The program, Pandemic-EBT, aims to compensate for the declining reach of school meals by placing their value on electronic cards that families can use in grocery stores. But collecting lunch lists from thousands of school districts, transferring them to often outdated state computers and issuing specialized cards has proved much harder than envisioned, leaving millions of needy families waiting to buy food.
Congress approved the effort in mid-March as part of the Families First act, its first major virus relief package. By May 15, only about 15 percent of eligible children had received benefits, according to an analysis by The New York Times. Just 12 states had started sending money, and Michigan and Rhode Island alone had finished.
Among pandemic-related hardship, child hunger stands out for its urgency and symbolic resonance — after decades of exposés and reforms, a country of vast wealth still struggles to feed its young. So vital are school meals in some places, states are issuing replacement benefits in waves to keep grocers from being overwhelmed.
The lag between congressional action and families buying food in many places is less a story of bureaucratic indifference than a testament to the convoluted nature of the American safety net.
“This is why we need a federal nutrition safety net — hunger does not have state borders,” said Crystal FitzSimons of the Food Research and Action Center, a Washington advocacy group.
About a dozen states are seeing an uptick in new virus cases, bucking the national trend of staying steady or seeing decreases — and at least half of the states seeing more infections were part of an early wave of reopenings in late April and early May.
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee are among the states that have seen recent increases in newly reported cases, several weeks after moving to reopen. Arkansas, North Dakota and Oklahoma, which did not have statewide stay-at-home orders but began reopening businesses, are also reporting increases in new cases.
The Washington, D.C., region, which has been locked down for weeks, also saw a jump in new cases as the city approached a planned reopening on Friday.
The new numbers could reflect increased testing capacity in some places, although they are also an indication that the virus’s grip on the country is far from over. Experts have warned that opening too early could lead to a second wave. Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergencies unit, warned at a press briefing on Monday that easing social-distancing measures too soon could allow the virus to bounce back quickly and hit “a second peak” in many nations.
Some of the hardest-hit states, like New York and New Jersey, have reported steep downward trends. Other states, such as Oregon and Pennsylvania, are also showing signs of progress.
The trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange reopened on Tuesday, though at a reduced head count to allow social-distancing measures to remain in force. The governor rang the opening bell to start trading at 9:30 a.m.
Floor brokers and trading floor officials will be allowed back, while designated market makers — the specialist traders who buy and sell to “make markets” in certain securities — will continue to operate remotely.
Those who are returning must comply with a number of restrictions to regain access to the floor, including avoiding public transportation, submitting to temperature checks upon entry and wearing a face mask. They will also be expected to maintain a 6-foot distance and avoid physical contact such as shaking hands.
The ability to trade electronically muted the market impact of the more than two-month shuttering of the trading floor, one of the most significant disruptions to the floor operations of the exchange since 1914, when it was closed for about four months as the United States entered World War I.
The S&P 500 rose about 2 percent on Tuesday, with shares of companies most likely to benefit from the lifting of restrictions on travel and commerce faring well. Shares of Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and other big carriers rose, as did Marriott International’s. Shares in Europe and Asia were also higher on Tuesday.
Oil prices, which have been climbing all month, continued their rebound as the restarting of factories and resumption of travel raised expectations that demand would rise. West Texas intermediate crude rose 3 percent, and shares of companies in the energy industry, like Chevron and Halliburton, were also higher.
It has been a turbulent period for stocks, with the S&P 500 swinging from gains to losses and back each day last week, as expectations for an eventual recovery from the pandemic have squared off against the reality that the damage is still severe and likely to continue for some time.
News of progress on vaccine development — albeit in early stages and on a small scale — has been one factor fueling the gains, and the reopening of businesses has been another.
Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, expressed optimism Tuesday that the economy would recover later in the year despite what he called a “very bad, very difficult” employment situation in the wake of the country’s monthslong shutdown.
“I think there’s grounds for optimism. Hope and prayer plays a role,” Mr. Kudlow told reporters at the White House. “We’ve been through bloody hell on this, we know that. There’s been a lot of hardship and heartbreak.”
But Mr. Kudlow said there are positive signs of a recovery, noting increases in consumer confidence and recent gains in the stock market. He said both indicate a belief that the country will reopen successfully.
The famed all-you-can-eat buffets and nightclubs will be gone. It is unknown when big conventions, must-see live shows and sports events will return.
About one-third of the local economy in Las Vegas comes from the leisure and hospitality industry, more than any other major metropolitan area of the country. Nevada’s unemployment rate skyrocketed to 28.2 percent in April, the highest in the United States and in the state’s history, as casinos and other nonessential businesses laid off or furloughed hundreds of thousands of employees. There have been at least 7,959 cases in Nevada, according to a Times database. As of Tuesday morning, at least 396 people had died.
