The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus in the United States has risen 40 percent in the past month, while the number of new cases reported on Thursday approached the record of nearly 76,000 set in July.
Some 41,000 people are now hospitalized across the country, including many in the Midwest and the Mountain West. While the nation has seen more people hospitalized at earlier points in the pandemic — during an onslaught of cases in New York City in April and in the Sun Belt in July — patients are now spread out much more broadly, raising concern for critically ill patients in rural areas with limited medical resources.
According to the Times database, eight American states set single-day records for new cases on Thursday, while 13 states have added more cases in the past week than in any other seven-day stretch. An average of 777 virus-related deaths were reported over each of the last seven days, still far below the spring peak. More than 223,000 deaths linked to the virus have been recorded since the start of the pandemic.
Since January, The New York Times has tracked cases reported by state and local health departments. Other tracking services use different combinations of government sources, which can lead to fluctuations in daily totals, especially with regards to daily records.
Experts worry that the growing numbers in need of hospital care will only get worse if cases continue to mount.
“I don’t really see any signs that things are slowing down and that concerns me a lot,” Caitlin M. Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, said. “It has to be our starting premise that it’s not going to slow down unless we force it to slow down.”
In response to rising cases in Chicago, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced a curfew on nonessential businesses beginning at 10 p.m. on Friday. Residents were warned to avoid social gatherings of more than six people and end all gatherings by 10 p.m.
In the latest presidential debate, President Trump asserted that the virus was “going away” as he defended his management of the pandemic. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, attacked Mr. Trump’s handling, calling for much more aggressive federal action for the “dark winter” ahead.
On Friday, Alex M. Azar, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the president was “trying to give people hope, given the vaccines and therapeutics that are coming in around the corner.” Speaking on CNN, Mr. Azar said, “But we do need to acknowledge — and he does acknowledge — that we’re in a very serious moment right now.”
Mr. Azar encouraged people to follow health precautions, such as wearing masks in public, even as his boss has not emphasized them.
“We’ve got to keep focused on washing our hands, watching our distance, and wearing our face covering when we can’t watch our distance,” Mr. Azar said. “And in particular, being careful in household gatherings. This has become a major vector of disease spread.”
The Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday that it had formally approved remdesivir as the first drug to treat Covid-19. The antiviral drug had been approved for adults and patients 12 years of age and older, and weighing at least 40 kilograms, for Covid-19 treatments requiring hospitalization, the F.D.A. said.
Across the Atlantic, hospitals in parts of Europe that have been hit with a second wave of the virus are also scrambling to prepare for an onrush of Covid-19 patients. Poland has turned its largest stadium into an emergency field hospital. In Belgium and Britain, the numbers of Covid-19 patients have doubled in two weeks. And in the Czech Republic, doctors and nurses are falling ill at an alarming rate.
The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals across the continent is still less than half of the peak in March and April, but it is rising steadily each week, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. People across much of Europe — including larger countries like France, Italy, Poland and Spain — are now more likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19 than those in the United States.
President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. delivered starkly divergent closing arguments to the country in the final presidential debate on Thursday, offering opposite prognoses for a range of issues, including the coronavirus pandemic.
The debate was, on the whole, a more restrained affair than the first encounter between the two candidates last month, when Mr. Trump harangued Mr. Biden for most of an hour and a half and effectively short-circuited any policy debate. But if the tenor of Thursday’s forum was more sedate, the conflict in matters of substance and vision could not have been more dramatic.
From the opening minutes, the two candidates took opposing stances on the pandemic, with Mr. Trump promising, in defiance of evidence, that the disease was “going away.” The next morning, Alex M. Azar, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the president was “trying to give people hope, given the vaccines and therapeutics that are coming in around the corner.” Speaking on CNN, Mr. Azar said, “But we do need to acknowledge — and he does acknowledge — that we’re in a very serious moment right now.”
