With jobless benefits expired, Trump administration officials and top Democrats try to break stimulus impasse.
With tens of millions of Americans cut off from enhanced jobless benefits they have depended on for months, Trump administration officials and top Democrats were expected to meet Monday afternoon to try to bridge a so-far intractable logjam on a sweeping economic stabilization package.
President Trump has been largely absent from the talks, tweeting and commenting from the sidelines as his top advisers toil to find an elusive election-year compromise with Democrats.
While White House officials and Democratic leaders reported some progress over the weekend in their talks, they still have substantial differences. Democrats are pushing a $3 trillion rescue plan that would include restoring $600-per-week jobless aid payments that expired on Friday and extending them through January, while Republicans have proposed a $1 trillion package that would slash the unemployment payments considerably.
As the stalemate drags on, an informal adviser is pressing Mr. Trump to bypass Congress and unilaterally impose a temporary payroll tax cut, an idea that the president has championed but his negotiators dropped amid opposition from both parties.
Republicans and Democrats have both been cool to the idea, which would do little to help the tens of millions of Americans who lost jobs during the crisis, and which Democrats regard as an effort to undermine the finances of Social Security.
But the adviser, Stephen Moore, a conservative economist whom Mr. Trump floated — then rescinded — as a nominee for the Federal Reserve board last year, urged the president in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published online Sunday afternoon to declare that the Treasury Department would temporarily stop collecting the taxes that workers pay to help support Social Security and Medicare. Workers would still be on the hook to pay those taxes next year.
Mr. Moore and a colleague at the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, Phil Kerpen, suggested that Mr. Trump then pledge to sign a bill to permanently absolve workers of that tax liability. “Mr. Trump can give Americans a tax cut now,” they write, “and sign it into law later.”
Such a move would carry steep political and economic risks for Mr. Trump, and he has not yet indicated publicly that he is considering it. Though he did float on Monday the possibility of using an executive order to address an expired federal moratorium on evictions, even though the $1 trillion Republican plan did not address a moratorium.
Mr. Trump said he remained “totally involved” in stimulus talks, even though he wasn’t “over there with Crazy Nancy,” deriding Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California as she huddled with top administration officials in an attempt to hammer out a deal with coronavirus negotiations. He also criticized congressional Democrats for insisting on the inclusion of billions of dollars for state and local governments in the next relief package.
Ms. Pelosi was scheduled to meet with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader; Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, in her Capitol Hill office at 1 p.m. on Monday, according to an aide familiar with the plans. It was the fifth such meeting in eight days, after a staff policy call on Sunday and a rare Saturday session with the four negotiators.
As some students and teachers go back to school in the U.S., they’re bringing the virus with them.
The new academic year is underway in some parts of the United States, with the first few days of school showing just how fraught reopening classrooms can be. Already in some states, schools that decided to open for in-person classes are quarantining staff members and students, and even closing temporarily as positive cases are found.
Traditionally, about 14 percent of the nation’s children go back to school by the second week of August, mostly in the South and Midwest, although this year, some districts in those areas have postponed classes by a week or two, or plan to start the year online.
Many schools in Indiana started on Thursday. On Saturday, the superintendent of the Elwood Community School Corporation in the central part of the state sent a note thanking students and parents for “a great first two days of school!”
But the optimistic tone quickly gave way: Staff members had tested positive, and the high school was forced to close its doors and move all students in seventh through 12th grades to online learning for at least a week.
And similar developments occurred across the country. Just hours into the first day of classes at Greenfield Central Junior High School, also in Indiana, the county health department notified the school that a student had tested positive. The student was isolated, and others who had been in proximity were forced to quarantine for two weeks.
At a high school in Corinth, Miss., someone also tested positive during the first week back, and exposed students there were asked to stay home for 14 days. And in the Atlanta area, more than 200 employees of a single school district in Gwinnett County tested positive or were in quarantine last week before classes even resumed.
Gwinnett County Public Schools is the largest school system in Georgia, with more than 180,000 students. Teachers returned to work last Wednesday, in preparation for starting classes remotely on Aug. 12. But as of Thursday, about 260 employees had been excluded from work because they tested positive or had potentially been exposed to the virus.
Sloan Roach, a spokeswoman for the school district, said the majority of cases had been attributed to community spread, which is high in the county as 4,000 new cases have been confirmed there within the last two weeks.
“We have people who have called in to report who have not been at school or work,” Ms. Roach said, adding that positive cases were to be expected.
