Covid-19: Live News and Updates



A judge struck down a state order requiring most Florida schools to open for in-person instruction.

A Florida judge ruled on Monday that the state’s requirement that public schools open their classrooms for in-person instruction violates the Florida constitution because it “arbitrarily disregards safety” and denies local school boards the ability to decide when students can safely return.

The ruling was a victory for the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union, and one of its affiliates, the Florida Education Association. The unions sued Gov. Ron DeSantis and Richard Corcoran, the education commissioner, last month in the first lawsuit of its kind in the country.

The state’s order required that school districts give students the option to go back to school in person by Aug. 31 or risk losing crucial state funding. An exception was made only for Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, which have been the hardest hit by the coronavirus and plan to start the school year online.

“The districts have no meaningful alternative,” Judge Charles W. Dodson of the Leon County Circuit Court wrote of the rest of the state’s schools. “If an individual school district chooses safety, that is, delaying the start of schools until it individually determines it is safe to do so for its county, it risks losing state funding, even though every student is being taught.”

Demand for legal assistance with housing issues is on the rise in states where local moratoriums have ended. “Our caseloads haven’t yet exploded, because the courts just started hearing cases that were pending before the pandemic struck,” said Lindsey Siegel, a lawyer with Atlanta Legal Aid. “But it’s coming.”

A 33-year-old man was infected a second time with the coronavirus more than four months after his first bout, the first documented case of so-called reinfection, researchers in Hong Kong reported Monday.

The finding was not unexpected, especially given the millions of people who have been infected worldwide, experts said. And the man had no symptoms the second time, suggesting that even though the prior exposure did not prevent the reinfection, his immune system kept the virus somewhat in check.

“The second infection was completely asymptomatic — his immune response prevented the disease from getting worse,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University who was not involved with the work but reviewed the report at The New York Times’s request. “It’s kind of a textbook example of how immunity should work.”

People who do not have symptoms may still spread the virus to others, however, underscoring the importance of vaccines, Dr. Iwasaki said. In the man’s case, she added, “natural infection created immunity that prevented disease but not reinfection.”

“In order to provide herd immunity, a potent vaccine is needed to induce immunity that prevents both reinfection and disease,” Dr. Iwasaki said.

Doctors have reported several cases of presumed reinfection in the United States and elsewhere, but none of those cases have been confirmed with rigorous testing. Recovered people are known to carry viral fragments for weeks, which can lead to positive test results in the absence of live virus.

But the Hong Kong researchers sequenced the virus from both of the man’s infections and found significant differences, suggesting that the patient had been infected a second time.

The study is to be published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. The Times obtained the manuscript from the University of Hong Kong.

The man’s first case was diagnosed on March 26, and he had only mild symptoms. He later tested negative for the virus twice and had no detectable antibodies after that first bout. He was positive again for the coronavirus on a saliva test on Aug. 15 after a trip to Spain via the United Kingdom. The man had picked up a strain that was circulating in Europe in July and August, the researchers said.

His infections were clearly caused by different versions of the coronavirus, Dr. Kelvin Kai-Wang To, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong, said: “Our results prove that his second infection is caused by a new virus that he acquired recently, rather than prolonged viral shedding.”

Common cold coronaviruses are known to cause reinfections in less than a year, but experts had hoped that the new coronavirus might behave more like its cousins SARS and MERS, which seemed to produce protection lasting a few years.

It’s still unclear how common reinfection from the new coronavirus might be, because few researchers have sequenced the virus from each infection.

EDUCATION ROUNDUP

Zoom fixes partial outages that disrupted the first day of virtual classes for many U.S. students.

The video call service Zoom reported partial outages on Monday morning, causing problems on the first day of remote classes for many schools in the United States.

Zoom said it began receiving reports of users being unable to start or join meetings at about 8:50 a.m. on the East Coast, as working and school hours began. About two hours later, the company said that it was “deploying a fix across our cloud,” and at about 12:45 p.m. it said “everything should be working properly now.”

As the pandemic has kept students out of classrooms and workers out of offices, Zoom has quickly become critical infrastructure for many school districts, companies and local governments. The partial disruption in service, which lasted approximately four hours in some areas, adds another element to the contentious debate over how to safely and effectively resume learning this fall.

The Atlanta school district, which serves about 50,000 students, was among those affected by the outage. And students and professors at Penn State University reported widespread problems on campus on Monday morning.

The website DownDetector, which tracks outages at social media companies and tech companies, showed significant outages in major cities around the country, including New York, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis and San Francisco. The site reported more than 15,000 outages by about 10 a.m. Eastern time.

