The New York Times - USA (2020-10-16)

(Antfer) #1


Tracking an Outbreak


Herd immunity, the much-disputed approach to bringing a raging
virus outbreak under control that seems to have taken hold at the
White House, has emerged as a topic in the worldwide conversa-
tion about the coronavirus this week. On Thursday, it was panned
by scientists from the United States and Europe who called it “a
dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence” in the medi-
cal journal The Lancet.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert,
also weighed in against herd immunity on Thursday, declaring on
the ABC News program “Good Morning America” that it would be
“ridiculous” to “just let things rip and let the infection go — no
masks, crowd, it doesn’t make any difference.” He said there would
be “so many people in the community that you can’t shelter, that
you can’t protect, who are going to get sick and get serious conse-
That was a reference to an Oct. 4 petition called the Great
Barrington Declaration, which was cited by two senior officials in a
conference call with reporters on Monday. The declaration said that
there should be “measures to protect the vulnerable” but that
“those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to
resume life as normal.” It said that schools and universities should
be open for in-person classes and “extracurricular activities, such
as sports, should be resumed.” Its website says that just over 9,
“medical and public health scientists” have signed it, as have more
than 26,000 “medical practitioners.”
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the
World Health Organization, had criticized herd immunity as a way
of stopping the pandemic as “scientifically and ethically problemat-
ic” this week. “Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people
from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” he said.
For the most part, public health experts generally agree that
they would like to avoid further lockdowns. But they also say that
herd immunity should not be a strategy, because it could involve
large numbers of avoidable deaths. That leaves stopgap measures
like wearing masks and social distancing as the best way forward
until there is a vaccine that can confer widespread immunity.
For now, seven months into the pandemic, the United States is
approaching new and alarmingly high peaks. Seventeen states are
facing surges worse than anything they endured earlier in the
outbreak. Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin reported more new
cases during the seven days that ended on Wednesday than in any
other week since the virus arrived in the country. In Minnesota,
only two counties now meet the state’s criteria for keeping schools
open for in-person classes. At the end of August, 24 did.
“What’s happening in the Upper Midwest is just a harbinger of
things to come in the rest of the country,” said Michael Osterholm,
an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota.

Plight of the Unemployed

Other new numbers pointed to continuing damage. The number
of Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits
swelled last week to 886,000, a historically high number and a sign
that the lack of new federal aid is hurting the economy. The figure
was nearly 77,000 greater than in the previous week. Adjusted for
seasonal variations, the total was 898,000.
More and more people have exhausted their state unemploy-
ment benefits, which typically expire after 26 weeks. It has now
been longer than that since the pandemic forced the economy into
lockdown mode and unemployment claims rocketed to unprece-
dented highs. Many workers have moved into extended benefit
programs that provide another 12 weeks of benefits. Some 2.
million people received such benefits during the week that ended
on Sept. 26, the week posted by the Labor Department on Thurs-
day. That was 819,000 more than during the week before.
A different number has dropped, but it holds troubling implica-
tions for the future labor market. A month into the fall semester,
with the pandemic continuing to force classes online, undergradu-
ate college enrollment is 4 percent below last year’s level, the Na-
tional Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported on Thurs-
day. Freshman enrollment has had an even greater drop, more than
16 percent, indicating that students are putting off college or opting
for gap years amid the uncertainty of the pandemic. But Doug
Shapiro, the center’s executive research director, said the “stagger-
ing” news was that enrollment at community colleges declined 22.
percent compared with a year ago.

