Outbreaks at U.S. Colleges Force Sudden Changes and Send Students Scrambling: Covid-19 Live Updates

A new C.D.C. report suggests that child-care centers may reopen safely in areas where the virus is contained.

A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests child-care centers may reopen safely in areas where the virus is low. It’s a promising finding that may offer a glimmer of hope for the parents of millions of children around the United States who are out of school and unlikely to return to in-person learning anytime soon.

Schools and child-care are the key to the country’s long path back to normalcy, helping jump start the struggling economy by allowing more parents to return to work.

The report published Friday documents just 52 coronavirus infections in child-care centers in Rhode Island over a two-month period in which hundreds of centers were authorized to reopen.

In a call with reporters on Friday, the C.D.C.’s. director, Dr. Robert Redfield, credited adherence to measures like mandatory masks for adults, daily screening of symptoms in both adults and children, and thorough cleaning and physical distancing.

In Rhode Island, child-care centers reopened in June after a three-month closure. By July 31, the state had authorized 666 centers with a combined capacity of 18,945 children to open. The state initially required the centers to limit enrollment to groups of 12 people, including staff, but later raised the limit to 20 people.

The state found 30 children and 22 adults with probable or confirmed infections across 29 centers as of July 31. Twenty of the centers had a single case, with no evidence of further spread.

However, 39 of the total 52 infections were reported in the final two weeks of the study period, when the percentage of cases in the state was also on the rise, making the report most applicable to areas with low levels of virus.

“It’s more of a challenge in communities with high transmission,” said Erin Sauber-Schatz, who leads the C.D.C.’s community interventions.

The cases had a significant impact on the child-care centers. Classes in which a symptomatic person was identified were required to close for 14 days or until the case could be ruled out by a negative test. The practice resulted in 853 children and staff members being quarantined.

As college students return to U.S. campuses, some schools are already hastily rewriting their plans for the fall. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Michigan State and Drexel University will now hold most fall classes online, and Notre Dame and the University of Pittsburgh are among several that have abruptly suspended in-person classes for the coming weeks.

Some of these schools have already had sizable coronavirus outbreaks. The New York Times has identified more than 17,000 cases at more than 650 American colleges and universities over the months.

The last-minute changes left many students scrambling. Some had already moved to campus or signed leases for off-campus housing. Others said they would have rather returned to class when in-person instruction resumed.

“I think I probably would have taken a gap year, but just because everything was so last minute, it’s really hard to make plans,” said Karthik Jetty, an incoming freshman at Stanford, where plans to bring freshmen to campus were recently scuttled.

Trump administration says some coronavirus tests can bypass F.D.A. scrutiny.

The Trump administration this week ordered the Food and Drug Administration to allow the use of a certain class of laboratory tests, including some for the coronavirus, without first confirming that they work.

For months some F.D.A. officials have worried that the pandemic would provide an opening for clinics, academic institutions and commercial labs to get what they had long been lobbying for: the leeway to develop their own laboratory tests for various diseases without F.D.A. oversight. On Wednesday that became a reality.

Some lawmakers are also troubled by the change, particularly during a public health emergency when the need for accurate coronavirus tests is high.

The announcement “is deeply concerning and suggests that the Trump Administration is once again interfering with F.D.A.’s regulation of medical products,” Representative Frank Pallone, Jr., of New Jersey and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a statement.

While most common laboratory tests are commercial tests, manufactured and marketed to multiple labs, others are developed and validated within one particular laboratory. These tests, called “laboratory-developed tests,” are used solely within that laboratory and generally are not distributed or sold to any other facilities, although some work with mail-in samples.

The new policy states that lab-developed tests will no longer require F.D.A. authorization.

The administration faced widespread criticism for failing to make coronavirus tests available earlier in the outbreak, and for ongoing shortages and delays. But critics say that freeing all lab-developed tests from F.D.A. scrutiny will pose new problems.

Two weeks have passed since Mr. Trump announced that he would sidestep a congressional stalemate to deliver extra weekly benefits to tens of millions of unemployed Americans — a short-term fix meant to replace the $600-a-week emergency federal supplement that expired last month.

Since then, as more details of the plan — known as Lost Wages Assistance — have emerged, so have problems with finding the funding and getting it to the hands of those who need it. Here’s what we know:

  • The federal government is offering an extra $300 a week — not the promised $400 — to unemployed workers and Mr. Trump is using money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which typically provides disaster relief. The additional $100 was supposed to be supplied by states, but most are struggling to meet other expenses. Tax revenues have been sinking at the same time that costs — like precautions to curb the spread of the coronavirus — have soared.

