Coronavirus Live Updates: Test First, Reopen Second, Hard-Hit States Say


The talk on Sunday: When and how to reopen.

The discussions about lifting restrictions and reviving economies stalled by the coronavirus pandemic will dominate Sunday morning talk shows this week, as state governors return to talk about the steps they are considering to move forward.

Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina said he had been in touch with the governors of other southeastern states, including Florida and Tennessee, about reopening. “Told them South Carolina was ready,” Mr. McMaster, a Republican, said in a tweet on Saturday. But Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey have been urging the federal government to help ramp up testing significantly, saying they cannot lift restrictions before that happens.

More governors will be weighing in on the Sunday programs. Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, where Detroit has been punished by the virus outbreak, are scheduled to appear on “State of the Union” on CNN, as will Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, the outspoken Republican who has stressed the need for caution in lifting restrictions. Governor Hogan said in a television appearance last week that it was “really the worst possible time to put our people out there and endanger them.”

Ms. Whitmer, a Democrat, will also appear on “Meet the Press” on NBC, along with Vice President Mike Pence and Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio. Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts will appear on “Face the Nation” on CBS. Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington will appear on “This Week” on ABC.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, said on Sunday they were nearing agreement with the White House to break a political logjam and provide more emergency aid for small businesses and hospitals, as well as to expand testing.

On the ABC program “This Week,” Ms. Pelosi said the two sides were “very close to agreement.”

Mr. Schumer said a deal could come as soon as Sunday night. “We’ve made very good progress, and I’m very hopeful we could come to an agreement tonight or early tomorrow morning,” Mr. Schumer said on the CNN program “State of the Union.” He added that many of the Democrats’ requests, including money for testing and hospitals, “they’re going along with, so we feel pretty good.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on CNN Sunday that he was hopeful that the Senate could pass legislation as soon as Monday and that the House would take it up for a vote on Tuesday.

The bill would include $300 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, $50 billion for the Small Business Administration’s disaster relief fund, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing. Democrats wanted the plan to also include money for states and municipalities; Mr. Mnuchin said that would be included in a future relief package.

The $349 billion small-business emergency fund ran out of money last week, and Republicans and Democrats have been negotiating over the weekend about the terms for replenishing it.

As states say they need federal help for more testing, the White House pushes back.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House, pushed back Sunday against criticism that the nation was not testing nearly enough people for the coronavirus, saying that tens of thousands of test results were probably not being reported.

“What we don’t have right now is complete reporting,” Dr. Birx said. “So when you look at the number of cases that have been diagnosed, you realize that there’s probably 30,000 to 50,000 additional tests being done that aren’t being reported right now.”

On the ABC program “This Week,” the host, George Stephanapoulos, asked Dr. Birx about a recommendation from researchers at Harvard to at least triple the daily amount of testing. There are currently about 150,000 diagnostic tests conducted each day, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

“We believe it’s been enough in a whole series of the outbreak areas — when you see how Detroit has been able to test, Louisiana, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey,” Dr. Birx said.

Shortages of supplies have restricted the pace of testing, according to commercial laboratories. Dr. Birx said that a team at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was calling hundreds of labs around the country to determine exactly what supplies they need “to turn on full capacity, which we believe will double the number of tests that are available for Americans.”

Health experts and governors in a number of hard-hit states, including New York and New Jersey, have been insisting that much more widespread testing was needed before social distancing restrictions could be relaxed, even as President Trump has encouraged people in some states to rebel against lockdowns and governors considered easing social distancing restrictions.

“I’m not asking the federal government to do more than they need to,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Saturday. “But we do need their coordination. We need their partnership.”

Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey has said he would be “the happiest guy” if he were able to start reopening the state on June 1. But last week he told “Powerhouse Politics,” an ABC News podcast, that he and other governors in the region needed the federal government’s assistance to carry out broad testing and to trace the contact that infected people have had with others.

Data from New York and New Jersey appeared encouraging on Saturday. In both states, the curve of new infections appeared to be flattening or dropping. In New Jersey, the number of new cases and hospitalizations was leveling off, and New York reported its lowest daily death toll in more than two weeks, at 540.

But Mr. Cuomo emphasized the need for federal help to carry the widespread coronavirus testing that officials say is necessary to reopen New York’s economy. He and Mr. Trump have clashed over the level of federal aid given to the state, and the president has suggested that certain governors have not been demonstrably grateful for the aid.

