Johnson & Johnson has paused the large late-stage clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine because of an “unexplained illness” in one of the volunteers, the company said on Monday evening.
The company did not say whether the sick participant had received the experimental vaccine or a placebo. The pause was first reported by Stat.
Johnson & Johnson, which just began the last, so-called Phase 3 trial of its vaccine last month, was behind several of its competitors in the vaccine race, but its vaccine had some advantages over others. It does not need to be frozen and it could need just one dose instead of two. It would also be the largest trial, with a goal of enrolling 60,000 volunteers.
“Adverse events — illnesses, accidents, etc. — even those that are serious, are an expected part of any clinical study, especially large studies,” the company said in a statement. “We’re also learning more about this participant’s illness, and it’s important to have all the facts before we share additional information.”
It’s not the first trial to be paused because of safety concerns. Two participants in AstraZeneca’s trial became seriously ill after getting its vaccine. That trial was halted last month and has still not resumed in the United States.
This is a developing story.
The University of Florida is planning to greatly expand its offerings of in-person classes in January, citing educational and economic reasons for the decision.
In a video announcement posted on Friday, Kent Fuchs, the president of the university, said providing more face-to-face instruction would be “our best shared opportunity to retain full funding for our university, and thereby protect the jobs of our employees.”
The state university is also under pressure from the governor, Ron DeSantis, to swiftly expand in-person teaching when the spring semester begins on Jan. 11. The DeSantis administration has already ordered all of the state’s public school districts to provide in-person instruction to all students who want it, over the objections of teachers’ unions.
Campuses across the country are struggling to carry on amid illnesses and outbreaks, with a determined minority beating the pandemic — at least for the moment — by holding infections to a minimum and allowing students to continue living in dorms and attend face-to-face classes. Those located in smaller towns, have minimal Greek life, aggressively enforce social-distancing measures and conduct extensive testing all have had better success in suppressing the contagion, experts say.
Universities have struggled financially since March, when the threat of the virus forced students to disperse for their safety. Hoping to salvage some sense of normalcy — along with lost revenue from housing fees and out-of-state tuition — many schools have invested heavily in health measures to bring back at least some students to campus with the promise of in-person classes and independent living in dorm rooms. Those plans have been fluid, however, as outbreaks have forced course corrections at campus after campus.
At the University of Florida’s main campus in Gainesville, about 35 percent of classes are either all in-person or a blend of remote and classroom instruction. The remainder are online.
Many faculty members have resisted expanding in-person instruction, concerned about local and statewide infection levels. More than 2,900 confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been identified at the University of Florida over the course of the pandemic, with a major spike on campus and in surrounding Alachua County in September.
The 50,000-student university also reports a case positivity rate of nearly 6 percent among students, which is twice the rate New York City uses as a cutoff point for closing public schools.
Statewide, Florida briefly averaged more than 11,000 new infections daily this summer. While numbers have been relatively steady in recent weeks, the current seven-day average in Florida is more than 2,500 per day.
“There is no justification to jeopardize the health and safety of faculty, staff and students by radically increasing” face-to-face teaching, Paul Ortiz, a history professor and head of the faculty union, said in an email.
Although the university said it plans to offer in-person instruction in at least as many classes as before the pandemic, social distancing will still be required in lecture halls, meaning some classes will have multiple sections.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain on Monday ordered pubs and bars in the coronavirus-ravaged city of Liverpool to be closed, a move that stoked tensions with local officials and laid bare how the second wave of the pandemic is afflicting England’s north far more seriously than London or the rest of the south.
Mr. Johnson’s measures underscored that Britain is now in the heat of its battle to avert a repeat of last spring’s lethal outbreak. He announced a new three-tier system of restrictions which is designed to simplify what had become a confusing patchwork of targeted lockdowns around the country. But the rigors of this latest campaign are being felt unevenly: 2.4 million people in Liverpool and its suburbs face tough new restrictions while for now, life in London goes on more or less normally.
