Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the leading U.S. official on infectious diseases, hit back at President Trump on Wednesday for what he called the misrepresentation of his stance on using masks to curb the coronavirus.
In the presidential debate on Tuesday, Mr. Trump claimed that Dr. Fauci initially said “masks are not good — then he changed his mind.” And when former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said wearing masks could save tens of thousands of lives, Mr. Trump contended that “Dr. Fauci said the opposite.”
Dr. Fauci, whose relationship with his boss has often seemed tenuous at best, took issue with his claims the day after the debate.
“Anybody who has been listening to me over the last several months knows that a conversation does not go by where I do not strongly recommend that people wear masks,” he said in an interview on ABC News’s “Start Here” podcast. The full interview can be heard Thursday, ABC said.
Dr. Fauci explained that “very early on in the pandemic,” the authorities did not recommend masks to the general public because they were worried about shortages and hoarding. But that changed, he said, as it became clear that asymptomatic transmission was spreading the virus and that masks helped stop it.
“I have been on the airways, on the radio, on TV, begging people to wear masks,” Dr. Fauci said. “And I keep talking in the context of: Wear a mask, keep physical distance, avoid crowds, wash your hands and do things more outdoors versus indoors.”
Mr. Trump has often signaled his displeasure with Dr. Fauci, especially as the scientist’s stock has risen with many Americans. He once called him “a major television star” — apparently a compliment — but it was not clear that the president enjoyed sharing the spotlight.
In April, under fire for his slow initial response to the pandemic, the president reposted a Twitter message that said “Time to #FireFauci.” And in July, Trump advisers undercut Dr. Fauci by anonymously providing details to various news outlets about statements he had made early in the pandemic that they said were inaccurate.
Mr. Trump, watching the economy crumble in a re-election year, has been a cheerleader for state officials to reopen. Dr. Fauci has been rather the opposite. Just this week, he was ringing the alarm on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“We’re not in a good place,” he said when asked about the nation averaging 40,000 new coronavirus cases a day.
Dr. Fauci said the increases some states are seeing were especially ill timed, given the approach of flu season.
“You don’t want to be in a position like that as the weather starts getting cold,” he said. “So we really need to intensify the public health measures that we talk about all the time.”
Of the flood of misinformation, conspiracy theories and internet falsehoods about the coronavirus, one common thread stands out: President Trump.
That is the conclusion of researchers at Cornell University who analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic in English-language media around the world. Mentions of Mr. Trump made up nearly 38 percent of the overall “misinformation conversation,” making the president the largest driver of the “infodemic” — falsehoods involving the pandemic.
The study, to be released Thursday, is the first comprehensive examination of coronavirus misinformation in traditional and online media.
“The biggest surprise was that the president of the United States was the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid,” said Sarah Evanega, the director of the Cornell Alliance for Science and the study’s lead author. “That’s concerning in that there are real-world dire health implications.”
To those who have been watching Mr. Trump’s statements, the idea that he is responsible for spreading or amplifying misinformation might not come as a huge shock. The president has also been feeding disinformation campaigns around the presidential election and mail-in voting that Russian actors have amplified — and his own government has tried to stop.
But in interviews, the researchers said they expected to find more mentions of conspiracy theories, and not so many articles involving Mr. Trump.
The study identified 11 topics of misinformation, including various conspiracy theories, like one that emerged in January suggesting the pandemic was manufactured by Democrats to coincide with Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial.
But by far the most prevalent topic of misinformation topic was “miracle cures,” including Mr. Trump’s promotion of anti-malarial drugs and disinfectants as potential treatments for Covid-19. That accounted for more misinformation than the other 10 topics combined, the researchers reported.
They found that of the more than 38 million articles published from Jan. 1 to May 26, more than 1.1 million — or slightly less than 3 percent — contained misinformation.
American employers continue to cut jobs at rates that dwarf the pace of layoffs in past decades, even as the economy crawls forward from the coronavirus-induced recession that began last spring.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that 787,000 Americans filed for state unemployment benefits for the first time last week, a decline from the previous week’s total of 827,000. These figures, unadjusted for seasonal variations, are roughly four times the weekly tally of claims from before the pandemic.
