Florida is lifting state restrictions on restaurants and many other businesses, the governor said.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Friday the state would move into the next reopening phase and lift state restrictions on restaurants and many other businesses.
Mr DeSantis, a Republican and ardent supporter of President Trump who spoke at the president's rally in Jacksonville Thursday, said he would sign an order as part of the third phase of his administration's reopening that will allow restaurants and many other businesses plan to work at full capacity.
"We are not closing anything in the future," said the governor in St. Petersburg.
According to DeSantis, district governments are likely to limit capacity, but not by more than 50 percent – a new restriction on local control.
"I think this is going to be very, very important for the industry," said DeSantis, describing the wholesale closure of restaurants in particular as unacceptable. "After six months you can no longer say no and only have people who turn in the wind."
Mr DeSantis declined to mandate the use of masks in the state, insisting that such a decision should be left to local governments. However, his government has increasingly stepped in to prevent counties from imposing stricter virus restrictions. Many of Florida's largest counties are run by Democrats.
According to the state's reopening plan, Phase 3 may see bars and nightclubs "with limited social distancing protocols" operating at full capacity. Bars in Miami-Dade County, the county hardest hit by the virus, have yet to reopen. The county mayor said he hoped to allow some operations with restrictions such as table service only.
After a sharp spike in the summer, cases in the state have dropped significantly. The governor has touted the fact that Florida was able to come down from the top without imposing a lockdown as evidence that company closings should not be considered in an attempt to contain the virus in the future .
As of Thursday, Florida tested 38 percent of a test target developed by researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute. The state had a 12 percent positivity rate for the total number of tests processed in the two-week period ended Thursday, according to data analyzed by The Times. According to the World Health Organization, positive rates should be at or below 5 percent for at least 14 days before a state or country can be safely reopened.
Emergency room visits related to the virus peaked in early July and hospital stays on July 21, DeSantis said.
"That was over two months ago," he remarked. Since then, “we've actually seen more economic activity and more interactions. Schools have opened. All theme parks are open. More people visited. And what happened to hospitalization? Covid-positive hospital stays have fallen 76 percent since the July peak. "
On Friday, Florida added more than 2,800 new cases and 120 new deaths. In total, the state has registered more than 695,000 cases and more than 13,900 deaths, according to a Times database.
If a county wants to limit restaurant capacity by 50 to 100 percent, it has to give the state a justification, DeSantis said.
"The idea of the government dictating this is better than making decisions so that their customers have the trust that I believe is wrong," he said.
Other states have also attempted to contain communities where local officials sought to impose restrictions beyond the state's requirements. In Georgia, Republican Governor Brian Kemp filed a lawsuit against the mayor of Atlanta, a Democrat, in mid-July. who wanted their constituents to wear masks in public. At that time, cases in Atlanta were increasing day by day. Mr. Kemp eventually withdrew his complaint.
In Texas, after weeks of resisting mask calls by mayors of some of the state's largest cities, Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, was beaten by members of his own party when he changed course and required Texans to wear masks in public. By the time, in late July, the state health system was overwhelmed with the surge in patients as the average number of new daily cases rose seven times its size in early June.
In Arizona, Republican Governor Doug Ducey refused to allow local governments to issue their own masked mandates, but reversed that stance in June under pressure from mayors of Arizona's largest cities.
Two former Massachusetts veterans home leaders were charged with neglect related to the deaths of at least 76 coronavirus residents at the facility, the attorney general said Friday.
Bennett Walsh  and Dr. David Clinton, 71, was indicted Thursday by a state grand jury for her work at the facility, Holyoke Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Mass.
"We began this investigation on behalf of the families who have tragically lost loved ones and to honor these men who have valiantly served our country," Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. "We contend that the actions of these defendants during the Covid-19 outbreak at the facility increased the risk of infection and death of veterans and warrant criminal charges."
Each man has been charged on five counts, with specific charges relating to caretakers who "willfully or recklessly" allow or cause physical harm and abuse, neglect or ill-treatment of an elderly or disabled person.
Mr. Walsh and Dr. Clinton from Springfield and South Hadley, Massachusetts could not be reached immediately.
The Soldiers' Home, a government agency that provides health care, hospice care and other support to veterans, has been under investigation since early April when the Attorney General learned of "serious problems with Covid-19 infection control procedures."
Investigators focused on the events of March 27, when staff combined two dementia departments with infected veterans and healthy residents "to increase asymptomatic veterans' exposure to the virus," the attorney general said.
Due to the staff shortage, the facility consolidated the units with a total of 42 residents with different status, the office said. Residents who were positive or symptomatic were placed six times in a room that usually housed four veterans.
Residents believed to be asymptomatic were placed in nine beds in the dining room, "a few feet apart," and next to the room where the infected patients were, it said.
