenses. It remains to be seen whether limited-capacity dining rooms can entice customers who are concerned about the coronavirus, or can make up for diminished outdoor dining as fall fades into winter.
The National Restaurant Association has estimated that one in six restaurants nationwide have already closed down either long-term or for good during the pandemic, and restaurant industry groups in New York and New Jersey predict more hard times ahead.
In New Jersey, where officials have said that no cases have been linked to indoor dining, pressure is mounting on Gov. Philip D. Murphy to raise occupancy limits to match those of most parts of New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, where dining rooms can be half-full.
Officials in New York City continued to scramble on Wednesday to quell growing clusters of the coronavirus in several neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, as the seven-day average rate of positive test results citywide ticked slightly upward to 1.46 percent, from 1.38 percent reported on Tuesday.
The uptick comes as the city also tries to fully reopen its public schools for in-person learning this week.
“It’s crucial to bringing back more jobs and helping businesses to survive,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said of indoor dining on Wednesday. “But health and safety, as always, come first.”
The mayor said that he personally preferred to continue dining outdoors until the weather cools.
Shortly afterward, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York emphasized that local officials should focus on enforcing compliance with safety rules before activities such as indoor dining in New York City were scaled back, noting that closing down establishments would cause “significant economic damage.”
“We have escalating actions that we take, but do step one first: Enforce the mask compliance, issue a ticket,” he said. “And if that doesn’t work, yes, then we’re going to have to take more serious actions.”