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Covid-19 Live Updates: Latest News

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ImageA Los Angeles barber cutting a client’s hair in front of his barbershop last week while observing California’s safety restrictions.
Credit…Mario Tama/Getty Images

California, as its infection rate falls, becomes the first state to top 700,000 known cases.

California this weekend became the first state to pass 700,000 known coronavirus cases, according to a New York Times database, even as its infection rate continued a steep decline.

By far the most populous state in the country, California has not been among the most severely affected by the virus on a per-capita basis: It ranks 21st among the states in cases and 26th in deaths per 100,000 residents. But along with the Sun Belt states, it has been among the hardest hit in the virus’s summer resurgence.

On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a new plan that would allow some counties, including San Diego and San Francisco, to reopen businesses like gyms and houses of worship indoors as early as Monday under limited circumstances. It will also permit indoor dining, though bars will remain closed in most of the state.

California has seesawed through the pandemic. It was the first state to issue a comprehensive stay-at-home order, on March 19, when it was reporting about 116 new cases a day. But after the state started to reopen two months later, its caseload surged.

Mr. Newsom allowed counties to reopen certain sectors such as gyms and indoor entertainment in May and June, but backtracked after an increase of cases in July. As the new school year has started across the state, most districts have stuck to online instruction.

Louisiana currently has the highest number of cases per 100,000 people in the United States, with over 3,100, while California has about 1,770. New Jersey, where the virus peaked months ago, has the highest death rate: 179 per 100,000 residents. California has 33 deaths per capita.

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New Delhi subway is reopening even as India’s daily cases set global records.

Credit…Prakash Singh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Five months after shutting down the subway in New Delhi, India is reopening the city’s underground rail network, even as the country continues to set global records for the greatest number of new daily confirmed cases.

India, a nation of 1.3 billion people, is loosening some restrictions in parts of the country while adding others aimed at thwarting the virus.

“This is good news,” said Anuradha Raman, a college student in New Delhi. “But people are also scared, because we don’t follow social distance guidelines here.”

India imposed one of the world’s most severe lockdowns in late March, but as an ailing economy started sharply contracting, officials lifted some of the restrictions.

The country reported 78,761 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, setting a global record for the third time in recent days. Until this past week, the United States had held the record for a single-day increase in cases, 75,682 on July 16.

Indian officials say the steep rise in confirmed infections is partly explained by an increase in testing. More than 60,000 Indians have died from Covid-19.

Arvind Kejriwal, New Delhi’s chief minister, said he was glad the subway, which is used by 2.6 million commuters a day, was resuming service. But the capital also reported 1,954 new cases on Saturday, its largest daily tally in 50 days.

It was not clear whether subways in other cities will also resume service.

While sports events and religious festivals have been allowed with restrictions on attendance, the country’s schools will remain closed until the end of September.

Other coronavirus developments around the world:

  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand thanked residents of Auckland, the country’s largest city, as they prepared to come out of lockdown at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. She also encouraged residents to wear masks in public and remain vigilant. “Our system is only as good as our people, and our people are amazing,” she said. The city had been on lockdown since Aug. 12 as it tries to contain a cluster that has grown to 135 cases, including two reported on Sunday.

As cases emerge at colleges, even sewage is critical for virus detection.

Credit…Geoff Crimmins/The Moscow-Pullman Daily News, via Associated Press

As colleges and universities across the United States try to resume in-person instruction, thousands of coronavirus cases have been reported on newly reopened campuses, including the University of Alabama, which has confirmed over 1,000 cases this month.

And one place the virus is rearing its head is in student dormitories.

After several cases were discovered at Baylor University in Texas, students living on two floors of one residence, Martin Hall, have been ordered not to leave their floors for four days while the university carries out coronavirus testing and contact tracing.

“Since Thursday, we have seen an increase from five positive Covid-19 cases to 21 positives on these two floors as of Saturday,” the university said in a letter to students and parents this weekend. “We will evaluate the need for stricter quarantine if evidence suggests that such action is necessary.”

Concern over the potential such outbreaks has some colleges turning to innovative approaches in the hope of preventing infections. They are trying wastewater tests, health-check apps and versions of homegrown contact technologies that log student movement and exposure risk. They are also experimenting with different testing methods that might yield faster results and be easier to administer.

In New York, at more than 15 dormitories and on-campus apartment buildings at the Rochester Institute of Technology, sewage is being tested twice weekly for genetic evidence of virus shed in feces.

This provides a kind of early-warning system of an outbreak, limiting the need to test every student for the coronavirus. If the virus is found in the sewage, individual tests can be administered to identify the source.

“It’s noninvasive,” said Enid Cardinal, a senior adviser to R.I.T.’s president. The school is among a half-dozen colleges in upstate New York adopting similar technology, which was first introduced by Syracuse University. At the University of Arizona, officials said such tests had led to the discovery that several students in a dorm were infected.

“Wastewater,” Ms. Cardinal quipped. “My new favorite topic.”

The look of ‘Covid toes’ varies on different skin colors. But the sample images were mostly white.