But the totals did not reflect a fresh report from California, where officials have halted claims processing for two weeks to clear a backlog and deal with fraud. Instead, the Labor Department used the most recent weekly figure available.
With seasonal adjustments, last week’s national figure was 837,000.
Applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, an emergency federal program aimed at independent contractors, gig workers and part-time employees, totaled 650,000.
As bad as the numbers look compared with the start of the year, they are much improved from early spring, when fired and furloughed workers sought out benefits by the millions each week. Still, the totals offer little indication of a strengthening labor market.
“It’s unclear how many companies can sustain themselves and retain payrolls that support incomes,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics. “A solid rebound in job growth is now looking more muted.”
House Democrats abruptly postponed a planned vote Wednesday evening on a $2.2 trillion stimulus plan, putting off action until Thursday to leave time for a last-ditch round of negotiations with the Trump administration to produce a deal.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin earlier said that they had made progress in their talks, but Ms. Pelosi’s decision to schedule an evening vote on the Democratic bill — one which Republicans had made clear they could not support — suggested that a compromise remained unlikely.
Her retreat signaled that agreement might in fact still be possible. Two aides, insisting on anonymity to describe private deliberations, said Democratic leaders had decided to allow one more day for talks to bear fruit.
“We made a lot of progress over the last few days,” Mr. Mnuchin told reporters as he left the Capitol. “We still don’t have an agreement, but we have more work to do and we’re going to see where we end up.”
The Democrats’ latest bill cuts $1.2 trillion from their original $3.4 trillion measure, which was passed by the House in May. But the measure was all but guaranteed to die in the Republican-led Senate, with Republicans dismissing it as far too expensive.
“We’re very, very far apart,” declared Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.
But rank-and-file lawmakers in both parties have increasingly been agitating for another vote on a relief package before the elections, as the economic recovery shudders and tens of thousands of workers are either furloughed or laid off as a result of the pandemic.
Tens of thousands of airline workers are bracing for a wave of furloughs starting Thursday after a widely supported effort to renew federal stimulus funding for the industry failed to overcome a congressional stalemate.
American Airlines and United Airlines told employees on Wednesday night that they would proceed with more than 32,000 furloughs, though both companies said they would reverse course if lawmakers provided the funding the industry had sought.
“I am extremely sorry we have reached this outcome,” Doug Parker, American’s chief executive, said in a letter to staff. “It is not what you all deserve.”
Passenger airlines received $25 billion in payroll funding under the March stimulus law known as the CARES Act, on the condition that they refrained from broad job cuts until Oct. 1. Unions representing airline workers had garnered bipartisan support in Congress for another round of aid in recent weeks, but the effort was caught in the deadlock over a broader stimulus package, even after airline executives pleaded their case in Washington.
The pandemic’s toll on air travel and the industry has been so severe that tens of thousands of airline employees have already volunteered to take pay cuts, unpaid leave for an extended period, buyouts or early retirement.
Wars, disease and political turmoil have never prevented Rio de Janeiro from putting on its famous carnival. Now, the pandemic has forced a suspension of the annual parade for the first time since 1932.
“I want this moment to come, this moment when we will celebrate life that defeats death, when we will reunite, gather,” said Leandro Vieira, the artistic director of Estação Primeira de Mangueira, one of Rio’s most traditional samba groups. “But this moment is not possible yet.”
Faced with a pandemic that has killed nearly 144,000 people — Brazil’s toll is second only to the United States — a deep economic crisis, and a president whose inner circle is engulfed in a growing number of criminal and legislative investigations, Rio residents are being robbed of the moment of catharsis that many look forward to year-round. Few places have been hit as hard as Rio de Janeiro, a state of 16 million people where the virus has killed more than 18,000.
The decision to suspend the parade will deprive the city of an important source of revenue and its citizens of performances that often deliver skewering political commentary.
But the heads of the city’s leading samba organizations found that without a vaccine, conditions would not be safe.
With the official parade postponed indefinitely, it is unclear if — and how — Rio residents will celebrate come February, when the festivities are scheduled.
“I feel like crying, seeing they haven’t started the work of building the floats,” said Nicilda da Silva, 80, who was elected queen of the Porto da Pedra samba group this year and helps plan their parade. “But our hands are tied.”
