Live Global Coronavirus News: U.S. Sets a Daily Record for New Cases

Texas pauses its reopening and moves to free up room in hospitals as cases rise.

Texas paused its reopening process and moved to free up hospital space for virus patients on Thursday amid growing concern over its rising tally of cases, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday.

The state has recorded more than 130,000 cases and nearly 3,000 deaths. More than 4,300 people with the virus are hospitalized across the state, more than double the number at the beginning of June. To ensure that hospitals have enough capacity to care for virus patients, Mr. Abbott issued an executive order suspending elective procedures in hospitals in four counties: Bexar, Dallas, Travis and Harris, which includes hard-hit Houston.

Although critics have blamed the reopening for contributing to the expanding pandemic, Mr. Abbott has said repeatedly that rolling back the reopening policy would only be a last resort, a stance he repeated on Thursday. Businesses that had already reopened can continue to operate, but any further reopening is halted, he said in a statement.

“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses,” Mr. Abbott said. “This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business.”

“You need to do your part and make sure that you’re not spreading it to people who are going to be more at risk for this,” he said.

The report noted that while the I.R.S. typically uses death records maintained by the Social Security Administration to prevent improper payments, that did not happen with the first three batches of stimulus payments. Treasury and the I.R.S. “did not use the death records to stop payments to deceased individuals for the first three batches of payments” because of a legal interpretation of the legislation authorizing the payments. I.R.S. lawyers “determined that I.R.S. did not have the legal authority to deny payments to those who filed a return for 2019, even if they were deceased at the time of payment,” the report found.

The G.A.O. recommended that the I.R.S. find ways to notify ineligible recipients of the payments how to return them, though it did not explain how that would work with regard to those who are deceased. It also suggested that Congress ensure that the Treasury and its Bureau of the Fiscal Service, which distributed the payments, gain full access to the Social Security Administration’s full set of death records to help prevent money from being paid to the deceased.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in April that the heirs of the deceased who received stimulus money should give the funds back.

In its report, the G.A.O. also warned that the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program was vulnerable to fraud because the Small Business Administration is relying on borrower certifications to determine if the loans are needed and how they are being used.

The G.A.O. called on the S.B.A. to develop a system for identifying fraud associated with the program. It also expressed concern about potential overlap of people who were being paid unemployment insurance while also receiving proceeds from P.P.P. loans.

The report also criticized the C.D.C.’s counting of coronavirus tests, which combines tests for an active infection and those that detect antibodies. This practice inflates the percentage of Americans that appear to have been tested and gives an unreliable picture of the way the virus is spreading around the country, according to the new report.

After the C.D.C. was criticized last month for combining the two types of tests in its reports, the agency promised to separate them. But as of June 9, it had still not resolved the issue, the office reported.

By mid-February, there were only 15 known coronavirus cases in the United States, all with direct links to China.

The patients were isolated. Their contacts were monitored. Travel from China was restricted.

But none of that worked, as some 2,000 hidden infections were already spreading through major cities.

At every crucial moment, American officials were weeks or months behind the reality of the outbreak. Those delays likely cost tens of thousands of lives.

The Times has analyzed travel patterns, hidden infections and genetic data to show how the epidemic spun out of control in the United States.

In other news from around the country:

Europe sees a ‘significant resurgence’ of cases, a W.H.O. official warns.

The center of the pandemic has shifted from Europe to other continents, such as the Americas. But Europe continues to report 20,000 new cases and 700 deaths a day, Dr. Kluge said.

Hinting at a long struggle ahead, Dr. Kluge applauded Germany, Israel, Poland and Spain for “targeted interventions” that had controlled local outbreaks. He also commended the citizens of Europe for adopting behaviors like physical distancing and wearing face masks.

And with the United States threatening to end financial support to the W.H.O., Germany and France have pledged more than a half billion dollars for the organization, while calling for reforms and accountability. The W.H.O.’s director-general said the organization is getting all the political and financial support it needs.

A C.D.C. study overlooks an important factor as it measures the effects of pregnancy on Covid-19 patients.

Admission for delivery represents 25 percent of all hospitalizations in the United States, said Dr. Neel Shah, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard University. Even at earlier stages of pregnancy, doctors err on the side of being overly cautious when treating pregnant women — whether they have the coronavirus or not.

