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    Covid-19 Live Updates: Joe Biden, Facing Voters, Criticizes Trump’s Virus Response

    Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

    ‘You lost your freedom because he didn’t act’: Biden tries to focus the campaign on Trump’s virus response.

    Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. sought on Thursday to focus the presidential campaign on President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.

    Appearing on CNN at a town-hall-style event less than two weeks before the first presidential debate, Mr. Biden cast the president as a callous leader and chided Attorney General William P. Barr for suggesting that local stay-at-home mandates were the greatest threat to individual freedoms since slavery.

    “What takes away your freedom is not being able to see your kid, not being able to go to the football game or baseball game, not being able to see your mom or dad sick in the hospital, not being able to do the things, that’s what is costing us our freedom,” Mr. Biden said. “And it’s been the failure of this president to deal, to deal with this virus, and he knew about it.”

    At other turns, Mr. Biden pointed to revelations from a new book by the journalist Bob Woodward that the president knowingly minimized the risks of the coronavirus, and added to his earlier warnings that Mr. Trump had politicized the rollout of a vaccine.

    “I don’t trust the president on vaccines,” Mr. Biden said at the town hall near his childhood home of Scranton, Pa., as audience members listened from their cars. “I trust Dr. Fauci,” he said, referring to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “If Fauci says a vaccine is safe, I’d take the vaccine.”

    Mr. Biden also said that he could not enforce a national mask mandate everywhere, breaking with a position he had taken a day earlier. But he asserted that he would have the authority to do so “on federal land.”

    Many states require the use of masks and have issued stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the virus. Earlier this week, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggested that masks might be more effective in fighting the pandemic than a vaccine — only to have Mr. Trump call his statement a mistake.

    In a statement, Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, said that Mr. Biden should have received more scrutiny of his plans and his record on matters including the economy.

    Mr. Biden’s appearance, his biggest on a national stage since he accepted the Democratic nomination last month, came on the same night that Mr. Trump announced about $13 billion in assistance to farmers at a campaign rally in the battleground state of Wisconsin.

    More than 2,200 new cases were announced in Wisconsin on Thursday, a single-day record, according to a New York Times database, and the state has added more cases in the past week than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin canceled plans to travel to his home state with Mr. Trump and appear at the rally, saying that he would self-isolate for two weeks after coming into contact with an infected person.

    Earlier on Thursday, a former Homeland Security aide to Vice President Mike Pence endorsed Mr. Biden and accused MR. Trump of drastically mismanaging the response to the coronavirus crisis.

    The former aide, Olivia Troye, played a central role in running the White House’s coronavirus task force until leaving the government last month. In an online ad, she said she was voting for Mr. Biden because she believed the nation was in a “constitutional crisis” and that “at this point it’s country over party.”

    Mr. Pence fired back from the White House.

    “I haven’t read her comments in any detail,” he said on Thursday. “But it reads to me like one more disgruntled employee that has decided to play politics during an election year.”


    Tracking the Coronavirus ›

    United States › On Sept. 17 14-day
    change
    Trend
    New cases 45,391 –1%
    New deaths 849 –1%

    GLOBAL ROUNDUP

    In Israel, a surging virus and a new lockdown greet the year’s holiest days.

    Credit…Ammar Awad/Reuters

    As Israelis prepare to celebrate the holiest days on the Jewish calendar under a fresh lockdown, organizing prayer services is proving to be more of a mathematical brainteaser than a spiritual exercise.

    Rabbis must arrange worshipers into clusters of 20 to 50, separated by dividers, determining the size of the groups based on complex calculations involving local infection rates, and how many entrances and square feet their synagogues have. Masks will be required, and many seats will have to remain empty.

    With the virus rampaging again, Israel will become one of the few places in the world to go into a second lockdown, which went into effect on Friday, on the eve of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

    The government has issued a list of restrictions — along with a plethora of exemptions that many criticize as a formula for confusion and noncompliance.

    The atmosphere in the run-up to the holidays was more despairing than joyous.

    “These are not the holidays we were hoping for,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the president of Ohr Torah Stone, an Israel-based Jewish education group with emissaries around the world. “The fragility of life is upon us, but I see people rising to the occasion.”