"The residents of the consolidated unit reportedly mingled regardless of Covid-19 status," the attorney general said, adding that the decision was inconsiderate from an infection control standpoint and the asymptomatic veterans were at increased risk of contracting Covid. 19. ”
The office announced that Mr. Walsh and Dr. Clinton would be tried in the Hampden County Supreme Court but did not give a date.
Amid a worrying surge in cases in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, New York City health officials began conducting emergency inspections of private religious schools on Friday and threatened an extraordinary lockdown on the communities that would be the city's first major retreat since it reopened The pandemic started.
Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered the police department and the Sheriff's Office to enforce public health guidelines in several Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn, where residents often do not wear masks or social distant themselves. However, community leaders said residents opposed the guidelines because of hostility towards Mr de Blasio and the growing influence of Mr Trump, whose views on masks and the pandemic have been widely welcomed.
The process takes place just before Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, which begins on Sunday evening, and it was not immediately clear what impact the measures might have on people's ability to assemble in synagogues. The Ministry of Health said officials could impose fines, limit gatherings, or force businesses or schools to close if there was no significant progress in complying with guidelines by Monday.
"This is possibly the most precarious moment we have faced since we emerged from lockdown," said Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, the city's health commissioner, at a press conference in Brooklyn.
Officials released statistics this week showing that the positivity rate in some Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods has risen to 3 to 6 percent, well above the city's overall rate of 1 to 2 percent. Officials are particularly concerned about the positive rates in Brooklyn's Borough Park, Midwood and Gravesend neighborhoods, which they have dubbed the "Ocean Parkway Cluster".
Mr de Blasio said Friday on the Brian Lehrer Show that the city had closed four yeshivas for violating social distancing rules. "This is an indicator of something that we will fight against here for a while," he said.
The surge in these neighborhoods represents the first major virus challenge to the city after months of declining or flat numbers. The concern now is that if the outbreak continues to spread within the Orthodox community, it could spread elsewhere, with even more dire consequences . If the city's overall positivity rate hits 3 percent, it would trigger a new lockdown, including the closure of public schools.
Visits to Borough Park showed how often the rules are ignored. The outbreak devastated the New York Orthodox Jewish community in March and April, but there was hardly a face mask in sight this week as if the pandemic had never happened.
Elsewhere in the New York area:
Less than a week before the resumption of food in the city, the mayor said on Friday that the city Outdoor dining program would be made permanent and year-round. When temperatures drop, restaurants also have the option of enclosing their outdoor space. If they do, however, they must comply with the indoor restaurant restrictions with a 25 percent capacity, the mayor said.
In reality, the timetable for the city's hybrid public school system – where students spend up to three days a week in classrooms and otherwise learn remotely – has proven to be a logistical quagmire. The city still has to hire thousands of teachers to fill online and in-person classes, and a web of restrictions, in part imposed by the teachers' union, has essentially forced school principals to create these Two school versions: one in person and one online.
The death rate in Argentina is increasing as the virus spreads to provinces far from the capital.
Outbreaks in different parts of Argentina are alarming as the country grapples with one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the world.
Argentina reported 2,306 deaths in the past seven days, representing a rate of 5.2 deaths per 100,000 population. According to a Times database, Argentina is behind only tiny St. Maarten in the Caribbean in terms of per capita virus deaths during this period.
The country has recorded a total of 76,553 cases in the past seven days, the sixth highest total in the world after India, the US, Brazil, France and Spain. However, the per capita rate of cases during this period was 172 higher than in any of these countries.
In the Americas, only Aruba and Costa Rica reported more cases per capita than Argentina during this period.
The rising numbers reflect how the virus can spiral out of control if mitigation efforts are eased. Argentina, which introduced one of Latin America's toughest bans in March, now appears to be doing worse than countries like Brazil and Mexico, which have grappled with devastating outbreaks.
But they can also reflect inconsistencies in data reporting that can cloud the virus' picture. Federico Tiberti, a Princeton graduate student who analyzes coverage of coronavirus data in Argentina, pointed out that 80 of the 390 deaths reported in the country on Thursday had been deaths for more than a month as officials made their backlog .
The delay in registering deaths increases the possibility that the virus has spread more across the country than was thought in recent weeks.
While the Buenos Aires metropolitan area has previously been hit by outbreaks, the spread of the virus in provinces with fewer health resources is cause for concern. In the Rio Negro province, 87 percent of the I.C.U. Beds are occupied, followed by Salta and Mendoza, which, according to the Ministry of Health, are both 81 percent.
"Cases are more common in cities with greater mobility due to economic and manufacturing activities." Fabián Puratich, the health minister for southern Chubut province, where cities like Comodoro Rivadavia and Puerto Madryn are facing outbreaks, said in a video message this week.
Argentina has recorded a total of 678,266 cases and 14,766 deaths, according to a Times database.