The plan has infuriated officials in the north of England, who complain that they have been cut out of the government’s deliberations. They say the renewed lockdowns could throttle their economies and betray an election-year promise by Mr. Johnson’s Conservative government to raise prosperity in the economically blighted north to the level of London and the more affluent areas in the south.
“We don’t want to go back to another national lockdown,” Mr. Johnson declared in Parliament. But with cases rising rapidly and more people now hospitalized with the virus than in March, he said it was time to impose more draconian restrictions.
Under the government’s new system, cities or regions will be subject to escalating tiers of lockdown measures, depending on the severity of their outbreaks. Measures in the first tier basically duplicate the most recent restrictions Mr. Johnson announced for the entire country: a ban on social gatherings of more than six people and a curfew of 10 p.m. on bars and restaurants.
The second tier imposes on a ban on socializing by people from different households, while the third and highest tier imposes a lockdown on pubs, gyms, and other nonessential businesses. Schools and offices will remain open, even in places subject to the highest level of restrictions.
But some health experts criticized the latest measures, saying they would neither stamp out the virus nor shield the economy from damage.
Devi Sridhar, the chair of the global public health program at the University of Edinburgh, said the government failed to use the time during its earlier lockdown to put in place an effective test-and-trace program. Unless it remedied that failure now, there was little point to closing pubs or gyms. “It’s a slow strangulation of both the economy and human health,” she said.
The virus is roaring back across much of Europe, where countries are reporting daily cases comparable to — and sometimes far beyond — those of the pandemic’s first peaks.
Britain recorded over 15,000 cases on Saturday alone. France is weighing the possibility of local lockdowns as the country battles a second wave. In Spain, the federal government has used emergency powers to enforce a partial lockdown in Madrid, despite protests. Even Germany, much praised for its testing and contact-tracing capabilities, has reported a rise in infections this month.
The Southeastern Conference has postponed a game because of the coronavirus for the first time.
The league, college football’s premier conference and home to 10 of the last 15 national champions, said Monday that Saturday’s matchup between Vanderbilt University and the University of Missouri would not be played as planned “due to positive tests and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the Vanderbilt football program.”
In a statement, Vanderbilt said that after injuries, opt-outs and virus-related concerns, it did not have enough scholarship athletes — 53 is the conference’s minimum — available for the game, which was to be played in Columbia, Mo. League officials rescheduled the game for Dec. 12, one week before the conference championship.
“The league and universities have been prepared for the likelihood of disruptions within the season while we all navigate the various challenges and complexities of competing during a global pandemic,” said Candice Lee, Vanderbilt’s athletic director. “As always, we are committed to taking whatever steps necessary for the health and safety of our students and community.”
Dozens of college football games have been canceled or postponed, or played with undermanned rosters, in recent weeks because of the pandemic. Another game scheduled for this weekend in a top league, a Big 12 matchup between Oklahoma State University and Baylor University, was postponed on Sunday after “multiple” people associated with the Baylor football program tested positive.
The Big Ten Conference is scheduled to begin play next week after it reversed its decision not to compete during the pandemic. The Pac-12 intends to start games in November.
President Trump, eager to prove he is healthy and energetic despite his recent hospitalization for Covid-19, returned to the campaign trail on Monday night in Florida, telling supporters he was fully recovered and therefore immune to the coronavirus — a claim for which there is no conclusive scientific backing.
Onstage at a hangar at the Orlando Sanford International Airport, Mr. Trump said he felt “so powerful” and offered to wade into the crowd.
“I’ll kiss everyone in that audience,” he said. “I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women. Just give you a big fat kiss.”
The president spoke for about an hour. Many supporters in the crowd did not wear masks, including some of those chosen to stand behind the president’s lectern and within the camera shot.
Mr. Trump claimed that vaccines against the virus “are going to be distributed very shortly,” although the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved one. The president also implied without evidence that the agency was deliberately holding back on vaccine approvals to hurt his chances of re-election.
“Frankly, it’s a big political deal going on where they don’t want it to be before the election,” the president said.
