After bobbing and weaving around the coronavirus pandemic for much of the fall, the N.F.L. nears the final quarter of its regular season facing crises on teams from coast to coast.
Ahead of Sunday’s game, the Denver Broncos ran out of quarterbacks as Blake Bortles, Drew Lock and Brett Rypien were forced to quarantine after coming into contact with a fourth quarterback, Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for the virus on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity Saturday night because the team had not publicly revealed details of its predicament.
At the same time, the San Francisco 49ers were grappling with the news that, starting Monday, they would not be allowed to play or practice football for three weeks in Santa Clara County, Calif., home of their stadium and their training facilities. A coronavirus surge in the area had prompted county health officials to ban all contact sports — in high school, college and the professional ranks — until at least Dec. 21.
And in Baltimore, six more members of the Ravens were reported to have tested positive for the virus as an outbreak in the team’s locker room expanded to 18 players. Their next game, scheduled for Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, has already been postponed twice.
The league’s troubles have mounted as the total number of virus cases in the United States for the month of November passed four million, more than double the record set in October. In California’s Bay Area, the 49ers’ community, caseloads have been low compared with those in other parts of the country, but they have increased quickly in recent weeks, prompting officials to impose tighter restrictions.
Santa Clara County just recorded its worst week of the pandemic, with more than 3,300 cases in the seven-day period that ended on Saturday, a 242 percent increase over the number of cases announced in the same time frame a month ago.
“We are at risk of exceeding our hospital capacity very soon if current trends continue,” said Dr. Sara Cody, the health officer for Santa Clara County.
In addition to forbidding contact sports, the county will require anyone traveling into the region from more than 150 miles away to quarantine. The orders also apply to teams like the N.H.L.’s San Jose Sharks and the football programs at Stanford University and San Jose State. College football has struggled to contain the virus, which has forced the cancellation of more than 90 games.
The 49ers, who are to play the Rams in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon, should be able to return to Santa Clara County before the quarantine goes into effect. But it is not clear where and when they will go after that. They have two home games and one on the road scheduled over the next three weeks.
Significantly reducing the risk of transmitting the coronavirus in a contact sport requires creating a so-called bubble like the one devised by the N.B.A., in which everyone involved with a team lives and works together in a largely sealed environment, Dr. Arthur Reingold, a professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, said in an interview Saturday.
“There are no guarantees, though, even when you do all of that, but you do reduce the risk,” he said.
The N.F.L. has not established a bubble, but until this week it had only one full-fledged outbreak, when two dozen players and other personnel tested positive on the Tennessee Titans. The league got through that crisis by juggling a few teams’ schedules, but now most teams’ open dates have been exhausted. The regular season is supposed to end on New Year’s weekend, but more postponements might require adding an additional week and delaying the playoffs.
Through recessions and blizzards and other upheavals, Ebenezer Scrooge has drawn small children and big money to his redemption story in “A Christmas Carol.”
Stage adaptations of the tale, which generally run between Thanksgiving and year-end, have been a tradition and a lifeline for troupes big and small, professional and amateur. But now, after decades in which the Dickens classic has sustained them, this year theaters are sustaining Dickens.
Gone are the large-cast extravaganzas playing before cheery crowds in packed venues. Instead, theaters are using every contagion-reduction strategy they have honed during the coronavirus pandemic: outdoor stagings, drive-in productions, street theater, streaming video, radio plays and even a do-it-yourself kit sent by mail.
Many of these theaters are willingly running the long-lucrative show at a loss — they are hungry to create, determined to stay visible and eager to satisfy those “Christmas Carol” die-hards who don’t want to miss a year.
“It’s absolutely an obligation, in the best sense of that word,” said Curt Columbus, the artistic director of Trinity Repertory Company, in Providence, R.I., which has staged “A Christmas Carol” each holiday season since 1977. “The story felt more urgent, and more necessary, than it has in many years.”
The financial implications are enormous, especially for those that have opted not to charge at all. Ford’s Theater in Washington last year sold $2.5 million worth of tickets to “A Christmas Carol.” This year, it is releasing a free audio version on its website and on public radio, paid for by corporate sponsorships and donations. “Hopefully it will come back to us in other ways,” said Paul R. Tetreault, Ford’s director.