In other developments around the world:
Singapore’s civil aviation authority said the city-state would no longer require visitors from Vietnam or most of Australia to self isolate, starting on Oct. 8, as long as they pass a Covid-19 test on arrival and have not traveled to other countries in the two weeks leading up to the flight. The new rules do not include the Australian state of Victoria, which reported 15 new cases on Thursday. Self-isolation requirements were lifted for travelers from Brunei and New Zealand on Sept. 1.
South Africa will begin allowing some international tourists to enter the country on Thursday, for the first time since a national lockdown took effect in March. In a blow to hopes of reviving the country’s tourism sector, at least a dozen high-risk European countries, the United States and most of Latin America will remain on a no-fly list.
New York City is reopening all its public schools on Thursday in a milestone for the city’s recovery from its position as the global epicenter of the pandemic and a hopeful sign for the country’s unsteady effort to return children to classrooms.
Middle and high school students are being welcomed to school buildings, and elementary school children started earlier this week.
About half a million students, from 3-year-olds in pre-K programs to high school seniors, have now returned to school for the first time since March.
Roughly another 480,000 children have opted to start the school year remote-only, an indication of how wary many New Yorkers are of sending their children back to classrooms in a city that still fears a second wave of the virus.
Despite considerable political opposition to reopening and significant planning problems that forced Mayor Bill de Blasio to twice delay the start of in-person classes, New York, which has by far the nation’s largest school system, is now the only large district in the country that has reopened all its schools.
Some other big districts are not far behind, though they have faced their own challenges. Schools in Miami-Dade are set to reopen on Monday, at the order of the Florida state education commissioner, despite the strong opposition of the teachers’ union. And school leaders in Houston, San Diego and Washington, D.C., are planning on bringing at least some students back into classrooms later this month.
Despite a fast-growing number of coronavirus cases, India will allow cinemas and entertainment parks to open with limited capacity beginning Oct. 15, in an effort to revive an economy that has been battered by the pandemic. Swimming pools will be open for athletes in training, and states could be allowed to open schools.
As of Thursday, India had at least 6.3 million reported cases and 98,000 deaths, according to a New York Times database. The country has the second-highest caseload in the world but has reported nearly twice as many new cases in the past week — at least 580,000 — than the United States, the world’s leader in total cases.
India’s health ministry said on Thursday that the month of September, with about 2.6 million new cases, accounted for 41.5 percent of the total caseload in the country. The death toll in September also accounted for about one-third of India’s total.
Many Indians doubt restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the virus, including penalties for noncompliance, are working. That thinking is fast seeping into the countryside, where people hardly wear masks now and maintain little social distance. People in cities are more likely to follow restrictions.
As the cases continue to rise, many Indians are also blaming the government for a poorly planned and severe lockdown in late March. During the lockdown, most cases were concentrated in urban areas. The sudden lockdown crippled an already ailing economy, and hundreds of thousands of Indians were left jobless.
But as restrictions on interstate travel were eased, many people started moving from the cities to rural areas, bringing the virus with them.
Now, despite the country passing one milestone after another, officials are still going ahead and lifting more restrictions, hoping to ease the economic suffering.
Turkey has acknowledged that it was not making all confirmed coronavirus cases public in its daily announced tally, but counting only those patients showing symptoms.
Many doctors for months have been warning that the actual scale of the pandemic is much wider in Turkey than has been depicted in the official figures.
“We have been saying that for six months,” said the Turkish Medical Association on Twitter, addressing the government. “You concealed the truth. You did not stop the epidemic.”
Turkey had imposed a partial lockdown during weekends and official holidays, banned travel between cities and closed social facilities like gyms and cafes, but it avoided any measure that would further harm an already staggering economy. The country has recorded at least 318,000 confirmed cases and nearly 8,200 deaths, according to a New York Times database.
The country had been announcing daily figures since mid-March, when the first confirmed coronavirus case was detected. Until the end of July, the government figures included the number of daily confirmed cases, but since then has changed its wording to “the daily number of patients,” although there was not a major diversion in the figures.
“Symptomatic ones are called patients, asymptomatic ones called cases,” the health minister, Fahrettin Koca, said Wednesday. “What we are announcing is the daily number of patients.”
Mr. Koca said the tally included every patient, whether hospitalized or treated at home, stopping short of revealing figures on asymptomatic cases, despite being asked twice.