Mr. Trump, whose response to a pandemic that has killed more than 214,000 Americans remains the biggest threat to his re-election, also claimed without evidence that his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., would delay the vaccine and “prolong the pandemic.”
Mr. Trump’s arrival in Florida took place only hours after the White House physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley, said the president had tested negative “on consecutive days” using a rapid coronavirus test not intended for that purpose.
With three weeks left in the race, Mr. Trump is running behind Mr. Biden. His polling numbers with seniors, a crucial constituency that has been disproportionately harmed by the coronavirus, have been flagging.
President Trump has tested negative “on consecutive days” using a rapid antigen coronavirus test not intended for that purpose, the White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said in a statement released Monday before the president began a rally in Florida.
The memo said the president tested negative on a rapid test called Abbott BinaxNOW, but experts cautioned that the test’s accuracy has not yet been investigated enough to be sure that the president is virus-free.
“It doesn’t make much sense in my mind that they should be using the BinaxNOW test for this,” said Dr. Michael Mina, an infectious diseases expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “But it’s one additional piece of information.”
The BinaxNOW, which costs $5 and functions like a pregnancy test, looks for a protein produced by the coronavirus. It is most effective when the amount of virus in the body is high, but is much less sensitive than the P.C.R., the gold standard laboratory test. The Trump administration has purchased 150 million BinaxNOW tests and plans to ship them to states for use in schools and nursing homes.
In an announcement of the tests’ deployment to states on Sept. 28, the Department of Health and Human Services cautioned that “results from an antigen test may need to be confirmed with a molecular test prior to making treatment decisions; this may be particularly true for negative results if there is a high clinical suspicion that the patient is infected.”
“Infectiousness should be based more on symptom onset,” said Dr. Ranu Dhillon, a physician at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. The BinaxNOW, he said, “could be giving false negatives.”
According to guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with severe Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, may need to isolate for up to 20 days. But it has been unclear when exactly Mr. Trump’s symptoms began, or how severe they have been. On Monday, he departed for his Florida rally without a mask covering his face.
Doctors said it’s somewhat reassuring that Mr. Trump has tested negative more than once, but said without more details from the more sensitive P.C.R. tests, it’s impossible to be sure that he is past the point of infectiousness.
BinaxNOW’s “real power lies in marking someone who is transmissible, not the other way around,” Dr. Mina said. “I think they’re mixing things up a bit.”
In a memo released Saturday night with limited information, Dr. Conley said that Mr. Trump was “no longer considered a transmission risk to others.” That memo did not explicitly categorize the president as “negative” for the coronavirus.
One day after decrying the Trump campaign using video of him in a television ad without his permission, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, repeated his displeasure in an interview with CNN on Monday.
“By doing this against my will, they are in effect harassing me,” Dr. Fauci told CNN. “Since campaign ads are about getting votes, their harassment of me might have the opposite effect of turning some voters off.”
Dr. Fauci has said that the video, which portrays him as praising the president’s response to the pandemic, was taken out of context. He called his inclusion in it “very disappointing,” and said that he had been speaking more broadly about the collaborative efforts of the federal government and was “not a political person.” Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether the ad should be taken down, something the Trump campaign says it has no intention of doing, Dr. Fauci said, “I think so.”
In an interview with The Times on Monday, Dr. Fauci said that he had been unsuccessful so far in having the ad removed.
“I wouldn’t know who to contact in the campaign to tell them to pull it down,” he said. “I spoke to someone who I know well in the White House to figure it out for me and tell me how to get it down. I haven’t heard back from them yet.”
Hours before President Trump was set to return to the campaign trail in Florida on Monday, Dr. Fauci warned that holding large rallies was “asking for trouble” with cases of the coronavirus surging in many states.
Iran, where the virus is surging, announced this weekend that it will fine people who do not wear masks in public.
Infected individuals who don’t quarantine for two weeks will also be fined each time they leave their house, the government said.
Taxis and businesses that offer services to anyone not wearing a mask also will be fined, with businesses facing escalating penalties for each repeated violation. Business caught flouting the rules a fourth time will be shut down.