Other key developments in education:
Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland on Monday issued an emergency order counteracting Montgomery County’s health department, which on Friday said that all private schools needed to start the year remotely in the fall, just as public schools in the region plan to. Montgomery County is home to some of the nation’s most prestigious private schools, including St. Andrew’s Episcopal School attended by Barron Trump, the president’s youngest child. Mr. Hogan, a Republican, said the county’s closure order was overly broad and “inconsistent with the powers intended to be delegated to the county health officer.”
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is planning to fully reopen next week, but 30 tenured faculty members wrote an open letter to students published Friday in The Charlotte Observer pushing for virtual learning and encouraging students to stay home, saying, “It is not safe for you to come to campus — to live in dormitories and apartments, to sit in classrooms, and to socialize with your peers in the way that college students usually do.” The university responded by saying that its policies were as flexible “as guidance allows,” and it encouraged professors who were worried about safety to talk with their deans about making accommodations.
Federal aid for U.S. small businesses may not be enough to keep many afloat.
For nearly 70 years, the Small Business Administration’s disaster relief program has helped companies recover from catastrophe. But it has never faced anything like the coronavirus.
Besieged by more than eight million applicants — and operating in the shadow of the hastily assembled Paycheck Protection Program — the disaster relief effort has given out more money in the past few months than it had in its entire history.
But the demand has created a problem that is hobbling hundreds of thousands of applicants: The agency, afraid of running out of cash, capped its coronavirus loans at a fraction of what companies can normally borrow — even though the program has handed out less than half the $360 billion it can lend.
The cap has left many borrowers with loans that they fear will not be enough to keep their businesses afloat. Nearly 400,000 businesses have run into the $150,000 limit, according to the agency’s data. S.B.A. representatives declined to comment on the cap or why it was imposed.
“Without the extra capital, it will be very difficult for us to survive,” Caroline Keefer, a clothing designer in Los Angeles, wrote in an appeal to the agency after her loan was capped.
The cap has been just one problem with the program, officially called the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Applicants faced long delays, confusing procedures and communication lapses. And on Tuesday, the agency’s internal watchdog said that hundreds of millions of dollars handed out through the program may have been fraudulently obtained.
In New York City, an expanding universe of distinctive small businesses — from coffee shops to dry cleaners to hardware stores — that give its neighborhoods their unique personalities and are key to the city’s economy are starting to topple. When the pandemic eventually subsides, roughly one-third of the city’s 240,000 small businesses may never reopen, according to a report by the Partnership for New York City, an influential business group. So far, those businesses have shed 520,000 jobs.
On Monday, more than 100 current and former chief executives called for more aid to small businesses across the country in a letter sent to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“Allowing small businesses to fail will turn temporary job losses into permanent ones,” states the letter, which was organized by the former Starbucks chief Howard Schultz with the support of Senators Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and Todd Young, a Republican. It was signed by the likes of Walmart’s Doug McMillon, Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai and Disney’s Bob Chapek.
Over 2 million Americans, already hit economically, recently lost their health insurance, an analysis finds.
More than 2 million Americans who have lost ground economically during the pandemic have also lost health insurance recently, with African-Americans and low-wage workers the hardest hit, according to a new analysis of Census data by the advocacy group Families U.S.A.
“It’s part of a bigger story — a tale of two pandemics, where some of us are doing fine, or even doing really well, and others are really suffering,” said Stan Dorn, the author of the study. Families U.S.A. has supported the Affordable Care Act and has pressed for government health coverage of the uninsured. “People who have lost income during the pandemic lost insurance, and those whose incomes remained stable or rose retained or even gained insurance coverage,” Mr. Dorn said.
Earlier this month, Mr. Dorn published an analysis estimating that 5.4 million American workers lost coverage because of job losses between February and May.
The new study is not an estimate; it draws on the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey and compares the three-week period from June 25 to July 14 — when cases were soaring around the country — with the previous three weeks. All told, 24.4 million Americans were without health coverage by mid-July, the study found.
White House starts randomly testing employees for the virus.
White House officials have been told they will be randomly screened for the coronavirus starting Monday, according to a person who received the email.
The new policy is a change for the White House, where the testing requirement had previously been only for people in proximity to Mr. Trump.
It was unclear what exactly prompted the change. An employee in the White House complex cafeterias recently tested positive for the virus, prompting the closing of the dining halls. And last week, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, tested positive after experiencing minor symptoms. Mr. O’Brien is the most senior White House official known to have contracted the virus. He typically works from an office steps away from the Oval Office.
