Coronavirus in the US: Live Updates – The New York Times

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ImagePresident Trump at the coronavirus briefing in the White House on Monday.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump announced a plan to close the United States to people trying to come to the country to live and work. He justified the drastic move as a necessary step to protect American workers from foreign competition once the nation’s economy begins to recover from the shutdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter late Monday night. “I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”

The announcement came only hours after the president and several members of his administration had presented lengthy, and at times defensive, explanations of their effort to provide states with the widespread testing they will need to reopen their economies. And it followed announcements by a small group of governors — led by three Republicans in the South — that they were taking the first steps toward doing just that.

But the president’s late-night announcement signaled his most wide-ranging attempt yet to seal the country off from the rest of the world.

In recent weeks, the Trump administration has said that health concerns justified moving swiftly to bar asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants from entering the country, alarming immigration advocates who have said that Mr. Trump and his advisers are using a pandemic to broaden hard-line policies.

Under the kind of executive order the president described, the Trump administration would no longer approve any applications from foreigners to live and work in the United States for an undetermined period of time — effectively shutting down the legal immigration system in the same way the president has long advocated closing the borders to illegal immigration.

Workers who have for years received visas to perform specialized jobs in the United States would also be denied permission to arrive, though workers in some industries deemed critical could be exempted from the ban, people familiar with the president’s decision said.

The number of visas issued to foreigners abroad looking to immigrate to the United States has declined by about 25 percent in the past three years, to 462,422 in the 2019 fiscal year, from 617,752 in 2016.

Even before the pandemic, the president and some of his most hard-line advisers had been eager to reduce legal immigration even more, arguing that Mr. Trump’s “America First” campaign pledge should be seen as protecting native-born Americans from having to compete with foreign workers.

Stephen Miller, the architect of the president’s immigration agenda, has pushed repeatedly for regulations and executive actions that would limit the amount of immigration that is allowed each year.

Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count

A detailed county map shows the extent of the coronavirus outbreak, with tables of the number of cases by county.

Final approval of an agreement to replenish a loan program for small businesses will not occur until at least Thursday, as negotiators struggled through the night Monday to resolve the final details of what is likely to be nearly $500 billion in aid for small businesses, hospitals and testing.

With the Senate scheduled to convene a procedural session Tuesday afternoon, lawmakers were racing to reach agreement on what was intended to be an interim package to shore up a $2 trillion stimulus package signed into law last month. While the administration had asked for $250 billion for a loan program to help distressed small businesses, Democrats pursued additional aid for hospitals, testing and state and local governments.

Speaking on CNN Tuesday morning, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said negotiators had worked late into the night on Monday and he was optimistic the aid would be approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

“I believe we have a deal,” Mr. Schumer said. “And I believe that we will pass it this afternoon at 4 p.m.”

But Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, notified lawmakers late Monday that even if an agreement is reached in time for the Senate to pass the measure on Tuesday, the earliest the House will take action is Thursday morning — a day later than House leadership had hoped. House Republicans are expected to force a recorded vote, meaning lawmakers will have to return to Washington in order to send the measure to the president’s desk.

Funding for the small business loan program, known as the Paycheck Protection Program, has lapsed during the impasse, leaving millions of small businesses in limbo without federal assistance.

Negotiators are still working to reach agreement on a Democratic demand to include a provision that would require the establishment of a national testing strategy. Republicans are wary of placing the onus of such a strategy on the administration, and want states to decide their own strategies.

At least 28,000 more people have died during the coronavirus pandemic over the last month than official counts report, a review of mortality data in 11 countries shows — providing a clearer, if still incomplete, picture of the toll of the crisis.

In the last month, far more people died in those countries than in previous years, The New York Times found. The totals include deaths directly caused by Covid-19, as well as those stemming from other illnesses that could not be treated as hospitals became overwhelmed and people could not get medical care.

The numbers undermine the notion that many people who have died from the virus may soon have died anyway. In Paris, more than twice the usual number of people have died each day, far more than at the peak of a bad flu season. In New York City, the number is four times the normal amount.

