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Mnuchin and Pelosi say they are ready to try again for an economic stimulus measure.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had agreed to resume talks on a new economic relief package.
“I’ve probably spoken to Speaker Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days on the C.R.,” said Mr. Mnuchin, referring to a continuing resolution to extend government funding. “And we’ve agreed to continue to have discussions about the CARES Act.”
The Treasury secretary’s comments, made at a Senate Banking Committee hearing, came as jobless claims rose to 825,000 and stock markets remained volatile.
Ms. Pelosi, too, said Thursday that she expected to return to the negotiating table with Mr. Mnuchin — “hopefully soon.”
“I’m talking with my caucus, my leadership, and we’ll see what we’re going to do,” she told reporters. “But we’re ready for a negotiation. That’s what we’re ready for.”
Still, it remained far from clear that Republican and Democratic negotiators would be able to reach a deal.
At the hearing, Mr. Mnuchin criticized Democrats for making talks conditional on an agreement for a broad measure that would cost more than $2 trillion. He suggested that both sides work toward passing narrower legislation aimed at those ares on which they agree.
Despite that, top Democrats continued working Thursday to put together a $2.4 trillion package.
With California leading the way, the U.S. hits a new milestone: seven million cases.
More than seven million people in the United States have now been infected by the coronavirus.
Though the milestone, reached on Thursday according to a New York Times database, is sobering, it comes as infections in much of the country have in fact been slowing.
The United States has been averaging around 41,500 cases daily, down from the pandemic’s midsummer peak, though states in the Midwest and West are seeing case numbers rise. On Thursday, more than 45,000 cases and more than 880 deaths were announced across the nation.
It was a day for milestones.
In California, officials recorded their 800,000th case since the start of the pandemic. That is more than any other state. But the figure is cumulative, and does not capture the state’s current situation.
With health officials in California testing enough of the population to contain the spread of the virus, the state is reporting a relatively low number of new cases a day, according to the Times database.
More broadly, California the largest state in the country, has had significantly fewer virus cases per capita than other states like Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi. It currently ranks 36th among states and territories in known new cases per capita over the past seven days, and 26th in the total number of known cases per capita since the start of the pandemic.
It was less than a month ago that the United States hit the six-million mark, on Aug. 30. It had taken more than three months for the country to record its first million.
The story of how California came to lead the country in the total number of cases goes back to the spring and summer months, when new cases surged across the Sun Belt states. New cases in California peaked at the end of July when the seven-day average doubled from what it was a month earlier.
It was a far cry from the early days of the pandemic, when most virus cases were in the Northeast and Washington State, and California emerged as a national role model when it became the first state to issue a stay-at-home order.
But the number of cases there began to climb when that order was lifted.
Like health officials in many Sun Belt states, the authorities in California attributed the spike to a premature easing of restrictions. In early July, when virus-related hospitalizations in California were up by more than 50 percent over a two-week period, Gov. Gavin Newsom halted reopening plans and ordered bars and indoor dining closed for most residents.
Rio de Janeiro’s world-famous Carnival will be delayed amid virus concerns.
Rio de Janeiro’s annual Carnival parade will be delayed next year for the first time in more than a century amid concerns about the coronavirus, the Brazilian news media reported on Thursday.
During a typical Carnival, which is held during the peak of summer in the southern Hemisphere, rambunctious street parties and performances paralyze the city of six million people.
But that could now be an epidemiologist’s nightmare in a country that has so far reported more than 4.5 million cases and nearly 140,000 deaths, and whose president, Jair Bolsonaro, announced in July that he had tested positive.
Rio de Janeiro alone has reported more than 250,000 cases, including more than 11,000 in the past week, according to a New York Times database.
Carnival was scheduled for February but the event’s key organizer, Rio’s League of Samba Schools, said on Thursday that the parade could not be held safely at the scheduled time because of the pandemic, the newspaper O Globo reported. The league said that it was looking into other dates.
“We must await the coming months for definition about if there will be a vaccine or not, and when there will be immunization,” the league’s president, Jorge Castanheira, told reporters on Thursday, according to The Associated Press. “We don’t have the safety conditions to set a date.”
It was unclear whether the street parties that normally take place alongside the official parade would still take place.
Carnival was last postponed in 1912, after the death of Brazil’s foreign relations minister, The A.P. reported, but revelers still partied in the streets.
Novavax enters the final stage of vaccine trials.
The vaccine maker Novavax said Thursday that it would begin the final stages of testing its coronavirus vaccine in the United Kingdom and that another large trial was scheduled to begin next month in the United States.
