Covid-19 News: Live Updates – The New York Times

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‘What will happen, nobody knows’: Worries grow in parts of the world where cold weather is approaching.

It is a staggering toll, almost 200,000 people dead from the coronavirus in the United States, and close to one million people around the world.

And the pandemic, which sent cases spiking skyward in many countries and then trending downward after lockdowns, has reached a precarious point. Will countries like the United States see the virus continue to slow? Or is a new surge on the way?

“What will happen, nobody knows,” said Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “This virus has surprised us on many fronts, and we may be surprised again.”

In the United States, fewer new coronavirus cases have been detected week by week since late July, after outbreaks first in the Northeast and then in the South and the West.

New York City’s roughly 1,400 school buildings have sat largely empty for six months, since its school system, the nation’s largest, abruptly closed classrooms in mid-March.

On Monday, for the first time since then, schools will reopen for up to 90,000 pre-K students and children with advanced disabilities. The rest of the city’s 1.1 million students will start the school year online and will have the option of returning to classrooms over the next few weeks.

Though Monday’s reopening falls far short of what Mayor Bill de Blasio originally promised — all students having the option to return to classrooms — it is still a milestone in New York’s long path to fully reopening. New York is one of the few cities in the country where some children are back in classrooms.

The start of the school year in the city is still freighted with anxiety and unknowns, starting with the fact that nobody is quite sure how many students will show up to buildings today.

Principals, who have been working without a break since the spring, said they were looking forward to seeing their youngest students again, but were bracing themselves for a very strange start of the year.

“We’re all about the hugs, the sitting together, rolling around on the floor together,” said Julie Zuckerman, the principal of Public School 513 in Washington Heights, which has a pre-K. “That can’t happen now.”

Over the summer, New York City seemed poised to become the only big school district in America to offer in-person classes at the start of its school year. Despite recent stumbles, New York will eventually have more students back in classrooms this month than any of the nation’s 10 largest school systems — if all goes according to plan.

From resistance to face masks and scorn for the science of the coronavirus to predicting the imminent arrival of a vaccine while downplaying the death count, President Trump and a sizable number of his supporters have aligned behind an alternate reality minimizing a tragedy that has killed an overwhelming number of Americans and gutted the economy.

This mix of denial and defiance runs contrary to the overwhelming evidence about the spread and toll of the virus, and it is at the center of Mr. Trump’s re-election effort as early voting begins in Minnesota, Virginia and other states.

To some extent, this viewpoint reflects the resentments of Americans living in regions of the country, like upstate New York and the upper reaches of Michigan, that have been relatively untouched by the virus but have had to endure drastic business shutdown measures.

“The people who need to shelter in place should do so, but I do not feel that that should ruin the economy,” said Karla Mueller, a Republican and church custodian who lives in Fond du Lac, Wis. “I think it’s ruined a lot of people’s small businesses. I just don’t feel that that’s necessary.”

But it is also a direct result of the look-the-other-way message that the Trump administration has sent with increasing urgency, pollsters and strategists say, as the president faces a strong challenge to re-election from Joseph R. Biden Jr., his Democratic opponent. Mr. Trump has called on Twitter for people to “LIBERATE” states that have imposed stay-at-home orders, threatened to withhold aid from Democratic governors and undercut medical professionals who have cautioned against the use of unproven medical treatments and premature school reopenings.

The president’s critics say his confrontational approach has kept the country from forming a consensus about how to fight the worst public health crisis in more than 100 years.

“The emotion, the passion — it’s out of hand,” said Representative Debbie Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, who pointed to two violent episodes in her state that stemmed from disagreements over wearing masks. “People have been shot and killed. A security guard in a dollar store. There was another fight at Walmart. This is insane.”

Polls show that Republicans approve of how Mr. Trump has handled the response to the virus by overwhelming margins and — unlike much of the country — think the United States has moved too slowly to reopen. A majority of them also support wearing masks, though not by the same margin as Democrats or the nation at large.

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