The analysis, the largest of its type so far, is based on data from women with confirmed infections of the coronavirus as reported to the C.D.C. by 50 states, as well as New York City and Washington, from Jan. 22 to June 7.

Despite the ambiguities, some experts said that the new data suggested at the very least that pregnant women with the coronavirus should be carefully monitored.

“I think the bottom line is this: These findings suggest that compared to nonpregnant women, pregnant women are more likely to have severe Covid,” said Dr. Denise Jamieson, a member of the Covid-19 task force for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (An earlier version of this article misstated Dr. Jamieson’s title in the task force.)

The French health minister said on Thursday that the authorities would introduce a “large-scale campaign” to test over a million people in the Paris region in a bid to stave off a fresh wave of infections.

Coronavirus contagions have struck at the heart of two Central American governments that are struggling to contain outbreaks in their countries. In one, Guatemala, scores of presidential staff members have fallen ill; in another, Honduras, the pathogen has sickened the president himself.

The condition of President Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras, who was hospitalized last week and who has pneumonia after testing positive for the coronavirus, was improving after adjustments were made to his treatment this week, according to a statement issued on Wednesday by his office.

Doctors detected a worsening of the pneumonia on Monday, with falling oxygen levels and increasing inflammation, the statement said, but exams on Wednesday showed “a good general condition, without fever, without respiratory difficulty” and with a decrease in inflammation.

In neighboring Guatemala, the number of members of the presidential staff who have tested positive for the virus has climbed to 158, President Alejandro Giammattei said on Wednesday. The employees work in Mr. Giammattei’s official residential compound in Guatemala City’s historic center, and they include members of his security detail and workers on the compound’s cleaning and kitchen staffs.

Officials first announced the outbreak in early June, when there were a few dozen cases. Mr. Giammattei said on Wednesday that one of the infected employees, a member of the presidential security service, had died.

The president said that he himself had been tested three times, and that the results had been negative.

In other news from around the world:

  • The Australian airline Qantas will cut roughly a fifth of its work force as it joins other carriers grappling with the near halt in global travel. In addition to the reductions of at least 6,000 jobs, the company will also keep an additional 15,000 workers on furlough until flying resumes. It will also retire its six Boeing 747 jumbo jets six months ahead of schedule.

  • The Netherlands is giving a bonus of 1,000 euros ($1,120) to health care workers who helped the country during the outbreak. The health ministry said the payment was meant to express thanks to workers such as nurses, cleaners and other support staff in the health sector.

More than 1 million people in the U.S. seek state jobless benefits for the 14th week in a row.

Nearly 1.5 million workers filed new claims for state unemployment insurance last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. It was the 14th week in a row that the figure has topped one million.

An additional 728,000 filed for benefits from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally funded emergency program aimed at covering the self-employed, independent contractors and other workers who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment insurance.

The total number of people collecting state unemployment insurance is 19.5 million, down from about 25 million in early May.

Stocks drifted on Thursday, as growing outbreaks in parts of the United States added to concerns about the economic recovery. The S&P 500 and major European markets wavered between gains and losses.

Investors have worried for days about a rising number of new infections in the United States, a surge that raises questions about how quickly the world’s largest economy can get back up to speed.

While New York and other places that were hard hit are starting to get back to business, a spike in cases in states that reopened earlier has raised fears of new setbacks. On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas urged residents to stay home and warned that the state might have to impose new restrictions if the virus could not be contained. And California and Florida have each posted record numbers of new cases in recent days.

The reopening of many businesses is not going as smoothly as financial markets had once anticipated. Apple has shut its stores in four states — Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Arizona — and on Wednesday closed seven stores in Houston.

The shaky economic outlook has both experts and workers worried about the looming expiration of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which provides a supplement of $600 a week to those collecting state jobless benefits.

Scientists around the world last week cautiously hailed a report that an inexpensive and commonly available steroid had reduced deaths in patients with severe Covid-19. The drug, dexamethasone, is now in high demand, with orders among some U.S. hospitals rising by more than 600 percent in the week after the report, according to an analysis released on Thursday.

