Global virus deaths surpass 800,000, with South and Central American countries seeing large tallies.
The global death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 800,000 on Saturday, according to data compiled by The New York Times, as new infections flared in Europe and high numbers of deaths were recorded across the United States, India, South Africa and most of Latin America.
Since the pandemic began, the countries with the highest number of deaths per capita have largely been concentrated in Europe, with countries including Belgium, Britain, Italy and the independent enclave of San Marino within it, and Spain all reporting more than 50 deaths per 100,000 people.
But in the past week, nine out of the 10 countries with the most deaths per capita have been in South and Central America or the Caribbean, according to The Times database. Of those, Brazil, Mexico and Peru have also seen total death counts that rank in the top 10 over all, with Brazil and Mexico having recorded the second and third most deaths globally, behind the United States.
New mortality figures in Bolivia reviewed by The Times suggest that the real death toll there is nearly five times the official tally, indicating that the country has had one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks. About 20,000 more people — in a country of only about 11 million — have died since June than in past years, according to a Times analysis of data from Bolivia’s Civil Registry.
The extraordinary rise in deaths, adjusted for the country’s population, is more than twice as high as that of the United States, and far higher than the increases in Britain, Italy and Spain.
In the United States, deaths continued to hover near a seven-day average of 1,000 per day, or 2 per 100,000, with more than 175,000 deaths recorded to date.
While statistics for the global death toll have been marred by backlogs, incomplete data, and variations in reporting between different countries, the sobering milestone served as a reminder of the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, which has proved to be one of the most lethal in a generation.
By comparison, the most recent pandemic caused by the H1N1 flu virus, in 2009, claimed between 151,700 and 575,400 lives, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The death toll as of Saturday also ticked closer to that of a 1968 pandemic, caused by the H3N2 flu virus, which was estimated to have caused roughly 1 million deaths worldwide.
A movie starring Ben Affleck will not be filmed in the U.S. as originally planned because of the country’s high number of coronavirus cases and its limited availability of tests, the studio said. Instead, production of the film, “Hypnotic,” will move to Canada.
It was the latest disruption among Hollywood studios, which have slowly resumed business after shutting down countless productions in the spring.
“Hypnotic,” which was supposed to start filming in Los Angeles in April, is set to begin shooting in Vancouver in October, Mark Gill, president and chief executive of Solstice Studios, which is making the movie, said in an interview on Saturday.
“There is nowhere in the U.S. where we can start a big movie now due to gathering restrictions — our crew is 100-plus people — shortage of tests and delays in lab results,” Mr. Gill said.
Mr. Gill said other Hollywood studios would probably also shift production to countries more equipped to handle the virus, at least until the outbreak in the United States has been brought under control.
As cases in California increased in April, the studio considered moving production to Austin, Texas, then to London. It settled on Canada because the country has sufficient testing and quick lab response time, Mr. Gill said.
In Canada, there have been 124,300 confirmed cases of the coronavirus resulting in at least 9,064 deaths, according to data compiled by The New York Times. In the U.S., there have been more than 5.6 million cases, and the country recently surpassed 175,000 deaths.
According to guidelines set by the SAG-AFTRA, the union for the cast and crew, all of its members should be tested before they start work on a film, and at least three times a week during production.
Health officials in several states are linking cases of the virus to the 10-day Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota, which drew hundreds of thousands of participants this month in spite of the pandemic.
Kris Ehresmann, the infectious disease director at the Minnesota Department of Health, said at a briefing on Friday that at least 15 cases in Minnesota were identified as having originated from rally attendees. Seven more cases were identified in Nebraska, according to reporting from CNN.
Health officials in South Dakota said this week that they had traced several cases to a popular bar along Sturgis’s main street, where photos showed thousands of people congregating without masks over the course of the rally.
An analysis of the geographical footprint of the rally’s attendees by a company using anonymized cellphone location data showed that the event drew participants from across the country, prompting fears that infections could spread further. The map of migration patterns associated with the rally showed participants traveling to Sturgis from locations across the continental United States, and back.
The rally ended last Sunday, but health officials warn that it will take time before the extent of associated outbreaks can be measured, as it can take days for symptoms to appear in people who have been infected.
