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ImagePeople leaving President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa last month.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The top health official in Tulsa, Okla., suggested on Wednesday that a surge in cases in and around the city was probably connected to a contentious indoor campaign rally President Trump held there last month.

Tulsa County reported 206 new confirmed cases on Tuesday and 261 — a record high — on Monday.

“The past two days we’ve had almost 500 cases, and we know we had several large events a little over two weeks ago, which is about right,” Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, said at a news conference. “So I guess we just connect the dots.”

Asked whether contact tracing had confirmed a link between the Trump rally and the increase in cases, Leanne Stephens, a spokeswoman for the health department, said the department “will not publicly identify any individual or facility at risk of exposure, or where transmission occurred.”

But Dr. Dart said the large gatherings of people in the city had “more than likely contributed to that.”

Dr. Dart was among those urging the Trump to cancel the rally at the 19,000-seat Bank of Oklahoma Center arena, citing the risk of infection.

Dr. Dart spent much of the news conference pleading with Tulsans to wear face masks — which most attendees at Mr. Trump’s rally did not — and said the department would recommend mask mandates “if we continue to see an exponential rise in cases, which frankly we expect over the next few days.”

More than 600 new cases were reported in Oklahoma on Wednesday, a day after the state reported a record single-day high of 858, according to a New York Times database. As of Tuesday, the state’s seven-day average had risen to 495 new cases; a month before the average was 92. The state’s spike in cases has mirrored a resurgence elsewhere in the country’s South and West.

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‘We’re Prepared to Work With Each School,’ Redfield Says

Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Dr. Robert R. Redfield of the C.D.C. and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, addressed plans to reopen schools.

“It’s absolutely essential that we get our kids back into classrooms for in-person learning. We can’t let our kids fall behind academically, but it’s important that the American people remember that for children that have mental health issues, for special needs children, for nutrition, for children in communities facing persistent poverty, the school is the place where they receive all those services.” “It would fail America’s students, and it would fail taxpayers who pay high taxes for their education. Ultimately it’s not a matter of if schools should reopen, it’s simply a matter of how. They must fully open and they must be fully operational, and how that happens is best left to education and community leaders.” “I want to make it very clear that what is not the intent of C.D.C.’s guidelines is to be used as a rationale to keep schools closed. We’re prepared to work with each school, each jurisdiction, to help them use the different strategies that we propose that help do this safely so they come up with the optimal strategy for those schools.” “We are worried now that as cases spread, that it’s getting to the older parents and the grandparents. And I call on again, every multigenerational household: Get tested and protect those in the household. And we do know that there are children with vulnerability.”

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Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Dr. Robert R. Redfield of the C.D.C. and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, addressed plans to reopen schools.CreditCredit…Jason Andrew for The New York Times

Hours after President Trump assailed guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reopening schools, Vice President Mike Pence, appearing with the White House coronavirus task force, announced the agency would issue new recommendations next week, saying administration officials don’t want the guidance to be a reason schools don’t open.

“Well, the president said today, we just don’t want the guidance to be too tough,” Mr. Pence said. “That’s the reason why next week, the C.D.C. is going to be issuing a new set of tools, five different documents that will be giving even more clarity on the guidance going forward.”

Mr. Trump openly rebuffed the C.D.C. on Twitter Wednesday morning, assailing current guidelines issued by the agency recommending a slew of preventive measures necessary to bring the nation’s children back to class. And he threatened to cut off federal aid to schools that refuse to fully reopen this fall.

“I disagree with@CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!” Mr. Trump wrote.

Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the C.D.C. director, said Wednesday that the agency’s guidance should not be used to justify keeping schools closed. It was the most clarifying statement the director has made in months as schools try to make sense of conflicting messaging on how they can safely welcome students back to class.

Dr. Redfield said that the guidelines were not meant to be used “as a rationale to keep schools closed.”

“We are prepared to work with each school, each jurisdiction to help them use the different strategies that we proposed that help do this safely so they come up with the optimal strategy for those schools,” he said.

Measures recommended by the C.D.C. include keeping classroom windows open, spacing desks at least six feet apart “when feasible” and not using cafeterias or playground equipment.

Mr. Trump’s threat comes as scientists grapple with rising concerns about transmission of the virus in indoor spaces. Most public schools are poorly ventilated and don’t have the funding to update their filtration systems. Mounting evidence suggests that in crowded indoor settings, like schools, tiny droplets expelled when an infected person breathes, talks or sings can linger and infect others when inhaled. Children under 12 are thought to have only a low risk of getting sick themselves, but they may still spread the virus to other students, or to teachers and parents.

Mr. Trump also tweeted that he believed that schools’ hesitance to reopen was politically motivated, invoking European countries that have already reopened their schools. Experts say several countries, like Germany, reopened their schools after getting the spread of the virus under control. Most countries also enacted virus-control steps in the schools, including mask-wearing, reduced class sizes, and keeping children in small groups at recess and lunchtime.

In much of the United States, virus infections are soaring and patients are quickly filling up hospital beds. Some cities and areas, in response to surging cases, have slowed reopening or imposed new antivirus precautions.

“In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!” he wrote.

Contrary to one claim in Mr. Trump’s tweet, there have been problems in some schools in Sweden, which never closed its schools or placed many restrictions on the rest of society. Sweden has seen the death of a teacher at one school and at least two staff members at other schools, though it’s not clear whether they were infected in school or elsewhere.