It is the fifth late-stage trial from a company supported by Operation Warp Speed, the federal effort to speed a coronavirus vaccine to market, and one of 11 worldwide to reach this pivotal stage. Novavax, a Maryland company that has never brought a vaccine to market, reached a $1.6 billion deal with the federal government in July to develop and manufacture its experimental vaccine, which has shown robust results in early clinical trials.
Although Novavax is months behind the front-runners in the vaccine race, independent experts are excited about its vaccine because its early studies delivered particularly promising results. Monkeys that were vaccinated got strong protection against the coronavirus. And in early safety trials, published early this month in The New England Journal of Medicine, volunteers produced strikingly high levels of antibodies against the virus.
It is not possible to make a precise comparison between early clinical studies of different vaccines, but John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine, said that the antibodies from Novavax were markedly higher than any other vaccine with published results. “You just can’t explain that away,” he said.
University enrollment has declined in the U.S., a report finds.
In an early look at fall enrollment, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported Thursday that undergraduate enrollment in the United States has dropped 2.5 percent from last fall, as the threat of the coronavirus has forced education to move increasingly online and sent unemployment rates soaring.
The decline was particularly sharp for community colleges, where enrollment went down by 7.5 percent from last September, the preliminary data shows. In past economic downturns, community colleges have typically seen enrollment increase.
The overall decline so far is more modest than many education experts had projected. But the survey shows enrollment has fallen at all types of institutions, including private, nonprofit four-year colleges, which report a 3.8 percent drop, and for-profit colleges, where enrollment is down nearly 2 percent, despite intensive marketing.
Public four-year colleges also reported a small overall decline, of less than 1 percent, with the steepest losses — 4 percent — at rural institutions. Public four-year institutions in urban areas were the one undergraduate bright spot, with a very slight gain of one-half of one percent.
International undergraduate enrollment also has dropped, marking an 11 percent decline from last year, reflecting the Trump administration’s heightened scrutiny of those students and the pandemic’s impact on travel.
But the red flag is community colleges, said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president of government relations for the American Council on Education, a higher education trade group. The nation’s community college system is where most Black, Latino and low-income students enter the higher education system — members of groups that all have been disproportionately hit by the virus.
“In the 2009 recession, community college enrollment rose by more than one million students,” Mr. Hartle said. “Under normal circumstances, we’d expect community college enrollment to go up. Clearly these are not normal times.”
Doug Shapiro, the executive director of the research center, a nonprofit organization that studies enrollment trends, cautioned that the survey reflects data from only 138 of the nation’s approximately 5,000 colleges. The center expects many more to report data in its October report.
Myanmar’s caseload soars, threatening food distribution, as an election nears.
With Myanmar’s coronavirus cases skyrocketing and its largest city mostly under lockdown, uncertainty is brewing over the potential effects on both the country’s urban food supply and a national election that is just 44 days away.
As of mid-August, the nation of 54 million people had reported only a few hundred cases. But since then, the national caseload has multiplied quickly, reaching 8,515 as of Friday. More than 1,000 infections were reported on Thursday alone.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has one of the world’s lowest testing rates, which suggests that the virus had been spreading undetected for weeks.
“I think the government did not expect the scenario of rapidly rising cases,” said U Aung Thu Nyein, an independent political analyst. “They were complacent. They should have been conducting random tests since late April to find the undetected cases.”
All domestic flights have been grounded and about 50,000 people are in preventive quarantine. But the country’s health care system is woefully unprepared to handle the pandemic.
The largest city, Yangon, has reported about 90 percent of the country’s new cases. About 400 patients have been ordered to stay in tents inside a local soccer stadium.
Officials are also wrestling with how to supply food to the residents of Yangon, also known as Rangoon, so they can remain at home — a tall order in a country with limited resources.
“The government wants to provide support to all 7 million people in Yangon,” said U Khin Maung Lwin, a commerce ministry spokesman. “But it will take time and will be difficult in this time of rising positive cases.”
Another question is how to manage campaigning ahead of a general election that is set for November 8.
The country’s civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, whose political party, the National League for Democracy, won in a landslide five years ago, hopes to hold on to power.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi suspended public appearances earlier this month just as the official campaign season began. But it may be to her benefit that campaigning is prohibited in Yangon, and Rakhine State, the site of the first major outbreak.
Democracy activists and the main opposition party have called for delaying the vote to give the candidates a chance to campaign, and to ensure that voters can cast their ballots safely.