The governor of Virginia and his wife test positive for the virus.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said Friday that he and his wife Pamela Northam had tested positive for the virus.
They were tested after learning that they were in close proximity to an infected employee. Mr Northam, a Democrat, said he was feeling fine while his wife was having mild symptoms.
"As I reminded the Virginians during this crisis, # COVID19 is very real and very contagious," Northam wrote on Twitter. "We are grateful for your thoughts and support, but the best you can do for us – and especially for your fellow virgins – is to take this virus seriously."
According to a New York Times database, the state has reported a relatively small number of new virus cases per day over a seven-day period through Thursday – about 862. While the death toll is rising, they are averaging 28 deaths over a seven-day period still humble.
Mr. Northam is the third governor to test positive. On Thursday, Missouri Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, announced that he would cancel and isolate campaign events in his re-election bid after he and his wife Teresa tested positive. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, also a Republican, contracted the virus in July.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican known for his aggressive approach to containing the virus, initially tested positive during a screening with President Trump in August, but it was false positive. He later received a negative result from a more detailed test.
In other US news:
The number of known cases in the United States exceeded seven million on Thursday, according to a Times database CaliforniaThe country's most populous state recorded its 800,000th case since the pandemic began. The United States hit six million cases less than a month ago on August 30.
A federal judge on Friday banned the Trump administration from ending the 2020 census a month earlier, the latest turn in years of political and legal warfare over a controversial population that has been delayed months due to the pandemic. In the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Judge Lucy H. Koh issued an injunction preventing the administration from stopping the census until September 30, one month before the scheduled October 31 completion date.
Oklahoma 1,276 new cases were reported on Friday, a daily record for the state. Oklahoma has announced more cases in the past week than any other seven-day segment of the pandemic.
Indiana University closes a fraternity despite ignoring health rules the following summer.
Joining a growing number of colleges that have taken Disciplinary action against Greek organizations that violate health rules has forced Indiana University a fraternity to close by next summer for hosting a large event where people didn't wear face masks or social distancing.
The Alpha Epsilon Pi Brotherhood agreed to close its chapter house in Bloomington. The Monroe County Health Department noted that members of the fraternity "have intentionally introduced, allowed or maintained conditions that may transmit the spread of Covid-19". According to a press release from the department.
The closure is due to an event that took place on the night of September 16 at the Brotherhood House. A university official said the gathering was likely a pledge to select new members.
"This agreement directly addresses health concerns in this House and reflects the seriousness of ensuring the safety of students," said Chuck Carney, a university spokesman, in an email Thursday.
Mr Carney said 14 fraternities and sororities are in quarantine. The most recent positivity rate for residents of Greek homes was 3.3 percent – from 14.6 percent the week before – However, it stayed higher than the rate among students living in dormitories, according to the university's Covid-19 dashboard.
Universities are struggling to keep sororities and fraternities from turning into virus clusters. Earlier this month, the University of New Hampshire suspended a fraternity that hosted a party linked to at least 11 cases. Furman University in South Carolina suspended a fraternity for at least four years because of a party held in August. That same month, the University of Kansas issued injunctions to two fraternities alleged to have breached health and safety guidelines.
Israelis are only allowed to leave the country on vacation if they have already purchased plane tickets before the new virus lockdown rules come into effect at 2:00 p.m. on Friday officials said.
The travel restrictions are part of a national effort to address a growing number of cases. Israel registered nearly 37,000 new cases in the past week, a per capita rate that is the highest in the world, according to a database from the New York Times.
Outbound tickets purchased after Friday will not be considered, the Israeli Ministry of Transportation said in a statement, but the thousands of Israelis already overseas will be allowed to return to their original flights on their return and, if necessary, to self-quarantine enter.
Currently, very few countries accept Israeli travelers, including Greece and Serbia.
The national lockdown, Israel's second this year, began last week. It's expected to be at least another two weeks, but will likely continue in some form until the end of October. The government approved tightening restrictions on Thursday amid rising infection rates.
The authorities had considered closing Ben-Gurion International Airport to all but cargo and emergency flights. However, with airlines unlikely to be able to cancel all of their scheduled flights on short notice, there were concerns that thousands of Israelis who had already bought airline tickets would sue the state for reimbursement, Israeli news media reported.
Miri Regev, Israel's transport minister, said the decision to restrict international travel should reconcile interests in keeping the airport and its workers running, the rights of those who have already bought airline tickets, and the "principle of social solidarity" . as part of national pandemic control efforts.
Thousands have been stranded overseas under Australian regulations restricting air travel into the country.
Tens of thousands of Australians are stranded overseas due to governmental coronavirus restrictions that limit the number of people allowed on flights into the country.