But Mr. Trump’s funding threat carries real weight. When it passed its $2 trillion stimulus law, Congress gave enormous latitude to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to decide how to parcel out tens of millions of dollars in relief to school districts. Ms. DeVos said Tuesday that only 1 percent of the $13.5 billion in stimulus funding allocated to K-12 school districts had been claimed. And the Education Department doles out billions to states for a range of programs funded in the federal budget, including those that serve low-income and special education students.

Those districts are now desperate for funds as they try to find ways to open classrooms with far fewer students and staff in each, to maintain social distancing, to test students and staff for the virus, and to provide masks and other protective gear. Education groups have estimated that they need at least $200 billion in additional funding to reopen next school year.

Other key education news today:

United States

On July 7

14-day change

Trend

New cases

54,160

+72%

New deaths

957

–8%

Where cases are rising fastest

Key data of the day

Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

Mr. Pence said Wednesday that federal officials were “seeing early indications” that the percentage of positive tests was flattening in the hard-hit states of Arizona, Florida and Texas.

But to the extent that is true, they are flattening at alarmingly high levels.

While the World Health Organization said in May that maintaining a positivity rate of less than 5 percent for at least two weeks — with comprehensive testing — would indicate that the virus was under control, all three states that the vice president cited are reporting far higher levels than that.

The average positivity rate in Arizona has climbed to roughly 20 percent over the last seven days, according to a slide that Dr. Deborah L. Birx, who is coordinating the administration’s coronavirus response, showed at a briefing in Washington on Wednesday. The state’s own data shows that its positivity rate hit 25 percent on July 5. The fast-spreading outbreak is putting pressure on hospital capacity and is leading the state to record more deaths than ever in recent days.

New cases in Arizona have been trending upward since the beginning of June and this week the state has been averaging more than 3,600 new cases a day, a record. The bulk of the new cases are in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix. The number of new cases around Yuma and Nogales are starting to slightly improve.

The positivity rate can help determine how widespread an outbreak is, but it can vary depending on how much testing is being done and who is being tested. Early on in the pandemic, when testing in the U.S. was scarce and reserved for only the sickest patients or those who had come into contact with them, positivity rates were high. Ideally, the more testing that is done, the lower the rate would fall.

The average positivity rate in Florida, which has seen record numbers of cases in recent days, has climbed above 15 percent, according to a slide that Dr. Birx showed. The state announced that 16.27 percent of new cases were positive on July 6. On Wednesday, Florida reported more than 9,900 new cases, bringing the state’s total to 223,775 cases during the outbreak.

And in Texas, the positivity rate was hovering around 20 percent at the beginning of July, according to Dr. Birx’s slides, double what it was a month ago. The state’s own data currently show a far lower positivity rate, of 13.51 percent. On May 5, the governor said that a positivity rate of more than 10 percent would be “a warning flag.” The state reported its highest daily death toll, 90, on Tuesday.

At the briefing, Dr. Birx said in counties and states hit particularly hard by the virus, gatherings should be scaled back again to 10 people or fewer, as the White House had recommended back in March.

Credit…Callaghan O’Hare for The New York Times

As cases surge across the country, hospitals, nursing homes and private medical practices are facing a problem many had hoped would be resolved by now: a dire shortage of respirator masks, isolation gowns and disposable gloves that protect front-line medical workers from infection.

Unlike the crisis that caught a handful of big city hospitals off guard in March and April, the soaring demand for protective gear is now affecting a broad range of medical facilities across the country, a problem public health experts and major medical associations say could have been avoided if the federal government had embraced a more aggressive approach toward procuring and distributing critical supplies in the early days of the pandemic.

The inability to find personal protective equipment, known as P.P.E., is starting to impede other critical areas of medicine, too. Neurologists, cardiologists and cancer specialists around the country have been unable to reopen their offices in recent weeks, leaving many patients without care, according to the American Medical Association and other doctor groups.

“We have kids living with grapefruit-sized abscesses for over three months who can’t eat or drink and there’s nothing we can do for them because we can’t get P.P.E.,” said Kay Kennel, the chief officer of Lubbock Kids Dental, a clinic serving low-income families in Texas that has a list of 50 children awaiting emergency surgery. “It’s been just horrible, and given the growing number of infections here, I’m afraid things are going to get worse.”

In the virus briefing on Wednesday, Mr. Mike Pence played down the shortages, but said the government was preparing to issue new guidance on the preservation and reuse of protective gear. “P.P.E., we hear, remains very strong,” he said.

Credit…Dado Galdieri for The New York Times

The much-criticized stances of Brazil’s president toward the coronavirus appears little changed — even though he is now infected.

Since disclosing his illness on Tuesday, President Jair Bolsonaro has showed no sign that testing positive had made him any less dismissive of the merits of social distancing, mask wearing and other measures that have enabled other countries to rein in transmission and save lives.

And he has continued to endorse a malaria drug that has been disputed as a treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“I trust hydroxychloroquine,” Mr. Bolsonaro, 65, said in a video posted Tuesday that showed him washing down a dose of hydroxychloroquine with water. “I’m doing much better than I was,” he added. “It’s working.”

Most studies have found no evidence that the drug works on Covid-19 patients.

In the United States, the National Institutes of Health stopped a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine, saying it did not work, and the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that the medication can cause abnormalities in the heart rhythm of virus patients.

