Coronavirus News: Lindsey Graham Says He Has Breakthrough Infection

Coronavirus News: Lindsey Graham Says He Has Breakthrough Infection




De Blasio Urges Vaccinated New Yorkers to Wear Masks Indoors

Mayor Bill de Blasio “strongly” encouraged vaccinated New Yorkers to wear masks indoors again, especially when others around them could be unvaccinated.

Vaccines are the No. 1 most powerful weapon against Covid by far, but we also clearly believe there’s a place for masks. Over the last few days, where you’ve reviewed the data from the C.D.C., some of which came in on Friday — the background research — we’ve reviewed the recommendations, we’re updating our mask guidance based on the latest data and science. We want to strongly recommend that people wear masks in indoor settings, even if you’re vaccinated. Now, this is particularly true, of course, if you might be around anyone unvaccinated. If you don’t know the people you’re around, if you’re not sure if they’re vaccinated or not, or if, you know, some are unvaccinated, absolutely crucial to wear a mask, even if you are vaccinated. The difference, of course, is if you’re around fully vaccinated people, that’s a better situation. So vaccinated people around fully vaccinated people, that’s where it’s an easier situation. But if you’re not sure and that’s going to be many cases, we want to strongly recommend that people wear those masks indoors, even if vaccinated.

Mayor Bill de Blasio “strongly” encouraged vaccinated New Yorkers to wear masks indoors again, especially when others around them could be unvaccinated.CreditCredit…David Dee Delgado/Reuters

New York City has seen a rapid rise in coronavirus cases — more than 1,200 cases per day, roughly six times the number in June.

For weeks, city officials have been tracking the increase, and deliberating whether a broad mask mandate — similar to ones instituted in large urban areas like Los Angeles County and Washington — might be called for, to head off a more serious resurgence in New York, once the epicenter of the pandemic.

On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio decided against such a mandate, choosing instead to strongly encourage all New Yorkers, even those who have been vaccinated, to wear masks indoors.

Mr. de Blasio said he wanted to focus on increasing vaccination rates, and worried that requiring everyone to wear masks would remove an incentive for those who are considering getting vaccinated now.

With the recent rise in virus cases, New York City now falls under new C.D.C. guidelines recommending masks in areas of high transmission.

The mayor said that he agreed with the C.D.C.’s guidance, but pointed out that he was aligned with leaders in New Jersey and Connecticut who similarly encouraged mask use but did not require it.

“We want to strongly recommend that people wear masks in indoor settings even if you’re vaccinated,” Mr. de Blasio said.

The city’s fragile economic recovery may be a factor in the city’s decision; a broader mask mandate could prompt employers to reconsider their plans to have their workers return to offices after Labor Day, and raise doubts about holding large gatherings like weddings. Mr. de Blasio said a mandate could also be difficult to enforce.

Some elected officials called on Mr. de Blasio to move more aggressively and institute a mask mandate now to curtail a third wave of cases.

“The one lesson of the last year and a half is you have to act fast, or you’re left with much more difficult choices down the road,” said Mark Levine, a city councilman from Manhattan who chairs the health committee. “I think it’s a huge mistake to delay this any further.”

Los Angeles County reinstated its new mask mandate last month, and Washington began to require masks over the weekend. The Democratic mayors of Atlanta and Kansas City, Mo., have reinstated forms of mask mandates, and Chicago’s mayor is considering one.

Mr. de Blasio has said that he wants to focus on vaccination, and he is considering France-style measures to require vaccination or a negative test to visit restaurants or movie theaters.

He believes that New Yorkers will be motivated to get vaccinated if they believe they will have more freedoms once they do so, like the ability to go about their lives without masks.

“We still want to respect the fact that vaccination can give you different opportunities and rights than unvaccinated people,” Mr. de Blasio said on Monday.

Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for mayor, said he agreed that a mask mandate was not necessary right now.

“I don’t believe we’re there with a mandate yet, unless C.D.C. tells us, whatever the science is we must follow, but then personal responsibility must kick in,” Mr. Adams told reporters on Monday. “Also, vaccination vaccination, vaccination. Let’s get on the ground.”