Mr. Biden, on Thursday, called for much more aggressive federal action for the “dark winter” ahead.
Mr. Trump appeared determined to cast his opponent as a career politician who was, as he jabbed toward the end of the debate, “all talk and no action.”
Mr. Trump, however, did little to lay out an affirmative case for his own re-election, or to explain in clear terms what he would hope to do with another four years in the White House. He frequently misrepresented the facts of his own record, and Mr. Biden’s. And on his most important political vulnerability — his mismanagement of the pandemic — Mr. Trump hewed unswervingly to a message that happy days are nearly here again, even as polls show that a majority of voters believe the worst of the coronavirus crisis is still ahead.
Mr. Biden, for his part, stuck to the core of the argument that has propelled his campaign from the start, denouncing Mr. Trump as a divisive and unethical leader who has botched the federal response to a devastating public-health crisis. Though Mr. Trump pushed him onto the defensive repeatedly, the former vice president also laid out a fuller version of his own policy agenda than he managed in the first debate, calling for large-scale economic stimulus spending, new aid to states battling the pandemic and a muscular expansion of health care and worker benefits nationwide.
More than 214,000 coronavirus cases have been identified at U.S. colleges this year, according to a New York Times survey that showed universities continuing to struggle to control major outbreaks. More than 35,000 cases of those cases have been identified since early October.
Though some colleges moved all their fall classes online, many campuses remained open even as positive tests accumulated by the hundreds or thousands. Of more than 1,700 institutions surveyed by The Times, more than 50 reported at least 1,000 cases over the course of the pandemic. More than 375 colleges have reported at least 100 cases.
The 214,000 cases at colleges account for 2.5 percent of all known cases in the United States. And that figure is an undercount because some colleges have refused to provide any case data or have stopped giving updates.
Large public institutions in the South and Midwest reported the highest case totals, including seven campuses where there have been more than 3,000 cases.
The virus has disrupted every sector of higher education, forcing quarantines and canceling plans at schools large and small, public and private.
In Ohio, the College of Wooster moved all classes online for the rest of the fall after dozens of cases emerged, including several tied to social events. The University of New Mexico canceled its season-opening football game with Colorado State because of spiking case numbers in the Albuquerque area. And at the University of Michigan, where more than 600 people have tested positive, undergraduates were told to remain in their homes for two weeks except when attending class, eating or working.
“The situation locally has become critical, and this order is necessary to reverse the current increase in cases,” Jimena Loveluck, the Washtenaw County health officer, said in announcing the stay-in-place order at the University of Michigan.
More than 75,000 cases of the coronavirus were announced in the United States on Thursday, the second-highest daily total nationwide since the pandemic began. Eight states set single-day case records, and 13 states have added more cases in the past week than in any other seven-day stretch.
The Midwest and the Rocky Mountains are struggling to contain major outbreaks, while new hot spots are emerging in other parts of the country. Officials in Kentucky announced more than 1,470 cases on Thursday, the biggest one-day jump in that state. And more than 1,300 cases were recorded in Colorado, setting another single-day record. In Chicago, which officials said is averaging 645 new cases a day this week, a nighttime curfew will be imposed on businesses starting on Friday.
The country almost surpassed its record in mid-July, when over 77,000 infections were recorded in one day. As of Friday morning, more than 8.4 million people in the country have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 223,000 have died, according to a New York Times database.
— Elaine Yu and
Poland, which has reported 64,783 cases of the coronavirus in the past seven days, will enact a number of new restrictions starting on Saturday, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced at a news conference on Friday.
The country reported 13,632 new cases on Friday. The country has recorded 214,686 cases of the virus and more than 4,000 deaths. Thirty percent of the total cases have come in the past week. Poland, which the prime minister designated as a “red zone” on Friday, largely avoided the first wave of the pandemic by imposing an early lockdown in March.