The fines range from about $16 for an individual not wearing a mask in public up to $322 for businesses on their third violation. Critics say lower-income Iranians, who often cannot afford masks, will find such amounts difficult to pay.
To prevent security forces — or impostors — from extorting money from people on the streets, the government will collect the fines by appending them to a violator’s phone bill. If payments are not received after a two-week grace period, the government will deduct the amount from the person’s salary or monthly government subsidies, Iraj Harirchi, the country’s deputy health minister, told state television.
Coronavirus numbers have steadily surged in Iran for the past few weeks. On Monday the health ministry said 272 people had died and 4,206 people had tested positive in the past 24 hours. Hospitals in Tehran remain at full capacity with no empty beds for critically ill Covid-19 patients.
A partial shutdown of Tehran has been extended for a second week with schools, universities, gyms and restaurants closed and large public gatherings banned.
President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that he is allocating $100 million to purchasing rapid testing kits to test up to 10,000 more Iranians per day.
Two of President Rouhani’s vice presidents, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht and Ali Akbar Salehi — who is also Iran’s nuclear chief — are the latest senior officials to test positive for the virus, the semiofficial Tasnim news agency reported.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had barely finished a fairly routine coronavirus briefing earlier this month when he got word that the New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, had just blindsided him.
The mayor unexpectedly announced that he intended to close down schools and nonessential businesses in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, where the virus was surging in communities with large Orthodox Jewish populations. Mr. de Blasio asserted that he had been in contact with the state, whose approval was needed.
It took less than 24 hours for Mr. Cuomo to fire back.
He halted the mayor’s plan to shutter businesses, calling it imprecise and incomplete, and sped up the closure of schools. By the next day, the governor unveiled his own plan: another phased-in lockdown, complete with color-coded maps and a barely veiled message for Mr. de Blasio.
“A law doesn’t work if you’re too incompetent or too politically frightened to enforce it,” Mr. Cuomo said last week.
The governor and mayor, both Democrats, have feuded for years, and their reluctance to work together closely has become a critical issue during the pandemic. Mr. de Blasio, who needed Mr. Cuomo’s approval to act, pushed out a plan without the state’s blessing, only to have the governor override that plan with one of his own — causing unnecessary confusion for thousands of business owners and school parents.
Restaurants and other businesses were left wondering if they were meant to be open or closed; parents wondered the same about their children’s schools. Tricolor maps set boundaries in the middle of city blocks and public parks. Some rules resembled past restrictions; others were completely new.
Restrictions: Major Minor
Restrictions: Major Minor
Restrictions: Major Minor
For observers of New York politics, the governor’s actions were no surprise. For the last seven years, Mr. Cuomo has overruled Mr. de Blasio again and again and again, seeing himself as both more capable and constitutionally correct: The city is, after all, a creation of the state, and, as Mr. Cuomo likes to remind people, the governor outranks the mayor.
But that penchant for control over city affairs may have spawned a new set of problems. Mr. Cuomo’s crackdown sparked angry protests, federal lawsuits, and accusations that the governor was castigating Orthodox Jews, whose leaders urged more sensitivity toward a community once cast by Nazis as purveyors of disease.
The protests in Brooklyn even became political fodder for President Trump, whose campaign signs were visible at some of the demonstrations. On Wednesday, the president used Twitter to suggest that the police response was emblematic of the “radical left.” Two days later, Mr. Cuomo accused the Trump campaign of instigating the protests.
To some, the visceral backlash from the Orthodox community was inevitable, especially since the restrictions coincided with the weeklong Jewish holiday of Sukkot. And should the state’s intervention help fend off a possible second wave in New York, that would outweigh any fallout.
Yet the public tug-of-war between Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio, just another of many during the pandemic and their overlapping tenures, hampered the implementation of the new rules.
“I understand these are difficult acts to enforce,” Mr. Cuomo said last week. “These are state laws. Blame me. I have no problem with that.”
Whether Mr. Cuomo’s plan would work was still an open question: The city issued some 60 summonses and more than $150,000 in fines over the weekend, as some congregants continued to gather in large groups.
