The world is nearing another tragic threshold in the coronavirus pandemic: a reported death toll of one million people.

The number of homicides in 27 cities across the United States was 53 percent higher this summer than in the pre-pandemic summer of 2019, according to an updated analysis by the Council on Criminal Justice, a nonpartisan research group.

The update, covering the months of June, July and August, found that aggravated assaults also increased from last year, by 14 percent, but that many other types of crime plummeted, including residential burglaries, larcenies, and drug offenses. Across the country, overall crime rates remain at or near generational lows, despite striking increases in violence in some cities.

Fluctuations in crime rates are notoriously hard to explain, but 2020 has seen two factors with potentially seismic influence: the coronavirus pandemic, which has made the most proven types of anti-violence measures far more difficult to implement, and the killing of George Floyd in police custody in late May, which sparked nationwide protests.

The new report’s authors, Richard Rosenfeld and Ernesto Lopez, wrote that “subduing the pandemic, pursuing crime control strategies of proven effectiveness, and enacting needed police reforms will be necessary to achieve durable reductions in violent crime in our cities.”

The F.B.I reported on Monday that violent crime continued its downward trend in 2019, but that preliminary figures for 2020 show a 15 percent increase in homicides, the largest single-year increase on record.

A New York Times analysis finds that despite President Trump’s attempts to blame “Democrat cities” for failing to curb violence, homicides have increased regardless of the political party of the mayor. In three cities recently called “anarchist” by the Department of Justice — Portland, Ore., New York and Seattle — the murder rate remains quite low. Those cities were not among the top 40 American cities ranked by their projected 2020 murder rate.

And murders are not the only violent crime increasing. The Chicago Police Department said that domestic-violence-related calls increased 12 percent during a period from the start of the year through mid-April, compared with the same time period in 2019. In other cities, including Los Angeles and New York, the police have seen a drop in calls, but the authorities have said they believed that victims were in such close quarters with their abusers that they were unable to call the police.

When hundreds of thousands of children in the nation’s largest school system stream back into school buildings this week for the first time since March 13, they will find their schools and classrooms transformed.

New York City is the only major school district in America restarting in-person classes this month, and that herculean task has not unfolded entirely as planned. Mayor Bill de Blasio has twice delayed the start of in-person classes for most students. And on Sunday, the union representing the city’s principals called on the state to take over the reopening effort from Mr. de Blasio.

Under the latest reopening plan, some young children and students with advanced disabilities returned to schools last week, and classrooms will be open for the rest of the system this week.

Almost no students will attend school five days a week. Instead, children who opt for in-person classes will report to classrooms one to three days per week and learn from home the rest of the time.

Many of New York’s roughly 1,400 school buildings are about a century old, and the city has had to scramble to upgrade ventilation in buildings already in urgent need of repair. In some cases, that has meant prying open windows that have been shut for years.

Principals have spent months trying to figure out how to arrange their schedules so that students are learning the same material at roughly the same pace, no matter where they are.

And it is possible that all students could be sent home at any time, if there are small outbreaks in classrooms or school buildings, or if the city’s average test positivity rate ticks up to 3 percent, from about 1 percent now.

As the world moves toward another tragic threshold in the coronavirus pandemic — a reported death toll of one million people — the countries where fatalities are increasing fastest remain spread out across the globe, with new hot spots constantly emerging.

The number of lives reported lost to the virus each day around the world peaked in April and then fell, but began rising again in June.

The global seven-day average of reported deaths per day has exceeded 5,000 every day since July 17. As of Monday morning, the total global death toll stood at 997,300, according to a New York Times database.

Times data analysts favor seven-day averages over daily tallies, which can easily be skewed by irregularities, such as a health department releasing a big backlog of case or death reports at once.

Each day over the last week, India has tallied over 1,000 deaths, as the caseload in the country surpassed six million. India, the United States, Brazil and Mexico account for more than half of the world’s total deaths from the virus, according to the Times database.

New hot spots are also emerging in smaller countries like Israel, which led the world in new cases per capita over the past week.

The pandemic continues to wreak havoc in South America, where countries including Argentina, Colombia and Peru are recording thousands of new cases daily along with some of the highest numbers of deaths per capita in the world.