As of Saturday, all cafes, bars and restaurants will be closed — except for carry out — and remote teaching will become a norm for older children in primary schools, as well as in high schools and at universities. Residents are required to use face coverings outside their homes.
Young people up to 16 years old will not be allowed outside between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. without the supervision of an adult, and socializing in groups of more than five will be forbidden. Additionally, gyms and swimming pools will close. The government also asked that people over 70 stay home.
“We are far away from the comfort zone,” said Adam Niedzielski, the health minister during the news conference.
There are concerns about how the country’s underfunded health care system will cope with the growing number of virus patients. Earlier this week the government announced that it was transforming the national stadium in Warsaw into a field hospital, and constructing new temporary virus hospitals in major cities.
— Monika Pronczuk and
The first time the police came to the Body Tech Fitness gym in Liverpool, England, it was with a polite warning. But four hours later they were back, and this time in force.
As lunchtime gymgoers worked out, about half a dozen officers, some with Tasers, ordered the closure of the fitness center, which had been deemed in breach of England’s toughest coronavirus restrictions.
But even a show of strength like that doesn’t always work — particularly not in a city like Liverpool. While the main entrance was closed, the gym kept a discreet side door open for members to come in and work out.
But on Friday, in a head-snapping turn of events, the gym will operate legally for the first time in nine days, having forced the authorities into an unlikely retreat.
The Body Tech Fitness saga, with its combination of opaque rule-making, inconsistent enforcement and, ultimately, reversal, is in many ways emblematic of the British government’s overall performance since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Its handling of the pandemic has been in turns hesitant, halting, confused, secretive and contradictory.
That has generated confusion and distrust, along with growing resistance, to the diktats from Westminster. And if there was one place that was not going to suffer quietly, local people say, it was Liverpool, which finds itself in the highest tier of restrictions.
“Historically, we have shown that we are not going to lie down when something is unfair,” said Nick Whitcombe, 29, the owner of the gym, as he celebrated a victory achieved through concerted lobbying of politicians and slick outreach to the media.
The system has left many frustrated and confused, even as they acknowledge the gravity of the worsening health situation in Liverpool.
In other developments around the world:
More than 170 Australians stranded in Britain will return home on Friday on a government-chartered repatriation flight. Upon arrival, they will be transferred to an isolation facility to quarantine for 14 days. The flight is the first of eight that will bring back up to 1,315 Australians from Britain, India and South Africa. More than 30,000 Australians are stranded abroad. Many have been trying to return for months but have faced difficulties because of caps on international arrivals imposed by the government.
In Spain, the regional authorities in Madrid will reintroduce lockdowns on Monday around 32 specific areas of the city where the rate of infections has been spiraling. As of Saturday, people in Madrid will be prohibited from gathering between midnight and 6 a.m. with people who do not live under the same roof. These rules replace a travel ban for Madrid residents. In the eastern region of Valencia, the authorities have ordered a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m., which will remain in force at least until Dec. 9. The central government is studying whether to reintroduce a nationwide state of emergency, which would supersede the mosaic of regional and local rules that have recently come into force.
Two senior Palestine Liberation Organization officials tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, as the virus spread among the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership. Azzam al-Ahmad and Ahmad Majdalani, members of the P.L.O. Executive Committee, tested positive before a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, who is in his 80s, Mr. Majdalani said. Mr. al-Ahmad, in his 70s, and Mr. Majdalani, in his 60s, entered isolation after receiving the results and did not attend the meeting with Mr. Abbas. Saeb Erekat and Hanan Ashrawi, two other members of the executive committee, also tested positive for the virus this month. Mr. Erekat, who was hospitalized in Jerusalem on Sunday, is on a ventilator and is in critical but stable condition, according to the hospital.
Residents of Belgium will not be able to attend sporting events, theme parks will be closed, and cultural events will be limited to 200 people, the prime minister, Alexander de Croo, announced at a news conference on Friday. The measures will be re-examined Nov. 19. The restrictions come a week after Belgium shut all restaurants, bars, and cafes, and limited close social contacts to one person outside a household.
