The virus has cost President Trump seniors’ support, and the pandemic is increasingly political.
The coronavirus and the Trump administration’s response to it have cost President Trump support from one of his most crucial constituencies: America’s seniors.
For years, Republicans and Mr. Trump have relied on older Americans, the United States’ largest voting bloc, to offset Democrats’ advantage with younger voters. But seniors are also the most vulnerable to the coronavirus, and the Trump campaign’s internal polls show his support among voters over age 65 softening to a concerning degree, people familiar with the numbers said.
A recent Morning Consult poll found that Mr. Trump’s approval rating on the handling of the coronavirus was lower with seniors than with any other group other than young voters. And Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, in recent polls held a 10-point advantage among voters who are 65 and older. A poll commissioned by the campaign showed a similar double-digit gap.
As that has taken shape, the president has all but moved on from a focus on controlling the pandemic and is pushing his agenda to restore the country to a place that will lift his campaign. That has included making clear that despite the pandemic, he wants a traditional political convention in Charlotte, N.C., in late August, with thousands of sign-waving Republican delegates from out of state filling an arena.
And the debate is taking place as elements of the pandemic — including its death toll in the United States — have become heated campaign flash points as some voters turn scientific questions into political issues.
“It’s, ‘I don’t like what this implies; therefore I’m going to deny the evidence, and I’m going to question the models, and I’m going to question the motivations of the people who do it,”’ said Naomi Oreskes, a science historian at Harvard.
At least 25,600 residents and workers have died from the coronavirus at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults in the United States, according to a New York Times database.
While just about 10 percent of the country’s cases have occurred in long-term care facilities, deaths related to Covid-19 in these facilities account for a third of the country’s pandemic fatalities. And in about a dozen states, including Maryland, Oregon and Colorado, such facilities account for an even larger segment — more than half — of deaths.
In the absence of comprehensive data from some states and the federal government, The Times has been assembling its own database of coronavirus cases and deaths at these facilities.
The findings are laid out, and explained, in a series of charts and graphics. The data can also be searched for locations of named facilities with at least 50 recorded cases.
Nursing home populations are at a high risk of being infected by — and dying from — the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is known to be particularly lethal to older adults with underlying health conditions, and can spread more easily through congregate facilities, where many people live in a confined environment and workers move from room to room.
Information from the states themselves about such facilities has been a mix: About a dozen states report very little or nothing at all. Some states, including Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey and South Carolina, regularly release cumulative data on cases and deaths at specific facilities. California, Massachusetts, Michigan and Ohio, among others, provide some details on the number of cases — but not on deaths. Others report aggregate totals for their state but provide no information on where the infections or deaths have occurred.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first antigen test that can rapidly detect whether a person has been infected by the coronavirus, a significant advancement that promises to greatly expand the nation’s testing capacity.
Unlike commonly available coronavirus tests that use polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, antigen diagnostics work by quickly detecting fragments of virus in a sample. The newly approved Quidel test will rely on specimens collected from nasal swabs, according to the F.D.A., and they can only be processed by the company’s lab instruments.
“Diagnostic testing is one of the pillars of our nation’s response to Covid-19, and the F.D.A. continues to take actions to help make these critical products available,” the agency said in a statement on Saturday. “One of the main advantages of an antigen test is the speed of the test, which can provide results in minutes.” The F.D.A. said it expected to grant emergency clearance for other antigen tests in the near future.
Experts said the approval of an antigen test for Covid-19 would bolster testing efforts by giving medical workers and health authorities an inexpensive tool for mass rapid testing. Further developed, antigen tests also hold potential for use at home, in the manner of a home pregnancy kit.
“I am very enthusiastic about antigen testing because of its ability to be scaled up to millions of tests a day, and because it has a much more rapid turnaround,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. “A lot of us have been looking forward to this moment.”
Michigan cautiously enacted plans to allow construction and factory workers to return to work sites. Pennsylvania and North Carolina on Friday also allowed some retailers to open, though with certain restrictions like limits on the number of customers allowed inside shops.
Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada said on Friday that restaurants and personal care businesses could start to reopen on Saturday, but residents were encouraged to stay home, and bars and casinos remained closed. In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine’s reopening plan, which he outlined last month, began with certain industries in early May and is set to accelerate with retail stores starting on Tuesday. But Mr. DeWine said other businesses — including restaurants and salons — would have to wait. “We are not quite there yet,” he said.