In a news conference on Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, said interest in the drug had “surged” after announcements of its “clear benefit.” Dr. Tedros called for a sharp increase in production, while urging continued vigilance about recommended public health measures such as increased testing, contact tracing, physical distancing and hygiene.

The analysis by Vizient, an American health care services company, highlighted dexamethasone’s spike in popularity. Vizient serves more than 5,000 nonprofit health care system members and their affiliates.

Dexamethasone is frequently administered to patients with various conditions that involve excess inflammation, including arthritis, allergic reactions and certain gastrointestinal disorders. The drug, prized for its ability to tamp down certain aspects of the immune system, appears to ease the severity of some of the worst cases of Covid-19. For many infected by the coronavirus, the most severe consequences arise when immune cells and molecules, roused to fight the virus, cannot be kept in check.

Experts caution that dexamethasone is not a cure-all. Patients with milder cases of Covid-19, particularly those not on respiratory support, did not benefit from the drug, the trial’s results showed. And if the steroid is administered too early in an infection, it might even quell the immune system to a degree that compromises a person’s ability to vanquish the virus.

China has warned its citizens to stop falsifying coronavirus test results to board flights home from Russia.

The Chinese Embassy in Russia issued a statement this week in response to recent discoveries that Chinese travelers from Russia had fabricated negative results for the nucleic acid tests that are required before passengers can board their flights. The embassy announced that the counterfeiters had been placed under investigation and would be made to “bear the corresponding legal responsibilities.” It was the second time in three weeks that the embassy had issued such a warning.

Some passengers had “deliberately concealed their illnesses, caused adverse effects and consequences, caused great harm to the health and safety of other passengers and crew members on the same flight, and undermined China’s domestic epidemic prevention work,” the embassy said in a statement.

China requires passengers to produce a negative test that must be taken within the five days preceding their flight from Russia to China.

The Chinese government, fearful that incoming travelers would bring in the virus, has restricted international flights and banned foreigners, including those with resident permits.

Several Chinese cities along the China-Russia border have struggled with hundreds of infections. Russia on Wednesday reported 7,176 new cases over the previous 24 hours.

The director of a spiritual center in Bali is to be deported after a gathering that violated virus rules.

For the House of Om, a spiritual center on Bali, the gathering last week was meant to be a celebration of community and bliss. Any joy evaporated, however, after it became public that the gathering of about 60 foreigners had violated Indonesia’s coronavirus protocols.

The House of Om’s director, Wissam Barakeh, has been detained and will be deported to his native Syria for endangering the public health, officials said on Thursday.

Photographs of the event in the tourist town of Ubud, which showed the celebrants sitting close together without wearing masks, were widely shared on social media and prompted harsh criticism of the foreign community for disregarding social-distancing rules.

Indonesia, the Southeast Asian country hit hardest by the virus, has seen its cases surge in recent weeks to 50,187, with 2,620 deaths, even as it tries to revive its sputtering economy.

Bali, a magnet for tourists, has reported 1,214 cases, but the island is hoping to begin reopening hotels and tourist facilities as early as next month.

The Ubud gathering came to light in a Twitter post by Jenny Jusuf, a scriptwriter and women’s empowerment activist. She said by email on Thursday that other organizers of the event should also face disciplinary action.

Mr. Barakeh initially asserted that the gathering was held last year, but after more evidence surfaced, including his open invitation to the event on Instagram, he apologized. His visa was revoked and officials said he would be detained until international flights resumed.

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Reporting was contributed by Brooks Barnes, Aurelien Breeden, Weiyi Cai, Benedict Carey, Choe Sang-Hun, Abdi Latif Dahir, Reid J. Epstein, Thomas Erdbrink, Rick Gladstone, James Glanz, Michael Gold, Shane Goldmacher, Josh Holder, David D. Kirkpatrick, Apoorva Mandavilli, Salman Masood, Richard C. Paddock, Elian Peltier, Alan Rappeport, Dana Rubinstein, Christopher F. Schuetze, Nelson D. Schwartz, Kirk Semple, Dera Menra Sijabat, Mitch Smith, Chris Stanford, Carlos Tejada, Daniel Victor, David Waldstein, Derek Watkins, Sui-Lee Wee, Jeremy White, Nic Wirtz, Katherine J. Wu and Karen Zraick.