America waits, but the virus does not
Less than 24 hours after the U.S. broke its daily national case record, it added 121,500 more cases — more than Japan, Egypt or Hungary have recorded during the entire pandemic. Twenty-eight states have added more cases in the last week than in any other period.
It’s hard to imagine a more alarming moment since early April, when 2,000 people were dying a day, and there are few signs that things will improve in the near future. The country has recorded well above 1,000 deaths every day since Election Day, and infection rates in hot spots are accelerating. Governors across the country continue to plead daily with Americans to take the virus seriously.
“Colorado, I love you. This is an intervention,” said Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado. The state recorded more than 3,800 cases yesterday, around 900 more than its previous record, and hospitalizations have risen to their highest level since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Cancel your social plans the next few weeks — avoid interacting with others. Wear a mask. Keep your distance,” Mr. Polis begged.
Hospitals in hard-hit areas around the country are quickly reaching their limit. At Trinity Health in Minot, N.D., the entire floor dedicated to coronavirus patients had no more available beds. Dr. Jeffrey Sather, the chief of staff, called other large hospitals around the state to see if he could transfer some patients, but every facility was also full. Dr. Sather was also worried about his staff members.
“They are witnessing people suffocate to death on a regular basis,” he said. “And it’s a heavy psychological toll.”
A motorcycle rally’s aftermath
Infectious-disease experts had warned about the risk of holding the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Still, South Dakota’s Republican governor, a vocal opponent of lockdowns, gave her blessing, and local leaders set aside their misgivings as thousands of people from every state in the nation rolled down Sturgis’s Main Street.
When the rally ended, the crowds streamed home like some huge exhalation, spreading cases to more than 20 states. Infections connected to the rally popped up as far away as New Hampshire, and case numbers climbed in the Dakotas, Wyoming and Nebraska, where thousands of residents had returned from Sturgis.
The rally has become “a rumbling symbol of America’s bitter divisions over the coronavirus,” wrote our colleagues Mark Walker and Jack Healy. Family members who stayed away are angry at relatives who attended and brought the virus home. Sturgis council members who approved the rally have been bombarded with death threats. And health experts and politicians are still fighting over how many cases Sturgis may have caused across the country.
Even now, health officials said a lack of contact tracing and the sheer scale of the event have made it impossible to know how many people were infected directly or indirectly because of Sturgis.
Kids produce weaker antibodies
A study published Thursday found that children infected with the coronavirus produce fewer and weaker antibodies than adults.
Although that finding sounds scary, it actually may help answer longstanding questions about why children have a different experience with the virus than adults.
“We know that kids are much less likely to get sick from the coronavirus,” said Apoorva Mandavilli, who covered the study. “This study says they produce a less robust immune response to the virus, which, paradoxically, may be a good thing.”
Fewer antibodies may indicate that children were sick for a shorter period of time, and may also explain why children seem to transmit the virus less efficiently. A weak immune response also may shed light on why children are mostly spared severe symptoms.
Importantly, having weaker and fewer antibodies does not seem to mean that children would be more at risk of reinfection.
Italy locked down six regions in the country’s deeply infected north and highly vulnerable, and poorer, south. The measures are the most drastic since a nationwide lockdown in March.
Eastern Europe is confronting a surge in cases. Romania announced that it would close schools and implement an overnight curfew. Poland admitted the first patient to its new field hospital at a stadium in Warsaw. Hungary declared a “state of danger” this week, and Ukraine announced a national mask mandate in public buildings and on public transportation.
Paris banned delivery and takeaway food and alcohol between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. as officials try to curb what they say is a large number of people on the streets at night, despite a lockdown, France 24 reports.
What else we’re following
Scientists in Britain have started a clinical trial of aspirin to see whether the anti-inflammatory agent can improve the care of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 by reducing the formation of life-threatening blood clots.
Wuhan, where the outbreak began, has emerged as a star in China. Propaganda agencies have churned out television tributes to the city, and a new opera idolizes its doctors.
The University of Notre Dame’s faculty rejected a proposed vote of no confidence in its president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, voting instead to “express its disappointment” with him for appearing at a White House reception in the midst of a pandemic without a face mask.
In England, the first hours of Lockdown 2.0, as local newspapers called it, looked very little like a lockdown at all.
The Las Vegas Raiders were fined for repeatedly violating the N.F.L.’s virus protocols.
What you’re doing
After 8 years married, a year ago, my husband and I decided to divorce. We started taking turns living in our house. One of us would stay with our daughter; the other one would go to a small rented flat. When France went into lockdown in March, we decided to confine all together in the house. Then, during 3 months, we realized that we still enjoyed each other’s company as well as our family life and that we could work as a team like we had never done before. It became obvious that we still loved each other so we got back together. The lockdown gave us perspective and time to slow down and rethink our relationship.
— MariaRosa Quintero Bernabeu, Grenoble, France
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