Guidelines issued this month by the Nevada Gaming Control Board limit capacity for casinos to 50 percent and require new cleaning and social-distancing policies. Casinos are now taking out slot machines — which can make up half of the gaming revenue at many establishments — and considering raising minimum bets at card tables. Regulators have capped capacity at three players a table for blackjack and four for poker.
For many, the point of Las Vegas is the antithesis of social distancing.
“Nobody comes to Vegas to spend time by themselves,” said Brian Labus, an assistant professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who is also a member of the governor’s medical advisory team.
President Trump has threatened to pull the Republican convention from its host city of Charlotte, N.C., unless the state’s Democratic governor can “guarantee” that the August event be held at full capacity. But North Carolina officials said on Tuesday morning that the virus situation in the state remains volatile, making such guarantees difficult to make.
North Carolina is among a number of states with significant growth in newly reported cases over the last 14 days. Though some of that is because of increased testing capacity, the escalation has state officials moving cautiously with reopening plans, said Sadie Weiner, a spokeswoman for Gov. Roy Cooper.
With some important indicators, like the trajectory of hospitalizations, leveling off, Mr. Cooper let the state move to a “Phase 2” response Friday that allowed businesses like restaurants and day cares to open, with limits. But Mr. Cooper decided against opening businesses like gyms and bars, given the high number of new cases.
“We said, why don’t we pump the brakes a little,” Ms. Weiner said.
On Saturday, 1,107 new cases were reported in the state, its largest number so far.
Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte and the state’s second-most populous, is also struggling, reporting 3,261 cases diagnosed and 74 related deaths as of Friday. The city and county issued a joint statement Monday saying they would “continue to plan for the RNC while respecting national and state guidance regarding the pandemic.”
They also said they were working on guidelines for large events, including the convention, and anticipated “providing that guidance in June.”
Republicans are hoping to attract 50,000 attendees to the four-day convention, which is scheduled to begin August 24. But it is unclear when presenters and arenas across the nation will decide it is safe to welcome crowds back: pop stars including Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber have canceled their performances this year, and professional sports leagues are still weighing when to resume games, and whether they will play in front of fans.
California has an estimated unemployment rate above 20 percent, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom — far higher than the 14.7 percent national rate. In Los Angeles, with movie productions shut down, theme parks padlocked and hotels empty, things are even worse: The jobless rate has reached 24 percent, roughly equal to the peak unemployment of the Great Depression, in 1933.
“Economic free fall” is how Tom Steyer, the former presidential candidate, described it. He is leading the state’s economic recovery task force, a group of business leaders, labor activists, economists and former governors who have begun plotting a way out.
With a gross domestic product larger than 25 states combined, California’s pace of recovery has significant implications for the future of the United States. After 2008, California helped lead the nation in economic growth and job creation, powered by Silicon Valley, which remains relatively resilient.
But this time the pain is shared across a much broader area of the economy, including rotten strawberries in fields along the Pacific Coast, the empty wine-tasting rooms of Napa Valley and the deserted campuses of the nation’s largest public university system.
“I’d say this will be the most serious economic dislocation that America has faced,” said Jerry Brown, who left the governor’s office in 2019 with billions in the state’s rainy day fund. “The response should be a Rooseveltian intervention and effort to mobilize the economy the best way we can.”
On Monday, state public health officials announced that houses of worship could reopen across the state under restrictions that officials said would be re-evaluated next month.
Glenn A. Fine, ousted by Mr. Trump last month as head of a watchdog panel assigned to oversee how his administration spends trillions of taxpayer dollars in pandemic relief, announced on Monday he was resigning from his Pentagon job.
On April 7, Mr. Trump demoted Mr. Fine as the acting inspector general for the Defense Department. The move disqualified Mr. Fine, who has a reputation for aggressiveness and independence, from continuing to serve as the leader of a committee of inspectors general that Congress created to coordinate oversight of the administration’s pandemic spending. Mr. Fine had just been named chairman of that panel a few days earlier by a broader organization of inspectors general from across the government.
Shorn of his leadership role, both at the Defense Department and in the new pandemic oversight panel, Mr. Fine opted to leave government. In a statement, he cited the importance of the inspectors general throughout government.
“The role of inspectors general is a strength of our system of government,” Mr. Fine said. “They provide independent oversight to help improve government operations in a transparent way. They are a vital component of our system of checks and balances, and I am grateful to have been part of that system.”
Mr. Fine made no mention of Mr. Trump in his statement or in an email to his staff. Mr. Trump tapped Sean O’Donnell, the sitting inspector general of the Environmental Protection Agency, as the acting Pentagon watchdog.
The Supreme Court won’t immediately block an order intended to protect some prisoners from the virus.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused a request from the Trump administration to block a trial judge’s ruling that had ordered federal prison officials to take steps to protect more than 800 older or medically vulnerable inmates at Elkton Federal Correctional Institution in Ohio, where nine prisoners have died from the coronavirus.