New Yorkers are already required to wear masks on public transit and in hospitals and schools. Masks will be required at schools; Mr. de Blasio has been adamant that classes will be held in-person in September.

Mr. de Blasio also announced last week that city workers must get vaccinated or face weekly testing and offered a $100 incentive for people who get vaccinated at city sites.

On Monday, he said the city had hit an important milestone — 10 million vaccine doses administered — and announced a new policy: a vaccine mandate for new city employees.

“Every single new person hired by the City of New York — before they report to work, they must provide proof of vaccination,” he said.

Many Republican governors have resisted the idea of mask mandates. Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas issued an executive order barring local governments and state agencies from mandating vaccination and reinforcing an earlier order that prohibited officials from requiring face masks.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida last week signed an executive order giving parents the power to decide whether their children should wear masks in schools, after Broward County, the state’s second largest school district, voted to require masks.

“In Florida, there will be no lockdowns,” Mr. DeSantis said to cheers at a restaurant in Cape Coral, Fla., on Friday. “There will be no school closures. There will be no restrictions and no mandates.”

Federal recommendations call for students, teachers and parents to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status. Both Florida and Texas are facing surges, according to a New York Times database.

A vaccine site in Berlin in July. Germany plans to offer booster shots to older people and people with underlying health conditions beginning in September.
Credit…Stefanie Loos/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As concerns grow over a rise in coronavirus cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, Germany announced Monday it will offer vaccine booster shots to older people and people with underlying health conditions starting in September.

Germany’s move came after a top European Union official criticized the bloc as falling far short of its promises to donate vaccine doses to Africa and Latin America. Many health experts say the priority should be inoculating high-risk people around the world, and scientists also still disagree on the need for booster shots.

The issue of booster shots has been hotly debated in richer countries as vaccination rates have slowed. But as the Delta variant has become dominant in much of the United States and Europe, more governments appear to be moving toward endorsing them.

In the United States, Biden administration health officials increasingly think that vulnerable populations may need additional shots. Research continues into how long the vaccines remain effective. Israel, an early leader in administering vaccines, began administering boosters to people 60 and over last week.

France is offering booster shots only to the most elderly and vulnerable residents for now. Health officials in Belgium and Italy said they were ready to start offering boosters in the fall but were still gathering data to decide who should get a third dose, and when.

Under the German initiative, vaccination teams will be sent to care homes and other facilities for vulnerable people to administer Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots, according to the draft plan. Doctors and vaccination centers will be called on to provide the extra shots for eligible people outside care homes.

The boosters will also be offered to people who received AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson shots initially.

The guidelines cite studies that indicate “a reduced or quickly subsiding immune response after a full Covid-19 vaccination in certain groups of people,” notably those who because of age or pre-existing conditions have weakened immune systems.

Studies have indicated that immunity resulting from the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines is long-lasting, and researchers are still working to interpret recent Israeli data suggesting a decline in efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine months after inoculation.

Pfizer, which has begun making a case for booster shots in the United States, offered its own study last week showing a marginal decline in efficacy against symptomatic infection months after immunization, although the vaccine remains powerfully effective against severe disease and death.

Britain, which remains ahead of the European Union on vaccinations, has not yet formally announced plans for a booster shot program. But officials there have been planning for them ever since a committee of government advisers in late June outlined recommendations on how the shots could be administered.

Even as wealthier nations prepare to give booster shots, though, health experts say the focus should be on giving first doses to people in countries that remain largely unprotected, especially as the Delta variant spreads.

“Wealthy governments shouldn’t be prioritizing giving third doses when much of the developing world hasn’t even yet had the chance to get their first Covid-19 shots,” Kate Elder, the senior vaccines policy adviser at Doctors Without Borders’ Access Campaign, said in a statement.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina outside the Capitol last week.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina announced on Monday that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and that his symptoms have been mild, which he attributed to having received the vaccine.

“I am very glad I was vaccinated because without vaccination I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now,” Mr. Graham, a Republican, wrote on Twitter. “My symptoms would be far worse.”