The virus has infected more than 1.7 million people in Brazil and killed more than 67,000, according to a New York Times database, and it does not appear to be slowing down. On Tuesday, the country reported 45,305 new infections and 1,254 deaths.

The president’s critics, including health experts, fear that his insistent endorsements of hydroxychloroquine will encourage many more people to use it, while not taking proven precautions to avoid infection.

Credit…Go Nakamura/Getty Images

An analysis of more than 17 million people in England — the largest study of its kind, according to its authors — has pinpointed a bevy of factors that can raise a person’s chances of dying from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The paper, published Wednesday in Nature, echoes reports from other countries that identify older people, men, racial and ethnic minorities, and those with underlying health conditions among the more vulnerable populations.

The study found that patients older than 80 were at least 20 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than those in their 50s, and hundreds of times more likely to die than those below the age of 40. The scale of this relationship was “jaw-dropping,” said Dr. Ben Goldacre of the University of Oxford, one of its authors.

Roughly 11 percent of the patients tracked by the analysis identified as nonwhite. The researchers found that these individuals — particularly Black and South Asian people — were at higher risk of dying from Covid-19 than white patients.

An increasing number of reports have pointed to the pervasive social and structural inequities that are disproportionately burdening racial and ethnic minority groups around the world with the coronavirus’s worst effects.

The new paper helps address “a real paucity of data on race,” said Julia Raifman, an epidemiologist at Boston University who was not involved in the study. “These disparities are not just happening in the United States.”

Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

More than 6,400 residents have died in New York’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities, more than one-tenth of the reported deaths in such facilities across the country.

What went wrong? Reporters for The New York Times explored the issues and explained what they know about New York’s nursing home death toll.

The effort to answer that question has become politically charged, with Republicans pointing to the deaths to criticize Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, who has largely been praised for helping New York rein in the outbreak.

At issue is a directive that Mr. Cuomo delivered in late March, effectively ordering nursing homes to accept virus patients from hospitals.

The goal was to free up hospitals’ beds at a time when those facilities were being overwhelmed by fresh waves of virus patients. But family members and nursing home staff feared that sending those patients to nursing homes may have created a dangerous environment that allowed the virus to quickly spread.

That possibility has fueled calls by lawmakers from Washington to Albany for hearings and investigations to determine if the state’s actions played a role in the high death toll.

On Monday, the Cuomo administration fired back: The state Department of Health issued a 33-page report meant to dispel the notion that its March directive fueled the spread. The report found that infected nursing home workers had transmitted the virus to residents.

GLOBAL ROUNDUP

A hospital group in the Netherlands has pressed charges against a patient’s relative, accusing the visitor of exposing medical workers to the virus.

The group, Alrijne Ziekenhuis, said the visitor took off protective gear and insulted the workers after a disagreement about a treatment, and four nurses later tested positive for the virus.

The visitor, who was known to be infected, went to the hospital on June 6 and was escorted out by security guards after the incident, the newspaper De Volkskrant reported. The hospital filed charges of attempted aggravated assault.

While it is impossible to prove that the nurses were infected by the visitor, the hospital said in a statement that it believed there was reason to press charges, calling it a “shocking” event for the staff members. The group did not specify at which of its locations in the province of South-Holland the incident took place.

“It’s understandable that emotions can run high when it concerns the health of loved ones,” the hospital said in a statement, “but with this act a line was crossed.”

In other news around the world:

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the United States and the European Union have made “real progress” toward reopening travel between the two allied regions, including developing a monitoring system that would protect travelers’ health while jump-starting trans-Atlantic economies.

  • Hong Kong has entered what one health official described as “a third wave” of infections, a setback for a city where the Covid-19 death toll remains in the single digits. The health authorities reported 38 new cases on Tuesday and Wednesday, after months in which few or no new daily infections were detected. Most traceable clusters are linked to a nursing home and two restaurants.

  • A New Zealand man who tested positive will face criminal charges after he sneaked out of a hotel quarantine site, the public broadcaster RNZ reported. He ventured out into central Auckland on Tuesday night for a little over an hour and visited a supermarket. RNZ called the escapade a “Covid-19 escape.”

  • Italy on Wednesday blocked 135 Bangladeshis who flew into Rome from Pakistan via Qatar from disembarking at the airport, and the Italian health minister asked the European Union to help coordinate safety measures for arrivals from outside Europe. In a letter to the bloc, the health minister said that Italy had banned flights from Bangladesh for a week after a number of passengers on a flight from Dhaka tested positive on Monday.

THOSE WE’VE LOST

Credit…Jonathan Hurtado /CAAAP

This was clear to Santiago Manuin: Indigenous tribes of the Amazon had the right to protect their land and to take part in decisions affecting them.

He promoted these principles as a prominent Peruvian human rights activist, and defended them as a longtime leader of the Awajún and Wampis Indigenous peoples of Peru’s northwestern Amazon, expelling armed rebels from tribal territory and pushing back against a wave of squatter settlements encouraged by the government.

Mr. Manuin died on July 1 of Covid-19 in a hospital in the coastal city of Chiclayo after struggling to find adequate health care in his region, Amazonas, his son, Santiago Jesus Manuin, said. He was 63.