“Despite the pandemic, the minimum norms of the democratic election process must be guaranteed,” said U Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint executive director of the People’s Alliance for Credible Elections, an independent election monitoring group. “There is a need to guarantee the rights of political parties and candidates to freely campaign and drum up support.
A virtual meeting in Argentina bared a revealing scene: A lawmaker kissing his partner’s breast.
A lawmaker in Argentina’s lower house caused a social media frenzy on Thursday when he took a break from an online congressional session to fondle and kiss his partner’s breast.
The lawmaker, Juan Emilio Ameri, was attending a virtual session on pension funds when he put his hands around a woman sitting on his lap, touched her breast, pulled down her shirt and buried his head in her chest.
Mr. Ameri, who is from the northern province of Salta, was suspended after video of the incident went viral. A commission will decide whether he should be expelled.
In a radio interview on Thursday, Mr. Ameri said that his internet connection had dropped as his partner was getting out of the shower and that he did not notice when it returned.
“I’m very embarrassed,” he said.
Politicians around the world have found themselves in embarrassing situations as they try to adapt to virtual lawmaking sessions. In Spain, a city councilor was filmed showering during a meeting. In Mexico, a senator went topless. And in Wales, the health minister was caught swearing at a colleague.
In Argentina, one lawmaker apparently fell asleep, another was caught changing on camera, and a third placed a photo of himself as the virtual background. But none of those incidents sparked the level of outrage as Mr. Ameri’s kiss.
Keeping track of U.S. cases is a massive task made harder by glitches, delays and outdated equipment.
Public health officials in Houston made a startling disclosure this week: New virus cases in Harris County, the third-most populous county in the United States, had jumped sharply.
But it turns out the vast majority of the cases — 13,110 of the 13,875 reported on Monday — weren’t recent at all. They were at least 28 days old, yet another anomaly in virus data surfacing around the country.
All of the anomalies raise red flags about relying heavily on daily case counts to assess where the virus is surging or ebbing. Looking at a longer stretch of time offers a more clear and accurate picture, statisticians say.
Texas has had repeated virus data problems, but it is not alone. Sudden backlog dumps are complicating the picture of what the virus is doing in one state after another. A day after Houston’s data surge, South Carolina reported about 2,000 positive test results, some of them dating to March.
Officials in South Carolina laid the blame on an out-of-state laboratory. But public health authorities say such spikes often reflect various factors such as incomplete, erroneous or duplicative testing information — sometimes meaning employees need to manually re-enter data — as well as a reluctance to stop using outmoded technology like fax machines.
(The Times has been tracking cases in an extensive database, and excludes anomalies from its seven-day averages when possible.)
“We’re never going to get ahead of this unless we work towards data reconciliation and automation,” said Dr. Umair A. Shah, director of Harris County’s public health department.
An accumulation of testing data is not the only kind of inconsistency that can cloud virus-tracking efforts. Some counties in Texas, for example, only count cases as confirmed based on polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R., tests, conducted in a laboratory. Other counties hew to C.D.C. guidance by also reporting probable cases based on a doctor’s assessment of a patient’s symptoms, or on less sensitive rapid tests.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said Thursday that the state would review coronavirus vaccines that are approved by the federal government, giving the state a potentially contentious new role in the process a day after President Trump raised doubts about tougher F.D.A. guidelines. New York officials do not play a role in the approval process for a possible vaccine, but under the current plan they would help determine how it would be distributed throughout the state. In theory, they could delay such distribution if they believed the vaccine was not safe.
Applications for jobless benefits in the United States remained at staggeringly high levels last week as employers continued to lay off workers six months after the coronavirus pandemic first rocked the economy. About 825,000 Americans filed for state unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday.
As the virus cases remained persistently high across much of the United States, President Trump on Thursday announced his long-awaited health care plan, but one of its core provisions — protecting people with pre-existing medical conditions — is already part of the Affordable Care Act, which he is trying to repeal. Another, a push to end surprise medical billing, is largely symbolic and would require legislation passed by Congress.
Days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted and then withdrew significant new guidance on airborne transmission of the coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned on Thursday about the threat of aerosol transmission of the virus as cooler weather approaches and many people spend more time indoors.
Michael R. Caputo, the top spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, who recently took a leave of absence after accusing federal scientists of “sedition,” has learned he has cancer, a person briefed on his condition said on Thursday.
From June through August, the incidence of Covid-19 was highest among adults aged 20 to 29 years old, according to research published on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Young adults accounted for more than 20 percent of all confirmed cases.