Mr. Graham said he would go into quarantine for 10 days.

With the Delta variant continuing to spread aggressively across parts of the country, instances of infections in vaccinated people have become more common, though they are still rare among the vaccinated population.

Experts say the vaccines currently in use in the United States provide strong protection from serious illness and death, even in cases of infections with the Delta variant. More than 97 percent of people who have been hospitalized recently for Covid-19 have been unvaccinated.

Breakthrough cases were reported last week both on Capitol Hill and in the White House. At least six Texas Democrats, a White House aide and an aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi reported testing positive despite having been vaccinated.

A number of Republicans in Congress, particularly in the House, have not received a shot and have resisted wearing masks and other mitigation measures. But Mr. Graham has urged supporters to get vaccinated and has spoken out against disinformation related to the virus.

The announcement from Mr. Graham immediately raised concerns that other colleagues of his in the Senate may have been exposed through recent contact with Mr. Graham.

After the announcement, a spokeswoman for Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia said the senator was taking precautions.

“Senator Manchin is fully vaccinated and following the C.D.C. guidelines for those exposed to a Covid-positive individual,” she said.

Grand Central Station in Manhattan on Sunday. All 68,000 Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers will be required to be vaccinated or face weekly testing.
Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times

Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers will be required to be vaccinated or face weekly testing, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York announced on Monday, the state’s latest effort to boost lagging vaccination rates amid the rapid spread of the Delta coronavirus variant.

The new requirement applies to 68,000 employees of the M.T.A., which operates New York City’s sprawling subway and bus system, as well as commuter rails that serve the city’s surrounding counties.

It will also apply to workers of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who work at New York-based facilities. The Port Authority runs La Guardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport, as well as a broad network of bridges, tunnels and seaports.

Mr. Cuomo framed the new policy as a crucial step to not only help curb the spread of the virus — transit workers interact with millions of riders each day — but also to help improve confidence among riders concerned about their health and safety.

The policy goes into effect starting on Labor Day.

“If it spreads aggressively among the unvaccinated, numerically we would have a problem,” said Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat. “Worst case scenario, a large number of unvaccinated get sick and even worse than that, the delta variant mutates into a vaccine resistant virus and now we’re back to where we started.”

Janno Lieber, the acting board chair and chief executive of the M.T.A., said that about 70 percent of the M.T.A. work force has already been vaccinated, but, “we can and have to do better.”

“Transit workers have carried the city and the region on their back,” Mr. Lieber said. “If we’re going to bounce back stronger than ever, we all have to step up.”

The policy shift comes less than a week after Mr. Cuomo announced the same requirement for the state’s 130,000 employees, following the lead of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who rolled out a similar mandate for the city’s 300,000 workers. The requirement has rapidly become a model across the nation: President Biden announced a similar policy for the nation’s millions of federal employees on Thursday, too, as other local governments weigh similar mandates.

New York State, just weeks after lifting most of its coronavirus restrictions on businesses and social gatherings, has seen a steady rise in cases as a result of the new variant, even as 75 percent of adults in the state have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The state reported a seven-day average of 2,280 cases on Aug. 1, up from an average of just 328 a month ago on July 1. Hospitalizations have also ticked up, while the number of deaths has remained relatively steady, according to The New York Times coronavirus tracker.

At the same time, Mr. Cuomo said it was up to local governments, including New York City, to decide whether to adopt the new federal guidance recommending that vaccinated people wear masks indoors publicly in areas where cases are on the rise.

“It’s up to the local governments,” Mr. Cuomo said. “But local governments, you should adopt that C.D.C. mask guidance.”

The governor also urged private businesses, including bars, restaurants and venues, to require proof of vaccination from their clientele.

Here are details of some more recently announced mandates in the United States:

  • Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said on Monday that all workers in certain state and private health care facilities and high-risk congregate settings, like jails and prisons, will have to be fully inoculated or face regular testing. Employees have until Sept. 7 to comply with the requirement.