In one of his last statements, Mr. Manuin in April called on tribal authorities to devise their own strategy for containing the virus’s spread, criticizing the government’s response to the virus among Indigenous peoples as inadequate. “We must face this pandemic like we have other problems,” he said. “We have to be brave.”

Born in Santa Maria de Nieva near the Marañón River in northern Peru on July 25, 1956, Mr. Manuin was also known for having survived a police crackdown on protesters in 2009, one of the worst in recent Peruvian history.

Along with his son Santiago Jesus, Mr. Manuin is survived by his wife, Justina Mayan, and 13 other children.

U.S. ROUNDUP

Credit…Callaghan O’Hare for The New York Times

The mayor of Houston said Wednesday that he had ordered the cancellation of the Texas Republican Party’s convention, which had been scheduled to be held there next week as the city grapples with one of the nation’s worst outbreaks.

The decision by Mayor Sylvester Turner came after weeks of debate over the gathering, which had been expected to attract thousands of party officials. He acted after the city’s top public health official had sent a letter to Mr. Turner and to the city-run organization hosting the convention calling the gathering a “clear and present danger.”

Mr. Turner, speaking through a mask at a news conference, said that “as mayor I simply cannot ignore those words,” and described Houston as “a hot spot in a global pandemic.” He said the city would welcome conventions in the future, once it is safe again to visit.

Houston First Corporation, the city’s convention arm, held the contract with the state Republican Party. On Wednesday, the leaders of the corporation sent a letter to party officials informing them of the cancellation and citing the “force majeure” clause of the contract. “The term ‘force majeure’ is defined to include “epidemics in the city of Houston,” the letter said.

Elsewhere in the U.S.:

  • California, which has seen hospitalizations rise by 44 percent over the past two weeks and the share of its positive tests rise to 7.1 percent, is in the process of rethinking its testing strategy. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that the state was working to ensure that hospitals do not become overwhelmed in areas where cases are rapidly mounting. He said the state, which is conducting more than 100,000 tests a day, wanted to be “much more strategic about who we’re testing.”

  • New York will now allow malls to reopen in Phase 4, the governor said Wednesday, a stage of reopening that the entire state except for New York City has entered. Malls must put in enhanced air filtration systems and those that meet requirements can reopen as soon as Friday. The reopening of movie theaters and fitness centers had been delayed over air conditioning concerns, as well, but it has not yet been announced when they would reopen.

  • New Jersey’s governor is requiring face coverings outdoors when social distancing is not possible. Since early April, masks have been required indoors at businesses. When asked if people would receive tickets for disobeying the rules on a Jersey Shore boardwalk, he said it was not likely. After previously limiting restaurant dining to outdoors only, the governor said Wednesday restaurants with seating areas under fixed roofs can reopen those spaces to diners as long as there are two open sides and there is only 50 percent wall space.

  • More than 680 cases were announced Wednesday in Utah, a single-day record.

  • Officials in Tennessee reported more than 2,100 new cases and 21 new deaths on Wednesday, single-day records in both categories.

  • With temperatures and virus cases rising simultaneously this week, cities in the Midwest were trying to reduce the potential for overheating without putting people at risk of catching the virus while indoors. In Chicago, where temperatures were hovering around 90 degrees, splash pads were temporarily reopened in parks, but with employees on hand to make sure people kept their distance. In Fort Wayne, Ind., a cooling site at a botanical conservatory was limited to five people because of social distancing needs. In Detroit, recreation centers were opened for residents to cool off, but with occupancy limits lowered and temperature screenings instituted.

  • A 35-year-old California woman has sued her former employer, Hub International, a global insurance brokerage firm, saying that she was fired because her young children were making noise during business calls while she was working from home. She is accusing the company of gender discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.

The Daily Poster

Listen to ‘The Daily’: Counting the Infected

How The Times got access to a federal database of 1.5 million coronavirus cases — and what it revealed.

0:00/31:48

transcript

Listen to ‘The Daily’: Counting the Infected

Hosted by Michael Barbaro, produced by Annie Brown, Clare Toeniskoetter, Michael Simon Johnson, and Adizah Eghan; with help from Robert Jimison; edited by M.J. Davis Lin

How The Times got access to a federal database of 1.5 million coronavirus cases — and what it revealed.

michael barbaro

From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is “The Daily.”

[music]

Today: For months, the U.S. government has been quietly collecting information on hundreds of thousands of coronavirus cases across the country. My colleague, Robert Gebeloff, on the story of how The Times obtained that data.

It’s Wednesday, July 8.

Robert, you live in a corner of The Times, the data team, that I’m not sure most people understand all that well. So when the pandemic starts, how do you all respond?

robert gebeloff

So, by training, my goal is to find stories that can best be told through data, which is not every story, but there’s a lot of stories out there. So if you go back to early March, the pandemic is starting. And I know that our job as The New York Times is to really get our arms around what’s going on and, by that, to start collecting the data that is starting to come out about cases and deaths around the country. So my colleagues set up a team of people across different departments whose primary job would be to monitor all the states, all the major counties, and gather the information and start to build a database. Start to say, we’re getting information from New York over here and California over here, but let’s put it into one database just for the purpose of tracking where the cases were, where the deaths were.

michael barbaro

You’re saying it’s not coming out on a national level. There’s no big clearinghouse that’s going to hand you data every day about exactly where the virus is all across the country.

