Covid-19 Live Updates: New York City Will End Remote Learning in the Fall


Whitney Bush, a science teacher at Middle School 839 in Brooklyn, talked with students over Zoom during an online orientation session last September.
Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

New York City will no longer have a remote schooling option come fall, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced during a television appearance on Monday, a major step toward fully reopening the nation’s largest school system.

This school year, most of the city’s roughly one million students — about 600,000 — stayed at home for classes. When the new school year starts on Sept. 13, all students and staff will be back in school buildings full-time, Mr. de Blasio said.

New York is one of the first big cities to remove the option of remote learning altogether for the coming school year. But widespread predictions that online classes would be a fixture for school districts may have been premature. Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey announced last week that the state would no longer have remote classes come fall, after similar announcements by leaders in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

New York City’s decision will make it much easier to restore the school system to a prepandemic state, since students and teachers will no longer be split between homes and school buildings.

But the mayor’s announcement will no doubt alarm some parents who are concerned about sending their children back into school buildings, even as the pandemic ebbs in the United States. Recent interviews with city parents have shown that while many families are looking forward to resuming normal schooling, some are hesitant about returning to classrooms.

Nonwhite families, whose health has suffered disproportionately from the virus, have been most likely to keep their children learning from home over the past year.

New York, like districts across the country, has struggled to make remote learning successful. Online classes have been frustrating for many students, and even disastrous for some, including children with disabilities.

By one estimate, three million students across the United States, roughly the school-age population of Florida, stopped going to classes, virtual or in person, after the pandemic began. A disproportionate number of those disengaged students are low-income Black, Latino and Native American children who have struggled to keep up in classrooms that are partly or fully remote.

Mr. de Blasio, who has been criticized for not doing more to improve the quality of online education, has said that remote learning is inherently inferior.

It has also been extraordinarily complex for the city to run two parallel school systems, one in person and one online, with many students switching between the two every few days. So many students and teachers operating from home made it nearly impossible for some schools to offer normal schedules.

For the past few months, Mr. de Blasio said he expected the city to keep some kind of remote learning option for the fall. But he and his aides changed their minds in recent weeks, officials said, as virus rates plummeted throughout the city and as children 12 and older became eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.

The mayor is expected to announce more details about the city’s school reopening plan at a news conference later on Monday.

Packing away equipment at a coronavirus vaccine clinic in Alden, Mich., this month.
Credit…Sarah Rice for The New York Times

For the first time since June of last year, there are fewer than 30,000 new daily coronavirus cases in the United States, and deaths are as low as they’ve been since last summer. In much of the country, the virus outlook is improving.

Nearly 50 percent of Americans have received at least one vaccine shot, and though the pace has slowed, the share is still growing by about two percentage points per week.

“I think by June, we’re probably going to be at one infection per 100,000 people per day, which is a very low level,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, said Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” The U.S. rate is now eight cases per 100,000, down from 22 during the most recent peak, when new cases averaged about 71,000 on April 14.

The share of coronavirus tests coming back positive has also fallen to below 3 percent for the first time since widespread testing began, and the number of hospitalized patients has fallen to the lowest point in 11 months, Dr. Eric Topol of the Scripps Research Translational Institute noted this week.

The United States is reporting about 25,700 coronavirus cases daily, a 39 percent decrease from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database. Deaths are down 14 percent over the same period, to an average of 578 per day.

Thirty-nine percent of Americans are fully vaccinated. But the U.S. vaccination story varies widely across regions, with New England surging ahead of the national average and much of the South lagging significantly.

In five of the six New England states, more than 60 percent of residents are at least partly vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s a different story in the South, where Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee have the country’s lowest rates of residents who have received at least one shot. The rates in those states are all below 40 percent, with Mississippi, at 33 percent, at the bottom of the list.

The virus remains dangerous in communities with low vaccination rates, and getting vaccines into these communities is crucial in continuing to curb the spread. As the virus continues to mutate, vaccines may need to be updated or boosters may need to be added.

Since the C.D.C. issued guidance that said vaccinated people could forgo masks in most situations indoors and outside, states have followed suit.

But cases remain relatively high in a handful of states, including Wyoming, which has reported a 21 percent increase in new daily cases from two weeks ago.

And some cities, like Colorado Springs and Grand Rapids, Mich., are continuing to report high case counts. In Miami, cases have decreased over the past week, but the share of coronavirus tests coming back positive is relatively high, at about 8 percent.

Testing has fallen around the country, fueling concern that cases could be undercounted in places with high positivity rates, like Miami, if people who don’t have symptoms aren’t getting diagnosed.

Although health experts who spoke with The New York Times said that they were optimistic, they cautioned that the virus won’t be eradicated in the United States but would likely instead become a manageable threat, like influenza.

And the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more time that the virus has to spread, mutate and possibly change enough to evade vaccines.