  • The more than 10,000 municipal employees of Denver, Colo., have to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Sept. 30 or they cannot work on-site, Mayor Michael B. Hancock said on Monday. Private sector employees at schools and congregate care settings, like homeless shelters and correctional facilities, will also need to be vaccinated.




Biden Administration Pushes States to Prevent Eviction Crisis

White House officials called on state governments to extend local moratoriums on evictions and accelerate the distribution of billions in rental aid, to soften the impact of the federal moratorium’s expiration on Saturday.

Given the rising urgency of the spread of the Delta variant, the president has asked all of us, including the C.D.C., to do everything in our power to look for every potential legal authority we can have to prevent evictions. To date, the C.D.C. director and her team have been unable to find legal authority, even for a more targeted eviction moratorium that would focus just on counties with higher rates of Covid spread. One of the things that he is requesting today is that state and local governments extend or pass eviction moratoriums to cover the next two months. Right now, one out of three renters who are behind in the rent are actually protected beyond the federal eviction moratorium by extended state and local evictions moratoriums. The president is asking that all governors and mayors follow suit. This president is asking that his departments that provide mortgage backed lending extend whatever eviction moratoriums they have the power to extend. So that covers U.S.D.A. and V.A. and H.U.D. He is asking that U.S.D.A, V.A. and H.U.D., and the Treasury Department as well, make clear that those who benefit from government-backed mortgages or even tax relief related to housing should not seek evictions without first seeking emergency rental assistance funding. We are going to do an all agency review to make sure that we understand any potential reason why state and local governments are not getting funds out. The president is clear: If some states and localities can get this out efficiently and effectively, there’s no reason every state and locality can’t. There is simply no excuse, no place to hide for any state or locality that is failing to accelerate the Emergency Rental Assistance Fund.

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White House officials called on state governments to extend local moratoriums on evictions and accelerate the distribution of billions in rental aid, to soften the impact of the federal moratorium’s expiration on Saturday.CreditCredit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

With the federal moratorium on evictions having expired over the weekend, the White House on Monday sought to limit the impact, demanding that states speed up disbursement of billions in bottled-up rental aid, while pleading with local governments to immediately enact their own extensions.

President Biden — under fire for refusing to extend the freeze and eager to prove he was taking some action — announced a series of limited moves Monday afternoon aimed at slowing evictions, directing federal agencies to consider targeted moratoriums for tenants in federally subsidized housing and asking state judges to slow-walk eviction proceedings.

The moratorium, imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last fall, lapsed on Saturday after a frenzied, failed effort on Capitol Hill to extend the freeze through the end of the year, putting hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing shelter.

“There is just a lot of fear out there right now,” said Bob Glaves, executive director of the Chicago Bar Foundation, which has been working with tenants and landlords to tap a $47 billion fund allocated by Congress to pay off back rent accrued during the pandemic.

Legal aid groups and other tenants’ organizations have reported a massive flood of phone calls and emails from renters panicked by the end of the eviction freeze, which occurred at midnight on Saturday.

On Monday, administration officials made it clear they could only do so much, blaming states for the fact that the $47 billion Emergency Rental Assistance program intended to avoid such a crisis has disbursed only $3 billion — or just 7 percent of the total.

“We expect these numbers to grow, but it will not be enough to meet the need, unless every state and locality accelerates funds to tenants,” Gene Sperling, who is overseeing pandemic relief efforts for Mr. Biden, told reporters at the White House.

“There is no place to hide for any state or locality failing to accelerate their emergency rental assistance funds,” he said.

But many Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have called on Mr. Biden to reconsider his decision not to act unilaterally, and have expressed anger at the White House for giving them only two days to ram through legislation to extend the freeze.

“People were promised something — help — and that has not happened,” said Representative Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri, who has been sleeping on the steps of the Capitol to protest the end of the moratorium. “It is unbelievable. It is shocking. It is unconscionable. It is cruel. We can’t be sitting on our hands when people are suffering.”

On Thursday, Biden administration officials punted the issue to congressional Democrats, claiming that a recent Supreme Court ruling made it nearly impossible to order an extension without jeopardizing the right of the executive branch to implement similar emergency policies during future public health crises.