With seasons changing, some countries that were hit hard by the virus are beginning to shed lockdown policies, raising fears of future surges. In Europe, second waves of infections have already hit Britain, France and Spain.

Not only are businesses shedding workers, with America’s unemployed numbering roughly 13.6 million, but employers are also cutting expenses like health coverage, and projections of rising numbers of uninsured have grown bleak.

Tens of millions of people could lose their job-based insurance by the end of the year, said Stan Dorn, the director of the National Center for Coverage Innovation at Families USA, a consumer group in Washington, D.C. “The odds are we are on track to have the largest coverage losses in our history,” he said.

While estimates vary, a recent Urban Institute analysis of census data says at least three million Americans have already lost job-based coverage, and a separate analysis from Avalere Health predicts some 12 million will lose it by the end of this year. Both studies highlight the disproportionate effect on Black and Hispanic workers.

Many businesses have tried to keep their workers insured during the pandemic. Employers relied on government aid, including the Paycheck Protection Program authorized by Congress to ease the economic fallout, to pay for premiums through the spring and summer.

Government funding appears to have “prevented the economic crisis from becoming a coverage crisis right away,” said Leemore S. Dafny, a professor at Harvard Business School and one of the authors of a report last month looking at the pandemic’s effect on small business.

Describing those employers as “the proverbial canary in the coal mine,” the researchers say there could be significant coverage losses if insurers and lawmakers fail to act in the coming months. Nearly a third of small businesses surveyed in late June said they were not sure they could keep paying premiums beyond August, according to the report.

In many parts of the developing world, school closures have put children on the streets. Families are desperate for money. Children are an easy source of cheap labor. While the United States and other developed countries debate the effectiveness of online schooling, hundreds of millions of children in poorer countries lack computers or the internet and have no schooling at all.

United Nations officials estimate that at least 24 million children will drop out and that millions could be sucked into work. Ten-year-olds are now mining sand in Kenya. Children the same age are chopping weeds on cocoa plantations in West Africa. In Indonesia, boys and girls as young as 8 are painted silver and pressed into service as living statues who beg for money.

In southern India, an 11-year-old boy, Rahul, would be a fine addition to any classroom. But with his school closed because of the virus, he currently finds himself part of the swarm of children who pour into the street from his housing project, bound for another day rummaging garbage dumps in search of recyclable plastic. It pays pennies an hour.

The surge in child labor could erode the progress achieved in recent years in school enrollment, literacy, social mobility and children’s health.

“All the gains that have been made, all this work we have been doing, will be rolled back, especially in places like India,” said Cornelius Williams, a high-ranking UNICEF official.

Growing numbers of Europeans are dismissing the threat of the coronavirus as media hype and sometimes embracing conspiracy theories, as the virus takes a second spin around the continent.

In London on Saturday, thousands of unmasked protesters packed Trafalgar Square in the center of the city, calling the virus a hoax.

“Take off your mask” was freshly scrawled across an already-graffitied door alongside a strip of houses on London’s Portobello Road.

In Berlin, Brussels, Dublin and Paris, similar gatherings have gone ahead in recent weeks as coronavirus cases are again rising across much of Europe. But with health experts warning that a second wave has already arrived in some places and with many governments moving to reintroduce restrictions, the ranks of those dismissing the dangers of the virus and others calling it a government-led hoax have swelled.

Science has long shown that wearing a mask can prevent a person from spreading airborne illness, and new research suggests that it also protects the person wearing it. But protesters remain unconvinced.

In France, where infections have skyrocketed with a daily average of 12,000 new cases reported over the past week, critics have questioned the effectiveness of masks and new measures to control the spread, while others have urged people to ignore the government’s guidance entirely.

In Germany, there has been a growing and vocal number of German QAnon supporters, who contend that powerful players behind the scenes are using the virus to control the masses.

And in Slovakia, which on Friday recorded its highest number of new daily cases for a third day in a row, the country’s Ministry of Health this summer appointed a specialist to fight disinformation about the pandemic.

People who do not self-isolate in England will now face fines of up to 10,000 pounds, or almost $13,000, as the nation battles a second coronavirus wave.