Public health experts have been concerned about the high levels of asymptomatic transmission across the country. Even employees who do not work in proximity to the president could be seeding chains of infection.
The email dated Monday made clear that anyone who does not comply with assignments for testing would be seen as refusing to be tested, according to the person who received it.
The White House uses a rapid test which has yielded only a modest accuracy rate. Despite concerns that the test fails to identify cases — or falsely gives positive readings in other instances — the White House has continued to use it.
Birx says in an interview that the virus is in a ‘new phase’ and Trump calls her performance ‘pathetic.’
President Trump lashed out at Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, calling her performance in an interview “pathetic” in a Twitter post Monday morning.
A day earlier, Dr. Birx bluntly said that the virus is in a “new phase,” and that it is “extraordinarily widespread” even in rural areas in the country. Speaking on CNN, she also said that people living in areas of the country where outbreaks are spreading with little sign of improvement should consider wearing a mask at home if they live with someone who is especially vulnerable.
It was a message that appeared to rankle Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly played down the severity of the spread of the virus, even as the country recorded more than 1.9 million new infections in July alone.
Mr. Trump seemed to take these comments as a “hit” against his administration.
The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said on Sunday that the president was not being forthcoming in his assessment of the crisis.
“I think the president is spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his appointee, so I don’t have confidence there, no,” Ms. Pelosi, referring to Dr. Birx, told the ABC News program “This Week.”
Several administration officials have told The New York Times that Dr. Birx gave overly rosy projections about the national trajectory of the virus during the spring months. Dr. Birx said all of her comments were driven by data and that hers was “not a Pollyannish view.”
Many states have traced new outbreaks to the loosening of the restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the virus. The number of new cases in July accounts for nearly 42 percent of the more than 4.5 million cases reported nationwide since the pandemic began and more than double the number documented in any other month, according to data compiled by The Times.
The previous monthly high came in April, when more than 880,000 new cases were recorded.
New York and New Jersey ROUNDUP
As cases rise, New Jersey limits indoor gatherings again.
New Jersey will again restrict indoor gatherings as cases have risen in the state, Gov. Philip D. Murphy said Monday. Gatherings will be limited to 25 percent of a room’s usual occupancy limit, with a maximum of 25 people, down from 100 people.
The new guidance will not apply to weddings, funerals, or memorial services, he said, nor will it affect religious or political activities protected under the First Amendment. Those events will still be capped at 100 people.
The governor reiterated that officials believed that indoor house parties and other gatherings were contributing to the resurgence of the virus in New Jersey, which made significant progress battling its outbreak in April and May.
Mr. Murphy also clarified that New Jersey restaurants could not serve diners indoors unless they had at least two open walls. The guidance was meant to address restaurants that had started serving customers inside their premises after opening their storefront windows.
“I know we all want life to return to normal, but Covid-19 is still circulating, and now is not the time to be complacent,” said the state health commissioner, Judith Persichilli.
The state will require face coverings for all students at all times inside a school building, unless doing so would adversely affect a student’s health, Mr. Murphy said. The new schools guidance would not allow for indoor “mask breaks” — times built into the school day to allow students to take off their face coverings — during the school day, Mr. Murphy said. (Students will be allowed to take off their face coverings to eat lunch.)
In guidance announced at the end of June, students were going to “strongly encouraged” to wear masks or face coverings, and only required to wear them in places where they could not guarantee social-distancing, such as crowded hallways.
On Monday, New Jersey reported 264 cases and 10 deaths, according to a Times database; over the last seven days, the state has reported an average of about 393 cases per day.
Elsewhere in the area:
In New York City, the mayor said Monday that he plans to bring back a program that currently allows restaurants to serve patrons in outdoor dining areas on city streets, next year on June 1. He said the program had helped more than 9,000 restaurants reopen for outdoor dining, allowing an estimated 80,000 workers to return to their jobs. The program is currently scheduled to end in October, but the mayor said that the city was looking into whether to extend it into the colder months.
Other deadly infectious diseases are making a comeback.
As the pandemic spreads around the world, consuming global health resources, tuberculosis — the biggest infectious-disease killer worldwide — as well as H.I.V. and malaria are making a comeback.
Until this year, T.B., which claims 1.5 million lives each year, the toll from each disease over the previous decade was at its nadir in 2018, the last year for which data are available.
“Covid-19 risks derailing all our efforts and taking us back to where we were 20 years ago,” said Dr. Pedro L. Alonso, the director of the World Health Organization’s global malaria program.