robert gebeloff

Correct. And at that point, we assume that some kind of federal system may be in the offing, but we weren’t going to wait for it. And part of our report every day, you’ll see on our website, are maps showing where the cases are, where new cases are, where deaths are, where the new hotspots are. That all emanated from these early days of creating this ground-level system for being able to collect this data.

michael barbaro

And I wonder if you can take me into the process of that a little bit. I mean, what does it look like? Where exactly is the information coming from?

robert gebeloff

Well, it’s really like a hive of activity. I mean, that’s the way I like to think of it. You have, at any given time, a team of clerks, reporters, editors, all assigned to monitor what gets announced in various parts of the country. So at one moment, you could have somebody wrestling with new data that was put out by California and trying to get it into a format that matches our data standards. And you could have somebody in Mississippi confused about whether the new data announced is cumulative, or is it new cases for the day? And often, that involves basic reporting of going back to the state and asking questions. Then, while all this is going on and people are collecting this data, we have other people trying to put the data into context. It’s, you know, truly this whole new full-time operation just devoted to trying to track what is really happening with the pandemic and to do some surveillance on the national picture.

michael barbaro

Right. This sounds very tedious, incremental. You know, gathering up tiny bits of data, cleaning it, making sure it all lines up — not sexy.

robert gebeloff

It is not sexy at all. You know, when you’re data journalists, the fun part is doing what we call the queries — asking questions of the data and seeing what it shows. But we all know, like, job one is to make sure your data is good. Otherwise, the questions you ask won’t mean anything.

michael barbaro

Hmm. And what do you begin to learn through this data?

robert gebeloff

Right. Part of what my personal job is to do is to look at this data and try and help understand what it tells us. So, for example, one of the early findings we had when we were looking at the pandemic in March was it seemed to be hitting mostly in big cities — New York, New Orleans, Detroit.

michael barbaro

Seattle.

robert gebeloff

Seattle. It seemed to be in places with a lot of population density. But there was also another class of place that seemed to be popping up. And it was resort counties — places with ski resorts. And so that led us to this insight that it wasn’t just population density, that there are other possible explanations for why places got hit. Then, as the weeks went on, we began to see the fill-in, what I call the fill-in, which is — there were all of these new counties that were starting to get cases. And so by having this record, what we were able to then report is there are now hundreds of rural counties getting their first cases. And, you know, how were they preparing? And how were they talking to people? And then, another thing we’ve been monitoring is there seems to be this ideological difference — or at least there has been — about how serious a problem is it. How soon should government reopen or allow businesses to reopen? And —

michael barbaro

Right. Kind of a red state-blue state divide over shutting down and reopening.

robert gebeloff

Right. But our reporting showed that there was this additional element involved, which was, for the first six to eight weeks of the pandemic, there were hardly any red counties with high infection rates. And most of the hard-hit places were in blue counties. And so we were able to raise the specter of, if you live in a place that doesn’t have first-hand experience with the virus, you don’t have your emergency rooms being overflowed. Maybe that also contributes to your belief that, you know what, we should open the economy. This is not worth shutting down the economy for.

michael barbaro

Right.

robert gebeloff

And all of these types of stories are, again, driven by the idea that in the first place, we had good county-level data that we couldn’t get anywhere else. That allowed us to look at the world through these different prisms and ask different questions about how the pandemic was playing out.

michael barbaro

Mm-hmm. You’re laying out clear examples of why data like this is important and what it lets us understand. But I’m curious what the limitations of this kind of a database are. What does it not tell us?

robert gebeloff

Yeah. So think of it this way. A data set we think of like any other source that we’re going to interview. And we think of what might this source be able to tell us about something. And so we think of questions that we’re going to ask the source. So the problem became — we had this data set, and we knew where the cases were and the deaths were, but we couldn’t ask it any other questions. We couldn’t ask, who were the people actually becoming infected in these counties? Were they old? Were they young? Where they rich? Were they poor? Were they front-line workers? Were they white? Were they Black? Were they Latino? So all these questions we had we couldn’t really ask the data set we had.

michael barbaro

So what did you end up doing?

robert gebeloff

So, along the way, we learned that the C.D.C. actually had some information that would be helpful in this, in that every time a person was confirmed to have a coronavirus infection, the local health agency would fill out a report that would have characteristics of the case — the person, the age, the race. And the form actually asked dozens of questions. You know, was the person at work? Was the person staying home? What were the symptoms? And that these forms ultimately ended up at the C.D.C.

michael barbaro

Hmm.

robert gebeloff

And if we could get our hands on this data, we could ask a lot more questions about how this pandemic is playing out. And so we decided to approach the C.D.C. and request access.

And here’s why we needed that data. So many people in this country are getting sick. So many people are dying. And our job is to try and explain, who is it that is getting sick? Who is dying and why? And if we had any chance of getting answers to those questions, we need the best data. And if the C.D.C. had the data, we wanted to get a copy ourselves.

michael barbaro

And so how do you go about trying to get it?

robert gebeloff

Well, in this case, we ended up suing them.

[music]
michael barbaro

We’ll be right back.