The money “A Christmas Carol” usually brings in allows theaters to perform more challenging work at other times of the year.
“This thing has kept American theaters alive for decades and decades,” said Charles Fee, the producing artistic director of Great Lakes Theater in Cleveland. “Without ‘Christmas Carol,’ our company would almost certainly have failed.”
If the ghost of one of the women executed during the 17th century witch trials in Salem, Mass., were to appear among the participants in one of the guided tours seeking to understand what happened to her, she would not count against the strict 12-person limit that the state has imposed on such excursions.
Still, Lance Zaal, the founder of Salem Ghosts, which runs such tours, felt that the quota imposed under coronavirus restrictions seriously hampered his business.
The waiting list in October, prime ghost tour season, stretched to 500 people who could not be accommodated by Halloween, he said, so he recently filed suit in federal court in Massachusetts against Gov. Charles D. Baker and two other top officials responsible for the virus regulations.
Seeing hundreds of demonstrators on social justice issues pack the sidewalks and the commons of various Massachusetts towns, as well as crowded churches, Mr. Zaal decided that his outdoor tours faced unfair discrimination.
“One person’s free speech should not be weighed as more or less important than another’s,” he said.
Terry MacCormack, a spokesman for Mr. Baker, said his administration would not comment on pending litigation.
The 60-minute, $21 tour of nighttime Salem (“The most haunted city in America”) is built around the troubled, tragic history of the witch trials in the 1692-93, when 20 women accused of sorcery were executed.
Mr. Zaal, whose company runs ghost tours in more than 20 cities nationwide, noted that the general drop in tourism had hurt his business and the livelihood of his guides, who are counted in the Salem quota. The company tries to follow all local regulations, he said, with participants asked to wear masks and full refunds available to anyone feeling ill or recently exposed to Covid-19.
Initially, to minimize interactions involving money or credit cards, the company even stopped the sale of its electromagnetic ghost detectors.
Those have resumed, and there have been zero proven cases of ghosts spreading the virus to humans or vice versa, Mr. Zaal said, “It has been very safe between ghosts and humans so far.”
Outdoor activities have become a popular pastime during the coronavirus pandemic as adventure seekers and couch surfers alike take to hiking trails for a bit of a reprieve.
But while hiking might be a relatively safe, socially distanced activity, the challenges of weather, nature and physical strain have led to a rash of injuries and some deaths on the trails.
In September, three hikers died in six days in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. A hiker in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington who encountered a whiteout was revived after his heart stopped for 45 minutes. And a woman who went missing for two days on Mount Whitney in California died from her injuries after being rescued in November.
The increase in parkgoers — upward of 90 percent over the previous year in some parks — has added pressure to staff members and the authorities, who are already under financial and staffing constraints because of the pandemic.
“People need to be careful, especially now, as resources for search and rescue can be thin,” said Lisa Herron, a spokeswoman for the United States Forest Service at Lake Tahoe Basin in California.
The agency has not yet compiled data on injuries and deaths for the year, but several park rangers and rescue agency representatives say anecdotally the incidents have increased with the surge in visitors.
El Dorado County, Calif., one of the five counties surrounding Lake Tahoe, has back country and wilderness — including Desolation Wilderness, which is accessible only on foot or horseback — and has had an increase in calls this year for aid related to illness, injury and being lost, according to the sheriff’s office.
Sgt. Eric Palmberg of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office said many of the calls involved people “way out of their experience level and possibly taking more risks, due to the pandemic and being cooped up at home.”
Their meetings used to take place discreetly in the basements of churches, a spare room at the Y.M.C.A., the back of a cafe. But when the pandemic hit last spring, members of Alcoholics Anonymous and other groups of recovering substance abusers found those doors quickly shut.
What happened next is one of those creative cascades the virus has indirectly set off. Rehabilitation moved online, almost overnight, with zeal. Not only are thousands of A.A. meetings taking place on Zoom and other digital hangouts, but other major players in the rehabilitation industry have leapt in, transforming a daily ritual that many credit with saving their lives.
“A.A. members I speak to are well beyond the initial fascination with the idea that they are looking at a screen of Hollywood squares,” said Dr. Lynn Hankes, 84, who has been in recovery for 43 years and is a retired physician in Florida with three decades of experience treating addiction. “They thank Zoom for their very survival.”
