The kids are not all right
The road to reopening for U.S. schools keeps getting rockier, with new research reflecting just how vulnerable children can be to the coronavirus. At the same time, some American parents, fearful of the potential consequences of remote learning, have filed lawsuits to demand in-person classes.
During the last two weeks of July, at least 97,000 children in the United States tested positive for the virus, a new study found. States in the South and the West, where cases have sharply risen, accounted for more than 70 percent of the infections.
At North Paulding High School in Georgia, whose packed halls were captured in a photo that went viral, at least nine cases have been reported, prompting administrators to switch to remote learning until Tuesday.
And while much of the concern has been students’ capacity to spread the virus to older relatives, there are signs that children’s health can be severely affected. From March to July, nearly 600 young people in the United States, ranging from infants to age 20, got an inflammatory syndrome linked to Covid-19 that required most to be in intensive care. Nearly two-thirds had no underlying conditions, and most of their complications involved multiple organ systems.
Pupils or pubs? Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain declared today that fully opening the nation’s schools next month was a “moral duty.” Only the nation’s local health authorities can order schools to open or close, but medical experts have said that the government may have to sacrifice pubs and restaurants to control the spread of the virus if in-person classes resume.
What Trump’s executive orders mean for you
While Congress struggles to come to an agreement on the next pandemic stimulus bill, President Trump issued executive orders on Saturday that he said were meant to provide direct aid to Americans. But, experts say, most of his directives are murky and unlikely to bring relief quickly, if at all.
The orders focused on four areas. Here’s a look at what they may mean for you.
Unemployment benefits. Mr. Trump said his measures created an extra $400 per week in expanded benefits. But there are lots of caveats: The plan is so complicated that people are unlikely to get money quickly; it require states, many of them struggling financially, to cover 25 percent of the cost; and the money is being repurposed from a disaster relief fund that could run out in five or six weeks.
Evictions. The president’s plan does not offer much immediate hope for those on the brink of losing their housing. The new order doesn’t outright ban evictions, but requires various federal agencies to consider what they can do with their existing authority to provide rental assistance.
Payroll taxes. Under the president’s plan, you would still owe payroll taxes, but not until next year. Eventually the Internal Revenue Service would need to decide when the deferred taxes are due, but the plan also orders the Treasury Department to look into ways to eliminate the need to pay the government back.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 6, 2020
Why are bars linked to outbreaks?
- Think about a bar. Alcohol is flowing. It can be loud, but it’s definitely intimate, and you often need to lean in close to hear your friend. And strangers have way, way fewer reservations about coming up to people in a bar. That’s sort of the point of a bar. Feeling good and close to strangers. It’s no surprise, then, that bars have been linked to outbreaks in several states. Louisiana health officials have tied at least 100 coronavirus cases to bars in the Tigerland nightlife district in Baton Rouge. Minnesota has traced 328 recent cases to bars across the state. In Idaho, health officials shut down bars in Ada County after reporting clusters of infections among young adults who had visited several bars in downtown Boise. Governors in California, Texas and Arizona, where coronavirus cases are soaring, have ordered hundreds of newly reopened bars to shut down. Less than two weeks after Colorado’s bars reopened at limited capacity, Gov. Jared Polis ordered them to close.
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
- As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
- The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
Student loans. Of the four areas, this seems the easiest to carry out. If the memorandum holds, payments on federal student loans would be paused until Dec. 31, and interest would not accrue. (The first stimulus act already paused payments until Sept. 30, so this would be an extension.)
The daily death toll in India topped 1,000 on Sunday for the first time. More than 44,000 people there have died from the virus in total.
In France, masks are now required outdoors in crowded areas of Paris and other cities, as new cases rise at the fastest rate since the end of quarantine in mid-May.
Britain reported 1,062 new cases on Sunday, the country’s highest number in weeks.
What else we’re following
In a rare agreement between drug companies, Pfizer said it would help manufacture remdesivir, made by Gilead Sciences, to increase the supply of the drug, which some hospitals have had to ration among Covid-19 patients.
New Zealand on Sunday marked 100 days since it had any locally transmitted cases of the virus.
Three front-line medical workers describe the emotional aftermath of seeing patients die from the virus in a Times Op-Ed video.
The Wirecutter has a new comprehensive guide to help you choose the best cloth mask for you, with some extensively tested options.
When New York City went into lockdown, traffic virtually disappeared and streets became troves of open space. Now, as the city begins to recover, newly emboldened residents want to repurpose streets for walking, biking, dining and schools.
NBC went inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has been the focus of conspiracy theories that postulate that the virus leaked from its laboratory in China.
“If I die from the virus, it was just meant to be”: Meet some of the motorcyclists who attended an annual biker rally in Sturgis, S.D., that drew some 250,000 people.
What you’re doing
My mom and I are cooking dinner together on Sunday nights. We each buy the same ingredients for a dish we want to try and chat over Zoom while we cook. Combining family and the smell of sautéing onions feels like home, even if we’re in different cities.
— Kate Archibald, Oakland, Calif.
Let us know how you’re dealing with the outbreak. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.