So, Robert, why did The New York Times sue the C.D.C.?

robert gebeloff

So suing the C.D.C. sounds very dramatic. But in fact, many, many times in the course of a year, we go to court to establish our rights to get public information. It’s somewhat more routine than most people would realize. And sometimes it’s because the government out and out refuses to give up the information. But in this case, it was more to do with the timing. Without going to court and putting pressure on the agency, we were looking at the prospect of waiting months to get our hands on this information.

michael barbaro

Right.

robert gebeloff

But by going to court, it sort of put the clock on. And we had the agency’s full attention.

michael barbaro

And so what ends up happening once this clock is ticking and a judge is looking over the shoulders of the C.D.C.?

robert gebeloff

So the C.D.C. tells us that they will comply. They just need to do a little more research as to what they can possibly produce, taking into consideration the privacy of people who are in the database and stripping out personally identifiable information. But ultimately, the day comes where they say, OK, New York Times, here is a database of 1.45 million cases —

michael barbaro

Wow.

robert gebeloff

— that we have collected from state and local authorities. And we were then free to have a new interview subject and be able to ask it a whole lot of more interesting and detailed questions.

michael barbaro

Right. I mean, this quite literally sounds like the motherlode of data on this pandemic in the United States.

robert gebeloff

Well, in many ways it was. What we were able to see from this was detailed information about individuals who had become infected and died. And for each individual, we were able to look at their age, the county they lived in, their race and their ethnicity. And that is far more information than we had before. And in the end, we ended up being able to break down cases for nearly 1,000 counties covering more than half of the U.S. population.

michael barbaro

And this number — 1.5 million Americans — how big a proportion of all cases of the virus is that?

robert gebeloff

So for the time period covered by the data — it was all cases through the end of May — it was about 88 percent of all cases that we had some information about.

michael barbaro

So when you get this massive data dump, what do you do? What do you find?

[music]
robert gebeloff

So when we finally had our hands on this data, we were checking what types of information were included, how complete the information was, and just looking at the data in many different ways to see what it could tell us. And eventually, three main trends emerged.

michael barbaro

And so what were those trends?

robert gebeloff

So the first was just how pervasive the racial disparity was with this pandemic.

michael barbaro

Mm-hmm.

robert gebeloff

Whatever knowledge people had that African-Americans and Latinos were becoming infected at a higher rate, a lot of that was tied to big cities that had released data. But what we found is that this racial disparity pervades everywhere, whether you go from cities to suburbs, even into rural places.

michael barbaro

Huh.

robert gebeloff

In fact, any place we found where there was a significant African-American population, almost all of them, African-American infection rates were higher than the rate for Whites. Same thing with Latinos. Any place we found where there was a significant Latino population, for almost all of them, the infection rate was higher for Latinos.

michael barbaro

Hmm.

robert gebeloff

The second big takeaway is what is driving these racial disparities. So most of the earliest explanations of the racial disparity were focused on death rates. And one of the explanations for the disparities in death rates that is commonly offered is something called comorbidities — the idea that African-Americans might be dying at a higher rate because they were more likely to have preexisting conditions or to be in poorer health to begin with. But in our analysis, we focused mostly on the actual infection rates. And the reason for that is that gets us out of the question of whether comorbidities is driving it and puts us more on the question of who is most at risk to become infected in the first place. And so when we see disparities in the infection rates, we can then raise the question of, why are people in certain groups more likely to become infected?

michael barbaro

Mm-hmm.

robert gebeloff

And that led us to looking at, where do people work? Where do people live? And what is their housing situation? And if you look at where people work and look at what the data shows, it shows that African-Americans and Latinos in the U.S. are far less likely to have the kind of job where you can do it at home. They are more likely, instead, to have a job in the production sector, in a factory or in the service sector. All of that combined would increase your risk of becoming infected. And with housing, what we found is that Latinos in particular are far more likely to live either with more people in the household or with less space in the household, both of which would also increase the odds of a person might become infected.

michael barbaro

So the second discovery very much helps understand the first. There are kind of structural issues around how Black and Latino Americans work and live that contribute to this racial disparity in the pandemic.

robert gebeloff

That’s correct. And the third takeaway from this is what you learn by looking at the pandemic through the prism of age.

michael barbaro

Hmm.

robert gebeloff

Right now, most of what we know about the disparity is all cases of people of all age groups. And that’s how the rates are calculated. But if you realize something about this pandemic, it’s that older people are far more likely to get sick and die.

michael barbaro

Right.

robert gebeloff

And in the U.S. right now, the older population is very disproportionately white, non-Hispanic.

michael barbaro

Huh.

robert gebeloff

So if you don’t account for age, you’re by definition almost understating the disparity. So what we did — what some epidemiologists call “age adjusting” — is looked at infection rates across age groups. And when you look at, say, what the infection rate is for people who are in their 40s or in their 50s, the disparity is much bigger than you’ll ever see in numbers without age adjustment.

michael barbaro

So when you accounted for the fact that so many older people have died from the coronavirus, and that the older population in this country skews white, you found that the racial disparity actually gets even greater.

robert gebeloff

Correct. In fact, if you look at some of the younger age groups, the death rate for Latinos is about 10 times higher that for whites.

michael barbaro

Wow.

robert gebeloff

Now, the caveat to that, of course, is you’re much, much less likely to die at those age groups. But it’s still, among the people who do die in those age groups, it’s very heavily Black and Latino.

michael barbaro

Mm-hmm. I mean, these insights, once again, seem to highlight just how important it is to have this kind of information. Because from what you’re saying, we have been, in some sense, misunderstanding the racial disparities of this virus — the causes of the racial disparities — because we haven’t had access to this data.