Ms. Ehresmann said on Friday that she expected to see more cases recorded as additional information about the outbreak and subsequent contact tracing became available.
On Saturday, officials in South Dakota announced more than 250 new cases, a single-day record for the state. The seven-day rolling average in South Dakota is approaching its high point from this spring after setting a single-day record today with 251 new cases announced. And neighboring North Dakota is reporting cases at its highest levels during the pandemic.
Despite the recent rise of coronavirus infections in Germany, 4,000 people lined up to watch the singer-songwriter Tim Bendzko on Saturday in the eastern city of Leipzig.
But this wasn’t another story of an entertainment venue flouting public health concerns in order to get back to business. The daylong show was an experiment set up by scientists to help figure out why mass events are so effective at spreading the virus and how the riskiest behaviors could be avoided.
Each of the concertgoers passed a coronavirus test and had their temperature taken before entering the closed arena. They were all given trackers to allow researchers to monitor whom they came close to, as well as an FFP2 respirator mask to wear and a bottle of special fluorescing hand sanitizer that allowed researchers to learn which areas were most frequently touched.
Researchers from the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg will spend weeks analyzing the data to determine when and where transmission of the virus was most likely to occur at the venue.
“We want to find out: what are the moments, what are the situations where this risk happens,” said Dr. Stefan Moritz, the lead researcher, in a video statement about the project, called Restart-19.
On Friday, Germany’s authorities registered 2,034 cases, its highest daily total since the end of April, when the country managed to slow the spread of the virus through a countrywide lockdown.
Who is policing student behavior on campus? Residence hall advisers and students themselves.
Struggling to salvage some normalcy — and revenue — from a crippling pandemic, more than a third of the country’s 5,000 campuses are trying limited openings, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. There are strict rules: No parties. Mandated coronavirus tests or routine self-checks for symptoms. No setting foot into public spaces without masks.
But outbreaks at dozens of colleges have underscored the limitations of any college to control the behavior of young people who are paying for the privilege to attend classes.
Recent videos from several campuses — such as the University of North Georgia — have shown scores or hundreds of students gathering without masks or social distance. On Wednesday, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill moved undergraduates to remote instruction after at least 177 students tested positive, largely in clusters linked to dormitories, sororities and fraternities.
Residence hall advisers are the front line in dorms. Students started arriving over the past week at Cornell University, and Jason Chang, a 24-year-old doctoral student who oversees undergraduates in his dorm, has been overwhelmed with violations of distancing rules.
“Constant insanity and madness,” Mr. Chang said. “That’s been my life this week.”
Penalties can run to suspensions and expulsions from campus housing, but education officials say it is generally not in the nature of colleges and universities to function like police states.
Many university officials seem to be relying on students to report one another to enforce coronavirus restrictions. Some colleges are advertising hotlines where students can anonymously report unsafe behavior.
A recent TikTok video that has more than 3.4 million views captured the spirit of self-enforcement, with two young men warning that they would rather tell on their classmates than be sent home. “I will rat you out,” one emphatically warns, adding: “I’m not doing Khan Academy from home. I refuse. And I hate the cops.”
As India this weekend approaches a total of three million confirmed coronavirus cases — the third highest globally after the United States and Brazil — the South Asian nation continues its delicate balance between allowing public life like major religious festivals to go ahead while also adding restrictions aimed at thwarting the virus.
The country’s Supreme Court on Friday allowed three Jain temples to open for a two-day festival in Mumbai, the Indian city hit hardest city by the pandemic, raising concern that the religious shrines will become super-spreader sites.
After petitions were circulated by some religious groups, the court had last month advocated the reopening of places of worship, arguing that the livestreaming of rituals was an inadequate substitute for physical visits to the sites.
But many regional governments in the country are continuing to restrict public gatherings. In the northern state of Punjab, the chief minister has limited them to no more than four people.
India, a nation of 1.3 billion people, recorded 69,878 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday — the fourth consecutive day on which more than 60,000 new cases were added. As of Saturday morning, it had recorded a total of 2,975,700 cases and 55,794 deaths, according to a Times database.
The country was subject to one of the world’s strictest lockdowns starting in late March, with all people ordered to stay inside, businesses closed and public transit halted. But as the measures took a severe economic and social toll, government officials began lifting some restrictions in hopes of easing the suffering.
