Live Coronavirus News: World Updates

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A dispute over Postal Service funding complicates the U.S. stimulus impasse as talks continue.

Top lawmakers remained nowhere close to an agreement on Wednesday for a new economic rescue package amid the recession, and appeared to be growing increasingly pessimistic that they could meet a self-imposed Friday deadline.

A dispute over funding for the United States Postal Service has joined expanded unemployment benefits and aid to state and local governments on the list of issues dividing Democratic leaders and the Trump administration.

“I feel optimistic that there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said after hosting another round of talks in her Capitol Hill office with Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary; Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, the minority leader. “But how long that tunnel is remains to be seen,” Ms. Pelosi added.

On the Senate floor, Mr. Schumer called for the Postal Service to fix mail delays that have resulted from cutbacks that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy put in place during the pandemic. Democrats and voting rights groups have charged that the cuts are part of a deliberate effort by President Trump to undermine the service in order to interfere with mail-in voting that will be critical to a safe election in November. Democrats have called for $3.6 billion in the aid package to ensure a secure election, including broader mail balloting, but Republicans are opposing the funds.

Other outstanding disputes include whether to appropriate hundreds of billions of dollars to help states and local governments avoid laying off public workers as tax revenues fall, and whether to reinstate a $600 per week unemployment supplement from the federal government to laid-off workers.

Democrats are pressing to extend the payments, which lapsed last week, through January. Republicans on Tuesday countered with a plan to resume them at $400 per week through Dec. 15, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions who insisted on anonymity to describe them. Democrats declined the offer, they said.

“There are no top-line numbers that have been agreed to,” Mr. Meadows, the White House chief of staff, said after the Capitol Hill meeting, charging that Democrats were unwilling to make significant concessions. “We continue to be trillions of dollars apart in terms of what Democrats and Republicans hopefully will ultimately compromise on.”

“Is Friday a drop-dead date? No,” he added. “But my optimism continues to diminish the closer we get to Friday and certainly falls off the cliff exponentially after Friday.”

Mr. Trump on Wednesday again suggested that he would act on his own to impose a federal eviction moratorium and temporarily suspend payroll tax cuts if an agreement could not be reached. He also reiterated his opposition to a critical Democratic proposal to send more than $900 billion to state and local governments whose budgets have been devastated by the recession.

“We have some states and cities — you know them all — they’ve been very poorly run over the years,” he said. “We’re not going to go along with that.”

More than 53,720 cases and 1,250 deaths were reported on Wednesday in the United States. The U.S. Virgin Islands set a daily case record, and Florida became the second state after California to pass 500,000 confirmed infections.

Education roundup

After parents and teachers opposed a hybrid model, Chicago schools will reopen online only.

New York City schools, in the nation’s largest district, are scheduled to reopen in about a month, with students having the option of attending in-person classes one to three days a week. But the city is confronting a torrent of logistical issues and political problems that could upend Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to bring students back to classrooms.

In other parts of the country where schools have already opened, they have quickly encountered positive cases, with some having to quarantine students and staff members and even close schools temporarily to contain possible outbreaks. On Tuesday, the second day of its school year, Cherokee County in Georgia closed a second-grade classroom after a student tested positive for the virus.

In other school news:

  • Public schools in Arkansas must open for students five days a week when the school year begins on Aug. 24, state officials said on Wednesday. Districts should “allow for flexible schedules and virtual learning options, but must first provide an on-site option where students can access educational resources, school meals and other needed support daily,” the state’s Department of Education said in a statement, adding that some schools could open four days a week pending approval from the board.

  • Education officials in Kenya announced in July that they were canceling the academic year and making students repeat it. They are not expected to begin classes again until January, the usual start of Kenya’s school year.

  • Boston Public Schools announced on Wednesday a draft plan for preliminary reopening that would permit schools to choose between remote learning and a blend of in-person and online instruction, meaning neighboring schools could be providing different options to families at the same time this fall. The district, the largest in Massachusetts, serves more than 50,000 students at more than 125 schools.

  • For many students in Tennessee, the school year has already begun; some districts there open their doors in early August, sooner than in many other parts of the country. Already, several schools in the state have reported Covid-19 cases on their campuses. Some have enforced temporary closures in response, while others are trying to keep track of the infections through contact tracing and urging staff members and students who may have been exposed to stay home.