People in the field say that online rehab is likely to become a permanent part of the way substance abuse is treated. Being able to find a meeting to log into 24/7 has welcome advantages for people who lack transportation, or are ill or juggling parenting or work challenges that make an in-person meeting tough on a given day. Online meetings can also be a good steppingstone for people just starting rehab.
Some participants say the online experience can have a surprisingly intimate feel to it.
“You get more a feel for total strangers, like when a cat jumps on their lap or a kid might run around in the background,” said a 58-year-old A.A. member in early recovery in Portland, Ore., who declined to give his name, citing the organization’s recommendations not to seek personal publicity.
At the same time, he and others say they crave the raw intensity of physical presence.
“I really miss hugging people,” he said. “The first time I can go back to the church on the corner for a meeting, I will, but I’ll still do meetings online.”
Art Basel Miami Beach, the annual fair that usually draws the contemporary art world to South Florida and was scheduled for this week, has been canceled — a cultural casualty of the coronavirus.
But the city’s art scene is anything but quiet these days.
Previously closed museums announced ambitious new in-person exhibitions. Galleries were rolling out formidable solo shows, as were hotel lobbies and poolside bungalows. One leading fair had sprung back to life: Design Miami, partly owned by Art Basel, was being staged in a scaled-down manner, with 10 galleries setting up inside a storied building on the mainland.
The local pandemic toll is jarring: During the past seven days, Miami-Dade County, recorded 49 new deaths from Covid-19, and nearly 13,000 new infections.
While the city’s in-person art-scene activity was being billed as masked, socially distant, and crowd controlled, it was hard to ignore the symbolism of the Miami Beach Convention Center — the planned site of the Basel fair — currently being used as a coronavirus testing site.
“I understand some are saying ‘Oh my God, this will be a disaster to do this kind of thing,’” Craig Robins, founder of Design Miami, said. “It’s the opposite. It’s not about a bunch of people flying in from around the world. It’s about a bunch of people spending the season in South Florida and doing things that they feel are within boundaries that are responsible.”
And it’s about promoting homegrown talent.
A pre-Thanksgiving opening featured the solo debut of Reginald O’Neal, who grew up in one of Miami’s poorest neighborhoods and whose work includes portraits of his incarcerated father and younger brother, both in their prison jumpsuits.
A Miami Art Week without a big Basel party could be a possible blessing, said Mr. O’Neal, allowing the city’s own talent to take center stage and avoid being overshadowed.
“It feels like this gives Miami the opportunity to shine on itself, not just to international people,” he said. “To show ourselves we’re going to be supportive to our own community.”
The British police arrested over 150 people on Saturday while trying to shut down anti-lockdown protests in central London, as tensions escalated over England’s lockdown.
The Metropolitan Police said the arrests were for breaking coronavirus regulations, assaulting a police officer and various drug offenses.
The lockdown in England, which bars mass gatherings, is scheduled to end on Dec. 2, when some rules will be relaxed.
Police officers lined up along several streets in central London’s West End shopping district and confronted protesters in St. James’s Park, near Westminster, the Reuters news agency reported. The anti-lockdown protesters were joined by groups demonstrating against vaccines.
Protesters marched along Oxford and Regent streets, ignoring requests to disperse, and scuffled with the police as bottles and smoke bombs were thrown, The Associated Press reported.
Though the current lockdown is ending next week, a new set of rules announced on Thursday will divide England into three tiers of restrictions. That means access to bars and restaurants will differ drastically from place to place depending on the government’s assessment of the local threat posed by the virus, and the more than 23 million people who live in the most restricted tier still face a ban on one of the nation’s favored activities: a visit to the pub.
Even in the worst-hit parts of England, shops, gyms and hair salons are being allowed to reopen, and religious services, weddings and outdoor sports to restart. Retailers will have a chance to open during the lucrative Christmas shopping season.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced plans to relax rules on social mixing to allow up to three households to gather together Dec. 22-27 to celebrate Christmas, but health experts warn this is likely to cause a spike in infections.
Opinion polls generally show that Britons support tough measures and prefer to prioritize health over the economy.