Since then, Biden administration officials have worked the phones, appealing to the states to stop, or even slow, landlords from evicting renters until the balky funding pipeline — which has been plagued by delays — is functional.

Over the weekend Mr. Biden called Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director and the official with the authority to extend the freeze, to explore the possibility of limiting an extension to areas hit especially hard by the Delta variant, but was told that was not possible.

“Everybody” in the West Wing wanted to extend the moratorium, Mr. Sperling said in an interview. “But what was clear from the legal analysis was that we had already litigated this issue all the way to the Supreme Court.”

In a related move, the Treasury Department on Monday issued guidance for how states can spend up to $10 billion in financial assistance to people in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.

The money can be doled out to borrowers who have fallen behind on mortgage payments, according to the guidance, but also to people who have taken out loans to buy mobile homes to live in, or who acquired a home in a contract for deed relationship — a loan financed by the seller of the property.

Josep Borrell, the European Union’s top foreign policy official, in Brussels in May.
Credit…Olivier Hoslet/EPA, via Shutterstock

In an unusually public criticism of the European Union, its foreign policy chief has said that the bloc is falling radically short of its promises to donate Covid-19 vaccine doses to Africa and Latin America, creating a vacuum that China is filling.

Such donations are the responsibility of E.U. member countries. But the official, Josep Borrell Fontelles also singled out his boss, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch.

“The president of the Commission said we are going to give not 100, but 200 million doses to Africa,” Mr. Borrell said on Friday at a university summer course in Santander in Spain, his home country. “Yes, but when? The problem isn’t just the commitment, but the effectiveness.”

Mr. Borrell said that European countries had contributed about 10 million doses to Africa — a continent with a population of 1.5 billion. “It’s certainly insufficient,” he said.

In remarks cited by Politico Europe, Mr. Borrell said the issue was not just inequality, but also China’s efforts to expand its influence through vaccine donations.

“In Europe, we vaccinated 60 percent of our population, in Africa, they are at 2 or 3 percent,” he added. “Who’s the big vaccine supplier to Africa? China. Who’s the big vaccine supplier to Latin America? China.”

He said that Europe’s failure has “geopolitical consequences,” adding: “China’s expansion in Africa and Latin America should concern us and should occupy us a great deal.”

He also urged the European Union to move faster to approve association and trade agreements with Mexico and Chile, he said, “while China is landing in all parts of Latin America and occupying a predominant role.”

Mr. Borrell, 74, is a Commission vice president and former Spanish foreign minister. He has a particular interest in Latin America and Africa, and has been trying to persuade E.U. member states to respond more efficiently to crises in Libya, Ethiopia and Morocco, in part because of their impact on migration. He has also spoken often about how to do more for Cuba and Venezuela.

The Commission had no immediate comment. It has also been unwilling to identify how many doses have been donated to which countries.

Most European countries are still in the midst of their own vaccination campaigns, and the European Union has yet to define a bloc-wide strategy on vaccine donations. Italy said on Sunday that it had shipped 1.5 million doses to Tunisia, which has one of the world’s highest coronavirus death rates. Spain has promised to donate 7.5 million doses to Latin American countries. And France and Germany have each pledged to donate 30 million doses.

It is unclear how many of the doses promised have actually been delivered.

That compares with a pledge by the Biden administration to donate 80 million doses.

Starting Monday, the Florida-based chain Publix will require employees to wear masks in all its stores regardless of their vaccination status.
Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

With the coronavirus spreading across the country and hospitalizations rising again, and public health officials warning that the Delta variant carries new risks even for vaccinated people, big businesses are rethinking their plans.

Some are delaying their plans to bring workers back to the office, and others are restoring mask requirements for customers. In the last week, several have also imposed vaccine mandates, after having held off on such a step for months.

The decision to require vaccines was endorsed on Sunday by the director of the National Institutes of Health. Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Dr. Francis Collins said that asking employees for proof of vaccination or regular testing were steps “in the right direction.”