  • In Maryland, Montgomery County officials have been wrangling with Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, over reopening private schools. Public schools in the county, the state’s most populous, will start the school year learning remotely, and county officials used a directive to make private schools do the same. Mr. Hogan overruled it, arguing that private schools should be free to make their own decisions. But on Wednesday, county officials issued a new order to keep them closed, citing a new authority under state law.

Use is voluntary, but strongly encouraged, Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia said at a news conference. “I hope Virginians across the state will use this,” he said. “This is a way that we can all work together to contain this virus.”

China and other countries have used virus apps to impose new forms of social control. The Apple and Google software, by contrast, offers public health agencies a system with some built-in privacy protections.

Rather than continuously track users’ locations, which can reveal sensitive details about people’s routines, for instance, the Apple-Google software uses Bluetooth signals to detect app users whose smartphones come into proximity with one another. And it logs the contact with rotating ID codes, not personal information like names or phone numbers.

If app users later test positive, they can use the app to notify other users, such as strangers they had sat near to on a train, without sharing that information with government agencies.

Epidemiologists say such apps may be helpful in places with widespread, efficient testing and contact tracing, but they may offer little benefit when people have difficulty getting tested or face long waits for results.

The app can tell only whether two users have come into proximity with one another; it cannot tell whether they were wearing masks or take into account whether they were in a poorly ventilated restaurant or on an outdoor patio. And it cannot detect exposure to people who are not using it.

Even so, health agencies in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Switzerland and other European countries have recently introduced national virus-alert apps based on the Apple-Google software. Google said last week that 20 U.S. states were considering doing the same.

Test results for North Korea’s first suspected coronavirus case were “inconclusive,” a World Health Organization official has said, after the case triggered quarantine orders for more than 3,600 people.

North Korea’s state-run news media has said the patient is a man who defected to South Korea three years ago but secretly crossed back to the border city of Kaesong last month. North Korea later declared a “maximum” national emergency and put Kaesong on lockdown.

North Korea, one of the world’s most isolated countries, has repeatedly said that it has no cases of the virus, but outside experts are skeptical. The local news media said last week that the national caseload was still zero, without providing further details on what happened to the man.

Dr. Edwin Salvador, a W.H.O. representative to North Korea, said in a statement on Thursday that the test results for the man remained “inconclusive.” Extensive contact tracing is underway, he added, with 64 of the man’s first contacts and 3,571 secondary ones under quarantine in government facilities for 40 days.

Dr. Salvador said in a separate statement that hundreds of workers at a North Korean seaport and at the border with the Chinese city of Dandong who came into contact with imported goods have also been quarantined.

North Korea’s authoritarian government has adopted drastic measures against the virus, including sealing its borders in January and closing off business with China, which accounts for 90 percent of its external trade.

“Some research has shown that 10 percent of people cause 80 percent of the spread,” Mr. Garcetti said. “These super-spreader events and super-spreader people have a disproportionate impact on the lives that we are losing, and we cannot let that happen like we saw on Mullholland Drive on Monday night.”

A surge in coronavirus cases since mid-June in California has prompted officials to reconsider their moves to loosen some restrictions. California surpassed New York last month as the state with the highest number of coronavirus cases.

global roundup

Welcome back to Germany. Now take your free virus test.

As Europe reopens, cases have begun ticking up nearly everywhere, in varying degrees, leaving countries in a constant, seesaw battle to tamp down outbreaks before they undo months of hard-won progress made during costly lockdowns this spring.

Germany is no exception. This week, it recorded 879 new coronavirus infections in one day, part of a rising trend that has begun to worry officials as people return from trips abroad during the summer vacation season.

To address that concern, Germany this week began requiring virus testing for all travelers who enter the country from coronavirus “hot spots,” again making it a leader in using testing as a firewall against the spread of the virus. It has set up free testing sites at airports and border crossings. Results come back in a day or two.

Germany has made testing a primary tool in its battle against the virus since the start of the pandemic, and its capacity to make testing accessible and efficient has distinguished it among industrialized nations.

For Kenyan students, 2020 is turning out to be the year that disappeared.

Education officials announced in July that they were canceling the academic year and making students repeat it. They are not expected to begin classes again until January, the usual start of Kenya’s school year.

Experts believe Kenya is the only nation to have gone so far as to declare the entire school year a washout.

“It’s a sad and great loss,” said Esther Adhiambo, 18, who had expected to finish high school and enroll in university this year. “This pandemic has destroyed everything.”