Gov. Mike Parson of Missouri, a Republican, has canceled campaign events in his bid for office and is isolating at the governor’s mansion after he and his wife, Teresa, tested positive on Wednesday.
The Pac-12 Conference on Thursday decided to play football as soon as Nov. 6, reversing an earlier decision to not compete until at least 2021. Its decision came eight days after the Big Ten, which had also elected not to compete this fall, changed its approach and announced that games would begin in October.
After weathering the worst months of the lockdown, many immigrants are back on the job and sending their relatives even more money than before the downturn, according to newly compiled estimates.
New York City intends to create a new public health corps and will work on infrastructure for vaccine distribution, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday, without offering specific details, as he laid out four broad pillars he saw as key for the city’s eventual recovery. The mayor said that his plan would rely on continuing to fight the virus, investing in innovation, creating new jobs that help boost public health, and focusing on historically underserved communities.
Studies hint at why men are more likely than women to die from complications of the virus.
Problems with the body’s inborn response to infection may explain severe illness and death from the coronavirus in roughly 14 percent of patients, according to two studies published on Thursday in the journal Science.
These problems occur more often in men than in women, offering a potential explanation for why the virus seems to affect men more severely.
Both studies focused on Type I interferon, a set of 17 proteins that appear when the body is confronted with a virus. Interferons are produced within hours of exposure and signal to the rest of the immune system that there is an intruder.
Genetic flaws in some people hobble the Type 1 interferon response, according to one study. The virus provokes the production of “auto-antibodies” — molecules that misguidedly attack and destroy Type I interferons, instead of the virus, which buys the virus crucial time to gain a foothold and wreak havoc.
The researchers found auto-antibodies in 101 of 987 people with severe Covid-19, but in none of the 663 people with mild or asymptomatic illness. And they were found in only four of 1,227 healthy control participants.
The auto-antibodies were seen predominantly in men: 95 of the 101 patients in the study were men.
The findings have implications for treatment. People with auto-antibodies should be excluded from donating convalescent plasma, for example, and they may benefit from therapies that strip them of the harmful antibodies.
A second study analyzed DNA from 659 severely ill patients and 534 with mild or no symptoms. The researchers found that 3.5 percent of the severely ill group harbor mutations in eight genes that prevent the body from making Type I interferons.
None of the patients with mild or asymptomatic illness had these mutations.
While the two studies describe different errors in the immune response, ”the mechanism at the end is the same,” said Jean-Laurent Casanova, a pediatrician at Rockefeller University who led both studies. “It is insufficient interferon.”
As a new wave hits Iran, emergency pandemic funds have gone missing.
Iran has complained that in combating the pandemic, its hands are tied because its pockets are empty — the result of a punishing U.S. sanctions.
But there may also be another reason. Emergency government funds set aside to battle the virus are unaccounted for, according to health ministry officials.
The Iranian health minister, Saeed Namaki, said Wednesday that his ministry had received about 27 percent of the money from the country’s emergency funds but that nobody seems to know where the rest of it, about $800 million, has gone.
“I don’t know what other important cause this money went to,” said Mr. Namaki, according to Iranian media on Wednesday.
Health officials said that the country’s stockpile of medical gear is emptying out and that health workers had not been paid for two to three months. They warned that both doctors and patients were exhausted — and fed up.
The disclosures about the missing funds and the unpaid health workers came as Iran is being battered by another third surge of the virus.
Earlier in the week, the health ministry said the entire country was now considered a red zone as hospitalizations and deaths spiked, but singled out the capital, Tehran, as an “extra red zone” area. In Tehran, at least 70 to 100 people are dying each day, according to a report from the City Council.
In April, as Iran experienced its first wave of the pandemic, President Hassan Rouhani requested to withdraw about $1.2 billion from the National Development Fund savings meant for development projects. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, approved, and the government announced that the money would go toward purchasing medical equipment, training, treatment and the domestic production of equipment and gear.
Six months later, a big chunk of the money has yet to be delivered.
“You can’t fight coronavirus with empty hands,” the deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, said in a television interview on Wednesday.
In other international news:
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, offered a rare apology on Friday for the killing of a South Korean fisheries official who was shot at sea by soldiers from the North, according to South Korean officials. The officials said the soldiers had poured oil on the man’s body and set it on fire for fear that he might be carrying the coronavirus — an assertion that North Korea denied.
Israel said on Thursday that it was tightening its second national lockdown after coronavirus cases soared to about 5,000 per day in the last week, the highest rate per capita in the world. The new measures, which go into effect on Friday, will remain in place at least until the end of the Jewish High Holy Days in mid-October.