Here’s how some big businesses changed their plans in late July:

  • Lyft pushed back its return-to-office date to February from September, Google extended its work-from-home policy to mid-October, and Apple said employees would not be expected to return to the office until at least Oct. 1, a month later than before.

  • Uber said that it would not require employees to return until Oct. 25, instead of its initial September date, and that a further delay was possible if cases kept rising.

  • Twitter shut its San Francisco and New York offices, putting a halt to reopening plans without a timeline in place.

  • The New York Times Company also indefinitely postponed its planned return to the office, telling employees that they would be given four weeks notice before being expected to return. The company, which employs about 4,700 people, had planned for workers to start to return for at least three days a week in September. Its offices will remain open for those who want to go in voluntarily, with proof of vaccination.

  • Endeavor, the parent company of the William Morris Endeavor talent agency, closed its recently reopened offices after Los Angeles County reimposed its indoor mask mandate. An Endeavor spokesman said the company had decided that enforcement would be too difficult and would hinder group meetings.

  • Equinox, the luxury fitness company that includes SoulCycle, said on Monday that its members and employees must show one-time proof of vaccination — a physical immunization card, a photo of an immunization card or a digital vaccine card — to enter Equinox clubs, SoulCycle studios or corporate offices, starting in New York in September.

  • Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, with nearly 1.6 million workers, said vaccines would be mandatory for employees in its headquarters and for managers who traveled in the United States. The mandate does not apply to much of its work force — employees in stores, clubs, and distribution and fulfillment centers.

  • The Walt Disney Company said salaried and nonunion hourly U.S. employees at its sites must be fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated workers who are already on site will have 60 days to get the immunization, and new hires will be required to be fully vaccinated before starting work.

  • Home Depot said all its associates, contractors and vendors will be required to wear a mask in its stores, distribution centers and offices and at the homes and businesses of customers. Customers will also be asked to wear masks. Lowe’s also said it would require masks of its employees, regardless of vaccination status.

  • Walmart said it was reinstating mask requirements for associates in areas of the country with substantial or high transmission rates. The company recommended that customers wear masks in those areas, too. The retailer also doubled its reward to employees who get vaccinated from $75 to $150.

  • Starting Monday, the Florida-based grocery chain Publix will require employees to wear masks in all its stores regardless of their vaccination status.

  • Apple said employees and customers would have to wear masks regardless of their vaccination status in more than half its stores in the United States. Apple said the stores would be determined by the rate of coronavirus cases in the area. Apple also told its employees that they would have to wear masks when inside the company’s main offices in the United States, regardless of whether they were vaccinated.

A climber wore a protective mask while working out at a climbing gym in San Francisco earlier this year. The city said on Monday that it was reinstating a mask mandate.
Credit…Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Health officials in San Francisco and surrounding counties on Monday introduced a universal indoor mask mandate, adopting a federal health suggestion that has stirred up resistance in some parts of the country.

The order, which takes effect on Tuesday, requires people to wear masks in public indoor settings regardless of their vaccination status, though there are exceptions, for instance for children younger than 2. It applies to San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties.

“Indoor masking is a temporary measure that will help us deal with the Delta variant, which is causing a sharp increase in cases, and we know increases in hospitalizations and deaths will follow,” Dr. Naveena Bobba, San Francisco’s acting health officer, said in a statement.

San Francisco, and California as a whole, has seen cases and hospitalizations rise sharply in the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database. Los Angeles reinstituted a mask mandate in mid-July, and last week Gov. Gavin Newsom made California one of the first states to require inoculations or regular testing for state government workers.

Public mask requirements were widespread before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance in May, when the coronavirus seemed to be waning in the United States, saying that vaccinated people largely could skip wearing masks. Most states and cities soon relaxed their mask mandates.

But the C.D.C. changed its recommendations again last week, urging vaccinated people to once again wear masks indoors in areas with high rates of transmission, and encouraging universal use of masks in schools.

The change of course was driven by a surge in new coronavirus cases around the country, especially in areas where relatively few people are vaccinated. Experts say the surge is being propelled by the Delta variant, which the C.D.C. estimates now makes up more than 80 percent of new cases in the United States.

