Here’s what you need to know:
- Education systems are failing to reach many children, resulting in a ‘global education emergency.’
- As Hurricane Laura slams the U.S., evacuation shelters adjust for the virus.
- The Justice Department says it may investigate four Democratic-led states over nursing-home outbreaks.
- Republicans try to rewrite the history of the Trump administration’s pandemic response.
Education systems are failing to reach many children, resulting in a ‘global education emergency.’
Over the past six months, about 1.5 billion children around the world have been told to stay home from school to help minimize transmission of the coronavirus. More than 30 percent of these students — around 463 million — were unable to gain access to remote learning opportunities when their schools closed, according to a report on Wednesday by Unicef, the United Nations agency for children.
“The sheer number of children whose education was completely disrupted for months on end is a global education emergency,” Henrietta Fore, the executive director of Unicef, said in a statement. “The repercussions could be felt in economies and societies for decades to come.”
Schoolchildren in sub-Saharan Africa have been the most affected, the report said, as education systems there have failed to reach about half of all students through television, radio, internet or other forms of remote learning. Many children in the region have gone without classes of any kind since March, according to a separate report published Wednesday by Human Rights Watch.
In part to address this unequal access, education officials in Kenya said last month that they were canceling the academic year and making students repeat it.
Forty percent of students in the Middle East and North Africa, 38 percent in South Asia and 34 percent in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have also been unable to learn remotely, according to the Unicef report, which said children in rural areas had been disproportionately affected.
In general, students from higher-income households with more-educated parents seem to be faring better at studying at home, researchers around the world have found. This has reinforced concerns that school closures may be yet another way that longstanding inequalities will be exacerbated by the pandemic.
As Hurricane Laura slams the U.S., evacuation shelters adjust for the virus.
Hurricane Laura pounded the Louisiana and Texas coasts as it made landfall as a Category 4 storm early Thursday, after days of dire warnings that included the need to continue taking virus precautions.
With winds of 150 miles per hour, Laura was among the strongest storms to ever hit the United States, according to data compiled by Philip Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University who studies hurricanes. Forecasters have also warned of an “unsurvivable” storm surge that could push as far as 40 miles inland.
The hurricane was preceded by tough decisions about fleeing and an urgent push to get people out of harm’s way, with more than 500,000 residents in Louisiana and Texas urged to leave their homes.
Although large shelters have been set up throughout the hurricane zone, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas had encouraged evacuees to consider booking rooms in hotels and motels instead of using shelters, as a safer way to isolate themselves from others who might be infected with the coronavirus.
Officials said buses used for evacuations would carry fewer people than in the past, to let riders stay a safe distance from one another. Planners were bringing in more buses than in previous disasters, to make up for having fewer people on each bus.
Traditional shelters like gymnasiums and convention centers that have hosted hundreds of evacuees in past disasters would be set up to provide “layers of separation” between the occupants, Mr. Abbott said. The shelters and buses will be supplied with hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment like face masks, and state officials plan to dispatch testing teams to the larger shelters.
“The state and local governments are fully aware that they are dealing with a pandemic while they are responding to Hurricane Laura,” the governor said.
The Justice Department says it may investigate four Democratic-led states over nursing-home outbreaks.
The Justice Department has asked New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Pennsylvania for information about steps their governors took in response to the pandemic to determine whether they may have contributed to the spread of the disease in nursing homes.
The department said that directives by the governors, all Democrats, may have allowed people admission to elder-care facilities without adequate testing.
It cited a March 25 order from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York that no nursing home resident could be denied admission or readmission “solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of Covid-19.”
The department said that it might open a formal investigation, depending on the information it receives from the states.
“The Civil Rights Division seeks to determine if the state orders requiring admission of Covid-19 patients to nursing homes is responsible for the deaths of nursing home residents,” the department said in a statement Wednesday.
The request for information comes at a delicate time for Mr. Cuomo.
Republicans in the state Legislature and in Washington have said that his policies were to blame for 6,500 coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes and other care facilities, a death toll that is much higher than those in other states.
About 40 percent of the nearly 180,000 deaths in the United States attributed to the coronavirus have been connected to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to a New York Times database.
According to Mr. Cuomo’s office, New York, New Jersey and Michigan are in a group of eight states that include presumed Covid-19 fatalities, rather than just confirmed ones, in their total of nursing home deaths.
The questions, and any subsequent federal investigation, would apply only to facilities run or owned by the state, the governor’s office said, which is a small percentage of the total.
Mr. Cuomo said that infected health care workers, not his policies, helped spread the virus among the state’s nursing homes.
He issued a joint statement with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan calling the effort “nothing more than a transparent politicization of the Department of Justice in the middle of the Republican National Convention.”
The statement also noted: “At least 14 states — including Kentucky, Utah and Arizona — have issued similar nursing guidance all based on federal guidelines, and yet the four states listed in the D.O.J.’s request have a Democratic governor.”
The statement also suggested that the department should send a similar letter to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “since the state’s advisories were modeled after their guidance.”
Republicans try to rewrite the history of the Trump administration’s pandemic response.
Vice President Mike Pence and other speakers on the third night of the Republican National Convention on Wednesday sought to rewrite the history of how President Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 180,000 Americans and counting.
“Before the first case of the coronavirus spread within the United States, the president took unprecedented action and suspended all travel from China, the second-largest economy in the world,” Mr. Pence said, speaking to a crowd at Fort McHenry in Baltimore that did not appear to be socially distanced or wearing masks.
Yet by April, 40,000 people had traveled to the United States from China since Mr. Trump imposed his travel ban on Jan. 31, which did not apply to Americans and some others. Many of those passengers received minimal health screening.
Mr. Pence also said Mr. Trump had “marshaled the full resources of our federal government from the outset,” adding, “He directed us to forge a seamless partnership with governors across America in both political parties.”
This would come as a surprise to Democratic governors in Illinois, New York and Washington State, among others, who were attacked by Mr. Trump after they criticized the federal government over its lack of assistance.
Representative Lee Zeldin of New York, a rising star in the Republican Party, praised Mr. Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for providing his district in Suffolk County and New York City with personal protective equipment for medical workers caring for coronavirus patients.
“Jared Kushner and I were on the phone late” one Saturday night, Mr. Zeldin said. “The very next day, President Trump announced he was sending us 200,000 N95 masks. He actually delivered more than 400,000.”
Mr. Zeldin’s praise for the Trump administration neglects to mention what was a nationwide shortage in medical-grade masks and other protective equipment for doctors and nurses. He also said that New York’s hospitals were able to handle all the patients affected by the pandemic — a claim that does not comport with how the pandemic played out in New York this spring.
Reporting was contributed by Katie Benner, Chelsea Brasted, Alexander Burns, Reid J. Epstein, Jonathan Martin, Jesse McKinley, Heather Murphy, Campbell Robertson, Rick Rojas, Dana Rubinstein, Eileen Sullivan and Carl Zimmer.