In recent months, there have been complaints across the country of shortages of hospital beds, and many people have accused the government of not making the most of the gains made during the lockdown.
As public markets and other spaces were allowed to reopen with little social distancing, cases began rising in congested localities. Now, India’s confirmed caseload has climbed from two million to nearly three million in just over two weeks.
A big wedding in New York State is blocked at the last minute.
A couple who planned to hold a wedding with 175 guests in western New York State on Saturday had to postpone it after a federal appeals court judge blocked the event, responding to a legal challenge by the state government over the crowd’s expected size.
The ruling, issued on Friday, came two weeks after a lower court said weddings at venues in the state that also function as restaurants where indoor dining is allowed were not subject to a 50-person cap on gatherings that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo imposed to help fight the coronavirus.
The lower court ruling opened the door for such wedding venues to host parties of more than 50 people under the same rules that apply to restaurants. Those rules now limit indoor service to half a restaurant’s typical capacity.
The lower court’s decision was prompted by a lawsuit filed by two couples who had booked weddings at the Arrowhead Golf Club in Akron, N.Y., about a half-hour’s drive northeast of Buffalo. One of the couples was married the day the ruling was issued. The other was to be married this weekend.
State officials, who have argued in court filings that weddings pose a greater public health risk than indoor dining and are potential “super-spreader” events, immediately appealed the ruling.
On Friday, Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted state lawyers’ emergency request to halt the second wedding until a panel of judges could consider their arguments more fully.
Republicans prepare for a convention featuring an in-person segment.
Coming on the heels of the Democratic National Convention, which concluded on Thursday, Republicans are gathering for a convention of their own, including an in-person roll call in Charlotte, N.C.
The Republican convention, which begins on Monday, will feature a gathering of 336 representatives who will nominate President Trump from the city’s Convention Center.
In June, Mr. Trump announced plans to move the convention to Jacksonville, Fla., after North Carolina’s governor, Roy Cooper, refused to compromise the state’s social distancing rules to allow crowds to attend. But as virus outbreaks exploded across Florida this summer, the relocation was scrapped as well.
The final design for the event still bows to the dangers of the pandemic. Much of the convention will take place online, and attendees of the in-person segment will be instructed to wear masks and observe social distancing.
But Republican operatives have said that the decision to preserve the in-person segment was choreographed to contrast with the fully-online Democratic convention and drum up enthusiasm from voters about Mr. Trump’s nomination.
“Waving the middle finger to public health guidelines, the ‘political establishment’ and the ‘mainstream media’ in the form of an in-person roll call amid the pandemic is a great way to invigorate his hard-core base,” said Lucy Caldwell, a Republican strategist.
The House interrupted its annual summer recess on Saturday for a rare weekend session to approve legislation blocking cost-cutting and operational changes at the Postal Service — moves that Democrats, civil rights advocates and some Republicans fear could jeopardize mail-in voting this fall.
The measure, put forward by Democratic leaders, also would require the Postal Service to prioritize the delivery of all election-related mail. It would grant the beleaguered agency a rare $25 billion infusion to cover revenue lost because of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure it has the resources to address what is expected to be the largest vote-by-mail operation in the nation’s history.
Democrats were joined by a small group of Republicans in voting yes, but the bill, as written, appeared unlikely to move through the Republican-controlled Senate. President Trump opposed the bill in last-minute tweets, calling it a “money wasting HOAX” by Democrats.
Democrats pressed ahead anyway, however, framing Saturday’s action as an emergency intervention to protect vital mail and package services that have seen significant delays this summer as the new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, moved swiftly to cut costs to close a yawning budget gap. They said it was necessary to instill confidence in American voters that the agency would safeguard their ballots despite often baseless near daily attacks by President Trump on mail-in voting, criticisms that have raised concerns about the politicization of a trusted institution.
Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the lead author of the bill, released internal post office documents on Saturday that she said revealed “a significant drop in service standards across the board since the beginning of July.”
“This is not a partisan issue,” Ms. Maloney said before the bill passed the House. “It makes absolutely no sense to impose these kinds of dangerous cuts in the middle of a pandemic and just months before the elections in November.”
After an off-season tainted by the virus, Novak Djokovic is in New York for the U.S. Open. He spoke to the Times.