As of Monday, it is illegal for those who test positive for the virus or have come into contact with a positive case to not quarantine for 14 days. The fines begin at £1,000 but could increase to £10,000 for especially egregious or repeated offenses. The government said it would begin offering a payment of £500 to lower-income residents who cannot work while isolating.

In addition, about two-thirds of the population in Wales will be under lockdown restrictions as of Monday evening. The rules largely ban nonessential movement outside of local areas.

The new rules come as Britain faces a surge in cases and what Prime Minister Boris Johnson called a “perilous turning point.” Earlier this month, Mr. Johnson announced a raft of new restrictions, including bans on most gatherings over six people and closing times of 10 p.m. for pubs and restaurants.

Britain recorded 5,692 new cases on Sunday, and the seven-day daily average is above 5,800, the highest since the pandemic began. There have been at least 434,900 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Britain, and as of Monday morning, nearly 42,000 people had died.

The government has not ruled out the possibility of a second national lockdown or one for the city of London. Britain has been using local lockdowns to try to control the spread of the virus.

“We must do all we can to avoid going down that road again,” Mr. Johnson said last week of a second national lockdown. “But if people don’t follow the rules we have set out, then we must reserve the right to go further.”

An uproar over precisely who faces restrictions has flared after The Times of London reported Monday morning that Parliament’s bars were exempt from the 10 p.m. curfew because they provide food and drink for a workplace. By late morning, that position seemed to have changed: “Alcohol will not be sold after 10 p.m. anywhere on the parliamentary estate,” a government spokesman said.

India’s coronavirus caseload has surpassed six million, the country’s health ministry announced Monday, as infections continued to grow across the South Asian country of 1.3 billion people.

India has the world’s second-highest caseload after the United States and has recorded at least 95,540 deaths, including 1,039 deaths in the past 24 hours. The country has recorded an average of 83,000 new cases a day for the past week, down from more than 90,000 cases earlier in the month.

At least 76,000 police and paramilitary forces personnel in India have been infected by the virus, with at least 400 deaths, the local media reported on Monday.

During his monthly radio address over the weekend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi renewed his appeal for people to wear face masks when outside their homes.

A 61-year-old Afghan man died on Sunday in Greece, becoming the first resident of a Greek migrant reception facility to die of the virus. The man, a father of two, died in an Athens hospital. He had been living in the Malakasa camp near the city, a Greek Migration Ministry official said, adding that his two children have been tested and are isolated within the camp. Malakasa is one of nine migrant reception facilities on the mainland that are locked down because of virus outbreaks.

A cruise ship carrying more than 1,500 people was turned back from the Greek island of Milos in the Aegean Sea after 12 crew members tested positive for the virus, a Greek Shipping Ministry official said. The Mein Schiff 6, which sails under the flag of Malta, left Crete on Sunday and was off the coast of Milos early on Monday when the test results were released, the official said.

The municipal government in Beijing announced new procedures to allow medical personnel to bypass their bosses in reporting health emergencies directly to hotlines and government agencies. The rules are supposed to protect whistle-blowers’ identities and shield them from any retaliation. The goal, although not mentioned by the Beijing authorities, appears to be to prevent any repeat of the slow response last winter to the emergence of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China. The ophthalmologist who sounded the alarm there on social media, Dr. Li Wenliang, was called in by medical officials and the police and forced to sign a statement denouncing his warning; he later died of the disease.

The next Group of 20 summit meeting, which was scheduled to be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, will take place virtually on Nov. 21 and 22, the kingdom said in a statement on Monday. Saudi Arabia, which holds the group’s rotating presidency, also hosted an emergency virtual summit meeting in March in response to the pandemic.

Whereas more than 13 percent of the United States’ population identifies as Black or African-American, Black people make up less than 7 percent of students who earn bachelor’s degrees in science or engineering fields and less than 5 percent of people granted doctorates in microbiology each year, according to the National Science Foundation.

The number of Black scientists has “been largely stagnant over the past decade,” said Johnna Frierson, the assistant dean of graduate and postdoctoral diversity and inclusion at the Duke University School of Medicine. In some fields, representation has even begun to decline — a trend that has worried experts. “There’s something in the system that is not optimized in order for us to continue diversifying in the way we hope to,” Dr. Frierson said.