Recent research has shown the Delta variant to be even more contagious than previously thought, and has indicated that vaccinated people could carry and potentially spread the variant, according to an internal document at the C.D.C. that noted that “the war has changed.” The vaccines are still extremely effective at preventing serious illness and death, and people with breakthrough infections rarely require hospitalization.

Many municipalities have reinstituted mask mandates or strongly recommended that their residents start wearing masks, as Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City did on Monday.

Other states, though, like Texas and Florida, have imposed rules that prevent cities and school districts from enacting mandates of their own.

Deaths from Covid-19 were surging across Africa in June when 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in Chad. The delivery seemed proof that Covax, the United Nations-backed program to immunize the world, could get the most desirable vaccines to the least developed countries.

Yet five weeks later, Chad’s health minister said, 94,000 doses remained unused.

Nearby in Benin, only 267 shots were being given each day, a pace so slow that 110,000 of the program’s AstraZeneca doses expired. Across Africa, confidential documents from July indicated, the program was monitoring at least nine countries where it said doses intended for the poor were at risk of spoiling this summer.

The vaccine pileup illustrates one of the most serious unrecognized problems facing the immunization program: difficulty getting doses from airport tarmacs into people’s arms.

Covax was supposed to be a global powerhouse, a multibillion-dollar alliance of international health bodies and nonprofits that would ensure that poor countries received vaccines as quickly as the rich. Instead, it has struggled to acquire doses: It stands half a billion short of its goal.

Driven by a nonprofit funded by the Gates Foundation, Covax has gotten vaccines to poorer countries faster than was previously typical. It also developed a system to compensate people for serious post-vaccine reactions and protect vaccine makers from legal liability.

Still, the 163 million doses it has delivered — most free to poorer nations, with the rest to countries like Canada that paid their way — are a far cry from plans to have at least 640 million doses available by now.

Now, poor countries are dangerously unprotected as the Delta variant of the virus runs rampant, the very scenario that Covax was created to prevent. And the longer the virus circulates, the more dangerous it can become, even for wealthy countries.

Coronavirus testing at a mobile station in Palmetto, Fla., in July.
Credit…Octavio Jones for The New York Times

As a wave of major U.S. employers said last week that unvaccinated workers would need to submit to regular coronavirus testing, it raised a thorny question: Who pays for those tests?

Doctors typically charge about $50 to $100 for the tests, so the costs of weekly testing could add up quickly. Federal law requires insurers to fully cover the tests when ordered by a health care provider, but routine workplace tests are exempt from that provision.

“It’s really up to the employer,” said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms. “They can require employees to pick up the tab.”

Employers have taken a range of approaches, from fully covering the costs to having unvaccinated workers pay full freight.

The U.S. government will pay for its unvaccinated workers’ coronavirus testing, Karine Jean-Pierre, the deputy White House press secretary, said at a news briefing on Friday. Each federal agency will come up with a plan for testing its unvaccinated work force, she said, adding that the costs and procedures of each agency’s testing protocols will depend on the number of unvaccinated people they need to monitor.

The headquarters of News Corp Australia in Sydney last year.
Credit…Peter Parks/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

YouTube has suspended the conservative news channel Sky News Australia for a week for breaching the platform’s coronavirus misinformation policy.

The broadcaster, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and has nearly two million subscribers on YouTube, is not allowed to upload new videos for the duration of its suspension, which began on Thursday. Existing videos on its account can still be viewed.

In a statement to The New York Times on Monday, YouTube said it had removed Sky News videos and issued a strike against the broadcaster in accordance with policies “to prevent the spread of coronavirus information that could cause real-world harm.”

This is the first strike for Sky News. If it receives three strikes within 90 days, its YouTube channel will be permanently deleted.

The statement did not specify what content was removed.

Sky News said in a statement on its website on Sunday that the suspension had resulted from “a review of old videos published to the channel,” and that it “acknowledges YouTube’s right to enforce its policies.”