robert gebeloff

Well, at minimum, you could say we didn’t know the extent to which these problems existed. And getting data like this helps us sort of define what the ground truth is about how this pandemic is playing out. That being said, there’s still a lot more that we would like to know.

michael barbaro

Mm-hmm.

robert gebeloff

The database had 1.45 million records. And it had, for each record, more than 100 columns or 100 pieces of information. Most of those were blank. And that leaves us in the dark about a lot of questions that we’d like answered, like how many people are contracting the virus at work? Or how many are getting it from traveling or being at bars? So still a lot of room for improvement. And hopefully, knowing what can be done, the power of having this data to answer questions will help inspire the C.D.C. to collect the information better.

michael barbaro

Mm-hmm. And perhaps release it more quickly. I have to think that suing the C.D.C., getting this data and reporting out these insights on race has increased pressure on the federal government to make this information more available. Is that true?

robert gebeloff

I would like to think so. There is still some mystery as to what will ultimately happen. Our case is still pending. The status is, the C.D.C. at this point believes they satisfied our request.

michael barbaro

Right.

robert gebeloff

Our lawyers are still investigating whether or not there was more information that should have been released — or more types of information. And, you know, once that is resolved, the question will be what does the C.D.C. do going forward. And a lot of people, in reaction to the story that published, were asking me, do you think they’ll just start posting this on their own? And I would think that whether or not the information is complete, it’s still better than anything else out there. And so hopefully we will see more of this type of information made public.

[music]

That would definitely be beneficial to not just us, but to researchers around the nation and the world to have access to more complete and better information. But until that happens, we’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing.

We’re going to go out every day, go to every state and collect data on coronavirus cases and deaths.

michael barbaro

Rob, thank you very much.

robert gebeloff

Thanks, Michael.

[music]
michael barbaro

On Tuesday, the latest updates to The Times’s database found that the virus has infected more than 3 million Americans and has killed more than 130,000 of them. Globally, it recorded nearly 12 million infections and nearly 542,000 deaths, including 65,000 in Brazil, where the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly downplayed the pandemic and avoided wearing a mask, announced that he had tested positive for the virus.

We’ll be right back.

[music]
mission control

Station, this is Houston. Are you ready for the event?

chris cassidy

Hello, Houston. We’re ready for the event.

michael barbaro

38 days ago, NASA and SpaceX launched two U.S. astronauts into space on a mission to the International Space Station, where they joined a fellow American. It was the first time that a manned spacecraft has left American soil in nearly a decade.

mission control

The New York Times, this is mission control Houston. Please call station for a voice check.

michael barbaro

On Tuesday, I spoke with the three U.S. astronauts now aboard the space station.

chris cassidy

Hello, New York Times. New York Times, this is the International Space Station. How do you hear us?

michael barbaro

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who arrived a few weeks ago, along with Chris Cassidy, who has been there since April.

michael barbaro

We hear you loud and clear. How do you hear us?

chris cassidy

We hear you loud and clear as well. Good afternoon. Welcome aboard, and we’re happy to talk to you.

michael barbaro

Of course, their time in space is precious. And so NASA gave us six minutes on the dot.

michael barbaro

If I might boldly call you by your first names — Doug, Chris and Bob — thank you very much for making time for us. I wonder if you can start by telling us exactly where you are in space, relative to us right now.

chris cassidy

Well, while I kick things off, Bob’s going to pull up our mapping program. Right at the moment, we didn’t have it on the computer. Sorry about that. But we’re orbiting 250 miles above the Earth. And it looks like we are abeam of Baja California, just a little bit out into the Pacific Ocean.

michael barbaro

Mm-hmm. So over America — the U.S.-Mexico border.

chris cassidy

Right. Yeah. We’re just over the Pacific Ocean. We just past California heading south.

michael barbaro

If you’ll indulge me for a minute, I want to talk a little bit about feelings. Knowing I was going to be talking to you, I have been thinking a lot about this moment back on Earth and wondering, with so much turmoil here, and you looking down on all of it from such a distance, what that feels like to look down on a planet that’s truly in the midst of some really challenging, tumultuous times.

doug hurley

Well, it certainly is challenging to hear, either by secondhand or when we get the opportunity to see some news up here, all the turmoil that’s going on. The challenges with the pandemic and the strife in the cities and all the different challenges that people are going through on a day-to-day basis. It is — you know, emotionally it does take a toll on us, certainly. And I think the other thing that really resonates with me, personally, is just when you look out the window, when you see the planet below, you don’t see borders. You don’t see this strife. You see this beautiful planet that we need to take care of. And hopefully, as technology advances and as this commercial space travel gets going, more people will get that opportunity. Because I think if you get the chance to look out the window from space and look back on our planet, it will change you. It will change you for the better. And you’ll realize that this is one big world, rather than all these different little countries or cities or factions that we have on the planet. And I think it will make it a better place.

michael barbaro

Well, that’s really interesting. And I wonder if you could say a little bit more about that, because in the time since I believe you’ve all last been in space, there actually have been changes on Earth. You know, major ice shelves have broken off in Antarctica. Huge fires have swept across Australia, California. The Great Barrier Reef has essentially died. And when you look down at Earth, can you actually see some of those changes to the Earth, compared with when you last saw it?

