Kamala Harris expresses distrust of any vaccine promoted by President Trump.
Senator Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic nominee for vice president, said she would not trust President Trump’s assurances that a coronavirus vaccine was safe, and instead would wait for medical experts to confirm the vaccine was reliable before she received an inoculation.
“I will not take his word for it,” Ms. Harris said of Mr. Trump on CNN’s “Inside Politics.”
“He wants us to inject bleach,” she added, referring to remarks in April when the president incomprehensibly suggested a dangerous coronavirus treatment.
Ms. Harris’s remarks came after federal officials alerted state and major city public health agencies last week to prepare to distribute a vaccine to health care workers and other high-risk groups as soon as late October or early November. Given that no vaccine candidates have completed the kind of large-scale human trials that can prove efficacy and safety, that time frame has heightened concerns that the Trump administration is seeking to rush a vaccine rollout ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3.
For months, Ms. Harris and Joseph R. Biden Jr. have assailed Mr. Trump for his handling of the pandemic. Ms Harris’s comments on Sunday questioning a potential vaccine, as scientists racing for a vaccine report constant pressure from a White House anxious for good news, are likely to further sow skepticism among Americans considering whether to get the vaccine when it becomes available.
With concern about the politicization of vaccines and treatments on the rise, five drug companies are preparing to issue a statement this week pledging to not release a vaccine unless it meets rigorous standards for effectiveness and safety. The companies, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi, are aiming to reassure the public that they will not seek premature approval under political pressure.
Ms. Harris on Sunday also said she and Mr. Biden would set a national “standard” for mask-wearing, stopping short of endorsing a mandate.
“This is not about punishment. It’s not about Big Brother,” Ms. Harris said, adding that wearing a mask is a “sacrifice” in a time of crisis.
Her comments appeared to mark a softening of the position she and Mr. Biden have previously staked out.
Last month, Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris called for Americans to be required to wear masks, telling reporters after receiving a briefing from public health experts that every American should wear a mask while outside for at least the next three months and that all governors should mandate mask wearing.
Mr. Biden in July suggested that if he were president, he would require mask-wearing in public, and asked if he could use “federal leverage to mandate that,” said he could, and “would from an executive standpoint.”
As hope builds over possible frequent at-home testing, experts call the idea a long shot.
Over the past few weeks, a Harvard scientist has made headlines for a bold idea to curb the spread of the coronavirus: rolling out antigen tests, a decades-old underdog in testing technology, to tens of millions of Americans for near-daily, at-home use.
These tests are not very good at picking up low-level infections. But they are cheap and convenient, and return results in minutes. Real-time information, argued Dr. Michael Mina, the Harvard scientist, would be far better than the long delays clogging the testing pipeline.
But more than a dozen experts said that near-ubiquitous antigen testing, while intriguing in theory, might not be effective in practice. In addition to posing huge logistical hurdles, they said, the plan hinges on broad buy-in and compliance from people who have grown increasingly disillusioned with coronavirus testing. The aim also assumes that rapid tests can achieve their intended purpose.
“We are open to thinking outside the box and coming up with new ways to handle this pandemic,” said Esther Babady, the director of the clinical microbiology service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. But she said antigen tests that could work at home had yet to enter the market.
Also, no rigorous study has shown that fast and frequent testing is better than sensitive but slower in the real world, she said. “The data for that is what’s missing.”
What has been put forth about the approach is “largely aspirational, and we need to check it against reality,” said Dr. Alexander McAdam, the director of the infectious diseases diagnostic laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital and an author of a recent report on pandemic testing strategies in The Journal of Clinical Microbiology.
Most of the coronavirus tests to date rely on a laboratory technique called PCR, long considered the gold standard because it can pick up even small amounts of genetic material from germs like the coronavirus.
But sputtering supply chains have compromised efforts to collect, ship and process samples for PCR tests, lengthening turnaround times. And the longer the wait, the less useful the result.
After earlier post-holiday spikes in cases, a warning for Labor Day weekend.
For many Americans, Labor Day is a goodbye to summer before children go back to school and cold weather arrives. But public health experts worry that in the midst of a pandemic, this weekend could result in disaster in the fall.
After the Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends, cases of Covid-19 surged around the United States after people held family gatherings or congregated in large groups.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, said he wanted people to enjoy Labor Day weekend, but urged precautions.
