Coronavirus Live Updates: Latest News and Analysis

The Four Percent


Pence and Azar attribute surges to more testing. Health experts and the evidence say otherwise.

Vice President Mike Pence and the nation’s top health official, Alex M. Azar II, continued to assert on Sunday that reopenings in many states were not causing the sharp rises in coronavirus cases, but rather that increased testing was uncovering more and more infections.

But their position was disputed by other public health experts, who cited the increasing rate of positive results from broadened testing. And Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said of the Trump administration: “They’re basically in denial about the problem. They don’t want to tell the American people the truth.”

On “Fox News Sunday,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that both the total number of cases and the percentage of tests coming back positive for the coronavirus had increased in several states, saying, “There’s also no doubt that the virus has the upper hand.” He predicted that the explosive spread in some states would continue to worsen over the coming weeks.

While much of the Sunday talk shows were more focused on exploring reports that Russia had offered, and paid, bounties to Taliban fighters for killing U.S. soldiers, the country’s surging pandemic remained a major topic. And the comments by Mr. Pence, Mr. Azar and Dr. Frieden exemplified the contradictory positions taken by the White House, which is pressing full speed to reopen the economy and for Mr. Trump to resume in-person campaigning for the fall election, and health experts, who are alarmed by case surges around the country.

Mr. Pence, on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” said, “I know there’s a temptation to associate the new cases in the Sunbelt with reopening,” but denied that to be true, adding that many states with increased cases had already reopened weeks ago.

When the show’s host, John Dickerson, cited the concerns of health experts that states had opened too early, Mr. Pence replied, “I beg to differ.”

Even as residents in some states have been turned away from testing sites that have reached capacity, Mr. Pence falsely said that anyone who wanted to be tested for the coronavirus could be tested.

“Because of the public-private partnership that President Trump initiated, we are literally able to test anyone in the country that would want a test who comes forward,” Mr. Pence said.

President Trump first made this claim in March, and top health experts have repeatedly contradicted this. Testing sites in several states, including Texas, Florida and Arizona, have been overrun.

Other highlights from the Sunday talk shows:

  • Mr. Pence downplayed the seriousness of the increase in new cases by saying that the virus had predominantly infected younger people, who are less likely to be hospitalized. But Dr. Frieden noted that it took time for Covid-19 patients who felt sick to be hospitalized and potentially die, and also that infected young people were also carriers was significant. “What starts in the young doesn’t stay in the young,” he said. “Younger people have parents, uncles, nephews. We’re going to see increasing spread.”

U.S. testing sites in the West and South see long lines and sometimes unruly crowds.

Coronavirus testing sites in Arizona, Florida and Texas have become a source of tension and risk, with numerous residents waiting in long lines, and others being turned away as sites reached capacity. Crowding is raising the risk of infection as people rush to the front of the line at some centers.

Residents of these and other hard-hit U.S. states are turning out in droves to get tested as the virus continues its surge across the South and West, threatening to overwhelm areas that until recently were spared the worst of the pandemic.

“Pushing, yelling, ZERO social distancing enforced,” one Houston resident wrote on Twitter. Two testing sites at Houston stadiums reached capacity just hours after opening on Saturday, according to the local health department. The city’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, has said that intensive care units there are nearly at capacity.

Elsewhere in Texas, Stefano West drove more than an hour from Killeen to Austin to find a testing site, noting that few were available closer to him. He said he then waited about four and a half hours in his car at the site.

“I was annoyed,” Mr. West said. “There wasn’t really communication. No one explained the process.”

In Florida, the first car on Saturday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando found its spot in line for testing at 12:30 a.m., according to the Florida Association of Public Information Officers, even though testing did not start until 9 a.m. At a site in Jacksonville, the testing line was cut off in the early afternoon, before closing time, the association said on Twitter.

In Arizona, people seeking drive-up coronavirus tests in Phoenix have faced car lines up to three miles long. On Friday, the state’s largest laboratory received twice as many samples as it could process.

Nationwide, coronavirus cases have risen 65 percent over the past two weeks. On Saturday, more than 42,000 cases were reported across the United States, including single-day records in Florida, Nevada and South Carolina. It was the third consecutive day with more than 40,000 new cases in the country.

