Covid-19 News and Latest Updates – The New York Times

Daily Covid Briefing

Oct. 10, 2021, 5:34 p.m. ET

Oct. 10, 2021, 5:34 p.m. ET

Credit…Robyn Beck/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the southwestern Brazilian city of Toledo, you won’t find much vaccine skepticism. About 98 percent eligible residents there have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, according to municipal officials.

Most received the vaccine offered by Pfizer, and this week the drug maker said that presented an opportunity: Pfizer announced that it would fully vaccinate everyone in the city over the age of 12 so it can carry out a study of the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.

The company will work with local health officials, a hospital, a university and Brazil’s national vaccination program to monitor the transmission of the coronavirus in a “real-life scenario” after the whole population has been vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech serum, Pfizer said.

The study will follow participants for up to one year to investigate how long vaccine protection lasts against Covid-19 and new virus variants.

“Here we believe in science and we lament the almost 600,000 deaths from Covid-19 in Brazil,” Mayor Beto Lunitti of Toledo said in announcing the Pfizer study.

The study comes after the experimental inoculation of almost every adult in the southeastern Brazilian town of Serrana. That experiment was believed to be the first mass trial of its kind in which an entire town was vaccinated against the coronavirus before the rest of the country.

The experiment in Serrana was conducted over three months in winter and spring. Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine was put to the test in the town of 45,000. It was a resounding success, with steep drops in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths, at a time when the rest of Brazil was in the grip of the pandemic.

Brazil has suffered one of the world’s highest death tolls from the pandemic. About 600,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Brazil, according to a New York Times database. Though many experts believe the true death toll may be higher, that is the world’s second-highest death toll. More than 710,000 Americans have died.

Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has been ambivalent about the importance of vaccines. Many Brazilians have expressed anger at how slowly their government acquired vaccines and a corruption scandal involving vaccine deals.

Credit…David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Despite the wide availability of Covid-19 vaccines, not all Halloween parades have been safe from virus-related cancellations this year.

In Westchester County, New York, for example, the Tarrytown Halloween Parade was canceled out of concern, the organizers said, for “our most precious attendees, our children,” many of whom are not yet eligible for vaccines. And in nearby Rockland County, Nyack’s Halloween parade was canceled, too. The National Zoo also canceled its popular Boo at the Zoo because it didn’t feel it could keep visitors or animals safe from the virus.

But Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, came to the defense of the mask-friendly holiday during a CNN interview on Sunday, saying that outdoor trick-or-treating was perfectly safe.

“It’s a good time to reflect on why it’s important to get vaccinated,” he said, urging those who were eligible for coronavirus shots to get them before Halloween to protect themselves and their children. “But go out there and enjoy Halloween.”

He said that the ability for parents to get vaccinated, combined with the low risk of the virus spreading outdoors, offered some reassurance.

“This is a time that children love,” Dr. Fauci said. “It’s a very important part of the year for children.”

The F.D.A. authorized emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds in May. Since then, more than 8.2 million children in that age group have received at least one dose and more than 6.7 million have been fully vaccinated.

Pfizer and BioNTech asked federal regulators last week to authorize their vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, a move that could help protect more than 28 million people in the United States. Shots are not expected to be available to that group before the beginning of November.

Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the United States are currently falling, prompting hope that the wave caused by the Delta variant is ebbing. But Dr. Fauci warned on Sunday that enough people remained unvaccinated to allow the virus to rebound during the colder months.

Credit…Fareed Khan/Associated Press

Abdul Qadeer Khan, a metallurgist who became known to Western intelligence services as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and a worldwide dealer in weapons technology, died Sunday at a hospital in Islamabad, Pakistan. He was believed to be 85.

Dr. Khan’s death was reported by Pakistan’s interior minister, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad. The apparent cause was complications from Covid-19, he said.

Dr. Khan was the man who made Pakistan a nuclear power. For at least 25 years, starting from scratch in 1976, he built, bought, bartered and stole the makings of weapons of mass destruction.

To millions of Pakistanis, he was a national hero, the man who developed a nuclear program to match the country’s rival, India. To the C.I.A., he was one of the more dangerous men on earth.

In a 2010 interview with Geo TV, a private Pakistani television network, Dr. Khan said that he had been motivated by the events of 1971, when Bangladesh, then known as East Pakistan, broke away to become an independent country after a bloody civil war in which Indian forces backed the separatists.

“My objective in making the atomic bomb was that Pakistan becomes safe,” he said. “I wanted that what happened in 1971 should never be repeated again.”