Job losses have encompassed the entire economy, affecting every major industry. Areas like leisure and hospitality had the biggest losses in April, but even health care shed more than a million jobs. Low-wage workers, including many women and members of racial and ethnic minorities, have been hit especially hard.
“It’s literally off the charts,” said Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America. “What would typically take months or quarters to play out in a recession happened in a matter of weeks this time.”
Three children have died of a mysterious syndrome linked to the virus.
Three young children have died in New York of a mysterious toxic-shock inflammation syndrome with links to the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Saturday.
“The illness has taken the lives of three young New Yorkers,” Mr. Cuomo said during his daily briefing in Manhattan. “This is new. This is developing.”
As of Saturday, more than 73 children in New York have been sickened by the rare illness, which has some similarities similar to Kawasaki disease. Governor Cuomo said many of these children did not show respiratory symptoms commonly associated with the coronavirus when they were brought to area hospitals, but all of them tested positive either for Covid-19 or for its antibodies.
“So it is still very much a situation that is developing, but it is a serious situation,” he added.
The state will be working with the New York Genome Center and Rockefeller University to determine what is causing the illness that Governor Cuomo described on Saturday as “truly disturbing.”
When the coronavirus pandemic began ravaging the New York area two months ago, the state found solace in the initial evidence that children would be largely unaffected, Mr. Cuomo said. That sense of relief was shattered this week when a 5-year-old died in New York City of the newly discovered disease, which doctors described as a “pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.”
Mr. Cuomo did not elaborate on the death of the two additional children.
“We were laboring under the impression that young people were not affected by Covid-19, and that was actually good news,” Mr. Cuomo said. “We still have a lot to learn about this virus.”
As the United States confronts unemployment levels not seen since the Great Depression, Congress and the Trump administration face a pivotal choice: Continue spending trillions trying to shore up businesses and workers, or bet that state reopenings will jump-start the U.S. economy.
At least 20 million people in America are unemployed, and a large share of the nation’s small businesses are shut and facing possible insolvency. Policy misjudgments in the coming weeks could turn the 18 million temporary layoffs recorded in April into permanent job losses that could plunge the United States into a deep and protracted recession unrivaled in recent history.
Yet the federal government is lurching away from the strategy that has thus far helped slow the spread of the coronavirus and sustain people and companies struggling during the economic shutdown.
Over the past two months, as consumers and workers retreated and state officials imposed limits on economic activity, President Trump and bipartisan coalitions in the House and Senate have approved $3 trillion in federal spending to help companies, workers and the unemployed. The Federal Reserve has taken extraordinary steps to keep the financial system functioning, buying up government-backed securities and embarking on plans to purchase corporate and municipal debt to keep credit flowing. Governors have embraced stay-at-home orders in an effort to slow the virus’s spread.
But as the virus threatens to haunt the nation and its economy longer than some officials had anticipated, Mr. Trump and many Republicans in Congress have grown weary of federal spending to support workers and businesses and have begun urging states to get back to what was considered normal.
Economists, including liberals and many conservatives, warn that ending efforts to aid businesses and workers without first enacting a new strategy could force the economy into a summer of partial recoveries, rising infection rates and insufficient support for struggling businesses and those out of work.
“We’re at the choose-your-own-adventure part of the book,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist who is now the director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a liberal think tank focused on inequality.
“It is unconscionable to wait for the economy to reopen,” she said. “For a lot of American workers, there will not be a job to go back to.”
A close look at two very different first-grade classes in two of America’s largest cities, Chicago and Philadelphia, shows how the crisis has laid bare the discrepancies between some private schools, which can provide luxury learning online, and many public schools, which are struggling to adjust.
The pandemic has made it clear that online education requires a mix of elements that not all schools can provide: enthusiastic leadership, teacher expertise and homes equipped with everything children need to learn effectively.
At Chicago Jewish Day School, Rachel Warach helps give her first-grade students four hours and 15 minutes of daily live instruction, including yoga, art and music. Students who need extra help can be assisted remotely with a tutor or a social worker. The school has sent home supplies, and parents have provided internet access, computers and quiet study areas.