bob behnken

Well, I think one of the things that we see from up here is that the Earth is not a stagnant place. It continues to change, whether it’s a fire, whether it’s the seasons, whether it’s different things happening further out. You know, we just saw a comet become visible in the predawn era. So it’s definitely a lot of things happening with the Earth and —

michael barbaro

Wow.

bob behnken

— that continuous change.

michael barbaro

I have to apologize. Now I need for you to tell me what it means for a comet to become visible in the predawn era and what that actually looks like.

bob behnken

The comet that I’m referring to was really close to the sun. And so it needed to get far enough away from the sun that we could actually, you know, look at it and see its dim little light that was visible in darkness, but kind of blinded by the sun, if you will, if you look too closely at it. And so if we got to a situation at dawn, right before the sun came up, that comet became visible during that short period of time when it was still close to the sun, but the sun was still hidden by the Earth. It was just an awesome sight to be able to see and something that we try to capture. In the few moments that we do have to look out the window, we try to capture those changes. Capture the exciting things that we can see to try to share our view with the folks back home, the folks that are still down on Earth, and just try to give them an appreciation for just how beautiful our planet is and how important it is that we do our best to take care of it.

[music]
michael barbaro

But in terms of that turmoil —

mission control

Station, this is Houston ACR. That concludes The New York Times portion of the event. Please stand by for a voice check from Fox News.

michael barbaro

Thank you all. We appreciate it.

bill hemmer

Bill Hemmer with Fox News. How do you hear me? (ECHOING) Bill Hemmer with Fox News. How do you hear me?

chris cassidy

Hi, Bill. Loud and clear. Welcome to the Space Station.

bill hemmer

Excellent. Thank you.

[music]
michael barbaro

That’s it for “The Daily.” I’m Michael Barbaro. See you tomorrow.

A network of more than 100 clinical trial sites has been set up to test coronavirus vaccines in people in the United States and abroad, with the first large study to begin this summer, the federal government announced on Wednesday.

Each study is expected to enroll 10,000 to 30,000 people. Different studies are expected to follow the same protocol so that the results and the vaccines can be compared to one another.

The collection of trial sites, called the Covid-19 Prevention Network, is being paid for by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. Sites in South Africa and several countries in South America are being considered for inclusion in the network.

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which has long experience in testing H.I.V. vaccines, is overseeing the network.

The first study, planned for later this month, is expected to involve the vaccine candidate developed by researchers at the infectious diseases institute and produced by the biotechnology company Moderna. Dr. Corey said a trial of the potential vaccine made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University was planned to begin in August, and tests of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate were expected in September.

business roundup

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

United Airlines said on Wednesday that it may furlough as many as 36,000 workers, or nearly 40 percent of its staff, starting Oct. 1 if travel remained weak and if too few employees accept buyout or early retirement packages.

Airlines have been warning workers for months that there could be significant cuts after federal stimulus funds expire. United received about one-fifth of the $25 billion that Congress authorized in March to help airlines pay employees. The money came with the condition that the companies not make significant cuts through Sept. 30.

The Oct. 1 furloughs at United would include about 15,000 flight attendants, 11,000 customer service and gate agents, 5,500 maintenance employees, and 2,250 pilots, among others. Those numbers could be smaller if ticket sales pick up significantly, or if many thousands of workers apply for reduced work hours or leave the company voluntarily before a mid-July deadline, the airline said in a memo to its employees. United is also cutting almost one-third of its management and administrative employees.

Most workers will know whether they are being furloughed by the end of August and would be eligible to return to their jobs, in most cases, when business picks up, the company said.

In other business news:

  • Brooks Brothers, the oldest apparel brand in continuous operation in the United States, has filed for bankruptcy.

  • Technology stocks led Wall Street higher on Wednesday, but trading was unsteady as investors considered the spreading coronavirus outbreak and growing friction between the United States and China. The S&P 500 rose less than 1 percent. The technology heavy Nasdaq composite fared better, rising nearly 1.5 percent.

  • In Britain, the chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced further steps to support businesses, homeowners and young workers, including proposals for a fund to create six-month work placements for people ages 16 to 24 who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

  • Walt Disney World in Orlando will welcome back visitors on Saturday, even as virus cases in Florida remain high. In doing so, Disney is stepping into a politicized debate surrounding the pandemic and efforts to keep people safe.

  • The federal budget deficit in June was $863 billion, compared with a deficit of $8 billion in the same month last year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated. It attributed the increase to the pandemic, which drove down tax collections as spending for the month tripled, driven largely by virus relief programs.

Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Brooks Barnes, Pam Belluck, William J. Broad, Maria Cramer, Niraj Chokshi, Kate Conger, Michael Cooper, Jill Cowan, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Jacey Fortin, Michael Gold, J. David Goodman, Peter S. Goodman, Abby Goodnough, Denise Grady, Erica L. Green, Amy Julia Harris, Anemona Hartocollis, Jack Healy, Mike Ives, Andrew Jacobs, Ernesto Londoño, Iliana Magra, Sapna Maheshwari Apoorva Mandavilli, Tiffany May, Claire Moses, Andy Parsons, Elisabetta Povoledo, Adam Rasgon, Frances Robles, Alejandra Rosa, Eliza Shapiro, Natasha Singer, Mitch Smith, Megan Specia, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan, Lucy Tompkins, Allyson Waller, Noah Weiland and Karen Zraick.



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