KEY DATA OF THE DAY
Alaska, over the past seven days ending Sunday, reported a state record for the number of new coronavirus cases — more than it has seen during any weeklong stretch of the pandemic. Also, the average number of daily new cases over that time period nearly doubled from where it was two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database.
State health officials have not publicly identified clear sources for the new cases, the bulk of which officials have said have been among young adults between 20 and 39 years old. A recent update from the state’s department of health and social services said new cases are coming from community transmission, meaning, “there are cases in our communities that we do not know about.”
And health officials in Alaska and across the world are concerned about new cases increasing as cooler weather drives more people indoors where the virus lingers in the air.
While the state encourages people to wear face masks, a measure health officials say helps limit the spread of the virus, Alaska has not issued a statewide mandate.
Anchorage, the state’s largest city, has seen about half of Alaska’s new cases statewide over the past seven days. Health care officials there and across the state are growing more and more concerned about straining hospital systems in the coming weeks, according to a recent article in the Anchorage Daily News.
In March, the state put restrictions in place to help prevent the spread of the virus and was one of the first in the country to ease them, allowing all businesses to open at full capacity on May 22. Within weeks, the number of new cases in the state began to increase, reaching a peak in late July and then leveling off over a few weeks later. Late last month, the number of new daily cases started to increase again.
On March 16, President Trump stood before reporters and announced that drastic nationwide restrictions were needed to halt the coronavirus.
The guidelines, “15 Days to Slow the Spread,” were accompanied by a grim chart. Based on a prominent model by London’s Imperial College, the chart illustrated how many Americans might die if nothing were done.
The line rose sharply, then drifted slowly down until finally, at the far right end of the graph, the number of new cases reached zero. Our national nightmare would end by October 2020 — that is, right about now. If no action was taken, about 2.2 million Americans would die.
Nonetheless, there is a collective accomplishment here worth acknowledging. In the Imperial College report, the authors underscored that their worst-case estimate would almost certainly not be realized, thanks to human nature: “It is highly likely that there would be significant spontaneous changes in population behavior even in the absence of government-mandated interventions.”
In the day-to-day fights over reopening schools or bars, it is easy to forget that there was a time when canceling large public gatherings did not seem necessary. That there was a time when leading health officials said that only sick people and hospital workers needed to wear masks.
Today masks are widely accepted. Various polls show that the number of Americans who wear them, at least when entering stores, went from near zero in March to about 65 percent in early summer to 85 percent or even 90 percent in October.
The slow but relentless acceptance of what epidemiologists call “non-pharmaceutical interventions” has made a huge difference. The next step is pharmaceutical interventions.
Some are already modestly successful, like the antiviral drug remdesivir and steroids like dexamethasone. But in the near distance are what Dr. William Schaffner, a preventive medicine specialist, has called “the cavalry” — vaccines and monoclonal antibodies.
It’s tempting to look at the first vaccine as President Trump does: an on-off switch that will bring back life as we know it. “As soon as it’s given the go-ahead, we will get it out, defeat the virus,” he said at a September news conference. But vaccine experts say we should prepare instead for a perplexing, frustrating year.
Come spring, there may be several so-so vaccines that provide only moderate protection available, with no way to know which is best. Some could be abruptly withdrawn from the market if problems arise. A successful first vaccine could also hamper the development of others, if, for example, volunteers drop out of an ongoing trial to get the authorized vaccine.
Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic, said that we should expect “complexity and chaos and confusion.”
Yet even with those warnings, experts are saying with genuine confidence that the pandemic in the United States will be over far sooner than they expected, possibly by the middle of next year.
Even, then, if the cavalry is in sight, it is not here yet.
Lonnie J. Norman, the mayor of Manchester, Tenn., home of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, died early Monday morning at age 79 from Covid-19.
In a statement, Mayor Norman’s family said that the coronavirus is real, and pleaded with public officials to “remember your duty to keep the public safe.”
“To our fellow citizens, we say please wear a mask, practice physical distancing, and protect public health and each other,” the statement said. “We are all in this together.”