In March 2001, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, under pressure from the United States, said he had forced Dr. Khan from his post as the head of the country’s national nuclear laboratory. But he remained a scientific adviser to the Musharraf government, and his ability to sell or barter nuclear technology continued.

The C.I.A. believed “that he was trading nuclear expertise and material for other military equipment — for example, aiding North Korea with its uranium-enrichment efforts in exchange for ballistic missile technology,” the former C.I.A. director George J. Tenet wrote in his 2007 memoir.

An international effort led by British and American intelligence agencies uncovered parts of the Khan network at the start of the 2000s. It discovered a global web of scientists, front companies and factories that it believed had transferred weapons technology to Iran, Libya, South Africa and North Korea.

On Jan. 31, 2004, after Mr. Tenet had confronted Mr. Musharraf over U.S. suspicions, the government of Pakistan dismissed Dr. Khan. He confessed on national television four days later, saying his work was that of a rogue scientist and that his government never approved the sales or transfers of weapons technologies. The explanation was not widely accepted outside Pakistan.

Mr. Musharraf publicly pardoned Dr. Khan, who was suspected of personally profiting from his dealings. But he said the nation’s leading nuclear scientist would spend the rest of his days under house arrest.

Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, said on Twitter on Sunday that he was “deeply saddened” by Dr. Khan’s death, and praised him for “his critical contribution in making us a nuclear weapon state.”

Credit…Rachel Wisniewski for The New York Times

When Lizzie Rothwell, an architect in Philadelphia, sent her son to third grade this fall, she stocked his blue L.L. Bean backpack with pencils, wide-ruled paper — and a portable carbon dioxide monitor.

The device gave her a quick way to assess how much fresh air was flowing through the school. Low levels of CO2 would indicate that it was well-ventilated, reducing her son’s odds of catching the coronavirus.

But she quickly discovered that during lunch, CO2 levels in the cafeteria rose to nearly double those recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She shared what she’d learned with the principal and asked if students could eat outside instead.

“He expressed surprise that I had any data at all,” she said.

Ms. Rothwell is one of a growing number of parents who are sneaking CO2 monitors into schools in a clandestine effort to make sure their children’s classrooms are safe. Aranet, which makes a monitor popular with parents, says orders have doubled since the new school year began.

Some school systems have made the monitors part of their official pandemic precautions. New York City has distributed the devices to every public school, and the British government has announced plans to do likewise.

But elsewhere, parents are taking matters into their own hands, sneaking in the monitors — which can cost a hundred dollars or more — in their children’s backpacks or pants pockets.

Credit…Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

The Indian Health Service announced this week that Black Native Americans in the Seminole Nation, known as the Freedmen, will now be eligible for health care through the federal agency, which had previously denied them coronavirus vaccinations and other care.

The shift in policy comes as the Biden administration and members of Congress are pressuring the Seminole and other Native tribes in Oklahoma to desegregate their constitutions and include the Freedmen, many of whom are descendants of Black people who had been held as slaves by the tribes, as full and equal citizens of their tribes under post-Civil War treaty obligations.

“The I.H.S.-operated Wewoka Indian Health Clinic provides services to members of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, and personnel at the clinic and other I.H.S. facilities in Oklahoma have been informed that they should provide services to Seminole Freedmen who present at their clinics and hospitals,” the Indian Health Service said in a statement.

The Seminole Nation did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the announcement.

Chuck Hoskin Jr., the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, announced on Friday that his tribe would also allow Seminole Freedmen to visit their tribally operated I.H.S. hospital, near Wewoka.

Credit…Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle, via Associated Press

In the early days of the pandemic, a cruise ship that would become one of the bellwethers of the outbreak, the Grand Princess, docked in the Bay Area carrying dozens of infected passengers. It was one of the last cruise ships in the world to operate before the coronavirus caused a global shutdown.

Now, a year and a half later, cruise ships will once again embark and disembark at the Port of San Francisco.

On Monday, the Majestic Princess, which set off from the Port of Los Angeles, will be the first to dock in the Bay Area since the Grand Princess’s disastrous journey in March 2020.

London Breed, the mayor of San Francisco, said in a statement that she was “excited to welcome cruises back to our port, and visitors back to our city.”

The port is expecting 21 cruises to arrive in the remainder of the year, and a record 127 in 2022, according to the mayor’s office.

