Covid deaths soar in a tired US
A summer that started with falling caseloads and genuine hope that the worst of Covid-19 was over is ending with rising death tolls, full hospitals and a bitter realization that the pandemic is far from over in the U.S.
The country now reports more than 160,000 new cases per day and about 100,000 Covid patients have been admitted across the country, even as vaccination rates rise and cases begin to decline in some hard-hit southern states. The resurgence has left the country exhausted and less certain than ever about when normalcy might return.
More than 1,500 Americans die most days, less than during the winter peak, but worse than last summer. With millions of schoolchildren returning to classrooms — some for the first time since March 2020 — public health experts say more coronavirus clusters in schools are inevitable.
Highs and lows: “Throughout May and most of June, things were going so well that we were all talking about the endgame,” said Dr. John Swartzberg, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. “We started to enjoy life again. Within a few weeks, everything collapsed.”
Vaccine Update: Health officials say most patients who are hospitalized and die are not vaccinated, putting pressure on the health care system. About 47 percent of Americans are not fully vaccinated.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
A failed plan to reconcile France and Russia
The repatriation of the skeleton of General Charles Étienne Gudin, a Napoleonic general who died in Russia in 1812, would bring together the leaders of two long-disturbed nations. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, was due to receive his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for a funeral that would serve as a symbolic burial of the hatchet.
Instead, a small ceremony took place in a grim hangar at Le Bourget airport, near Paris, next to a decommissioned Concorde jet. The presidents were nowhere to be seen.
Once seen as an opportunity to use history for diplomatic purposes, the plan was scuttled by France’s discomfort with Russia’s increasingly strict domestic and foreign policies — as well as the details of their complicated relationship, shaped by a history full of shadowy intermediaries and backdoor diplomacy.
citable: Albéric d’Orléans, a descendant of the general, said the return of his remains had been overly politicized. “My feeling is that we missed a unique opportunity to improve relations between France and Russia,” he said.
‘Everyone is on the list’
A quest by Nicaragua’s president Daniel Ortega to secure a fourth term has plunged the Central American nation into a state of pervasive fear. Ortega now runs a vote without any credible challenger and turns Nicaragua into a police state.
Since June, police have jailed or placed under house arrest seven candidates for the November presidential election, as well as dozens of political activists and civil society leaders.
Government critics say the arrests have turned Nicaragua into a more repressive state than in the early years of Anastasio Somoza’s dictatorship, overthrown in 1979 by the Sandinista Revolutionary Movement led by Ortega.
Details: Targets of the crackdown included a millionaire banker and a Marxist guerrilla, a decorated general and a little-known provincial activist, student leaders and twenty-seven-year-old intellectuals.
First person: “Everyone is on the list,” said a Nicaraguan businessman, whose family home was raided by police and who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. “You’re just trying to figure out how high or low your name is on it, based on the last arrest.”
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ART AND IDEAS
Where pandemics are commemorated
The German Hygiene Museum in Dresden promotes itself as “the museum of man and of the human body”, says director Klaus Vogel. But as coronavirus has given disease prevention a new and deadly urgency, the museum is struggling to address what it’s named after, reports Annalisa Quinn.
In times of health crisis, similar debates have resurfaced throughout the history of medicine, often raising questions about privacy, individual freedom, and how best to communicate health information to a skeptical public.
The museum has more than 10,000 posters related to the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as others encouraging people to get vaccinated against smallpox, the first disease for which there was an effective vaccine. “From the beginning, we had a problem convincing people to get vaccinated,” said Carola Rupprecht, head of the museum’s education department.
Vaccination against smallpox eventually became mandatory in many places, including parts of the US and what is now Germany – which was controversial at the time, just as the proposed vaccine mandates are today.
The arguments are still the same, Rupprecht said. “The main question is: which is more important to find? The supposed protection of all society through vaccination, or the freedom of each individual to decide for himself?”
Read more about the museum here.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to cook?
This easy chicken is a little braised and a little roasted. It is a recipe for the holy grail, writes our columnist.
What to read?
In her new collection of essays, On Freedom, Maggie Nelson exposes the paradoxes of one of America’s fundamental values.