Trying to Get Back to Normal

There are signs in the United States that a learn-to-live-with-it
approach is catching on — which means people could become
complacent. As the holiday season approaches, many retail work-
ers will be trained to handle conflicts with customers who resist
mask wearing, social distancing and store-capacity limits.
In Britain, Queen Elizabeth II seemed to be getting on with the
royal routine, even as coronavirus cases continued to climb. For the
first time in seven months, Queen Elizabeth II of Britain attended
an engagement outside of palace grounds on Thursday. She joined
her grandson, Prince William, on a visit to a military research
facility that helped investigate the 2018 nerve agent attack on
Sergei V. Skripal, a former Russian spy who was living in Salisbury,
European tabloids and celebrity websites covered the visit as
only they can. “First away date after corona lockdown — with
Prince William!” blared the German site Gala.


Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus Update wraps up the day’s developments with infor-
mation from across the virus report.

W.H.O. Calls Herd Immunity ‘Problematic’

Surge of Infections in the Upper Midwest

Enrollment for College Freshmen Falls 16%

New Coronavirus Cases Announced Daily in U.S.


March 1 Oct. 15
Note: Thursday’s total is incomplete because some states report cases
after press time. Data is as of Oct. 15, 2020, at 5 p.m. Eastern.
Sources: State and local health agencies; hospitals; C.D.C.

As of Thursday evening, more than 8,008,200 people across every
state, plus Washington, D.C., and four U.S. territories, have tested
positive for the virus, according to a New York Times database.

New cases

7-day average



Many cases from
unspecified days

Hot Spots in the United States

Sources: State and local health agencies. The map showsthe shareof population with a new reportedcase over the last week.Partsof a county with a
population density lower than 10 people per square mile are not shaded. Data for Rhode Island is shown at the state level because county level data is
infrequently reported. Data is as of Oct. 15, 2020, at 5 p.m. Eastern. THE NEW YORK TIMES

As of Thursday evening,more than 8,008,200people across every state, plus Washington,D.C.,and four U.S. territories,have tested positive for the
coronavirus, according to a New York Times database. More than 2 17,40 0 people with the virus have died in the United States.

Average daily cases per 100,000 people
in the past week

16 Few or
no cases

32 48

























Ore. Minn.

























Puerto Rico

WASHINGTON — President
Trump clashed with his own party
on Thursday over a stimulus
package to stabilize the economy,
calling for a big-spending plan of
the kind envisioned by Democrats
even as the top Republican leader
declared that such a measure had
little support within the party.
Mr. Trump declared he “would
go higher” than the latest $1.8 tril-
lion framework the White House
has put forward in negotiations
with Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Cali-
fornia, faulting his own Treasury
secretary for failing to offer
enough money in the talks. A
short time later, Senator Mitch
McConnell, Republican of Ken-
tucky and the majority leader, all
but ruled out such a deal, saying
senators in his party would never
support a package of that magni-
“He’s talking about a much
larger amount than I can sell to
my members,” Mr. McConnell told
reporters in Kentucky, a refrain he
reiterated in multiple appear-
ances across the state. Instead, he
plans next week to try to advance
a scaled-down $500 billion pack-
age, which is likely to fail without
Democratic support.
The stark division between the
top two Republicans in Washing-
ton was the latest indication of the
dim pre-election prospects for en-
actment of a broad pandemic re-
covery package that economists
have said is badly needed. Tens of
millions of Americans have
slipped into poverty, and the coun-
try’s economic recovery has fal-
tered without federal assistance.
The public divisions also fur-
ther undercut Treasury Secretary
Steven Mnuchin in his attempts to
reach an accord with Ms. Pelosi,
who remains unmoved from the
latest Democratic offer of $2.2 tril-
Mr. Trump said in an interview
with Fox Business that her pro-
posal was so littered with Demo-
cratic priorities that his “pride”
would not allow him to accept, but
he also took aim at Mr. Mnuchin,
saying he should “go big or go
“So far he hasn’t come home
with the bacon,” the president
His comments directly contra-
dicted Republicans’ efforts to foist
blame onto Ms. Pelosi and Demo-
crats as the impasse has dragged
on for months.
“Pelosi is holding up STIMU-
LUS, not the Republicans!” he
posted on Twitter on Thursday.
But it was Mr. Trump who
abruptly pulled the plug on the
talks last week, courting political
risk before reversing course un-
der pressure from alarmed Re-
In his most recent public con-
cession to Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Mnuchin
announced the administration
would accept a key Democratic
demand for carrying out a na-
tional testing strategy. “We’ll fun-
damentally agree with their test-

