Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today



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.

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.

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.

Here’s a roundup of restrictions in all 50 states.

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.

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