Mr. Norman first entered public office in 1984, according to his family, becoming Manchester’s first Black mayor in 1991.
His family said that during his time in office, Mr. Norman built new infrastructure and supported the outdoor Bonnaroo festival, which was held online last month because of coronavirus concerns. Additionally, they said, he had fought against rural hospital closures, so that residents could have access to quality, affordable health care.
The city of Manchester released a statement saying Mr. Norman was “kind, honest, and thoughtful. In a world that seems to so easily divided, Mayor Norman brought us together.”
“Mayor Norman understood the importance of compromise and honest debate,” the statement said.
“He was a great, great man,” said Sage Keele, Mr. Norman’s executive assistant. “He was one of a kind.”
Mr. Norman leaves behind four children and two grandchildren.
Officials with President Trump’s campaign told reporters on Monday that the final stretch of the race would be more frenetic than ever for the president as he tries to make up time he lost battling the coronavirus.
Ahead of Mr. Trump’s return to the campaign trail Monday in Florida, with trips to Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Carolina scheduled for the three following days, aides previewed what they presented as a mad sprint to Nov. 3 and said they had no concerns about the candidate’s health or stamina.
Jason Miller, the campaign’s senior strategist, said the president’s schedule would include “two to three events a day, and that will grow as we get closer to Election Day.”
Bill Stepien, the campaign manager, who himself was returning to work just 10 days after testing positive for the virus, said the president’s packed calendar “reflects his health and well being. It’s going to be a big shot in the arm for the campaign.”
Mr. Stepien said that he had been free of symptoms for the entire 10 days and that his decision to return to work was in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He did not say whether or not he had tested negative for the virus.
“We take a lot of precautions at headquarters here,” Mr. Stepien said. The pronouncement came as Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff who has been around the president in recent days, was spotted on Capitol Hill refusing to speak to reporters through a mask.
The White House physician has not released results of Mr. Trump’s most recent test, which he says he took on Friday, though the president said on Sunday that he had tested “totally negative.”
That may not be enough time to protect people Mr. Trump comes in contact with. Anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus should quarantine for at least 10 days after showing symptoms, to avoid spreading the infection to others, according to the C.D.C. The agency recommends a longer period of isolation for people who have had severe cases.
Overall, the Trump campaign team expressed confidence, even as polls show Joseph R. Biden Jr. with significant leads in several battleground states.
Mr. Miller also said that recent cuts in television advertising in key states like Ohio were not a sign of concern over cash flow, but rather indicated the campaign’s confidence there that they felt they could pull down ad buys with just three weeks to go in the race. He said the campaign was making new ad buys in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and Nevada this week.
And he reminded reporters that a spending advantage in 2016 did not deliver a win for Hillary Clinton.
Judge Barrett’s four-day confirmation hearing looks unlike any other in modern history, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans have insisted on going ahead despite a virus outbreak in Washington that appears to be linked to the crowded White House ceremony two weeks ago where Mr. Trump introduced Judge Barrett as his nominee. The president and most other attendees at the gathering were maskless. Mr. Trump has since tested positive for the virus, as have several other guests.
At least two Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee, Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, also tested positive after attending the event. Mr. Lee was on hand in the hearing room on Monday morning, having met the “criteria to end Covid-19 isolation for those with mild to moderate disease” according to a letter he received from the attending physician of Congress, Dr. Brian P. Monahan.
The committee room, Hart 216, had been transformed into a sparse room, with just a handful of reporters, guests and staff in addition to most senators and Judge Barrett.
The proceedings are playing out partially by video to allow senators who may be sick or worried about infection to participate remotely. No members of the public — including protesters whose confrontational style set the tone for other confirmation fights — are allowed in the hearing room.
Protesters blocked the entrance to Senate buildings, carrying posters and signs aimed at swaying senators for or against the confirmation. By the time the committee broke for lunch, the Capitol Police had arrested at least 21 people gathered outside for “unlawful demonstration activities.”