The Supreme Court’s unsigned order turned in part on a procedural issue, and the majority said it might revisit the issue “if circumstances warrant.” Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch said they would have granted the administration’s request for a stay.
Four prisoners filed a lawsuit last month saying that conditions at the prison violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. In a Supreme Court brief on their behalf, lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union wrote that the prisoners were unable to take the most rudimentary efforts to protect themselves.
Elkton is a low-security prison that houses about 2,400 inmates. More than 800 of them are over 65 years old or have health conditions making them especially vulnerable to the virus.
In a series of rulings, Judge James S. Gwin, of the Federal District Court in Cleveland, ordered officials to remove the most vulnerable inmates from the prison through compassionate release, home confinement, parole or transfer to another facility. After an appeals court turned down the officials’ request for a stay, the administration asked the Supreme Court to intercede, saying that Judge Gwin’s first order threatened public safety and amounted to unwarranted judicial interference with prison administration.
The Trump administration signals it may not enforce a ban on aid to undocumented students.
The Trump administration appears to be backing off steps to prohibit colleges from granting emergency assistance to undocumented students, even those under federal protection, telling a court this week that it is not enforcing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s initial order.
Responding to a lawsuit filed this month by the California community college system, Justice Department attorneys argued in a filing Monday that an emergency injunction to block the Department of Education from enforcing the secretary’s guidance was unnecessary because it was only “preliminary” and did not have the force of law. That guidance limited virus relief approved by Congress for college students to U.S. citizens.
In April, shortly after doling out billions of dollars to colleges to award cash grants to students for necessities like food and housing, the Education Department told schools that they should only provide relief funding to students who are eligible to participate in federal financial aid programs. The guidance disqualified hundreds of thousands of students, including “Dreamers,” those under the Obama-era program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which protects young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.
It also blocked aid to foreign students attending school in the United States.
The California lawsuit argued that the April guidance was unconstitutional, and “likely excludes more than half of all students in the California community college system, including many identified as economically disadvantaged.”
Justice Department officials wrote that the Education Department was still reviewing the eligibility requirements, and an injunction would “irrevocably cut short the Department’s ongoing consideration of the interpretive issues.”
A hearing is scheduled for June 9.
A Maryland Biotech company begins injecting a vaccine candidate in human subjects.
Novavax, a Maryland-based biotech company, began injecting a coronavirus vaccine candidate in six people in Australia on Tuesday. It was the latest of around 10 experimental vaccines against the virus to move to human trials.
“Administering our vaccine in the first participants of this clinical trial is a significant achievement, bringing us one step closer toward addressing the fundamental need for a vaccine in the fight against the global COVID‑19 pandemic,” Stanley C. Erck, president and chief executive officer of Novavax, said in a statement on Monday.
Mr. Erck said results from this portion of the trial, which involves around 130 subjects, are expected in July. Even if the trial goes well, a final product that would be widely available is still at least a year away.
Almost all of New York State except for New York City has reopened or is set to this week. On Tuesday morning, a seven-county region just north of New York City started that process and Long Island is set to begin on Wednesday.
The first phase of restarting the economy in each region allows residents to pick up retail purchases in stores or at curbside, and commence work in manufacturing and construction.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he is hopeful New York City can begin reopening in the first half June. The city has yet to meet benchmarks set by the governor on available hospital beds and contact tracers.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Tuesday that the state would direct more resources to some low-income New York City neighborhoods that have been hit hardest. They include the ZIP codes covering Norwood in the Bronx and Far Rockaway and Corona in Queens, each of which has had more than 80 people newly hospitalized for the virus in the past week.
Statewide, another 73 people had died of the virus, the third day in the last four with under 100 deaths, he said. “In this absurd new reality, that is good news,” he said.
The governor also announced he will meet with Mr. Trump on Wednesday to talk about infrastructure, among other things. Mr. Cuomo said he plans to urge the president to help advance several projects that require federal approval, including a new AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport and a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River to replace the deteriorating ones in use.
“There is no better time to build than right now,” he said.
In New Jersey, schools will be allowed to hold outdoor graduation ceremonies in July, the governor said. The announcement came after several restrictions were loosened ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, including allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people.
After large crowds gathered at the Lake of the Ozarks over the Memorial Day weekend in defiance of Missouri’s social distancing guidelines, officials in two states urged those visitors to quarantine for two weeks, or until they tested negative.
The visitors “showed no efforts to follow social distancing practices,” the St. Louis County Department of Health said in a statement on Monday, issuing a travel advisory for people who had been to the popular destination spot.
The Lake of the Ozarks, in central Missouri, is a tourist destination popular with residents of St. Louis, which is about 150 miles to the east.