It’s not just that the coronavirus has diverted scientific attention from T.B., H.I.V. and malaria. The lockdowns, particularly across parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, have raised insurmountable barriers to patients who must travel to obtain diagnoses or drugs, according to interviews with more than two dozen public health officials, doctors and patients worldwide.
Fear of the coronavirus and the shuttering of clinics have kept away many patients struggling with H.I.V., T.B. and malaria, while restrictions on air and sea travel have severely limited delivery of medications to the hardest-hit regions.
In April, with hospitals overwhelmed and much of the United States in lockdown, the Department of Health and Human Services produced a presentation for the White House arguing that rapid development of a coronavirus vaccine was the best hope to control the pandemic.
“DEADLINE: Enable broad access to the public by October 2020,” the first slide read, with the date in bold.
Given that it typically takes years to develop a vaccine, the timetable for the initiative, called Operation Warp Speed, was incredibly ambitious. With tens of thousands dying and tens of millions out of work, the crisis demanded an all-out public-private response, with the government supplying billions of dollars to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, providing logistical support and cutting through red tape.
The head of the World Health Organization said that while there was great progress in the global search for a vaccine for the coronavirus, people should not expect the crisis to end anytime soon.
“A number of vaccines are now in Phase 3 clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director general, told reporters on Monday. “However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be.”
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, told lawmakers in Congress on Friday that he was “cautiously optimistic that we will have a vaccine by the end of this year and as we go into 2021.”
The comments by Dr. Tedros seemed intended to guard against premature declarations of success that cause people and countries to stop taking prudent interventions to slow the spread of the virus.
“For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control,” he said. “Testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts. Do it all.”
Also on Monday, the W.H.O. said that a team of its experts had concluded a visit to China to begin investigating the source of the coronavirus.
The visit, which lasted three weeks, was the first step in what will likely be a monthslong inquiry to examine how the disease spread from animals to humans.
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines on Sunday ordered Manila and its suburbs to re-enter lockdown for two weeks as the health department reported 5,032 new cases of the coronavirus.
Group gatherings were prohibited, and residents were advised to stay at home. Public transportation was halted, domestic flights and inter-island ferries remained suspended, and the government encouraged biking. Schools will remain shut.
Infections spiked after the government eased lockdown rules and gradually opened up in an effort to jump-start the economy. Hospitals have been overwhelmed and doctors have warned they are reaching a breaking point. In an appeal to the government on Saturday, the Philippine College of Physicians, the country’s main organization of doctors, warned that the health system “has been overwhelmed.”
This came shortly after Manila’s city government ordered the temporary closure of its two hospitals, citing the growing number of health care workers who have been infected. It said that the city’s health care workers are burned out “with the seemingly endless number of patients trooping to our hospitals for emergency care and admission.”
Total cases in the country now stand at 103,185, with 2,059 deaths.
Mr. Duterte told officials to “strictly enforce the quarantine, especially the lockdown.”
“I have heard the call of different groups from the medical community for a two-week enhanced community quarantine in mega Manila,” he said. “I fully understand why your health workers would like to ask for such a timeout period. They have been in the front lines for months and are exhausted.”
In other news from around the world:
Russia plans to launch a nationwide vaccination campaign in October with a coronavirus vaccine that has yet to complete clinical trials, raising international concern about the methods the country is using to compete in the global race to inoculate the public.
Officials in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, announced stricter measures on Sunday in an effort to stem a coronavirus outbreak that is raging despite a lockdown that began four weeks ago. For six weeks, residents of metropolitan Melbourne will be under curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. except for purposes of work or giving and receiving care.
India’s biggest film star, Amitabh Bachchan, was discharged from the hospital on Sunday after recovering from Covid-19, and the country’s powerful home minister, Amit Shah, announced that he had tested positive. Mr. Bachchan, 77, was hospitalized for three weeks.
Kosovo’s prime minister, Avdullah Hoti, said on Sunday that he had contracted Covid-19 and would self-isolate at home for two weeks, Reuters reports. “I have no signs, except a very easy cough,” he wrote on Facebook.
Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Benedict Carey, Emily Cochrane, Stacy Cowley, Michael Gold, Jason Gutierrez, Matthew Haag, Maggie Haberman, Javier C. Hernández, Annie Karni, Sarah Kliff, Andrew E. Kramer, Sharon LaFraniere, Dan Levin, Apoorva Mandavilli, Sarah Mervosh, Azi Paybarah, Daniel E. Slotnik, Eileen Sullivan, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jim Tankersley, Katie Thomas, Noah Weiland and Sameer Yasir.