Most senators, except for Mr. Graham and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat, kept their masks on once the hearing began. A few senators, including Senators Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic nominee for vice president, Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, and Mr. Tillis were remote for the hearing. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, also joined the hearing remotely as he finished out a period of self-quarantining after coming into contact with Mr. Lee. Mr. Cruz is expected to come to the hearing on Tuesday in person, a spokeswoman said.
Senate Republicans on Monday issued a lengthy document defending their decision to proceed, quoting a letter from J. Brett Blanton, the architect of the Capitol, to Mr. Graham in which he said the seating arrangements for the hearing had been designed “in accordance with established guidelines and in consultation with the Office of Attending Physician to comply with Covid-19 safety protocols.”
Mr. Blanton said his office was also following ventilation guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, and that ventilation system in the room being used had “been evaluated to ensure they meet or exceed current standards.”
Mr. Graham addressed the safety of holding a hearing during the pandemic first thing, saying that he doubted “there is any room in the country that’s been given more attention and detail to make sure it’s C.D.C. compliant.”
He sought to dismiss criticisms from Democrats who said the hearings were unsafe and unnecessary to convene so quickly.
“There are millions of Americans, cops, waitresses, nurses, you name it, going to work today to do their job and we’re going to work in the Senate to do our job,” he said.
Should any more Republican senators fall ill, it could complicate Judge Barrett’s chances of confirmation. With two members of the party, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, already opposed to proceeding before Election Day, Republicans, who control the Senate by a 53-to-47 majority, can afford to lose only one more vote.
At Judge Barrett’s desk, she had been given a box of Clorox wipes and a sizable bottle of Purell, in addition to the customary bottles of water and note pad, and several other senators had their own Purell bottles and boxes of wipes. Her family was seated behind her, with Mark Meadows and Pat Cipollone, masked and distanced, seated on her other side.
Even as vaccines are hailed as our best hope against the coronavirus, dozens of scientific groups are working on an alternate defense: monoclonal antibodies. These therapies shot to prominence just this month after President Trump got an infusion of an antibody cocktail made by Regeneron and credited it for his apparent recovery.
Monoclonal antibodies are distilled from the blood of patients who have recovered from the virus. Ideally, antibodies infused early in the course of infection — or even before exposure, as a preventive — may provide swift immunity.
An enthusiastic Mr. Trump has promised to distribute these experimental drugs free to anyone who needs them. But they are difficult and expensive to produce. At the moment, Regeneron has enough to treat only 50,000 patients.
Dozens of companies and academic groups are also racing to develop antibody therapies. Already Regeneron and the drug company Eli Lilly have requested emergency use authorizations for their products from the Food and Drug Administration. But some scientists are betting on a dark horse: Prometheus, a ragtag group of scientists who are months behind in the competition — and yet may ultimately deliver the most powerful antibody.
Prometheus is a collaboration between academic labs, the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and a New Hampshire-based antibody company called Adimab.
The group’s antibody is not expected to be in human trials until late December, but it may be worth the wait. Unlike the antibodies made by Regeneron and Eli Lilly, which fade in the body within weeks, Prometheus’s antibody aims to be effective for up to six months.
“A single dose goes a long way, meaning we can treat more people,” said Kartik Chandran, a virologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the group’s leader.
The gap between the Democrats’ proposed $2.2 trillion relief package and the White House’s $1.8 trillion offer may look relatively small, in the grand scheme of things. But an agreement on the aid that many say is needed to keep the economic recovery on track seems remote despite frenzied talks in recent days.
Here’s a quick catch-up on the back and forth, courtesy of today’s DealBook newsletter:
Oct. 6: “I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election,” Mr. Trump tweeted. A few hours later, he said he was willing to sign stand-alone bills that would finance stimulus checks, small-business loans and airline aid. Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, warned of “tragic” consequences if no stimulus was forthcoming. The S&P 500 fell 1.4 percent.
Oct. 7: “Move Fast, I Am Waiting To Sign!” Mr. Trump tweeted at Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker. The S&P rose 1.7 percent.