“It’s irresponsible and dangerous to engage in such high risk behavior just to have some fun over the extended holiday weekend,” Mayor Lyda Krewson of St. Louis said on Tuesday.
“Now, these folks will be going home to St. Louis and counties across Missouri and the Midwest, raising concerns about the potential of more positive cases, hospitalizations, and tragically, deaths,” she said. “It’s just deeply disturbing and threatens the progress we’ve all made together to flatten the curve.”
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Tuesday echoed that statement and urged residents who had been there and did not observe social distancing practices to voluntarily self-quarantine for two weeks.
Crime, say those who study it and those who fight it day to day, requires three things: a perpetrator, a victim and an opportunity.
The dip in crime is compounded by the fact that some police departments have been hampered by quarantines or have made fewer arrests to limit interactions or to avoid filling jails.
Crime did not entirely disappear, of course. Homicides in numerous cities remained flat or even rose.
Chicago experienced its worst Memorial Day weekend in five years, with 10 people killed and 39 wounded, said Sally Bown, a spokeswoman for the Police Department. Burglaries of commercial properties and auto thefts have multiplied in many cities, as criminals exploited shuttered stores and unattended cars.
But crime dropped, or changed, in many places.
In Las Vegas, where the police said that crime fell more than 22 percent during the initial two months of the shutdown, the Strip, with its crowded nightclubs and bars, had traditionally been the locus of crime. Since it was largely devoid of tourists, crime migrated to some residential streets.
For the month ending May 17, most major crimes in New York City were down 21 percent from the same period last year, according to Police Department statistics, although murders were unchanged, burglaries were up, and car thefts jumped almost 68 percent.
But some experts are wary of such statistics, suggesting the data is too raw. Desperate shopkeepers may report their stores burglarized to collect insurance, said Christopher Herrmann, a professor of law and police science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. But it will be months before insurance inspectors start working again to confirm such thefts.
One drop in crime statistics may be worrisome: Some cities indicated a decrease in both domestic abuse and child abuse calls. The police in those cities said they suspected that abuse was actually more prevalent, given that most people were stuck at home.
But with no teachers to spot bruises in the classroom and nowhere for people to escape their abusers, such crimes were less visible, the police said.
The holiday is celebrated from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next, with daytime fasting and nighttime merrymaking that culminates in Eid al-Fitr, which this year fell on Sunday.
“For a lot of people, it has been very tough on them mentally and emotionally,” said Abdul Aziz Bhuiyan, the chairman of the Hillside Islamic Center on Long Island. “Some of the Islamic centers were able to go online to do programs, but people living in more distressed communities don’t have access.”
The weight of the pandemic has fallen disproportionately on immigrant and minority populations with high poverty levels. Muslim leaders say the Bangladeshi community in New York, one of the city’s fastest growing immigrant groups, has been devastated by the virus.
At the end of April, Muslim funeral homes were burying “on average about 100 people a day and about 70 percent of them were Bengalis, either from Bangladesh or of Bengali origin,” said Raja Abdulhaq, the executive director of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York.
Many Bangladeshi immigrants have public-facing, low-wage jobs and then return to small apartments where they live with large families or several roommates, which had left many “very exposed” to the virus, he said.
“A lot of them work as taxi drivers, so they see a lot of people,” Mr. Abdulhaq said. “And a lot of them work in restaurants or do jobs in that industry, like food carts.”
The economic effect of the virus has battered New York’s Muslim community, resulting in widespread joblessness and casting mosque finances into an uncertain future.
Donations collected during Ramadan help finance as much as 80 percent of the annual budget of many mosques, Mr. Bhuiyan said. But few of them had online donation systems set up when the pandemic hit.
Mosques were playing catch up now, he said, but trouble still looms.
Take a look at how to help put the risk of Covid-19 in perspective.
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A top adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain fended off calls to resign after traveling in violation of the government’s rules. The World Health Organization halted trials of hydroxychloroquine, citing safety concerns.
Reporting was contributed by Tim Arango, Alan Blinder, Michael Cooper, Heather Murphy, Erica L. Green, Niraj Chokshi, Michael Corkery, Jill Cowan, Richard Fausset, Charlotte Cowles, Jason DeParle, Johnny Diaz, Jacey Fortin, Thomas Fuller, Katie Glueck, Maggie Haberman, Adam Liptak, Dagny Salas, John Hanc, Serge F. Kovaleski, Derek Kravitz, Steve Lohr, Neil MacFarquhar, Dana Rubinstein, Maria Cramer, Victor Mather, Sarah Maslin Nir, Adam Popescu, Eric Schmitt, Charlie Savage, David C. Roberts, Anna Schaverien, Kaly Soto, Liam Stack, Chris Stanford, Eileen Sullivan, Michael Wines, and David Yaffe-Bellany.