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The spread of the virus in the White House complicates Trump’s push to reopen the country.
Even with the number of deaths in the United States set to pass 80,000 — accounting for one in three fatalities around the world — the Trump administration has sought to convince the public that it is time to move on and get back to work.
“We have to get our country open again,” Mr. Trump said last week, even as he acknowledged that meant more people could die. “People want to go back, and you’re going to have a problem if you don’t do it.”
A few short days after he made those remarks, the White House itself became a hot zone, with officials racing to control an outbreak inside the cramped working quarters at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
“It is scary to go to work,” Kevin Hassett, a top economic adviser to the president, said on the CBS program “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
Three top officials leading the White House response to the pandemic began to quarantine themselves over the weekend after two Trump administration staff members — a valet to President Trump; and Katie Miller, the press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence — tested positive for the virus.
Late Sunday, responding to scattered news reports that the vice president was isolating himself, the White House issued a statement saying that Mr. Pence would not alter his routine or self-quarantine. The vice president “has tested negative every single day and plans to be at the White House tomorrow,” said Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for Mr. Pence.
Among those who will be sequestered for two weeks is Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the nation’s leading infectious disease expert. So will Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration
All three doctors are scheduled to testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday about the government’s response to the crisis and arrangements have been made for them to do so remotely.
Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the Republican chair of the committee, will also have to participate via video link after his office announced Sunday evening that he would quarantine himself for 14 days after a staff member in his office tested positive for the virus.
Mr. Alexander’s chief of staff, David Cleary, said in a statement that the Republican senator tested negative for the virus on May 7 and had not shown any symptoms.
Mr. Alexander decided not to return to Washington and will self-quarantine in Tennessee “out of an abundance of caution,” Mr. Cleary said.
The Navy’s top admiral, Michael M. Gilday, will also quarantine himself for one week after coming into contact with a family member who has tested positive for the coronavirus, the Pentagon said in a statement on Sunday night.
A second member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday, but a subsequent test that day was negative, according to the same Pentagon statement on Sunday. General Lengyel will undergo a third test on Monday to confirm his negative status, the statement said.
Both Admiral Gilday and General Lengyel were absent from a meeting of the Joint Chiefs with President Trump at the White House on Saturday night. In a photograph of the meeting, neither Mr. Trump nor the military officials seated around the table wore masks.
The U.S. economy is in tatters. Tens of millions are unemployed. Yet stocks keep climbing.
The United States is on the brink of the worst economic collapse since the Hoover administration. Corporate profits have crumpled. More than a million Americans have contracted the coronavirus, and hundreds are dying each day. There is no turnaround in sight.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday that the jobs figures would get worse before they got better. He said the real unemployment rate — including people who are underemployed as well as those entirely without work — could soon approach 25 percent.
“There are very, very large numbers,” Mr. Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Yet stocks keep climbing. Even as 20.5 million people lost their jobs in April, the S&P 500 stock index logged its best month in 33 years. After a few weeks of wild swings, the market is down a mere 9.3 percent this year and 13.5 percent from its peak — what most investors would consider no more than a correction. On Friday, after the government released the staggering unemployment figures, the S&P 500 closed up 1.7 percent.
But as Matt Phillips underlines in the Times, the stock market is not the economy. Conventional wisdom would explain the market’s comparatively modest losses this way: Since markets tend to be forward-looking, investors have already accounted for what’s expected to be a cataclysmic drop in second-quarter activity and are forecasting a relatively rapid economic recovery afterward. The Federal Reserve’s actions have also bolstered investors’ confidence that the bottom won’t fall out of the market.
But the pandemic has also highlighted a deeper trend. For decades, the market has been growing increasingly detached from the mainstream of American life, mirroring broad changes in the economy.
U.S. is to accuse China of trying to steal data as nations step up spying efforts to gain advantage in pandemic.
The warning comes as Israeli officials accused Iran of mounting an effort in late April to cripple water supplies as Israelis were confined to their houses, though the government has offered no evidence to back its claim. More than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses. Even American allies like South Korea and nations that do not typically stand out for their cyberspying abilities, like Vietnam, have suddenly redirected their state-run hackers to focus on virus-related information, according to private security firms.
A draft of the coming public warning, which officials say is likely to be issued in the days to come, says China is seeking “valuable intellectual property and public health data through illicit means related to vaccines, treatments and testing.” It focuses on cybertheft and action by “nontraditional actors,” a euphemism for researchers and students the Trump administration says are being activated to steal data from inside academic and private laboratories.
But it is unclear exactly what the United States has done, if anything, to send a similar shot across the bow to the Chinese hacking groups, including those most closely tied to China’s new Strategic Support Force, its equivalent of Cyber Command, the Ministry of State Security and other intelligence units.
The warning is also the latest iteration of a series of efforts by the Trump administration to blame China for being the source of the pandemic and exploiting its aftermath.
In New York City, 38 children have become ill from a new virus-linked syndrome.