In the final weeks of the presidential race, President Trump cannot seem to stop harping on New York City.
“Look at what’s happened to New York, it’s a ghost town. It’s a ghost town,” he said at the debate on Thursday night. “For so many years I loved it, it was vibrant. It’s dying, everyone is leaving New York.”
For the president, belittling New York seems to serve two purposes: It appeals to his base as a campaign strategy, and allows him to address personal scores with his foes.
While many New Yorkers feel that Mr. Trump has turned his back on the city, the feeling is mutual with Mr. Trump. The city overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. There were protests when he returned to Trump Tower. His name was stripped from skyscrapers.
Democratic prosecutors in New York are digging into his family’s finances, and Democratic leaders, like Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, frequently accuse him of betraying his hometown.
The president is now balking at granting New York more coronavirus recovery funds, despite entreaties from Representative Peter T. King to reconsider. But the constant taunting from Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio — including painting “Black Lives Matter” on the street in front of Trump Tower — does not help, Mr. King said.
In May, Mr. Trump said that he would visit New York City, where more than 20,000 people have died from the coronavirus, “when things calm down.” He has not done so.
Jesse Garcia, a county Republican leader on Long Island, said Mr. Trump had shown his love for the city by providing relief funds through the $2 trillion CARES Act in March and sending the Navy hospital ship U.S.N.S. Comfort to the city, along with the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Nepali government has temporarily suspended trekking and access to Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain, and other mountains in Solukhumbu District after an 80-year-old local man tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Trekking and mountaineering in Everest region have been suspended for now to prevent the spread of virus,” Laxman Adhikari, a village chief of the Everest region, said in a telephone interview. “We cannot say how long it will be suspended.” The infected man is a politician from Namche Bazaar, a town in the Solukhumbu District.
For decades tourists and adventurers from around the world have been visiting Everest — even at the relatively low base camp — to fulfill an intensely personal, and expensive, quest to test extremes. In March, Nepal suspended trekking and mountaineering when the pandemic hit. After six months the country started welcoming back foreign and domestic tourists willing to climb Mount Everest, a significant source of revenue for Nepal.
Mr. Adhikari said that, after the news of the man’s infection, locals started denying accommodation to trekkers and that the authorities had collected swabs of 100 people in the area, fearing the virus had already spread. Flights to the area have also been suspended for now.
The broader route which was shut by authorities takes trekkers and mountaineers to the Everest base camp. Mr. Adhikari said fewer than 100 foreign tourists, including a 19-member team from Bahrain, had reached the Everest region in recent weeks.
Nepal, a country of 30 million people sandwiched between India and China, is enmeshed in a public health crisis over the virus. As of Friday, Nepal has more than 153,800 infections and 829 deaths, according to health authorities. Health experts have been warning that the Nepali government isn’t conducting enough high-quality testing to allow for measures to keep the virus from spreading.
— Bhadra Sharma and
North Korea urged its people to stay indoors this weekend with their windows shut because “yellow-dust” storms blowing in from China may help spread the coronavirus.
Yellow dust storms have been a recurring curse for Koreans for years, with many people complaining of burning eyes and sore throats and resorting to wearing masks when going outside. But the North’s main state-run newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said on Thursday that North Koreans should be more vigilant this year.
“Given the fact that the coronavirus continues to spread around the world and given data suggesting that malicious viruses may spread through air, we need to deal with yellow dust with more vigilance and thorough countermeasures,” the newspaper said.
It urged North Koreans to refrain from leaving homes or traveling, to wear masks and to keep their windows shut.
In South Korea, where people also guard against yellow dust, health officials did not suggest a link between the dust and the virus.
The subject of airborne transmission of the virus has been fraught. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that the coronavirus is most often spread through close contact, not airborne transmissions. “There is no evidence of efficient spread (i.e., routine, rapid spread) to people far away or who enter a space hours after an infectious person was there,” the agency says.