    The three-week national lockdown was timed to coincide with the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur holy days and the festival of Sukkot, in the hope of causing less economic damage because business slows down in any case around the holidays. It was also aimed at preventing large family meals that could become petri dishes for the virus.

    Israel successfully limited the spread of the virus in the spring, but recently its infection rate has spiraled into one of the world’s worst. The country has had more than 300 confirmed new cases per 100,000 people over the last week — more than double the rate in Spain, the hardest-hit European country, and quadruple that of the United States.

    In other news from around the world:

    • More than 30 million cases of the coronavirus have been reported worldwide as of Friday morning, according to a New York Times database. India, in particular, has recently contributed significantly to the count, having added more than 93,000 new cases a day on average over the last week.

    • Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia on Friday raised the cap on international arrivals to 6,000 from 4,000 people a week, after critics accused him of leaving citizens stranded overseas. Approximately 24,000 Australians are currently outside the country, Mr. Morrison said, adding that he hoped many of them would be home by Christmas. The state of Queensland also said on Friday that it would allow flights to resume to and from the Australian Capital Territory next week. Australia has reported 297 new cases in the past week, and its second-largest city, Melbourne, remains under lockdown.

    • New Zealand recorded no new cases of the virus on Friday for the first time in more than a month, after an outbreak in Auckland in August threatened the country’s progress in keeping the virus at bay. The country now has just 70 active cases. Of those, 37 are from community transmission and the rest are from overseas arrivals.

    • Alongside England’s sharp increase in coronavirus cases, the number of people hospitalized with the virus is also doubling roughly every eight days. Nearly 200 people were admitted to the hospital on Tuesday, according to the latest government statistics, compared with 84 on Sept. 7. Local lockdowns which bar people from meeting with anyone from outside their household began in northeastern England on Friday, and the same restrictions will go into effect starting Tuesday in parts of northwestern England, Yorkshire and the Midlands, the government announced.

    A much-criticized testing recommendation on the C.D.C.’s website last month was not written by its scientists.

    Credit…Christopher (KS) Smith for The New York Times

    A heavily criticized recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month about who should be tested for the coronavirus was not written by C.D.C. scientists and was posted to the agency’s website despite their serious objections, according to several people familiar with the matter as well as internal documents obtained by The New York Times.

    The guidance said it was not necessary to test people without symptoms of Covid-19 even if they had been exposed to the virus. It came at a time when public health experts were pushing for more testing rather than less, and administration officials told The Times that the document was a C.D.C. product and had been revised with input from the agency’s director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield.

    But officials told The Times this week that the Department of Health and Human Services did the rewriting itself and then “dropped” it into the C.D.C.’s public website, flouting the agency’s strict scientific review process.

    “That was a doc that came from the top down, from the H.H.S. and the task force,” said a federal official with knowledge of the matter, referring to the White House task force on the coronavirus. “That policy does not reflect what many people at the C.D.C. feel should be the policy.”

    Adm. Brett Giroir, the administration’s testing coordinator and an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, the C.D.C.’s parent organization, said in an interview Thursday that the original draft came from the C.D.C., but he “coordinated editing and input from the scientific and medical members of the task force.”

    A Chinese vaccine maker will try a two-dose regimen after concerns that one dose was ineffective.

    Credit…Thomas Peter/Reuters

    China’s CanSino Biologics and a military-backed research institute are preparing to start clinical trials of two-dose regimen of their coronavirus vaccine after scientists raised concerns that their current treatment, which required only one dose, did not produce a strong enough immune response.

    The vaccine made by CanSino and researchers from the People’s Liberation Army is one of four Chinese candidates in late-stage trials, which are being conducted in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. It was previously promoted by Chinese state media to be a front-runner in the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, but it struggled to get Phase 3 trials started in Canada.

    Unlike the other Chinese vaccines, the single-dose vaccine is made with a cold virus, called Ad5, which many people probably have already been exposed to. About half of the participants in the trial had powerful antibodies to Ad5 before they got the vaccine, according to a May report in the Lancet. The researchers in China found that people who had Ad5 antibodies were less likely to develop a strong immune response.