The decision to scrap the academic year, taken after a monthslong debate, was made not just to protect teachers and students from the coronavirus, but also to address glaring issues of inequality that arose when school was suspended in March, said George Magoha, the education secretary. After schools closed, some students had the technology to access remote learning, but others didn’t.

But while the goal was to level the playing field, researchers say it might just widen already-existing gaps. Once schools reopen, the two sets of students will not be on the same level or able to compete equally in national exams, education experts said.

A letter signed by nearly 400 health experts on Wednesday night urged the Food and Drug Administration to conduct full safety and efficacy reviews of potential coronavirus vaccines before making the products widely available to the public.

The group called on Dr. Stephen Hahn, the F.D.A. commissioner, to be forthcoming about the agency’s deliberations over whether to approve any new vaccine, in order to gain the public’s trust.

“We must be able to explain to the public what we know and what we don’t know about these vaccines,” noted the letter, which was organized by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest. “For that to happen, we must be able to witness a transparent and rigorous F.D.A. approval process that is devoid of political considerations.”

More than 30 experimental coronavirus vaccines are in clinical trials, with several companies racing to have the first product in the United States ready by the end of the year. The federal government has promised more than $9 billion to companies for these efforts to date. But many people are highly skeptical of these new vaccines, and might refuse to get them.

In an effort to reassure the public, Dr. Hahn said recently that he would seek the advice of the F.D.A.’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, although he has not said when the group would meet or which vaccine candidates it would consider.

The F.D.A. declined to comment on the letter Wednesday evening.

A Republican congressman who pushed for routine Covid testing on Capitol Hill tests positive.

Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, becoming the third member of Congress in one week to be found to have the virus.

On Wednesday, CVS Health, which owns Aetna, the big insurer, said net income for the second quarter reached $3 billion, about $1 billion more than it reported for the same period of 2019, on revenues of $65 billion. Others had already trumpeted blockbuster results, ensuring that their stocks weather swings in the markets.

Insurance profits are capped under the Affordable Care Act, with the requirement that consumers should benefit from such excesses in the form of rebates. The Health and Human Services Department advised companies to consider speeding up rebates, and on Tuesday, suggested they reduce premiums to help consumers through the economic downturn.

Although many hospitals have been overwhelmed by outbreaks, insurers have shelled out billions of dollars less in medical claims in the last three months as many expensive, elective surgeries have been postponed and people have steered clear of doctors’ offices and emergency rooms out of fear of contracting the virus.

The companies’ staggering pandemic profits put a spotlight on big insurance companies as government officials in many states face huge budget shortfalls. Some states are discussing cutting payments to insurers that offer Medicaid plans to their residents.

“This could tilt the politics against insurers on a whole number of fronts,” said Larry Levitt, the executive vice president for health policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan research group. Others say it could revive support for “Medicare for all,” a proposal to replace the private health care system with a government one guaranteeing coverage for all U.S. residents.

Others, though, saw the benefits of the masks.

“We will wear face masks, we should,” said Mohammad al-Zobai, 30, who works for a stand that serves coffee and sandwiches. “It’s good for us,” he said. “I’m with the government on this.”

He said that the face masks would make him feel safer. “I saw the numbers,” he said. “People should be worried.”

Masks are not mandatory in museums, gyms, or hospitality establishments, like hotels or cafes.

Need job hunting tips for today?

It is no longer about a firm handshake and confident eye contact, but some of the usual job interview tips do still apply when you take your job hunt online.

Reporting was contributed by Fahim Abed, Reed Abelson, Alan Blinder, Julie Bosman, Luke Broadwater, Emily Cochrane, Lindsey Cook, Nick Corasaniti, Melissa Eddy, Catie Edmondson, Reid J. Epstein, Nicholas Fandos, Manny Fernandez, Jacey Fortin, Hailey Fuchs, Katie Glueck, Michael Gold, Jason Gutierrez, Virginia Hughes, Sheila Kaplan, Juliana Kim, Abdi Latif Dahir, Lisa Leher, Dan Levin, Mujib Mashal, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Sarah Mervosh, Raphael Minder, Claire Moses, Tara Parker-Pope, Amy Qin, Simon Romero, Eliza Shapiro, Michael D. Shear, Natasha Singer, Kaly Soto, Eileen Sullivan, Katie Thomas, Glenn Thrush, Kenneth P. Vogel, Mary Williams Walsh, Noah Weiland, Will Wright, Billy Witz and Elaine Yu.

Author: ApnayOnline is an oline news portal which aims to provide latest trendy news around the Asia

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