“My big concern is that there is going to be a variant that’s going to outsmart the vaccine,” said Dr. Thomas A. LaVeist, an expert on health equity and dean of the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans. “Then we’ll have a new problem. We’ll have to revaccinate.”

James Gorman contributed reporting.

The dead body of a Covid-19 victim at a crematorium in New Delhi on Friday.
Credit…Prakash Singh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

India on Monday became the third country to surpass 300,000 deaths from the coronavirus, joining Brazil and the United States.

By Monday morning, a recorded 303,720 people in India had died with the virus, a number that experts say is likely to be a vast undercount, and 222,315 new daily cases were reported, according to the Indian Health Ministry.

While India’s official total of 26.8 million infections is second only to that of the United States, which has recorded more than 33 million, experts have cautioned that India’s figures severely undercount new infections and deaths because of a lack of testing and other resources in the vast country of 1.4 billion people.

Amid the steadily growing number of deaths nationally, the country has struggled to scale up its vaccination campaign. But in New Delhi, numbers of new cases have dropped in recent days, six weeks after a devastating surge, and officials are considering relaxing coronavirus restrictions.

Even so, the vaccination campaign in New Delhi has struggled. The public schools and stadiums in the capital, where thousands have been waiting in lines for hours for a shot, were shuttered on Sunday as the city ran out of doses.

That abrupt suspension to the inoculation campaign in the capital came just three weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had expanded India’s vaccination program to people ages 18 to 44.

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s top elected official, said in an online news conference on Saturday that he had written a letter to Mr. Modi pleading for the central government to increase its quota for the city of 20 million. Weeks of lockdown in the capital have helped quell the outbreak somewhat, but potentially dangerous new variants of the virus are circulating widely.

The city needs eight million doses per month to vaccinate all adults in three months. Instead, it received 1.6 million doses in May, and is set to receive only 800,000 in June, Mr. Kejriwal said. At that rate, it would take two and a half years to vaccinate all the adults in the capital, he said.

“By then, no one knows how many waves will arrive and how many deaths will occur,” Mr. Kejriwal said.

India has fully vaccinated around 43 million people — which amounts to just 3 percent of its population. While the pace of infection has slowed in India’s two largest cities — Delhi and the financial hub of Mumbai — the disease is still spreading quickly in rural areas with limited hospital capacity.

An empty night market on Sunday after the recent rise in coronavirus infections in Taipei, Taiwan.
Credit…Ann Wang/Reuters

Taiwan’s government on Monday criticized the World Health Organization for capitulating to China after it failed to secure an invite to an annual health meeting convened by the international agency.

For months, Taiwan and a coalition of supporters, including the United States, had been intensely lobbying for the self-governed island to be granted observer status at the meeting of the World Health Assembly, or W.H.A., which began today and will be held virtually through June 1.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has blocked the island from participating in the assembly since 2016. But Taiwan’s calls for inclusion have gained international attention in light of its successful handling of the coronavirus pandemic for nearly a year and a half.

This month, the countries of the Group of 7 — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States — for the first time voiced their joint support for Taiwan’s bid for observer status in the W.H.A., the top decision-making body of the W.H.O. Chinese officials condemned the G-7 announcement as “gross interference” in its internal affairs.

In a statement released on Monday, Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, rebuked the W.H.O. for its “continued indifference” to the health of the island’s 23.5 million people and urged the organization to “maintain a professional and neutral stance” and “reject China’s political interference.”

Chen Shih-chung, Taiwan’s health and welfare minister, added that the island’s exclusion from the meeting was “not only a loss for Taiwan but also the rest of the world,” according to the statement.

“The world needs to share all available information and expertise in a collective fight against disease,” Mr. Chen said.

Taiwan’s exclusion from the meeting comes as the island’s authorities are racing to tame a surge in coronavirus infections that has prompted what is essentially its first lockdown since the start of the pandemic. After months of reporting very few locally transmitted cases of the virus, officials have confirmed more than 3,000 new cases in the past three weeks.

On Monday, the health authorities added 590 cases of local transmission to the total, including 256 infections that were confirmed because of delayed reporting. Officials also confirmed six new deaths from the virus, bringing the overall death toll to 29.

Taiwan’s health authorities on Monday also accused mainland Chinese actors of taking advantage of the outbreak to spread disinformation. Speaking at a news briefing, Chen Tsung-yen of the Central Epidemic Command Center in Taiwan said that reports of the government’s faking coronavirus data and of dead Covid-19 patients dumped in rivers had been spread by accounts linked to overseas internet addresses.

Mr. Chen added that other signs that mainland Chinese actors were involved in the spread of disinformation included the use of phrases commonly associated with the mainland and the inclusion of the simplified characters used in China, as opposed to the traditional script that is used in Taiwan.

Anique Houpe bakes cakes and cupcakes in her kitchen for her startup business, The Munchie Shopp Bakery, in Stone Mountain, Ga., in March.
Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Times

Over the past year, multiple stimulus measures from the federal government have helped American families buy groceries, pay rent and build a financial cushion. The aid may have also helped start a new era of entrepreneurship.