An opinion piece published by Sky News on Sunday criticized the suspension as an “assault on freedom of thought” and said that some of the removed videos had featured debates over the efficacy of masks and lockdowns.

Lockdowns have been a contentious topic in Australia, where two of the largest cities are under stay-at-home orders amid growing clusters of the more contagious Delta variant of the virus. Brisbane began a three-day lockdown on Saturday after six cases were discovered, and on Monday it was extended until Sunday. In Sydney, where an outbreak of the Delta variant has grown to more than 3,500 cases, 300 soldiers are patrolling the streets to enforce a lockdown that is in its sixth week.

Officials say the lockdowns are necessary because not enough Australians have been inoculated against Covid-19. Only 15 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times database.

The Sky News suspension came on the same day it was reported that The Daily Telegraph, a Sydney tabloid that is also owned by News Corporation, had dropped a weekly column by the Sky News commentator Alan Jones.

In a segment on his Sky News show last month, Mr. Jones and Craig Kelly, an Australian lawmaker and conspiracy theorist, falsely claimed that the Delta variant was less deadly than the original form of the coronavirus and that people who had been vaccinated were more likely to die from the virus. Sky News subsequently retracted the segment and issued a correction.

As the local news industry has been hit by declining advertising revenues and cuts, some outlets have sometimes unknowingly run vaccine misinformation because they have fewer employees or less oversight than in the past.
Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Facebook and other social platforms have in recent weeks attracted attention for vaccine misinformation as Covid cases surge from the more contagious Delta variant and U.S. vaccination rates slow. But smaller publications have also become powerful conduits for anti-vaccine messaging.

People who spread anti-vaccine content, including those who have been listed by the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate as the “Disinformation Dozen,” have appeared in articles in local publications or as guests on local radio shows and podcasts, according to a review by The New York Times.

Some of their articles are regularly published by small-town newspapers or they are quoted as experts.

Their appearances in local media outlets can have an impact, since Americans are more likely to believe what they read and hear from local news outlets. A 2019 Knight-Gallup study found that 45 percent of Americans trust reporting by local news organizations “a great deal” or “quite a lot,” compared with 31 percent for national news organizations.

Many local media publications and stations have reported responsibly and factually on the pandemic. Gannett, the publisher with 100 daily newspapers and nearly 1,000 weekly publications across 43 states, has dedicated resources to fact-checking and teaching journalists that accuracy matters more than speed.

But as the local news industry has been hit by declining advertising revenues and cuts, some outlets have sometimes unknowingly run vaccine misinformation because they have fewer employees or less oversight than in the past.

City workers speak with Yolanda Evans at 14th Street and First Avenue in Manhattan as part of a push to clear homeless people off the streets. Ms. Evans said she did not want to go to a group shelter.
Credit…Andrew Seng for The New York Times

As New York City strives to lure back tourists and office workers, it has undertaken an aggressive campaign to push homeless people off the streets of Manhattan.

City workers used to tear down one or two encampments a day. Now, they sometimes clear dozens. Since late May, teams that include sanitation workers in garbage trucks, police officers and outreach workers have cruised Manhattan around the clock, hitting the same spots over and over.

The sweeps are part of a broader effort by Mayor Bill de Blasio that includes transferring more than 8,000 people from hotels, where they had been placed to stem the spread of the coronavirus, to barracks-style group shelters.

The transfers are continuing despite the recent surge in the Delta variant, though the city told a judge that it would delay the moves on Monday to address concerns that it was not adequately considering people’s health problems and disabilities.

The city is also responding to months of complaints about homeless people blocking public spaces, menacing passers-by and committing assaults. On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, whose administration has slashed aid for addressing homelessness, cited the problem as one of the main hurdles to the city’s recovery.

The debate over how to tackle homelessness in New York City, where more than 2,000 people live on the streets and the subway, comes as cities across the country grapple with growing encampments.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council outlawed camping near parks, libraries and schools. On Saturday, a national eviction moratorium expired, spurring fears of a new surge in homelessness, though in New York the moratorium continues through Aug. 31.

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