President Trump on Monday again defended his administration’s handling of coronavirus testing, insisting the nation had excess capacity for screening even as some governors continued to say that they lacked some crucial materials, including nasal swabs and chemical reagents, required to collect them.

In a briefing at the White House, Mr. Trump framed the debates around testing in political terms, saying that Democrats who once asked him for ventilators were now only raising the availability of testing “because they want to be able to criticize.”

Testing has also emerged as a sticking point in negotiations between Congress and the administration on small-business aid, with Democrats pushing for a national strategy and Republicans, wary of placing the onus on the White House to devise and carry one out, arguing that states should set their own plans.

To make his point, Mr. Trump allowed Vice President Mike Pence, several members of the White House coronavirus task force and other administration officials to give detailed presentations to reporters about what they said was a surplus of testing capacity. Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, displayed a series of slides showing the locations of test centers in various states, and Mr. Trump at one point held up a thick binder that he said contained the locations of 5,000 testing facilities across the nation.

Still, governors continued to express frustration that they did not have the materials they needed to collect tests for analysis, and for now — in part because of shortages of those testing materials — many localities continue to limit testing to people who meet specific criteria.

But the virus has also been spread widely by people who have few or no symptoms, experts say, so the goal should be to test nearly everyone with mild or severe symptoms, plus an average of 10 people who have been in contact with each person who tests positive for the virus.

And a recent estimate by researchers at Harvard University suggested that the United States could not safely reopen the economy unless, over the next month, it triples the number of tests it is currently conducting. An average of 146,000 people per day have been tested for the coronavirus nationally so far this month, according to the Covid Tracking Project, a volunteer-driven initiative from the newsmagazine The Atlantic. The Harvard researchers estimate that the number of daily tests performed between now and mid-May should be 500,000 to 700,000 if the economy is to reopen by then.

Coronavirus Testing Needs to Triple Before the U.S. Can Reopen, Experts Say

As some governors look to ease coronavirus restrictions, public health experts say the country needs at least half a million tests per day to safely reopen.

Residents of Georgia will be allowed on Friday to return to the gym and to get haircuts, pedicures, massages and tattoos. Next Monday, they can dine again in restaurants and go to the movies.

With that announcement, Gov. Brian Kemp, Republican of Georgia, joined officials in other states on Monday who are moving ahead with plans to relax restrictions intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus, despite signs that the outbreak is just beginning to strike some parts of the country.

In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee, also a Republican, said that he was not extending his “safer-at-home” order that is set to expire on April 30. According to his office, “the vast majority of businesses in 89 counties” will be allowed to reopen on May 1. Businesses in Ohio are expected to reopen on that date as well.

And in South Carolina, the Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, said that department stores and some other retail businesses that had previously been deemed nonessential would be allowed to reopen on Tuesday but must abide by social distancing guidelines. People will also be able to gain access to public beaches on Tuesday.

Even as some governors pressed ahead with plans to reopen, other states and cities prepared for difficult days to come as new infections surged and hospitals prepared for an influx of patients.

At the White House briefing on Monday evening, Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator, noted that, “We still have a significant number of cases, both in the Boston area and across Massachusetts and Chicago.”

Even in areas where the number of new cases is beginning to flatten, it is doing so at a very high level: New York, which reported its fewest new cases in a month and its lowest one-day death toll in more than two weeks, still reported 4,726 new cases and had 478 new deaths on Sunday.

“The question is, how long is the descent, and how steep is the descent?” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Monday. “Nobody knows. Just as nobody knew how long the ascent was, nobody can tell you how long the descent is.”

Still Lives

In this unnatural state of isolation, photographers show us the things that bind.

The House could take action as early as Thursday to modify the chamber’s rules to allow remote voting by proxy for the first time in institutional history.

Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, notified lawmakers that they would most likely vote on the rules change when they returned to Washington to vote on a package to replenish a lapsed loan program for small businesses and provide additional aid for hospitals and testing.