Rafael Nadal has chosen not to travel to the U.S. Open. Roger Federer is recovering from knee surgery. But Novak Djokovic is in New York and is expected to play at the tournament, which will be held beginning Aug. 31 without spectators.
Djokovic is ranked No. 1 and remains a perfect 18-0 in 2020, just as he was when the pandemic-related hiatus began in March.
But he was hardly a big winner during the forced off-season. He generated concern and controversy by questioning vaccination and claiming that water could be affected by human emotions. And he dented his credibility and brand by organizing the Adria Tour, a charity exhibition series in Serbia and Croatia in June that lacked in social distancing and decorum, leading to a cluster of coronavirus cases. It was canceled before the finish with several leading players and some support staff testing positive.
Djokovic and his wife, Jelena, were among them, and they isolated for two weeks with their two young children in their native city of Belgrade, Serbia.
“We tried to do something with the right intentions,” Djokovic said of the tour. “Yes, there were some steps that could have been done differently, of course, but am I going to be then forever blamed for doing a mistake?” he told The Times’s Christopher Clarey.
Djokovic said his own virus symptoms were mild, lasting four to five days. He said he had no fever but did have fatigue and some loss of smell and taste and sensed some loss of stamina when he initially returned to practice. He’s monitoring himself for long-term effects.
Tour operators in the tropical Australian city of Cairns were already fighting a perception that the Great Barrier Reef is in its death throes as warming waters cause repeated mass bleaching that has robbed many corals of their vivid colors. But where climate change has been more of a creeping threat to the reef’s survival, and thus to Cairns’s tourism, the coronavirus has delivered a hammer blow.
Now this city, so linked with the natural wonder just off its shore that it can scarcely imagine life without the visitors who come in droves, has been forced to confront the prospect that it can no longer depend on tourists.
Foreign and local travelers, already deterred by last summer’s devastating bush fires and now locked out by Australia’s international and domestic travel bans, have all but vanished, and a $4.6 billion industry built around the world’s largest living structure has ground to a near halt.
The sudden disappearance of visitors feels all the more unreal because the virus itself has barely touched Cairns: The city of 150,000 people in far northeastern Australia has recorded only a couple of dozen cases, and currently has none.
But there is no escaping the pandemic’s reach.
In Cairns, visitors who usually cram the jetty every morning as they wait to pile onto boats have dwindled from the thousands to a few hundred, leaving operators out of work, boats moored at the dock, and some hotels and restaurants shuttered.
On the first day of school in Camden County, Ga., local Facebook groups were buzzing with rumors that a teacher had tested positive. The next day, a warning went out to school administrators: Keep teachers quiet.
“Staff who test positive are not to notify any other staff members, parents of their students or any other person/entity that they may have exposed them,” Jon Miller, the district’s deputy superintendent, wrote in a confidential email on Aug. 5.
In the weeks since, parents, students and teachers in the community have heard by word of mouth of more positive cases linked to district schools. Some parents said they had been called by local officials and told that their children should quarantine.
But even as fears of an outbreak have grown, the district has not publicly confirmed a single case, either to the local community or to The New York Times.
As schools in parts of the country have reopened classrooms amid a still-raging pandemic, some districts have sent weekly — and in some cases daily — reports to families and updated online dashboards with the latest positive test results and quarantine counts. Others districts have been silent, sometimes citing privacy concerns.
State notification polices also vary widely. Officials in Colorado and North Carolina are reporting which schools have had positive cases, while Louisiana, which had not previously identified specific schools with outbreaks, said this week that it was creating a new system to “efficiently report relevant Covid-19 data in schools for greater public visibility.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Oklahoma does not require school districts to report Covid-19 cases to health departments. Tennessee this week backed away from a previous commitment by the governor to report the number of cases linked to schools, and is providing information only by county.
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Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Julia Calderone, Choe Sang-Hun, Emily Cochrane, Ron DePasquale, Conor Dougherty, Nicholas Fandos, Marie Fazio, Gillian Friedman, Anemona Hartocollis, Shawn Hubler, Annie Karni, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Dan Levin, Zach Montague, Allison McCann, Elisabetta Povoledo, Christopher F. Schuetze, Ed Shanahan, María Silvia Trigo and Sameer Yasir.