Many courthouses also rely on Zoom to conduct hearings, city councils govern through virtual meetings, and the police face reporters in video news conferences.

Here are other key education developments:

336 socially distanced Republican delegates gather to renominate Trump for president.

Just six representatives from each state and territory are in the room, masked and seated at a distance from one another. Each speaker is required to wear a mask before he or she reaches the podium, and the microphone will be cleaned between speakers, according to a person briefed on the protocols.

Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spoke to the delegates, and Mr. Trump plans to appear every night during the convention.

Despite the precautions in place inside the convention hall, photographs of crowds gathered by the stage while Mr. Trump spoke showed people not social distancing, some wearing masks and some without.

As many as 59 million jobs are at risk of cuts in hours or pay, temporary furloughs or permanent layoffs, especially in industries like transportation and retail, according to a study by McKinsey & Company.

Governments are warning that millions will soon lose paychecks, and the European Central Bank last week said unemployment was likely to surge and stay high even when a recovery from the pandemic unfolds.

“Europe has been successful at dampening the initial effects of the crisis,” said John Hurley, senior research manager at Eurofound, the research arm of the European Union. “But in all likelihood, unemployment is going to come home to roost, especially when the generous furlough programs start to ease off.”

“There’s going to be a shakeout,” he added, “and it’s going to be fairly ugly.”

Compared with the United States, which lost more than 20 million jobs in April alone, the furlough programs in the European Union have prevented unemployment from going off the charts.

But even before a recent resurgence of coronavirus cases, the pandemic’s economic damage was growing, and it now appears those programs postponed, rather than prevented, the pain for some workers. Some companies believe the disruption is the best time to make cuts they were planning anyway.

Airbus, BP, Renault, Lufthansa, Air France, the Debenhams department store chain, the Bank of Ireland, the retailer W.H. Smith and even the McLaren Group, which includes the Formula One racing team, are among those planning reductions, along with countless smaller businesses.

In other developments around the world:

Elsewhere in the United States:

  • The Trump administration tied billions of dollars in badly needed coronavirus medical funding this spring to hospitals’ cooperation with a private vendor collecting data for a new Covid-19 database that bypassed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The office of the health secretary, Alex M. Azar II, laid out the requirement in an April 21 email obtained by The New York Times that instructed hospitals to make a one-time report of their Covid-19 admissions and intensive care unit beds to TeleTracking Technologies, a company in Pittsburgh whose $10.2 million, five-month government contract has drawn scrutiny on Capitol Hill.

  • Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general, defended his record on Monday, as he testified before the House Oversight Committee on Monday. He said he told some of Mr. Trump’s advisers that the president’s repeated attacks on mail-in voting were “not helpful.” Watch the hearing live as lawmakers raise concerns about postal changes that could complicate mail-in voting.

  • Representative Jenniffer González-Colón, Puerto Rico’s nonvoting delegate to Congress, said on Monday that she had tested positive for the coronavirus, a week after the island’s Aug. 16 primary drew politicians to many indoor events. “I think it was a mistake on my part to be in a closed environment,” she said on Facebook Live. Ms. González-Colón, a member of the New Progressive Party, which supports Puerto Rican statehood, was not the only party member to test positive. Among the others were the House speaker, the Senate majority leader and two top aides to the party’s nominee for governor.

  • With the 2020 census into its final stage, more than one in three people hired as census takers have quit or failed to show up. And with 38 million households still uncounted, state and local officials are raising concerns that many poor and minority households will be left out of the count. The coronavirus and rising mistrust of the government on the part of hard-to-reach groups like immigrants and Latinos already have made this census challenging. But another issue has upended it: an order last month to finish the count a month early, guaranteeing that population figures will be delivered to the White House while President Trump is still in office.

Reporting was contributed by Liz Alderman, Maggie Astor, Gillian R. Brassil, Chelsea Brasted, Marie Fazio, Sheri Fink, Claire Fu, Christoph Fuhrmans, Matthew Goldstein, Maggie Haberman, Javier C. Hernández, Annie Karni, Andrew E. Kramer, Sharon LaFraniere, Théophile Larcher, Lauren Leatherby, Apoorva Mandavilli, Patricia Mazzei, Jesse McKinley, Richard C. Paddock, Elisabetta Povoledo, Frances Robles, Amanda Rosa, Eliza Shapiro, Dera Menra Sijabat, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan, Katie Thomas, Alan Yuhas and Albee Zhang.



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