Joshua Wong, one of Hong Kong’s most visible pro-democracy activists, has been arrested multiple times for taking part in antigovernment protests that erupted over the past year and roiled the Chinese territory before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Mr. Wong, 23, was arrested again on Thursday — in part, the police said, for violating a government ban on wearing a mask while attending an unauthorized demonstration last October.
Summer ended in Europe this week with a heavy thud amid signs that a spike in virus cases might send another wave of patients into hospitals. In Munich, normally brimming with boisterous crowds for Oktoberfest this month, the authorities just banned gatherings of more than five people. In Marseille, France, all bars and restaurants will be closed next Monday. In London, where the government spent weeks encouraging workers to return to the city’s deserted skyscrapers, it is now urging them to work from home.
Suresh Angadi, 65, on Wednesday became the first high-ranking official to die from the coronavirus in India. He was a junior minister for the Indian Railways and was the fourth Indian lawmaker to die from Covid-19. Mr. Angadi was a powerful politician from the southern state of Karnataka, where he worked to strengthen the base of Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindu nationalist party that rules India. With 5.7 million confirmed cases, India has the world’s second-highest caseload after the United States.
China National Biotec Group, a front-runner in developing a coronavirus vaccine, will donate 200,000 doses of its vaccine to health care workers in the city of Wuhan, where the pandemic first emerged nine months ago, the chairman of the company said on Thursday. The vaccine, which is developed by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, has only cleared two phases of clinical trials but has been approved for emergency use. It is currently in the final stage of trials in more than 10 countries.
Germany on Thursday added the cities of Copenhagen, Dublin and Lisbon to a list of high-risk areas in the European Union that travelers are being encouraged to avoid. Germany has a seven-day average of about 1,700 new cases a day. The country’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, has also gone into quarantine after a person on his staff tested positive for the virus.
Britain finally releases a contact-tracing app for England.
After various fits and starts, delays and technical missteps, Britain on Thursday released a contact-tracing app for England that the government hopes will help slow the spread of the virus by alerting those who have been in proximity to an infected person.
Released just as Britain is imposing new restrictions in response to a surge of cases, the app, called “NHS Covid-19,” uses technology created by Apple and Google to anonymously log when a person comes into close contact with another user of the app. If a person tests positive for the coronavirus, the app sends an alert to those they have come into contact with to get tested and quarantine.
The app, now available in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play store, also has a way for people to “check in” at restaurants, bars and other locations they visit by scanning a bar code, another measure to help track down individuals who have been exposed to the virus.
The release of the app follows various delays and challenges. The government had initially vowed to build an app without help from Apple or Google, saying it would offer more flexibility to track the spread of the virus. But after confronting technical challenges, the government reversed course. The switch delayed the release of the app, which at one point had been slated to be introduced in May. The app was released in England and Wales; similar technology had already been released in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Some older phones are not able to handle the new app, which requires version iOS 13.5 or later for an iPhone and version 6 or later for Android.
The effectiveness of the app will in part depend on how many people use it. Without wide adoption, its usefulness is more limited. The technology could also test the government’s overall track-and-trace system, which has been riddled with problems.
“Everybody who downloads the app will be helping to protect themselves, helping to protect their loved ones, helping to protect their community because the more people who download it, the more effective it will be,” Matt Hancock, the country’s health secretary, told the BBC.
Also on Thursday, Britain’s top financial official, Rishi Sunak, announced a range of new and extended measures to protect jobs and help businesses, including another government wage-paying program, just days after the prime minister, Boris Johnson, set new social restrictions that he warned could last for months.
Reporting was contributed by Matt Apuzzo, Pam Belluck, Aurelien Breeden, Ben Casselman, Choe Sang-Hun, Melissa Eddy, Farnaz Fassihi, Michael Gold, Maggie Haberman, Christine Hauser, Mike Ives, Miriam Jordan, Isabel Kershner, Gina Kolata, Mark Landler, Apoorva Mandavilli, Jeffery C. Mays, Jesse McKinley, Sarah Mervosh, Raphael Minder, Christina Morales, Eshe Nelson, Benjamin Novak, Richard C. Paddock, Azi Paybarah, Elian Peltier, Daniel Politi, Monika Pronczuk, Roni Caryn Rabin, Saw Nang, Simon Romero, Adam Satariano, Anna Schaverien, Christopher F. Schuetze, Dera Menra Sijabat, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan, Sui-Lee Wee, Sameer Yasir and Elaine Yu.