With the agreement unfinished as of early Tuesday, the earliest the House will return to vote is Thursday morning, Mr. Hoyer said in a notice sent shortly before midnight.

The move toward remote voting by proxy is a stark shift for Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who had initially resisted it. But it is an acknowledgment that the coronavirus pandemic, by forcing Congress into an extended recess, has made that position untenable.

Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the Rules Committee chairman who had been studying the issue, recommended voting by proxy to Democrats during a private caucus call last week. It would allow lawmakers who could not travel to the Capitol to give specific instructions on each vote to a colleague authorized to vote on their behalf.

“This is what we’re comfortable with doing now that I think poses the least amount of risk,” Mr. McGovern told The Times on Thursday. “For those who feel they want to be here and engage in debate, they can come back, but for those members who are in states where they are instructed not to leave their homes or not to travel, they can still participate.”

With the House expected to act on more legislation to counter the virus and its economic toll, and as partisan division over the response to the pandemic continues to intensify, House Republicans have indicated that they will continue to request roll call votes and require all lawmakers to return to Capitol Hill — a maneuver that remote voting would essentially nullify.

The Senate appears unlikely to follow suit, though senators are discussing how to manage remote hearings and stay connected while scattered across the country until at least May 4.

Less than a month ago, the stock market was in free fall, as a torrent of bad news about the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout drove investors to dump stocks. Just as swiftly, the market has rebounded, even as millions of people lose their jobs every week and the country is destined for a recession.

Can the rally be trusted?

The word on Wall Street is a tentative yes. More people are embracing the idea that stocks have “bottomed” — investor parlance for the lowest the market will go — and won’t fall below the depths they reached on March 23, when the S&P 500 stock index was 34 percent below its high from just over a month earlier.

Don’t celebrate just yet: Even if they don’t anticipate another sharp plunge, most observers hardly expect the market to soar, either. Investors who are wading back into the water are getting confusing signals: Quarterly earnings are shrinking and corporate reports provide few clues about the future, while rising stock prices are hard to square with the mounting toll of the economic collapse.

What’s more, the combination of rising shares and reduced profits is making the market look incredibly expensive, according to a metric widely used by investors to value the market, the price-to-earnings ratio.

“Right now, you’re kind of in this no man’s land, purgatory,” said Brian Belski, chief investment strategist with BMO Capital Markets.

As each week of the coronavirus pandemic passes, it is not unusual to experience unusual emotions. Social isolation is causing feelings of extreme loneliness for many. Panic attacks have become more common, too. Here are some strategies that might be helpful in trying to cope.

As the coronavirus outbreak has rapidly remade American education, teachers are facing extraordinary demands, and their unions are seeking new protections, asserting the power they have amassed over the last few years.

Unlike many other college-educated workers, teachers are unaccustomed to spending the day tethered to screens. Many work under meticulously negotiated contracts that detail their work hours, break times, and rules for how they engage with administrators — contracts that now seem all but irrelevant with students and teachers confined to their homes.

As the realities of online education have become starkly apparent, unions are fighting to counter demands that they consider unreasonable.

They have called for restrictions on the number of hours and days that teachers would be required to work from home during the pandemic. They have also pushed back against the expectation that teachers conduct lessons live at fixed times, and on the ability of principals to sit in on lessons conducted over Zoom or other video platforms.

But they are also trying not to jeopardize the public support they won, including in red states, during massive walkouts in 2018 and 2019 that shut down schools places such as Oklahoma, West Virginia, Chicago and Los Angeles.

“Teachers are actually working harder right now than they ever have,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a national union. “A lot of superintendents are attempting to make remote learning act like what happened in schools,” she said — something that may be impossible.

Read the latest about the coronavirus pandemic from our international correspondents.

Reporting was contributed by Marc Santora, Allison McCann, Jin Wu, Karen Barrow, Michael Cooper, Dana Goldstein, Miriam Jordan, Matt Phillips, Rick Rojas, Katie Rogers, Eliza Shapiro, Michael D. Shear and Emily Cochrane.

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