Where in the U.S. the virus is under control
As of this week, coronavirus cases are rising in 41 American states, and in many regions the situation has never been worse. Hospitalizations are nearing a record national high and deaths are the highest they have been since late May.
But amid this devastating wave, one region has managed to get the virus under control: the Northeast. New cases there remain below their April peak, and the region has five of the country’s nine states with flat or falling case levels.
In just over two months, states along the East Coast — from Delaware to Maine — have gone from the country’s worst hot spot to something resembling Europe. As in Italy and Spain, the Northeast was devastated by a rush of infections and deaths, and state leaders responded — after some initial hesitation — with strict lockdowns and large investments in testing and contact tracing. Like their European counterparts, Northeasterners also mostly followed the rules, including wearing masks, and have supported tough measures to bend the curve.
If the trends in the United States continue, the differences between the Northeast and the rest of the nation may become so pronounced by the fall flu season that some experts say they may resemble two different countries: one with overwhelmed hospitals and ballooning cases, and another that continues to wrestle a little with the virus, but manages to keep its economy in OK shape.
An uncertain future. The coming months may be difficult for the U.S., as the latent effects of the spring shutdown come into view and the predicted flood of evictions begin. When the $600 a week in extra federal unemployment benefits expires at the end of the month, more than 200 million Americans will see their incomes drop, which may have a significant effect on the wider economy.
A crackdown in the Philippines
With more than 70,000 infections, the Philippines has the second-highest case count in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia. The nation’s death toll has surpassed 1,800, and health authorities have come under increasing pressure from citizens who have grown wary of their strongman president, Rodrigo Duterte.
We spoke to our colleague Jason Gutierrez, who is based in Manila, about what’s happening. Our conversation has been lightly edited and condensed.
What is the status of the virus in the Philippines?
The government hasn’t really been upfront about what’s happening. President Duterte just said that all we can do is wait for the experts in the United States or China to develop a vaccine and, apart from that, basically advised the public to follow the rules or risk getting arrested.
Our health ministry is seen by many as really inefficient. It lets President Duterte say what he wants to say and does not clarify it in public.
What’s it like in Manila?
People have to go through checkpoints, and the police go around some areas in fatigues, as if they’re going into battle. Some carry large firearms. It’s worrying because it’s militarizing the response to the health problem.
In some areas, especially the impoverished parts of Manila, the situation is a bit dire. People are really afraid to leave their homes and are basically told to just wait it out for food and medical advice or risk being arrested.
What has the response been to President Duterte’s saying the police would arrest people who didn’t wear masks?
In a lot of places, you see people always wearing medical masks, so it makes you wonder.. Ironically, he does not wear a mask when he meets his officials, and he wore a mask only when he made that threat.
Militarizing the response is probably his way of telling the public that he is doing something.
How are the restrictions in the Philippines different from elsewhere in the world?
The authorities have been empowered basically just to pick up anyone because they have allegedly violated some rule, no matter how vague. So apart from worrying about the disease, people are worrying about their security.
A Filipino broadcast journalist and his friends were biking, and they were all wearing masks when they stopped to rest. He took off his mask to take a sip of water and was picked up.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated July 22, 2020
Why do masks work?
- The coronavirus clings to wetness and enters and exits the body through any wet tissue (your mouth, your eyes, the inside of your nose). That’s why people are wearing masks and eyeshields: they’re like an umbrella for your body: They keep your droplets in and other people’s droplets out. But masks only work if you are wearing them properly. The mask should cover your face from the bridge of your nose to under your chin, and should stretch almost to your ears. Be sure there are no gaps — that sort of defeats the purpose, no?
Is the coronavirus airborne?
- The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
What’s the best material for a mask?
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
- So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
He was taken to a stadium where they take all the Covid-19 violators to listen to a seminar on the proper way of wearing a mask and doing all these medical things — but they’re putting people in proximity, which heightens the risk of getting sick.
Baseball is back
It’s time for the weirdest baseball season in recent memory.
Major League Baseball returns on Thursday, looking a whole lot different from what teams planned for in spring training. With 60 games, no fans (for now) and a universal designated hitter, some teams will be in a better position than others. First up: Yankees vs. Nationals, and Giants vs. Dodgers.
Our baseball columnist looks at the upside and the downside of a delayed, shortened season for all 30 teams.
The entire sports world has had the ultimate timeout — and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make improvements. How should each sport rethink itself moving forward? Our Sports desk has a few ideas: realign leagues with quick travel in mind; overhaul the way sports are watched; simplify the rules; and make fields and courts bigger. We’d also like to hear from you.
Arizona is recording more than 3,000 new cases a day on average this month — double what it was in mid-June — but some disease specialists are cautiously optimistic that the crisis may be retreating.
The annual banquet in Stockholm to celebrate the winners of the Nobel Prize has been canceled because of the pandemic.
The average number of daily new cases in Spain has more than tripled in the month since its state of emergency ended. The country now has 224 local outbreaks.
What else we’re following
What you’re doing
My husband and I started visiting old graveyards, searching for my maternal grandfather’s ancestors. We found the weathered tombstone of my fifth great-grandmother, born in 1755, and the cemetery where my fifth great-grandfather, a Revolutionary War veteran, is buried. The headstones make fascinating reading, and there’s no better place for social distancing.
— Kathleen J. Corbalis, Galloway Township, N.J.
Let us know how you’re dealing with the outbreak. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.
Remy Tumin contributed reporting.