    Researchers from the Academy of Military Sciences filed the application to start clinical trials of the two-dose regimen on Thursday, according to clinical trial registry data in the United States. They said Phase 1 trials would start Sunday and end in June.

    “We are exploring different vaccination methods and doses,” Hou Lihua, a researcher at the Academy of Military Sciences, said in a telephone interview.

    In May, CanSino and the military institute published promising results from a Phase 1 safety trial, and in July they reported that their Phase 2 trials demonstrated the vaccine produced a strong immune response. But the researchers also wrote in the Lancet that the people who got the highest dose also experienced the most side effects.

    Actually, a Chinese virologist didn’t prove that Covid-19 was created in a lab.

    Every day, Times reporters debunk false and misleading information that is going viral online.

    Kevin Roose, who covers technology for The Times, writes:

    This week, Tucker Carlson hosted a Chinese virologist named Dr. Li-Meng Yan on his Fox News show. Dr. Yan, who has made regular appearances in conservative media outlets this year, claimed to have “solid scientific evidence” that the novel coronavirus is “not from nature,” that it was created in a lab under a Chinese military program, and that it was spread intentionally outside China as part of a biowarfare plot.

    But none of Dr. Yan’s claims are justified by the scientific evidence. The vast majority of scientists who have studied the coronavirus agree that it originated naturally, and spread to humans from an animal species, such as a bat. And although scientists can’t rule out the possibility that the virus originated in a lab studying animals such as bats, it is vanishingly unlikely that it was genetically engineered and intentionally released.

    Credit…YouTube

    Still, Dr. Yan’s explosive claims quickly went viral on social media. A video clip of her Tucker Carlson show appearance has gotten two million views on YouTube, and nearly a million views on Facebook. Conservative influencers like Dennis Prager, Mike Huckabee and David J. Harris Jr. have also shared her claims.

    On Wednesday, Facebook and Instagram began flagging posts from Mr. Carlson’s show about Dr. Yan’s claims, saying that they repeated information about the coronavirus “that multiple independent fact checkers say is false.”

    Credit…Facebook

    Twitter suspended Dr. Yan’s account on Wednesday, which provoked another round of viral posts, including accusations by Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri that Twitter was “openly on the side of Beijing.”

    A Twitter spokesman declined to comment.

    Public health authorities, including the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have also noted that while the exact source of the virus is still unknown, the evidence strongly suggests a natural origin. “The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir,” explained a post on the C.D.C.’s website.

    Many housekeepers, abandoned by their employers, face ‘a Depression-level situation.’

    Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

    As the pandemic has devastated a wide variety of occupations in the United States, housekeeping has been among the hardest hit. Seventy-two percent of housekeepers reported that they had lost all of their clients by the first week of April, according to a survey by the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

    The fortunate had employers who continued to pay them. The unlucky called or texted their employers and heard nothing back. They weren’t laid off so much as ghosted, en masse.

    Since July, hours have started picking up, though far short of pre-pandemic levels, and often for lower wages.

    “We plateaued at about 40 percent employment in our surveys of members,” said Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the alliance. She added that because many of the workers are undocumented immigrants, they have not received any kind of government relief.

    “We’re talking about a full-blown humanitarian crisis, a Depression-level situation for this work force,” Ms. Poo said.

    The ordeal of housekeepers is a study in the wildly unequal ways that the pandemic has inflicted suffering. The housekeepers’ pay dwindled, in many cases, because employers left for vacation homes or because those employers could work from home and didn’t want visitors.

    Few housekeepers have much in the way of savings, let alone shares of stock, which means they are scrabbling for dollars as the wealthiest of their clients are prospering from the recent bull market.

    In a dozen interviews with The Times, housekeepers in a handful of cities across the country described their feelings of desperation over the past six months. A few said the pain had been alleviated by acts of generosity, mostly advances for future work. Far more said they had been suspended, or perhaps fired, without so much as a conversation.

    Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Peter Baker, Sydney Ember, Nicholas Fandos, Katie Glueck, Mike Ives, Isabel Kershner, Apoorva Mandavilli, Kevin Roose, Anna Schaverien, David Segal, Michael D. Shear, Mitch Smith, Glenn Thrush, Amber Wang and Sui-Lee Wee.

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