  • Not everyone will get the extra assistance. Only people who qualify to receive at least $100 in unemployment benefits each week — either through the regular state program or a federal pandemic assistance program — are eligible for the extra federal funds. And there are widespread delays in getting the program off the ground. Each state is supposed to administer the new supplement, but most states have not yet had their programs approved and many have not yet applied.

  • There are widespread delays. Each state is supposed to administer the new supplement, just as they process regular state unemployment insurance and federal pandemic jobless benefits, but most states have not yet had their programs approved and many have not yet applied. And by Thursday, only one state, Arizona, had started paying out.

Like all types of pooled testing, the usefulness of this method drops as a community’s “positivity rate” — the proportion of tests that come back positive — climbs.

Natalie Lyons and Craig Phillips had to make a decision Thursday morning as they sat in their ash-coated Toyota Tundra under the smoky orange sky in Santa Cruz, Calif.

After fleeing the small town of Felton on Wednesday as a series of wildfires continued to burn along the Central Coast of California, they sought refuge at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, an evacuation site, but the building was full — and Ms. Lyons was scared of contracting the coronavirus in an enclosed, indoor space.

“There’s some people coughing, their masks are hanging down,” said Ms. Lyons, 54, who said she had lung problems. “I’d rather sleep in my car than end up in a hospital bed.”

So that is exactly what the couple did. Their car served as a makeshift bed across the street from the auditorium, and Ms. Lyons tried to get comfortable in the back seat with their Chihuahua-terrier mix and shellshocked cat. “I hardly got any sleep,” she said.

Tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate from the rural areas of San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties, Cal Fire said, and many have struggled to find a place to go, especially with the pandemic still limiting indoor gatherings.

Evacuees farther up the coast near Pescadero slept in trailers in parking lots or on the beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Others made desperate pleas to family members and friends to take them in, and the local authorities said they preferred that people assimilate into so-called quarantine pods rather than brave the virus risks of an indoor shelter.

In other developments around the world:


Trump says his virus response will be a part of his speech at the convention.

In other news around the country:

New York City would give away free air-conditioners this summer to low-income older people who are stuck indoors, 74,000 by the end of July, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. But workers had installed about 55,800 units by mid-August — about three-fourths of the city’s goal.

There were problems with some installations. Community groups say the program is disorganized and did not reach everyone it could. One center gave up waiting and bought dozens of air-conditioners on its own. The difficulty in getting a free air-conditioner left many seniors frustrated and confused by what they described as a bureaucratic, inefficient process.

Linda Rios, who is in her 80s and lives at the Stephen Wise Towers on the Upper West Side, got an air-conditioner after “months of pushing.” But when the workers arrived, they were too forceful and broke her window, she said.

New York City has more than 1 million residents who are 65 and older — about 14 percent of the city’s population. During the pandemic, many older people have been afraid to leave their apartments. Senior centers, where residents could gather to cool off and play bingo or mahjong, closed in March. In the United States, heat kills older people more than any other extreme weather event, including hurricanes, and the problem is part of an ignominious national pattern: Black people and Latinos are far more likely to live in the hottest parts of American cities.

The mayor’s administration has faced criticism over its ability to roll out other key initiatives, including meal deliveries, virus testing and a contact-tracing program.

Reporting was contributed by Reed Abelson, Sarah Almukhtar, Hannah Beech, Alan Blinder, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Kellen Browning, Alexander Burns, Emily Cochrane, Patricia Cohen, Choe Sang-Hun, Abdi Latif Dahir, Joe Drape, Nicholas Fandos, Emma G. Fitzsimmons, Hailey Fuchs, Katie Glueck, Rebecca Halleck, Tiffany Hsu, Mike Ives, Tyler Kepner, Gwen Knapp, Alex Lemonides, Apoorva Mandavilli, ,Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Richard C. Paddock, Elian Peltier, Matt Phillips, Valeriya Safronova, Anna Schaverien, Somini Sengupta, Michael D. Shear, Mitch Smith, Kaly Soto, Matt Stevens, Eileen Sullivan, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Lucy Tompkins, Marina Varenikova, James Wagner and Elaine Yu.

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