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said on Sunday that 38 children in the city had contracted a serious new inflammatory syndrome that health officials say appears to be linked to an immune response to Covid-19.
The illness, known as pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, introduces a troubling aspect to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has largely spared children from serious disease. Across New York State, three children have died of the inflammatory condition, including one in New York City, and state officials were investigating 85 potential cases, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Sunday.
Of the three children who have died, two were of elementary school age and one was an adolescent, said Dr. Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner. They lived in three different counties, and were not known to have pre-existing conditions.
“The most important thing parents should do is err on the side of caution,” Dr. Zucker said.
The syndrome was first brought to the attention of New Yorkers in the past week, but Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city’s health commissioner, said that the health department had alerted health providers to the syndrome on May 1, after hearing reports of the condition from Britain.
The inflammatory syndrome, health officials say, resembles toxic shock or Kawasaki disease. Children with the condition may have prolonged high fevers, rash, severe abdominal pain, racing hearts and a change in skin color, such as redness of the tongue.
“This is still evolving,” Dr. Barbot said at the Mr. de Blasio’s briefing on Sunday. She called for the federal government to assist with increased virus testing citywide to help identify children at risk.
A handful of cases have been reported in other states, including California, Louisiana, and Mississippi. At least 50 cases have been reported in European countries, including Britain, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.
Empty planes, slashed schedules and no reprieve in sight. The airline industry faces an existential crisis.
Delta Air Lines started 2020 celebrating what it said was the most successful year in company history. Not long after, it shared a record $1.6 billion in profits with its 90,000 employees. But with air travel nearly shut down by the coronavirus, the airline is now bleeding money and will drop 10 more airports from its already skeletal network on Wednesday.
Even as Delta and other major airlines in the United States drastically slash schedules, they are averaging an anemic 23 passengers on each domestic flight and losing $350 million to $400 million a day as expenses like payroll, rent and aircraft maintenance far exceed the money they are bringing in. Passenger traffic is down about 94 percent and half of the industry’s 6,215 planes are parked at major airports and desert airstrips, according to Airlines for America, a trade group.
Yet, devastating as the downturn has been, the future is even more bleak. With much of the world closed for business, and no widely available vaccine in sight, it may be months, if not years, before airlines operate as many flights as they did before the crisis. Even when people start flying again, the industry could be transformed, much as it was after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. And airline executives need only look in the not-too-distant past to see how lesser crises sank carriers that were household names, such as Pan Am and Trans World Airlines.
Employers are adopting measures against the virus. How effective they will be is unclear.
But such intensified workplace surveillance comes with a hitch: The technology may not do much to keep people safer.
Public health experts and bioethicists said it was important for employers to find ways to protect their workers during the pandemic. But they cautioned that there was little evidence to suggest that the new tools could accurately determine employees’ health status or contain virus outbreaks, even as they enabled companies to amass private health details on their workers.
“I think employers need to look carefully before they jump into any of this,” said Michael T. Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “Some companies are embarking upon things that are not going to help and may actually set us back.”
Answering the question, ‘Did I have coronavirus already?’
The Times was given exclusive access to follow two caregivers — and their blood — through the testing process.
As some national parks begin to open, they too must grapple with social distancing.
Encompassing tens of millions of acres of snow-peaked mountains, jagged coastlines and geological marvels, the National Park System is facing the quandary of how to keep visitors at more than arm’s length from each other as the summer months approach.
At the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which straddles the border of Tennessee and North Carolina and was the busiest national park last year, officials said that many roads and trails had reopened on Saturday as part of a phased approach to increasing visitor access.
But campgrounds, visitor centers and picnic pavilions remained closed, as the park began undertaking measures to disinfect public buildings and restrooms, install plexiglass barriers at visitor centers, reduce group sizes and require maintenance workers to wear personal protective equipment.
“We recognize this closure has been extremely difficult for our local residents, as well as park visitors from across the country, who seek the park as a special place for healing, exercise, recreation and inspiration,” Cassius Cash, the park’s superintendent, said in a statement. “We are approaching this phased reopening with that in mind, as we balance our responsibility to protect park resources and the health and safety of everyone.”
“The public’s renewed appreciation for our public lands is a bright spot in an otherwise dark time,” Wendy Ross, the park’s superintendent, said in a statement.
But some of the most iconic national parks in the United States are still closed, including the Grand Canyon, which announced on Sunday that a suspension of all river rafting trips at the park had been extended from May 21 to June 13. Officials said there were two cases of the coronavirus at Grand Canyon National Park.
Follow updates on the coronavirus pandemic from our international correspondents.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain announced on Sunday that the country would soon impose a mandatory quarantine on travelers arriving by air to try to avert a new wave of infections after the government slightly relaxed the rules of the seven-week lockdown.
Reporting was contributed by Neil Vigdor, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear, John Eligon, Audra D. S. Burch, Marc Santora, Tracey Tully, Jim Tankersley, Matt Phillips, Natasha Singer, David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth.
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