Credit…Sarahbeth Maney for The New York Times

In the spring, teenagers started showing up at U.S. doctors’ offices with angry red and purple blisters on their fingers and toes — the latest unexpected feature of the coronavirus. Suddenly photographs of so-called Covid toes were everywhere on social media.

But almost all of the images depicted glossy pink lesions on white skin. Though people of color have been affected disproportionately by the pandemic, pictures of Covid toes on dark skin were curiously hard to find.

The problem isn’t unique to Covid toes or social media. Although progress has been made in recent years, most textbooks that serve as road maps for diagnosing skin disorders often don’t include images of skin conditions as they appear on people of color.

It’s a glaring omission that can lead to misdiagnoses and unnecessary suffering.

“Pattern recognition is central to dermatology, and a lot of the pattern recognition is training your eye to recognize certain colors that trigger you to think of certain diseases,” said Dr. Jenna Lester, the director of the skin of color program at the University of California, San Francisco.

As the coronavirus spread, dermatologists started an international registry to catalog examples of skin manifestations of Covid-19. It included more than 700 images, but only 34 of disorders in Hispanic patients and 13 in Black patients were submitted.

It wasn’t until July that Dr. Roxana Daneshjou and her colleagues at Stanford University published some of the first pictures of Covid toes in nonwhite patients in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

“We know for certain that if dark skin images are not well represented, skin doctors — but also other doctors who are not skin experts — are at a disadvantage for making a proper diagnosis,” said Dr. Hao Feng, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Connecticut.

Facing the pandemic’s limitations, some world-class athletes have grown stronger.

Credit…Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

The Times’s Jeré Longman talked to five elite athletes — a shot-putter, a long-distance runner, a swimmer, a discus thrower and a major outfielder — who have found ways to turn the limitations of the pandemic into benefits.

Ryan Crouser, the 2016 Olympic shot-put champion, had expected to defend his gold medal in Tokyo this summer. He did not expect to enter bass-fishing tournaments as a way to feed his competitive bend that was being stifled by a pandemic.

“Finished in the money three of the last four tournaments,” Crouser, 27, who lives in Fayetteville, Ark., said in a telephone interview.

Many Olympic sports lost their primary showcase with the postponement of this year’s Tokyo Games. The annual international circuit for dozens of sports were also disrupted. Some athletes, their motivation sagging, decided to throw in the towel and resume serious training in the fall.

But not everyone.

On July 18, after driving 10 hours to compete in one of the rare track meets held this summer, Crouser unleashed the best throw of his life — 75 feet 2 inches, or 22.91 meters — which tied for the fourth-best throw of all time.

He is one of many athletes who have performed as well as or better than ever despite the complications of the last several months. They say they feel refreshed by increased rest, less exhaustive travel, enhanced focus on training, healed injuries, creative improvisation and a less stressful perspective.

Claire Curzan, 16, an Olympic swimming hopeful from Raleigh, N.C., said it had been “almost a relief” when the Tokyo Games were postponed. After posting a top-20 time in the world last year in the 100-meter butterfly and reaching the medal podium at the world junior championships, she said she felt pressure to make the Olympic team “to make everyone proud.”

Yet when her club pool shut down in March, Curzan was forced to rethink her approach. She improvised her workouts, ran to maintain her stamina, and began focusing on improvement instead of international rankings. And perhaps most important, she slept at least nine hours per night instead of six or seven.

After resuming her usual workouts, Curzan posted four personal-best times at an intrasquad meet.

The pandemic is shaping Steven Mnuchin’s legacy, for better and worse.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The $2.2 trillion rescue package that the government passed in March — the largest economic stimulus measure in U.S. history — was a crucial victory for President Trump, who was facing withering attacks over his response to the pandemic.

It also was a much-needed win for the program’s chief architect, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

He didn’t have a lot of fans. The president ran hot and cold on him. Conservatives distrusted him as a Republican in Name Only. Liberals demonized him as a plutocrat. Even members of his immediate family distanced themselves.

When the pandemic hit, the task of saving the economy was an opportunity for Mr. Mnuchin, a former banker and film financier, to transform himself from an unremarkable Treasury secretary into a national hero.

After Mr. Mnuchin worked with Democrats to devise and pass the landmark stimulus bill, Mr. Trump hailed him as a “great” Treasury secretary and “fantastic guy.”

Yet the acclaim didn’t last. Republicans said Mr. Mnuchin had been outfoxed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the embodiment of free-spending liberals. And on a spring day in the Oval Office not long after the stimulus package was passed, the president was venting about it.

“I never should have signed it,” Mr. Trump bellowed, according to someone who was present. He pointed at his Treasury secretary and said, “You’re to blame.”

Yet Mr. Mnuchin insisted that he didn’t take the criticism personally.

“When people ask why have I succeeded in this job, one, I understand why the president is the president. I was there — I saw why he won,” he said in a mid-August interview.

After all, he said he was simply acting on behalf of Mr. Trump. “Anything that’s significant or material,” Mr. Mnuchin said, “I check with the president.”

Reporting was contributed by Tess Felder, Matthew Haag, Jeré Longman, Roni Caryn Rabin, Alan Rappeport, Matt Richtel, James B. Stewart and Sameer Yasir.

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