“You don’t want to tell people on a holiday weekend that even outdoors is bad — they will get completely discouraged,” Dr. Fauci said. “What we try to say is enjoy outdoors, but you can do it with safe spacing. You can be on a beach, and you don’t have to be falling all over each other. You can be six, seven, eight, nine or 10 feet apart. You can go on a hike. You can go on a run. You can go on a picnic with a few people. You don’t have to be in a crowd with 30, 40 or 50 people all breathing on each other.”
In terms of daily case counts, the United States is in worse shape going into Labor Day weekend than it was for Memorial Day weekend. The nation now averages about 40,000 new confirmed cases per day, up from about 22,000 per day ahead of Memorial Day weekend.
Colleges are struggling to keep students from breaking safety protocols, and many have seen significant outbreaks, as have many college towns. ABC News posted a video on Twitter showing crowds at a sports bar near the University of South Carolina. The university, which disciplined some of its Greek houses last week, has reported more than 1,735 cases since Aug. 1, including 1,461 active cases, according to its Covid-19 dashboard.
Dr. Fauci said that a spike in infections after Labor Day would make it far harder to control the virus’s spread in the fall, when cooler temperatures force more people indoors.
Public health experts said it was more challenging to persuade people to curtail their Labor Day weekend plans compared with past holiday weekends, because so many people are feeling pandemic fatigue after six months of restrictions, closures and separation.
“People are getting tired of taking these precautions and of having their lives upended,” said Eleanor J. Murray, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health. “They’re missing their friends and family, and everyone wishes things were back to normal. That’s totally understandable, but unfortunately we don’t get a say, really.”
Even so, there are signs that one pandemic precaution — mask-wearing — has gained increasing acceptance over the summer. A Pew Research Center survey found that 85 percent of Americans said they wore masks all or most of the time when in stores or businesses, compared with 65 percent in June.
Mexico City’s mayor wants people to take the virus seriously, even when their president doesn’t.
The coronavirus has thrived in Mexico’s dense capital, Mexico City, which is home to nine million people, half of them poor. But while more than 11,000 have died, analysts say it could have been worse without the interventions of Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum.
Although she is one of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s most trusted confidants, she has been careful to distance herself from him when possible when it comes to the virus. Mr. López Obrador minimized the pandemic early on, questioning the science behind face masks and doing little testing. Seeking to avert economic pain, he has barely restricted travel.
Under his watch, Mexico has the fourth-highest coronavirus death toll worldwide.
As of Saturday, Mexico had recorded 67,326 coronavirus deaths, according to a Times database. But the health ministry also said that the country had recorded 122,765 more deaths than usual from the time the pandemic started until August, suggesting that its true toll could be much higher than reported.
When Mr. López Obrador was still kissing babies at rallies and comparing the virus to the flu, Ms. Sheinbaum was planning for a long pandemic. She pushed an aggressive testing and contact tracing campaign, and set up testing kiosks where people get swabbed for free.
She also required that everyone in Mexico City use face coverings on public transit, and wore a mask each time she addressed the news media. And when doctors told her the N95 masks the federal government had imported from China were too narrow to fit Mexican faces, she had a local factory converted into a mask-making operation.
For Ms. Sheinbaum, a scientist with a Ph.D. in energy engineering, aligning too closely with the president would mean ignoring the practices she knows are in the best interest of public health. Stray too far, and she risks losing the support of a political kingmaker who is said to be considering her — the first woman and first Jewish person elected to lead the nation’s capital — as the party’s next presidential candidate.
So far, her strategy has been to follow the science while refusing to criticize the president.
Other coronavirus news from around the world:
India on Sunday reported 90,632 new coronavirus cases, a global record. The coronavirus outbreak in India, which has had more than four million cases according to a Times database, has devastated an economy that until recently was booming.
Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, on Sunday extended its lockdown by two weeks until at least Sept. 28. The state of Victoria, the center of Australia’s worst outbreak, has been under lockdown since early August.
Thousands of police officers in riot gear filled the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday, stifling a protest over the postponement of legislative elections because of the pandemic and over China’s imposition of a national security law that gives the authorities sweeping new powers to pursue critics.
The virus is spiking around college campuses as students return.
Within days of the University of Iowa’s reopening, students were complaining that they couldn’t get coronavirus tests or were bumping into people who were supposed to be in isolation. Undergraduates were jamming sidewalks and downtown bars, masks hanging below their chins, never mind the city’s mask mandate.