ing language, subject to some mi-
nor issues,” he said on CNBC.
In a nearly 90-minute phone
conversation with Ms. Pelosi, Mr.
Mnuchin reiterated his willing-
ness to accept Democratic lan-
guage with “minor” edits and said
he would provide a proposal on
Friday, Drew Hammill, a spokes-
man for Ms. Pelosi, said in a state-
ment summarizing the conversa-
tion. “The speaker looks forward
to reviewing.”
But a number of unresolved dif-
ferences remain, such as how
much money to provide to state
and local governments and lapsed
federal unemployment benefits.
Investors, who have been fol-
lowing the stimulus talks closely,
seemed unmoved by statements
from Mr. Trump and Mr. Mnuchin
on Thursday, with stocks on Wall
Street dropping for a third consec-
utive day. And Senate Republi-
cans, who have grown increas-
ingly frustrated with Mr.
Mnuchin’s willingness to buck
their narrow proposals and capit-
ulate to Ms. Pelosi’s demands for a
sweeping relief package, were
equally reticent about the
prospects of a deal before Nov. 3.
“I’m proposing what we think is
appropriate,” Mr. McConnell said
after voting in Louisville, Ky.,
when asked about the targeted bill
he was preparing. At later events
in the state, he noted that the ad-
ministration had not yet success-

fully reached a deal and said he
felt “it was important to indicate
to the American people before the
election — not after — that we
were not in favor of a stalemate,
that we were not in favor of doing
Mr. McConnell, who has not for-
mally unveiled legislation before
an expected vote next week, said
it would be similar to a scaled-
down package that Senate Repub-
licans proposed in September,
which failed to meet the 60-vote

While some Democrats have
pushed for Ms. Pelosi to accept a
smaller relief package, she has in-
sisted that the toll of the pandemic
merits another broad package.
With the original Democratic offer
costing about $3.4 trillion, the
speaker has repeatedly argued
that she has been more than will-
ing to compromise with her Re-
publican counterparts, counsel-
ing Democrats in a private phone
call on Tuesday that “I don’t think
our leverage has ever been great-
er than it is now.”

“The disdain that they have for
the state and local, the contempt
that they have for science by not
wanting to have a national stra-
tegic plan, and again, the unfair-
ness when it comes to America’s
workers, is a tough nut to crack.,”
Ms. Pelosi said in an interview on
MSNBC on Wednesday. “Still and
all, we want to try and find our
common ground.”
During the phone call, Ms.
Pelosi raised Mr. McConnell’s
comments in Kentucky and Mr.
Mnuchin “indicated that the presi-
dent would weigh in with Leader
McConnell should an agreement
be reached,” Mr. Hammill said.
In the CNBC interview, Mr.
Mnuchin did not directly address
the lack of support for a bill among
Republicans, though he acknowl-
edged that they preferred a more
targeted relief bill that would pro-
vide a fraction of the new funding
he and Ms. and Pelosi were dis-
And after conceding on
Wednesday that it would be diffi-
cult to pass and enact a deal in the
next three weeks, Mr. Mnuchin
continued to push for Congress to
give him the authority to repur-
pose about $300 billion in unused
relief money from the $2.2 trillion
legislation that was passed in
Ms. Pelosi and Democrats have
largely resisted voting on stand-
alone bills.


Trump Says ‘Go Big,’ but That’s a No-Go for G.O.P.


In a call with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reiterated his willingness
to accept Democratic language with “minor” edits and said he would provide a proposal on Friday.


While Republicans

clash, Democrats

remain unmoved.

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