Mr. Cuomo noted that 36 of New York’s newly reported deaths were at nursing homes, which he described as “the single biggest fear in all of this.” New Jersey’s health commissioner said 40 percent of the state’s 4,070 coronavirus-related deaths had occurred at long-term care facilities, which have been overwhelmed by the virus.

To reopen the country by mid-May, the Harvard estimates suggest that 500,000 to 700,000 tests a day would be needed in order to identify most people who are infected and isolate them from people who are healthy.

Governor Murphy called the federal government an “indispensable partner” in stopping the pandemic. “So we’ve got to find common ground,” he said.

But Vice President Mike Pence defended the administration’s position that the federal government should not take the lead on testing across the nation, even in the face of pressure from governors. On the NBC program “Meet the Press,” Mr. Pence said “there is a sufficient capacity of testing across the country today for any state in America to go to a phase one level” of reopening.

“It’s really hard to overstate the critical moment we are in as a people, given how this virus has ripped through our community,” said Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization with 1.7 million members. “We know the pain will not be shared equally.”

Mr. Robinson’s organization and others, such as the National Urban League and the N.A.A.C.P., have hosted telephone and virtual town halls, drafted state and federal policy recommendations and sent letters to legislators.

Smaller local groups are working around social distancing restrictions to rally support. And across the country, individuals are making direct pleas for all to help slow the outbreak’s spread.

“I am trying to sound the alarm because I see the devastation in the black community,” Michael Fowler, the coroner of Dougherty County, said hours after the Georgia county’s 91st Covid-19 death. “Preachers, a judge, a church choir member, all walks of life are dying. My job is to pronounce death, but I believe in trying to save lives.”

When can people safely emerge from their homes? How long, realistically, before there is a coronavirus treatment or vaccine? How can the virus be kept at bay?

More than 20 experts in public health, medicine, epidemiology and history shared their thoughts on the future during in-depth interviews with The New York Times.

Some said that American ingenuity, once fully engaged, might produce advances to ease the burdens. Several saw a path forward that depends on factors that are difficult but possible: a carefully staggered approach to reopening, widespread coronavirus testing and tracking, a treatment that works, adequate resources for health care providers — and eventually an effective vaccine.

“My optimistic side says the virus will ease off in the summer and a vaccine will arrive like the cavalry,” one said. “But I’m learning to guard against my essentially optimistic nature.”

Most experts believed that once the crisis is over, the nation and its economy will revive quickly — but that there will be no escaping a period of intense pain.

If M.L.B. and the players’ union need to fight over the details about a return to play, it may mean that such a return is possible, our columnist Tyler Kepner writes.

America wants a baseball season. Nobody knows quite how that will look amid the coronavirus pandemic. Those are the only certainties for a sport that has an unbroken chain of seasons with at least 100 games stretching back to the 19th century.

Hopeful hints emerged last week from Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, who both touted the feasibility of having teams plays in empty ballparks. But a quandary loomed: If teams cannot sell tickets, how much will the players be paid?

“The issue over pay without fans is going to get ugly,” said a top official of one team who insisted on anonymity to speak candidly about league matters. “Owners will claim they’d lose money by playing without fans if players get their full per-game salaries, and it may be true. They’re going to want a big reduction in pay from players.”

When Major League Baseball and the players’ union agreed on new rules for the delayed season on March 26 — the original opening day — they vowed to discuss “the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators or at appropriate substitute neutral sites.”

For the owners, that set up a negotiation on pay structure. But the players’ side has a different interpretation of “economic feasibility,” according to the agent Scott Boras.

In a way, this would be a welcome fight, because it would force baseball to set out a clear path to returning. That does not yet exist, and it depends largely on the availability of coronavirus tests, the spread of the pandemic, and authorization from state and local governments.

Even before the coronavirus, the string quartet was an endangered species. A few quartets, like the Juilliard, Guarneri and Emerson, are household names, at least for classical music lovers. But for most players, life in a small ensemble is a financial struggle even in the best of times.

And for the four players of the Tesla Quartet, aged 34 to 38, their delicate world fell apart last month amid a cascade of cancellations and postponements brought on by the pandemic.