He rejected an opposition lawmaker’s claim that the actual number of cases is 20 times more than the official figures.
“Nothing covert is done in this struggle,” Mr. Koca said, noting that asymptomatic cases were being detected and isolated, too.
Yet the opposition saw his remarks as a confession on concealing the truth.
“You cannot manage a pandemic by hiding the truth from the people,” said Murat Emir, an opposition lawmaker who has expressed skepticism about the official count. “Who is going to take the responsibility of stalling our people with only a very small portion of the truth?” he said.
The debate over how and whether to lockdown Madrid, the epicenter of Spain second wave of the virus, is moving to the courtroom as the region challenges a national decree that would lockdown the capital and prevent Madrid-area residents from traveling to other parts of the country.
The region has so far opted for a selective lockdown of about one million residents in some of its worst-affected and mostly working-class areas. The decree presented on Wednesday by the central government would extend the lockdown to about 4.8 million residents, preventing them from traveling to any other part of Spain unless for work or other exceptional reasons.
“Our region is not in rebellion, we will follow it (the decree) but we will go to court to defend the legitimate interests of Madrilenians,” Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the regional leader of Madrid, said on Thursday, speaking before her regional Parliament.
The limited lockdown now in force has prompted demonstrations and put a spotlight on the line between rich and poor.
The latest turn in the battle over the lockdown came after a meeting on Wednesday during which a majority of the 17 regions backed the government, but Madrid was among a handful of regions to reject it. The split largely reflected the polarization of Spanish politics. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez leads Spain’s first left-wing coalition government, while Ms. Díaz Ayuso heads a right-wing coalition in Madrid.
The Tampa Bay Lightning won the National Hockey League’s top trophy on Monday from within the confines of a 24/7 pandemic bubble in western Canada, and without any fans in the arena to watch.
By Wednesday, the players were back in Florida, greeting hordes of unmasked fans who turned out to celebrate their victory. No one appeared to mind that the state had passed 700,000 confirmed coronavirus cases a few days earlier and was reporting an average of at least 2,200 new cases a day over the past week.
Wednesday’s celebration began with a boat parade by Lightning players through downtown Tampa, and segued into a party in a local stadium that was attended by about 12,000 to 15,000 people, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
“It almost feels like what we’re doing now is, like, wrong,” one fan, Wes King, said.
Photos from the event showed thousands of unmasked fans cramming together on the bank of the Hillsborough River as unmasked players from the Lightning floated by on motorboats, drinking beer and puffing on cigars.
Other unmasked players slapped hands and posed for selfies with fans who had jammed together into a receiving line, and even allowed fans to drink from the cup, as winning teams normally do.
“So … why did they spend months in a bubble if they were just going to go Covid crazy the minute they were released?” one Canada-based Twitter user wrote. “Not the brightest bulbs.”
The N.H.L. was the first of the four major North American pro sports leagues to complete a season during the pandemic. It chose to base its playoff “bubbles” in Toronto and Edmonton because of their relatively low infection rates, especially compared with cities in the United States.
Players, team and league staff members, and medical officers were fenced off inside “secure zones” that included hockey arenas, practice facilities and hotels. Broadcasters stood at a social distance while interviewing players on the ice. And many players went weeks, or months, without seeing their families.
Even the league’s commissioner, Gary Bettman, had to produce negative tests during a weeklong home isolation, then quarantine in his hotel room for several days, before he could present the Stanley Cup to the Lightning.
“There’s no harder championship to win,” Mr. Bettman said before handing the trophy to the team’s captain, Steven Stamkos. “The gauntlet that you have to run to hoist this trophy is unbelievable, and never more unbelievable than this year.”
In other sports news related to the pandemic:
The N.F.L. has moved the Pittsburgh Steelers-Tennessee Titans game — originally scheduled for Sunday — to next week to allow more time to test members of the Titans for the virus. At least four Titans players and five employees have tested positive, the league’s first outbreak since the beginning of the season.
Major League Baseball said it would sell tickets to the National League Championship Series and the World Series this October, both of which will be held at the Texas Rangers’ new retractable-roof ballpark in Arlington. The American League Championship Series will be played in San Diego, but the league could not get approval from California to sell tickets there.