No mask? No vote.

Voters in Poland and France headed to the polls with caution on Sunday for the first elections in their countries since the pandemic began. Polish voters — taking part in the first round of a presidential election — were required to bring their own pens to polling stations. And the French voted in the second round of municipal elections, with many eyes focused on the mayoral race in Paris.

Both elections had been delayed for months because of the pandemic. Fears of a possible resurgence in infections had raised concerns about voter turnout, and rising numbers of cases in other parts of Europe did little to quell those worries.

Elsewhere in Europe:

  • In Switzerland, the authorities ordered over 300 people to go into quarantine after at least six people who visited a nightclub last weekend tested positive.

  • Officials in the Czech Republic this weekend recorded 260 new cases, the country’s highest daily number since early April and nearly triple the numbers from just days earlier.

  • Italy reported its lowest number of daily deaths since early March. And for the first time since the start of the pandemic, Spain’s capital region did not register a single virus fatality on Saturday, said Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the regional leader of Madrid. According to the official death toll, Madrid has accounted for 30 percent of Spain’s 28,341 victims.

  • The authorities in Britain warned of possible new waves of infections as tens of thousands of people flocked to beaches, parks and parties. Reflecting those concerns, neighboring Ireland said it would ask people arriving from Britain to self-isolate for 14 days, according to The Sunday Times of London.

November, he said, could be like the pandemic itself: manageable if done right, but vulnerable to unpredictable hot spots — “and we only need it to go badly in a few places for the whole election to feel like it’s in trouble.”

Yemeni militiamen rumbled up to a group of migrants in a settlement one morning, firing their machine guns at Ethiopians caught in the middle of somebody else’s war. The militiamen shouted: Take your coronavirus and leave the country, or face death.

“The sound of the bullets was like thunder that wouldn’t stop,” said Kedir Jenni, 30, an Ethiopian waiter who fled the settlement near the Saudi border in northern Yemen that morning in early April. “Men and women get shot next to you. You see them die and move on.”

This scene and others were recounted in telephone interviews with a half dozen migrants now in Saudi prisons. Although their accounts could not be independently verified, human rights groups have corroborated similar incidents.

The Houthis, the Iran-backed militia that controls most of northern Yemen, have driven out thousands of migrants at gunpoint over the past three months, blaming them for spreading the coronavirus, and dumped them in the desert without food or water.

The community around the University of California, Davis, used to have a population of 70,000 and a thriving economy. Rentals were tight. Downtown was jammed. Hotels were booked months in advance for commencement.

But when the campus closed in March because of the coronavirus, an estimated 20,000 students and faculty members left town. With them went about a third of the demand for goods and services, from books to bikes to brunches. And officials expect most of that demand to stay gone even as the city reopens.

Reliant on institutions that once seemed impervious to recession, “town and gown” communities that have evolved around rural campuses — Cornell, Amherst College, Penn State — are confronting not only Covid-19 but also major losses in population, revenue and jobs.

For the cities involved, the prognosis is daunting. In most college towns, university students, faculty and staff are a primary market. Local economies depend on their numbers and dollars, from sales taxes to football weekends to federal funds determined by the U.S. census.

Where business as usual has been tried recently, punishment has followed: Last week, the Iowa health authorities reported case spikes among young adults in its two largest college towns after bars reopened. And on campuses across the United States, attempts to bring back football teams for preseason practice have resulted in outbreaks.

“One of the things that makes a college town so wonderful is the vibrant young population,” said Davis’s incoming vice mayor, Lucas Frerichs, who attended the university and has lived in the city for 24 years. “They’re the lifeblood.”

How to use public bathrooms as safely as possible.

As people begin venturing out into public more, here are some strategies for minimizing the risk of being exposed to the coronavirus in public restrooms.

Reporting was contributed by Christopher Cameron, Rebecca Chao, Melina Delkic, Tess Felder, Rebecca Halleck, Chris Horton, Shawn Hubler, Sheila Kaplan, Sarah Kliff, Pierre-Antoine Louis, Raphael Minder, Tiksa Negeri, Elian Peltier, Michael Shear, Michael Wines, Vivian Yee and Carl Zimmer.



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