A former virologist, she will participate in a panel on Monday as part of Black in Microbiology Week, the latest in a series of virtual events highlighting Black scientists in a variety of disciplines.

The event will feature seven days of talks, panels and online discussions under the microbiology umbrella, including the coronavirus, and address disparities in medicine, education and career advancement.

LaNell Williams, a member of Black in Microbiology’s programming team and a Ph.D. student at Harvard University, studies physics and virology, straddling two fields in which Black women are extraordinarily scarce.

During her time at Harvard, she has dealt with colleagues who have touched her hair without permission, dismissed her admission to her graduate program as affirmative action and used racial slurs in her presence. Over the years, she said, “I’ve gotten used to people not expecting much of me when I walk into a room.”

The strict stay-at-home order issued by Myanmar last week for its largest city, Yangon, barred residents from traveling from any of its 44 townships to another. There are some exceptions, such as for police officers, emergency workers and doctors.

But one group not given special status to cross township boundaries is the news media. That includes reporters, photojournalists and the drivers of newspaper delivery trucks. The exclusion prompted protests Monday from journalists and news vendors alike.

“How can we stay at home while we need to cover the news as videojournalists?” said U Wai Yan, a correspondent with Xinhua News. “If the people do not get the true news, then there might be lots of rumors, and these are toxic for people.”

With cases of the coronavirus soaring, the government has issued stay-at-home orders for Yangon, a city of seven million people. It issued similar restrictions in Rakhine State, where the first major outbreak occurred, and most recently for three townships in Mandalay, a city of one million.

Myanmar, which was ruled for decades by the military, is one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia, and doctors say that its underfunded medical system would be quickly overwhelmed if the virus is not contained.

The number of reported cases has skyrocketed over the past month to nearly 11,000, with 226 deaths. But the rate of testing in Myanmar is among the lowest in the world and the number of cases is likely much higher.

On Sunday, the government issued a requirement that anyone seeking an exception to the travel restrictions must register online. But it included no category for members of the media.

“I would say the government does not understand the importance of independent private media,” said U Myint Kyaw, secretary of the Myanmar Press Council.

The council, which seeks to protect the media’s interests, has appealed to the government to provide an exemption so that reporters can cover the news and newspapers can be delivered.

Critics said the restrictions on movement would make it more difficult for news organizations to cover Myanmar’s national election, which is scheduled for Nov. 8.

The main opposition party argues that holding the election in the middle of a pandemic favors the ruling party of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s civilian leader, and has called for it to be postponed. Election officials have rejected a delay.

Sonny Swe, the founder and chief executive of the influential magazine Frontier Myanmar, said journalists must have sufficient freedom of movement so they can cover the election, the health crisis and other significant events.

“I can understand the restrictions and necessary measures for the sake of public health,” he said. “But the media should be considered an essential business.”

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, a Pennsylvania firm whose chief executive boasted to President Trump in March that it was the world’s leader in coronavirus vaccines, said on Monday that it will delay the next stage of testing for its vaccine until addressing questions from the Food and Drug Administration.

The company said the pause is not related to any serious side effects from the first phase of testing of its vaccine, which uses a DNA technology that stimulates a person’s immune system with some of the coronavirus’s genes. No DNA-based vaccine has ever made it to market for any human disease. The company is not be able to start Phase ⅔ testing but its Phase 1 trial will continue, it said.

Inovio’s pitch has long been that this genetic approach would allow for faster design and manufacturing than its competitors. But it’s now far behind the pack. More than two dozen coronavirus vaccines have made it to later testing phases than Inovio’s has.

The F.D.A. had questions about the vaccine’s “Cellectra 2000 delivery device,” which uses an electrical pulse to open skin pores in order to more consistently deliver the vaccine dose. Regulatory questions about a similar device held up clinical trials for an Inovio cancer vaccine in 2016.

The company said it plans to respond to the F.D.A.’s questions in October. After that, the agency will have 30 days to decide whether to allow the trials to proceed.

Most of the coronavirus vaccine trials have not run into safety issues. The exception is AstraZeneca’s, which was recently halted when two volunteers became seriously ill after getting its experimental vaccine. That trial is still on pause in the United States.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/09/28/world/covid-19-coronavirus

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