Oct. 8: Analysts start pricing in better odds of a deal getting done. The S&P rose 0.8 percent.
Oct. 9: “Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!” Mr. Trump tweeted. He said he was inclined to be more generous than either Democrats or Republicans, but Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said a deal was “unlikely in the next three weeks.” No matter: The S&P rose 0.9 percent, ending a tumultuous week with a gain of about 4 percent.
Oct. 10: Ms. Pelosi wrote a letter calling Republican proposals “insufficient,” although she remained “hopeful” that a deal could be struck. For their part, some Senate Republicans complained that a big spending package could cost them seats among fiscally conservative voters.
Oct. 11: The White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote to lawmakers urging them to “come together and immediately vote on a bill,” tapping unused funds from the first round of stimulus. Ms. Pelosi wrote another letter saying that talks were at an “impasse,” with disagreements over the nature of the aid rather than the size of the bill. On Fox News, Mr. Trump said “Republicans want to do it” and blamed Ms. Pelosi for the stalemate.
Oct. 12: At the time of writing, stock futures are up in premarket trading. Hope springs eternal.
The Chinese city of Qingdao is testing all of its 9.5 million residents after it recorded the country’s first locally transmitted cases of the virus in almost two months.
The authorities said that a dozen people in Qingdao, a seaside city in Shandong Province, had tested positive for the virus as of Sunday. Officials said the cases appeared to be linked to the Qingdao Chest Hospital, which has been treating people who test positive for the virus after arriving in China from abroad. The hospital has since been placed under lockdown.
In a sign of the growing alarm over the outbreak, the National Health Commission in Beijing said on Monday that it had dispatched a team to Qingdao to “guide local epidemic prevention and control work.”
The authorities in Qingdao have started a five-day campaign to test the city’s residents. Photographs on social media showed people lining up across the city for tests beginning late Sunday. At least one government notice described the exams as mandatory.
Testing has been crucial to Beijing’s efforts to contain the virus. The government has previously led mass testing campaigns in Wuhan, the original center of the outbreak, and the western region of Xinjiang, where a cluster of cases emerged over the summer.
Life in China has largely returned to normal after widespread lockdowns and other restrictions early this year. The country has reported no local transmissions of the virus since mid-August, attributing all cases to returned travelers in quarantine. Asymptomatic patients are not counted as confirmed cases.
Since the pandemic began, the Chinese mainland has reported more than 94,000 cases and 4,634 deaths, according to a New York Times database.
In other global developments:
France is weighing the possibility of local lockdowns as the country battles a second wave of the epidemic, Prime Minister Jean Castex said Monday. Mr. Castex told France Info that the country faces an unprecedented surge in cases that is putting increasing pressure on hospitals. Nearly 27,000 new infections were reported by health authorities on Saturday — a record — and the rate of positive results from testing passed 11 percent. About 500 checks were carried out in the Paris area over the weekend and police found nearly 100 bars and restaurants flouting new health restrictions, he Castex said.
Israel has passed 2,000 virus deaths; it doubled its total in just five weeks after hitting 1,000 on Sept. 5.
In South Korea, masks will be mandatory in public starting on Tuesday even as social distancing measures are eased. After a 30-day grace period, people over age 14 who fail to wear masks could be fined as much as 100,000 won, or $87. Social-distancing measures will be reduced to their lowest level as of Monday as a second outbreak of infections appears to wane.
New Zealand on Monday announced its first deal for a potential coronavirus vaccine, agreeing to buy 1.5 million doses from the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the German biotechnology company BioNTech if their product succeeds. Officials did not say how much it cost to buy the vaccine, which could be available early next year. With each person expected to require two doses, there would be enough to inoculate 750,000 of New Zealand’s five million people.
The president of French Polynesia tested positive for the virus two days after meeting in Paris with the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, according to the French newspaper Le Monde. The office of President Edouard Fritch said in a statement that he was tested after he returned to Tahiti and complained of fever and pain. Mr. Macron’s office said that he would not have to quarantine because the two leaders had followed strict mask and distancing protocols.