But North Korea has taken more aggressive measures against the virus than most other countries, shutting down its borders since January. In February, it said it was studying water samples from rivers, streams and lakes because it was hard to predict how the virus spread. The C.D.C. says it is not aware of any scientific reports of the virus spreading to people through lakes, oceans or rivers.
North Korea claims it has not found any cases of coronavirus in the country, though outside experts remain skeptical.
When the pandemic first hit Italy and masks became scarce, Myss Keta, the mysterious Queen of the Milan Night, came to the rescue. The Italian rapper, performance artist and L.G.B.T.Q. icon had amassed a vast collection of face coverings that she wore for years to hide her identity. So she began distributing them to her friends in need.
“I had so many,” she said. “Surgical, cloth, vinyl, silk, whatever material.”
This month, with a second wave of the coronavirus rising and Italy requiring the wearing of masks in public at all times, grandparents, politicians, middle-management businesspeople, doctors, lawyers, delivery people — just about everyone — is covering up. That has rendered Myss Keta — whose use of masks took her from underground clubs to the cusp of national, if incognito, celebrity — an improbable authority on life behind the surgical veil.
It has also threatened to strip her of her defining shtick.
“Before, it was a distinguishing characteristic. Now, it’s something we all have in common,” she said as she lifted a black surgical mask — the casual black T-shirt of her vast collection — to sip a Bloody Mary at Bar Basso in Milan. Under her trademark blond bangs, her eyes remained covered as usual in dark Givenchy sunglasses.
It used to be only the front-row fans at her concerts who emulated her by wearing masks. “Now, everyone seems like a Myss fan,” she said.
Istanbul, Turkey’s capital of finance and culture and a global travel hub, now represents 40 percent of the country’s total number of coronavirus cases, the health minister Fahrettin Koca announced Friday.
Turkey has recorded at least 355,000 total cases and nearly 10,000 deaths, according to a New York Times database.
“The pandemic is re-escalating in the entire country,’’ Mr. Koca said, after he urged residents of Istanbul to avoid crowds.
On Thursday, Turkey recorded 2,102 daily cases and 71 deaths, according to health ministry figures.
After ending its partial lockdown in June, Turkey made it compulsory nationwide last month to wear masks everywhere but at home. The authorities also instituted a system of staggered work hours in order to manage crowds of commuters in Istanbul, a city of 15.5 million. Turkey’s total population is about 82 million.
Critics and health professionals have long challenged the government’s coronavirus figures, saying that the actual numbers are much higher.
Lately, the government admitted that it was excluding asymptomatic cases from its announced coronavirus tally.
In today’s edition of the Morning newsletter, David Leonhardt writes:
The coronavirus is spreading more rapidly in rural areas of the U.S. than in urban areas. But one rural state continues to do a fabulous job keeping the virus away: Vermont.
The starkest sign of Vermont’s success is that it has not recorded a single Covid-19 death in more than two months.
Vermont is succeeding partly because it has not allowed the virus to become a partisan issue. The Republican governor, Phil Scott — unlike many other Republican politicians around the country — has consistently told people to take the virus seriously. “He started wearing a mask early in the pandemic and has stood at the back of the room in many of the state’s coronavirus briefings, letting Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont’s answer to Dr. Anthony Fauci, dominate proceedings,” Bill McKibben, a Vermont resident, wrote in The New Yorker.
Vermont also benefits from having a high degree of social trust among its residents, as Maria Sacchetti explained in The Washington Post. And Vermont has two strong local media organizations — VTDigger and Seven Days — that keep residents informed and that both took an intriguing step early in the pandemic, McKibben notes: They shut down their comments sections, to prevent misinformation from spreading.
Reporting was contributed by Michael Levenson, Sheila Kaplan and Gina Kolata.