At Spruance Elementary in Philadelphia, in one first-grade class, only about 11 of 26 students attend daily.
Dolores Morris, a first-grade teacher there, meets with her students each morning for just an hour. Despite being near retirement, she has thrown herself into learning the technology to teach remotely. Often, she exchanges messages with parents while interacting with her students via Google Classroom.
“I’m thanking God that I can at least see their faces,” she said.
Doctors and patients alike suffer as elective procedures are put on hold.
The shutdown of elective surgeries and other “nonessential” medical care by federal and state officials during the pandemic has left the nation’s 5,200 hospitals, particularly in places where there have been relatively few infections, with idle clinics, vacant operating rooms and a dearth of patients.
“Our hospitals, like every other hospital in the country, are half empty,” said Marvin O’Quinn, the president and chief operating officer for CommonSpirit Health, a Catholic system that operates 137 hospitals across 21 states.
A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday revealed a huge decline in standard childhood vaccinations during March and April as pediatric offices canceled orders for millions of doses of vaccine for diseases such as measles. Other routine visits for dental checkups and physical therapy have seen similar declines.
More alarmingly, even hospital visits for much more serious conditions like heart attacks and appendicitis appear to be down drastically as patients weigh the risks of entering emergency rooms.
As restrictions ease around the country, some states have begun allowing procedures unrelated to the coronavirus, like knee replacements, colonoscopies and mammogram screenings. But after nearly two months of national action to slow the virus’s spread, the interruption of many medical procedures generally has affected patients with a variety of conditions who suddenly have no choice but to delay nonemergency procedures and preventive care.
“As anyone waiting for an elective surgery knows, ‘non-urgent’ does not mean ‘minor,’” said Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon in allowing the state’s hospitals to resume business on May 1. “This is incredibly important medical care that we would not have told providers to delay if the threat of Covid-19 had not made it necessary.”
Once considered a bulwark during economic downturns, health care is proving vulnerable during the coronavirus-induced recession, with spending down and significant job losses. More than 1.4 million jobs in the sector were lost last month, part of a historic economic decline that included 20.5 million fewer jobs and an unemployment rate reaching nearly 15 percent.
Hospitals, often the biggest employer in cities and states, are furloughing workers amid industry losses that total as much as $50 billion a month, largely the result of forgone surgeries and procedures, according to some estimates. For many institutions, back surgeries and heart procedures provided a financial stream of revenue that was critical to staying open. The majority of the nation’s hospitals are nonprofit, but they still need a steady roster of patients to survive.
“We went out to a happy hour and ended up buying a farm,” said Angela Speer, one of the friends who decided to buy Tulip Town, the 30-acre site, last summer.
Their timing was terrible.
The stay-at-home orders in Washington State this spring meant that their expected small window for making profits was slammed shut. The annual tulip festival that draws crowds north of Seattle to Skagit County, where three-quarters of the nation’s commercial tulip crop is grown, was canceled.
The shutdown meant a roughly $65 million hit to the local economy, compounding the economic blow of the shelter-in-place orders. There would be no festival visitors paying to stroll through the blossoms and no money spent on restaurants, hotel stays or flowers.
But the group was not giving up.
The five newcomers on their small farm realized something: Coming in new meant that everything about the way the tulip business was supposed to work was also new, to be tried and tested — and possibly reinvented.
“Ninety percent plus of our revenue comes in that four-week period,” said Randy Howard, another buyer. “So we had to pivot.”
By now we know that the coronavirus could be with us for a rather long time.
“Exactly how long remains to be seen,” said Marc Lipsitch, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “It’s going to be a matter of managing it over months to a couple of years. It’s not a matter of getting past the peak, as some people seem to believe.”
A single round of social distancing — closing schools and workplaces, limiting the sizes of gatherings, lockdowns of varying intensities and durations — is unlikely to be sufficient.
So in the interest of managing expectations, it might be helpful to envision this predicament as a wave that keeps rolling and rolling, carrying on under its own power for a great distance.
The good news, the authors of a new study say, is that it will have peaks that — if the right actions are taken — can be controlled.
Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer know about putting themselves at risk for their work. While shooting thousands of hours of footage for “The Square,” a 2013 documentary on the popular uprising in Cairo, they were often in the middle of the action in Tahrir Square, where the military shot protesters and dispersed crowds with tear gas.