There has been a surge in start-ups in the United States a that experts have yet to fully explain. But a new study, using data that allows researchers to more precisely track new businesses across time and place, finds that the surge coincides with federal stimulus, and is strongest in Black communities.

Across a number of states, the pace of weekly business registrations more than doubled in the months after the CARES Act was signed in March 2020. Business registrations rose again by 60 percent around the time the supplementary aid package was signed in December.

And after the third wave of stimulus in March, weekly business registrations have been up by 20 percent, though the data is less complete.

The pandemic may signal the end of a slump in entrepreneurship that has lasted for several decades. Steep job losses, a widespread shift in how people work and a big influx of federal spending could prompt the kind of disruption that changes how people think about work and what they want to do with their lives.

Global Roundup

Administering a coronavirus vaccine at a center in Osaka, Japan, on Monday.
Credit…Kyodo, via Reuters

Japan’s second-largest city, Osaka, is struggling to deal with a surge in new coronavirus cases that has overwhelmed local hospitals, with officials warning that the city will be unable to cope if the growth continues.

The news comes as Osaka and Tokyo opened Japan’s first mass vaccination sites on Monday in an effort to jump-start the lagging national inoculation campaign. Worries abound that rising case numbers could have an impact on the Olympic Games, scheduled to be held in the country this summer.

The governor of Osaka Prefecture, Hirofumi Yoshimura, noted on Sunday in a post on Twitter that the city “will have difficulties responding” if the new cases continue to grow, and he pointed to the spread of more infectious variants, including those first discovered in Britain and in India, as particularly concerning.

With those worries front of mind, and with the Olympics just weeks away, public sentiment has shifted, with 83 percent of Japanese people in a recent survey saying that they did not want Tokyo to hold the Games. Some medical groups have also come out against the idea.

Japan’s vaccination program has been largely left up to local authorities, but the government has vowed to scale up the efforts, with an aim to offer doses to all people over 65 by the end of July.

Masaya Yamato, director of the Infectious Diseases Center at the Osaka-based Rinku General Medical Center, said that the city’s health system had struggled to respond in the weeks since the area lifted a state of emergency on March 1 and subsequently reduced the number of available intensive care beds. Coupled with the rise in new infections as restrictions eased, that saw hundreds of patients hospitalized daily with serious coronavirus cases, leaving hospitals scrambling.

“It was like musical chairs,” Dr. Yamato said.

Yu Kurahara, a respiratory doctor at Kinki-Chuo Medical Center in Osaka, said he believed that the worst of the latest influx in cases had passed but that the situation was still worrying.

“We still have many serious patients,” he said. “If we cannot treat them at this stage, we will face another medical system collapse in the next wave.”

In other news from around the world:

  • In Melbourne, Australia, four cases of the coronavirus have been detected for the first time in several months. The authorities have not determined the source of the outbreak, but say they believe that it may be linked to an infected man who flew to the city in May after being released from hotel quarantine in Adelaide.

  • Italy reported 72 coronavirus deaths on Sunday, the lowest daily toll in the country so far this year. On Monday, the government extended a system of milder restrictions to the whole nation for the first time since November. “It’s a great milestone,” Mariastella Gelmini, Italy’s minister for regional affairs, said on Italian television on Sunday. “We are in the last mile.”

  • In Nepal, many foreign climbers are continuing with attempts to reach the summit of Mount Everest, despite reports of a coronavirus outbreak at the peak’s base camp, according to government officials. Mira Acharya, a director at the Department of Tourism, which oversees climbing activities in Nepal’s mountains, told Reuters that the government had not received any notice of an outbreak at the base camp and that expeditions were continuing. But Lukas Furtenbach, who owns an adventure company, said that he evacuated his team from the mountain this month after a sharp rise in cases.

Isabel Galán, 31, and her children in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx last month.
Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times

The nearly half a million undocumented immigrants who live in New York City were devastated by the pandemic, stricken by the virus and the economic fallout it caused and ineligible for stimulus checks and the unemployment benefits that kept many New Yorkers afloat.

Undocumented women were hit particularly hard, a recent estimate by the Fiscal Policy Institute found. Many had low-wage jobs in the service sector. Some were suddenly obligated to stay home with children when schools closed.

Roughly 35,000 undocumented women in New York City had too little food to eat this past March.

After months of demonstrations by groups that support immigrants, New York state lawmakers approved a budget that includes a $2.1 billion excluded-workers fund for people who are ineligible for other pandemic aid because they are undocumented. It is the largest package of its kind in the country.

The Times took a deep look at Isabel Galán, who lives in the South Bronx with her three children. In the year after the pandemic shut down the economy of one of the world’s richest and most expensive cities, Ms. Galán and her children have lived on $100 a week.


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