Even simply being together could be a risk. A quartet is, by its nature, an intimate gathering. Players can’t sit more than six feet apart and still hear each other, breathe together or respond to what are often subtle visual cues.

So when Tesla’s players realized they couldn’t rehearse — which they usually did for four hours a day, five days a week — they experimented with virtual practice sessions.

Because digital applications are hampered by lags in the transmission of images and sound, they settled on a system in which one player would lay down a track so that the others could then listen and play over it.

After mixing the tracks, they post the finished product to YouTube. Now, every few days since March 21, Tesla has added another short variation on a Russian theme, which the members are calling “Quarantunes.”

“We’re trying to use technology to give a pretty good approximation of a live performance,” said Edwin Kaplan, the group’s violist. “It’s the only way music can exist right now.”

“This was not an easy decision for anybody,” said Robert Hendriks, the group’s U.S. spokesman. “As you know, our ministry is our life.”

Popular music is still seeking appropriate ways to face this crisis, our critic Jon Pareles writes. Musicians are separated from both audiences and colleagues, forcing both players and listeners to reconsider things they have always taken for granted.

Performers are coming to terms with the unpolished sound and look of playing from the living room or home studio — either solo or, more ambitiously, collaborating virtually with homebound bandmates.

And then there’s the question of the tone to take. Mourning? Sympathy? Stoicism? Comfort? Dogged determination? Upbeat defiance? Let’s just try to forget?

On “One World: Together at Home,” the mood was usually reflective, with a handful of more lighthearted moments.

Clearing up confusion about keeping safe distances.

Six feet is the suggested space to keep between people in stores and on casual strolls, but when we walk briskly or run, air moves differently around us, increasing the space required to maintain a proper social distance.

Shortly before midnight on Friday, hours after encouraging Americans to “liberate” three Democratic-governed states from stay-at-home orders, President Trump turned to Twitter, where he retweeted 11 posts by Charlie Kirk, a provocateur with ties to the Trump family and a social media presence that attracts more attention than some mainstream news outlets.

One of the tweets by Mr. Kirk — the 26-year-old who runs Turning Point USA, a conservative student group — accused the World Health Organization of covering up the coronavirus outbreak. Another claimed that Democrats were appeasing Beijing and not doing enough to help Americans left jobless by the pandemic.

Never mind that several of the tweets misconstrued the truth. Mixing, matching and twisting facts, Mr. Kirk exemplifies a new breed of political agitator that has flourished since the 2016 election by walking the line between mainstream conservative opinion and outright disinformation.

The style, which often seems modeled on that of Mr. Trump, has propelled Mr. Kirk from student activist to leading voice on the right. His work is bankrolled by prominent Republican donors, and he has cultivated a powerful ally in the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

And now, the pandemic has showcased Mr. Kirk’s influence, providing him with ample fodder to stir up fellow conservatives against a full menu of enemies, real and perceived.

With the Capitol shuttered until at least early May and the House considering remote voting to facilitate a more prolonged absence from Washington, members of Congress are sequestered at home like the rest of America, forced to reimagine how to do their jobs virtually.

It is a singular challenge for lawmakers, whose tasks typically revolve around human contact with a rotating cast of constituents, staff, lobbyists and fellow lawmakers. They have come up with creative (some more than others) solutions.

The Times spoke to lawmakers about how they’re adapting to the new world.

Representative Debbie Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, is sharing both intimate details and public-service information in a Facebook diary. Senator Angus King, independent of Maine, is meeting constituents — from a distance — in the open air. Many other lawmakers have turned to teleconferencing. And at least one, Representative Mike Gallagher, Republican of Wisconsin, has started a podcast.

Moving from Northern Ireland to New York in the mid-1980s, Mr. MacNiallais became involved in the protracted struggle by L.G.B.T.Q. groups to be fully included in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade up Fifth Avenue. Many years later, he became a member of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade formation committee, and marched in the parade with the Lavender and Green Alliance in 2016.

Mr. MacNiallais died on April 1. He was 57. The cause was complications of the coronavirus, according to friends and family.

Reporting was contributed by Erica L. Green, Lola Fadulu, Audra D.S. Burch, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Nicholas Fandos, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, James B. Stewart, Dionne Searcey, Corey Kilgannon, Matthew Rosenberg, Katie Rogers, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Jon Pareles, Melina Delkic and Tyler Kepner.





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