Now, amid the coronavirus pandemic, conditions are arguably more difficult, they said.
“At the height of the revolution, things got pretty chaotic and our office was raided,” Mr. Amer said. “That was a visible threat. You knew when the army was coming for you. This is not like anything we’ve seen before.”
Still, Ms. Noujaim and Mr. Amer have managed to keep going at a time when Hollywood has closed down film and television productions. And they are not alone, with nonfiction programming like Netflix’s “Tiger King,” ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” Apple TV Plus’s “Beastie Boys Story” drawing large audiences.
“We doc filmmakers are an adaptable bunch,” said R.J. Cutler, the director of the 2009 documentary “The September Issue” and an upcoming Showtime film on John Belushi. “We are going to do our best to not be slowed down.”
Cooped up and concerned about the post-coronavirus future, renters and owners are making moves to leave New York City this spring, not for short-term stays in weekend houses, as was common when the pandemic first arrived, but more permanently in the suburbs.
While some of the fresh transplants are accelerating plans that had been simmering on the back burner, others are doing what once seemed unthinkable, opting for a split-level on a cul-de-sac after decades of apartment living. Others seem to have acquired a taste for country life after sheltering with parents in places with big lawns or in log cabins.
But there’s also a sense that in today’s era of social distancing, one-person-at-a-time elevator rides to get home and looping routes to avoid passers-by on sidewalks has fundamentally changed the reality of living in a city.
“It’s not the same feeling being in New York anymore,” said Matthew Silpe, 51, a 30-year Manhattan resident who is considering breaking the lease on his three-bedroom rental on the Upper East Side. “The balance of nature in the city has become so different.”
To hop onto the train, any train, earbuds intact, alone in the crowd on the way somewhere else. To walk out of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, exhausted as if from a march. The sweet potato fries and a beer at Tubby Hook Tavern in Inwood; the coffee-cart guy on West 40th Street who remembers that you take it black.
Sunday Mass and the bakery after. Seeing old friends in the synagogue. Play dates. The High Line. Hugs.
Ask New Yorkers what they miss most, nearly two months into isolation. To hear their answers is to witness a version of the city built from the ground up, a place refracted through a lens of loss, where the best parts are huge and the annoyances all but invisible. The cheap seats in the outfield, the shouting to be heard at happy hour. Meeting cousins with a soccer ball in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The din of the theater as you scan the Playbill before the lights go down.
“I miss my gym equipment,” said Barbara James of Brooklyn.
“The lamb over rice from the food cart by my office, at Seventh and 49th,” said Chris Meredith of East Harlem.
“Just everything,” sighed a police officer sitting behind the wheel of his vehicle in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, last week. “I miss everything.”
While the pandemic has forced most sports around the world to shut down, chess has not only found a way to carry on — in some ways it is even thriving. In the past several weeks, there has been a surge in grass-roots participation in chess to go along with a few high-profile professional events online.
This past week, the Online Nations Cup, an international team chess tournament borne of the coronavirus pandemic, brought 36 of the world’s top players together in their homes across multiple time zones, from Brooklyn to Beijing. They have been moving pieces on their laptop chessboards in a competition that, at its core, is the same game they would contest under regular conditions.
The tournament can be seen on multiple platforms, has a record purse of $180,000 and is being broadcast in a dozen languages.
“It is one of the biggest things we’ve ever done on chess.com,” said Daniel Rensch, a co-founder of the site, who commentates on the action live.
Video game versions of most sports entail entirely different skill sets from the real thing, as manipulating a remote device from a couch bears little resemblance to being sacked by a 300-pound lineman. But online chess is essentially the same game, and when other sports were halted in March under a worldwide shutdown, fans were left starving for something to watch — and do.
With newfound time on their hands, people have turned to online chess by the millions.
Reporting was contributed by Reed Abelson, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Morgan Campbell, Trip Gabriel, Emma Goldberg, Dana Goldstein, Maggie Haberman, C.J. Hughes, Danielle Ivory, Andrew Jacobs, Kirk Johnson, Annie Karni, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Zach Montague, Matthew Rosenberg, Jim Rutenberg, Nicole Sperling, Jim Tankersley, Michael Wilson, Karen Yourish and Mitch Smith.