The return of cruises, Ms. Breed said, could help the city’s economy, which has been hurt by the loss of revenue from the thousands of tourists who come into the city from the ships.

When the largest ships dock, they bring more than 6,000 people to the city’s cruise terminal, according to the mayor’s office. Before the pandemic, port properties generated $4 billion a year for the city, $117 million for Northern California and over 16,000 jobs for San Francisco and Northern California combined, the city’s figures show.

During the pandemic, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, the three largest cruise companies in the world, lost nearly $900 million each month during the pandemic, according to Moody’s, the credit rating agency.

Cruise lines have now started to welcome back passengers for U.S. sailings, and this summer, demand outweighed supply.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided a detailed list of measures that cruise ships can take to reduce the spread of Covid, including requiring passengers to show proof of vaccination or to provide negative tests.

Joe D’Alessandro, the president of the San Francisco Travel Association, said in a statement that “the return of cruises to and from San Francisco is an important step forward in our recovery and yet another positive sign for the city’s tourism and hospitality industry.”

Credit…Eric Gay/Associated Press

Allen West, the former Republican congressman who is challenging Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas for his seat, has suspended in-person events because he developed Covid symptoms after his wife tested positive for coronavirus on Friday.

Mr. West, who is not vaccinated, said in a Twitter thread on Saturday that he was experiencing “a low grade fever and light body aches.” He said he was taking ivermectin, a drug used to treat parasites that health experts say is not effective against the virus, and hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug which the Food and Drug Administration has cautioned against using.

Mr. West’s wife, Angela West, is vaccinated, he said.

On Thursday, Mr. West spoke at a fund-raising event inside a yacht club near Houston, where, in photos posted online, almost no one could be seen wearing a mask.

Mr. West did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

Mr. West resigned in June as the chairman of the Texas Republican Party. A transplant and one-time Florida congressman, Mr. West is viewed as a right-wing provocateur who has feuded with Mr. Abbott over his handling of the pandemic and with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick over gun legislation. In a campaign video, Mr. West says he is against vaccine mandates.

Mr. West was once an Army officer, but he was forced to retire after firing a handgun near the head of a prisoner in Iraq.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Like toy blocks hurled from the heavens, nearly 80,000 shipping containers are stacked in various configurations at the Port of Savannah — 50 percent more than usual.

The steel boxes are waiting for ships to carry them to their final destination, or for trucks to haul them to warehouses that are themselves stuffed to the rafters. Some 700 containers have been left at the port, on the banks of the Savannah River, by their owners for a month or more.

“They’re not coming to get their freight,” complained Griff Lynch, the executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority. “We’ve never had the yard as full as this.”

As he speaks, another vessel glides silently toward an open berth — the 1,207-foot-long Yang Ming Witness, its decks jammed with containers full of clothing, shoes, electronics and other stuff made in factories in Asia. Towering cranes soon pluck the thousands of boxes off the ship — more cargo that must be stashed somewhere.

It has come to this in the Great Supply Chain Disruption: They are running out of places to put things at one of the largest ports in the United States. As major ports contend with a staggering pileup of cargo, what once seemed like a temporary phenomenon — a traffic jam that would eventually dissipate — is increasingly viewed as a new reality that could require a substantial refashioning of the world’s shipping infrastructure.

Credit…Jason Henry for The New York Times

Covid sent the United States into lockdown. Stuck within their own four walls, people began pondering such existential questions as “Why do I have seven Pyrex loaf pans?” and “What are the odds that I’ll ever get into those size 2 jeans again?” Many frequently found relief, if not necessarily answers, in a cleanse.

But for many, decluttering was a practical necessity. Suddenly, home was no longer simply haven and shelter. It was also an office, a school, perhaps even a gym. To accommodate those changes, something had to give, and a lot had to go.

Jodi R.R. Smith’s three-bedroom home in Boston was not really designed to hold two remote-learning college students and two working-from-home parents. But that was the situation her family faced last year when the pandemic hit.

“At dinner, a week after we got our kids from their college campuses, I said, ‘If we’re all going to be here, we have to figure out how to run our days and where we’re all going to be,’” said Ms. Smith, an etiquette expert. “We have to get rid of things in order to find work spaces.”

And going full-on Marie Kondo during the pandemic meant gaining more than extra closet space.

“I feel much calmer in my house,” Ms. Smith said. “Every little thing that you have takes some type of attention, and when you pare down to the things you really like and use, there are fewer things occupying your focus.”

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Covid-19 News and Latest Updates – The New York Times

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