Australia is one of the few places in the world that prohibits citizens from leaving their own country and limits the number of people who can return. The strict regulations have raised legal concerns about the right to free movement and have been particularly painful to the large number of Australians who turn as a balm to the tyranny of distance from the rest of the world.
"We wanted to get our children out of the Australian bubble," said 40-year-old Daniel Tusia about his family's decision to travel internationally for a year. Mr Tusia eventually spent $ 14,000 on business class tickets to bring his wife and two children, one of whom has special needs, back to Australia after weeks of trying to get home.
"Before that point, it never occurred to us that Australia would physically and legally prevent you from entering," he said.
Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, has cited the country's tough approach as critical to avoiding the rampant spread of the virus in countries with travel restrictions that are more relaxed or non-existent, such as the US.
"As an island continent, controlling our borders has been one of the means by which we have kept Australians safe," he wrote in August in a letter to those seeking consular assistance for their return. He admitted the measures were "frustrating" but said they were necessary.
But with many of those stranded overseas speaking publicly about their plight, some opposition politicians have expressed more empathy. "These are people who have the right to return to their country because they are Australians," Labor internal affairs chief Kristina Keneally told Parliament in September.
Last week, under mounting pressure, Mr Morrison said the limits on passengers entering the country would be raised from 4,000 to 6,000 a week. These numbers, however, depend on states' cooperation and their ability to quarantine arrivals, and travel industry experts said they are still well below demand.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin urged elderly people to stay at home and companies to remotely switch to remote working, in the remotest sign that the authorities are cautious given the rising number of cases in the city.
The mayor also noted doctors' concerns that the flu could coincide with the pandemic and risk more lives, warning that a full lockdown could follow if people don't take orders seriously.
"We all really don't want to go back to the harsh pressures of this spring," said Sobyanin.
The order for a partial lockdown was in contradiction to the proposals made by President Vladimir V. Putin that Russia has the virus largely under control and a vaccine is available. Putin warned of rising cases on Thursday.
Reported cases in the Russian capital have increased after peaking at a few hundred a day in the summer. Moscow reported 1,560 new cases on Friday. Last week, Moscow hospitals reported a 30 percent increase in virus patients, Sobyanin said.
The surge in Russian cases has been seen despite the country becoming the first country to register an emergency vaccine last month. High-risk people, like doctors and teachers, can legally take the vaccine outside of a clinical trial, but few have. As of Friday, 126 health care workers in Moscow had taken the vaccine, which is insufficient to slow the spread of the virus in a city of 13 million people.
Russia has recorded at least 1.1 million cases of the virus, the fourth highest number in the world after the US, India and Brazil.
In other international news:
South Korea announced new social distancing guidelines on Friday as millions of people prepared to travel to their hometown during one of the country's biggest holidays. The Chuseok Holiday runs from Wednesday through October 4 and presents a new challenge for health officials struggling to contain cases. From Monday onwards, no community celebrations with more than 50 people indoors and more than 100 people outdoors can be held in the villages. Entertainment, including drinking, will be closed in the provincial cities.
The annual carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro will be delayed next year for the first time in more than a century, Brazilian news outlets reported Thursday. During a typical carnival that takes place in midsummer in the southern hemisphere, wild street parties and performances engulf the city. But that could be an epidemiologist's nightmare now, in a country that has so far reported more than 4.5 million cases and nearly 140,000 deaths, and whose president Jair Bolsonaro announced in July that he had tested positive. In Rio de Janeiro alone, more than 250,000 cases have been reported, according to a Times database, of which more than 11,000 were in the past week.
The regional government in the Spanish capital Madrid, added eight areas to the partial lock that went into effect this week. Spain has fought a virus resurgence, and Friday's addition will extend restrictions to around a million residents.
London is being made a "problem area" and is being added to the UK Government's watchlist for hotspots that may soon be subject to local lockdown. In response to the news, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement that the city was at a "very worrying turning point", urging residents to follow health guidelines and urging the government to reduce testing capacity to increase.
Participation in the French Open The tennis tournament, which starts on Sunday, will be limited to 1,000 spectators per day as part of tightened restrictions in France, which recorded an average of almost 12,000 new cases per day over the past week.
Reporting was by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Pam Belluck, Choe Sang-Hun, Emily Cochrane, Johnny Diaz, Michael Gold, Joseph Goldstein, Antonella Francini, Winnie Hu, Mike Ives, Isabel Kershner, Juliana Kim, Andrew E. Kramer and Dan written by Levin, Raphael Minder, Saw Nang, Richard C. Paddock, Azi Paybarah, Daniel Politi, Alan Rappeport, Simon Romero, Liam Stack, Daniel E. Slotnik, Anna Schaverien, Eliza Shapiro, Jeanna Smialek, Mitch Smith, Eileen Sullivan, Michael Wines, Elaine Yu, Mihir Zaveri and Karen Zraick.