Now, Iowa City is a full-blown pandemic hot spot — one of about 100 college communities around the United States where infections have spiked in recent weeks as students have returned for the fall semester. Although the rate of infection has bent downward in the Northeast, where the virus first peaked in the U.S., it remains high across many states in the Midwest and South — and evidence suggests that students returning to big campuses are a major factor.
In a New York Times review of 203 U.S. counties where students make up at least 10 percent of the population, about half have experienced their worst weeks of the pandemic since Aug. 1. In about half of those, figures showed that the number of new infections is currently peaking.
Despite the surge in cases, there has been no uptick in deaths in college communities, data shows. This suggests that most of the infections are stemming from campuses, since young people who contract the virus are far less likely to die than older people.
However, leaders fear that young people who are infected will contribute to the spread of the virus throughout the community.
The surge in infections reported by county health departments comes as many college administrations are also disclosing clusters on their campuses. The virus’s potential spread beyond campus greens has deeply affected the workplaces, schools, governments and other institutions of local communities.
The result is often an exacerbation of traditional town-and-gown tensions as college towns have tried to balance economic dependence on universities with visceral public health fears.
In Indonesia, students climb trees and travel miles in search of a signal for their remote classes.
Around the globe, including in some of the world’s wealthiest countries, educators are struggling with how to facilitate distance learning during the pandemic. But in poorer countries like Indonesia, the challenge is particularly difficult.
In North Sumatra, students climb to the tops of tall trees a mile from their mountain village. Perched on branches high above the ground, they hope for a cellphone signal strong enough to complete their assignments.
The travails of these students and others like them have come to symbolize the hardships faced by millions of schoolchildren across the Indonesian archipelago. Officials have closed schools and brought in remote learning, but internet and cellphone service is limited and many students do not have smartphones and computers.
More than a third of Indonesian students have limited or no internet access, according to the Education Ministry, and experts fear that many students will fall far behind, especially in remote areas where online study remains a novelty.
Indonesia’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus have met with mixed results. As of Saturday, the country had 190,665 cases and 7,940 deaths. But testing has been limited and independent health experts say the actual number of cases is many times higher.
With the start of a new academic year in July, schools in virus-free zones were allowed to reopen, but these schools serve only a fraction of the nation’s students. As of August, communities in low-risk areas could decide whether to reopen schools, but few have done so.
“Students have no idea what to do, and parents think it is just a holiday,” said Itje Chodidjah, an educator and teacher trainer in Jakarta, the capital. “We still have lots of areas where there is no internet access. In some areas, there is even difficulty getting electricity.”
For people of color, the pandemic-era virtual office may create additional hurdles to moving ahead.
Chance office encounters that used to allow for networking have been replaced by the formal geometry of the Zoom screen. And with fewer and less extensive connections than white colleagues to begin with, Black and Hispanic workers can find themselves more isolated than ever.
Assignments end up flowing to people who look more like top managers — a longstanding issue — while workers of color hesitate to raise their voices during online meetings, said Sara Prince, a partner at the consulting firm McKinsey.
“It’s a critical issue, and there is a real risk facing diversity and inclusion in the current environment,” Ms. Prince said. “When the leader is looking for someone to take up the mantle, most of them go to the comfort zone of people who remind them of themselves. This is exacerbated by the virtual office.”
It’s harder to tell which employees have shrunk back in their chairs or otherwise withdrawn in virtual meetings, said Evelyn Carter, managing director at Paradigm, a consulting firm, but moderators should pay attention to clues, like people with their cameras off, and try to draw those participants back into the discussion.
Some experts do see upsides for office workers who might have been marginalized.
“Most minorities are left out of informal networks and might not have been invited out for drinks or lunch,” said Tina Shah Paikeday, who oversees global diversity and inclusion advisory services at Russell Reynolds, the headhunting firm,
“The Zoom meeting is intentionally planned, and managers feel very intentional about inviting everyone.”
“It’s a great equalizer, and it creates opportunities for affinity group within large organizations,” she said. “It could end up being a good thing for minorities.”
Reporting was contributed by Catie Edmondson, Robert Gebeloff, Shawn Hubler, Danielle Ivory, Jennifer Jett, Natalie Kitroeff, Sarah Kliff, Patrick J. Lyons, Tiffany May, Dera Menra Sijabat, Richard C. Paddock, Tara Parker-Pope, Austin Ramzy, Nelson D. Schwartz, Sarah Watson and Katherine J. Wu.