Here’s what you need to know:
- Thousands gather in London to protest lockdown measures and question the official virus narrative.
- A police officer in Ohio used a Taser on a woman who refused to wear a mask at a middle-school football game.
- India’s leader says his country’s vaccine industry will ‘help all humanity’ in fighting the virus.
- China gives unproven vaccines to thousands, with risks unknown.
- In the Navajo Nation, residents are ordered to stay home or face fines as high as $1,000 as cases surge again.
- Under 10 percent of the U.S. population has coronavirus antibodies, a study finds.
- ‘I feel sorry for Americans’: The world watches the U.S. response to the virus.
Thousands gather in London to protest lockdown measures and question the official virus narrative.
Thousands of unmasked demonstrators flouted social distancing rules and gathered in central London on Saturday to protest new lockdown measures.
The protesters chanted “Freedom” and called to “end the crazy rules,” as some held signs declaring, “No more lies, no more masks, no more lockdown.”
A day earlier, Britain reported its highest daily number of new infections since the pandemic began — nearly 6,900 — and 34 new deaths, bringing the country’s toll of lives lost to the virus to nearly 42,000. Conspiracy theories undermining authorities’ warnings of the danger of contagion are gaining traction, and various news organizations have reported that the QAnon movement that began in the United States is taking root, as it has in Germany.
Overall, Britain has been the hardest-hit country in Europe, though its current seven-day average of new infections per capita is far lower than the averages in Spain and France. But with its daily raw numbers rising sharply over recent weeks, the authorities are reimposing lockdown measures. More than 20 million people are set to be affected by new measures by Sunday night, as numerous parts of northern and central England as well as Wales go under tighter restrictions.
Bars and restaurants must close at 10 p.m. in England, and in countless areas, household visits and gatherings have been restricted. In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ban household visits to the city’s nine million inhabitants, and the city has been placed on the government’s watchlist.
Fifteen police officers were injured in lockdown protests earlier this month, and on Saturday, local authorities said they would not tolerate any violence against law enforcement.
“I know there is great frustration to these regulations, but they have been designed to keep everyone safe from what is a lethal virus,” said Ade Adelekan, a commander for the Metropolitan Police who was leading Saturday’s operation. “By flagrantly gathering in large numbers and ignoring social distancing, you are putting your health and the health of your loved ones at risk.”
A police officer in Ohio used a Taser on a woman who refused to wear a mask at a middle-school football game.
A woman in central Ohio was arrested and shocked with a Taser this week when she declined to leave a middle-school football game after refusing to wear a face covering, the police said.
A video of the episode shows the woman, Alicia Kitts, yelling at the officer, Chris Smith, as he struggles to handcuff her. “Get off of me!” she screams.
The Police Department in Logan, a city of about 7,000 southeast of Columbus, said in a statement that a school resource officer noticed Ms. Kitts sitting in the stands on Wednesday without a mask, which the department said was a violation of a school policy requiring all spectators to wear face coverings. Officer Smith asked her multiple times to put on a mask but she did not comply, telling the officer that she had asthma, the statement said, and he also asked her multiple times to leave the stands, which she refused to do.
When he advised her she was under arrest and tried to handcuff her arms behind her back, Ms. Kitts resisted and Officer Smith used the Taser on her shoulder, according to the police account. She was charged with resisting arrest and criminal trespassing.
“It is important to note, the female was not arrested for failing to wear a mask; she was asked to leave the premises for continually violating school policy,” the police statement said.
Ms. Kitts’s lawyer, Maurice A. Thompson, said in a statement that officials from the Logan-Hocking School District ignored Ms. Kitts when she told them she had asthma and disputed the justification that the officer was enforcing a school policy on masks.
Mr. Thompson said the school had no written policy of its own and that the officer was attempting to enforce a statewide policy for mask-wearing. However, he noted, the state policy exempts individuals with respiratory conditions. The school’s position was “not consistent with any directive or other law,” Mr. Thompson said, and the school district “misapplied the law, and misapplied it haphazardly and violently.”
Local media reported that the Logan Police Department said that calls had come in from people who directed racial slurs at Officer Smith, who is Black. On Thursday, district schools were placed on lockdown after various callers made threats directed at the school system and the police department, The Marietta Times reported.
The police said that the case remained under investigation, and that additional charges were pending against Ms. Kitts and another woman involved in the altercation.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, mask policies have been at the center of disputes that sometimes turn violent.
In May, a security guard in Flint, Mich., was fatally shot after an altercation that his wife said had occurred over a customer refusing to wear a face covering. Various viral videos have captured tense standoffs about mask wearing in grocery stores and other businesses.
India’s leader says his country’s vaccine industry will ‘help all humanity’ in fighting the virus.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India said in his annual United Nations General Assembly address Saturday that his country’s vast vaccine-production industry would serve the world in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
“As the largest vaccine producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today,” Mr. Modi said in a prerecorded speech. “India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis.”
The pledge touched on a recurrent theme at this year’s General Assembly, held virtually this year because of the pandemic: worries about the availability and distribution of coronavirus vaccines, coupled with fears that affluent countries with the means and the income would be at an advantage over smaller and poorer countries that also need the vaccines.
A number of General Assembly speakers this past week, including Pope Francis, expressed concerns that vaccines might only go to those who can afford them. “If anyone should be given preference, let it be the poorest, the most vulnerable, those who so often experience discrimination because they have neither power nor economic resources,” Francis said.
Mr. Modi’s seeming generosity on sharing the vaccine came amid questions about how the country would provide such protection to its own people. Just hours before Mr. Modi’s address was broadcast, Adar Poonawalla, the leader of India’s Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine maker, said that the country’s Health Ministry would need close to $1 billion in the next year for a mass vaccination campaign. “This is the next concerning challenge we need to tackle,” he wrote on Twitter.
India, the second-most populous country after China, has reported 5.9 million coronavirus infections. Only the United States has reported more, with more than seven million cases.
In his U.N. address, Mr. Modi said that India was proceeding with Phase 3 clinical trials — the advanced, large-scale trials of promising vaccines that help ensure their safety and effectiveness — and would assist other countries in strengthening storage capacities for delivery of approved vaccines.
Researchers are testing at least 42 vaccines around the world on humans, and at least four are in the Phase 3 stage.
A global collaboration of the World Health Organization, European Commission and France launched in April is seeking to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines. Known as COVAX, it has pledged that once the vaccines are available, they will be given to countries “regardless of their wealth.”
China gives unproven vaccines to thousands, with risks unknown.
First, workers at state-owned companies were dosed. Then government officials and vaccine company staffers. Up next: teachers, supermarket employees and people traveling to risky areas abroad.
The world still has no proven coronavirus vaccine, but Chinese officials have nonetheless tried to inoculate tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people. Three vaccine candidates are being injected into workers whom the government considers essential, along with many others, including employees of the pharmaceutical firms.
Officials are laying out plans to give shots to even more people, amounting to a big wager that the vaccines will eventually prove safe and effective.
China’s move has bewildered global experts. Many of the injections appear to be taking place outside the typical drug approval process. Yet the unproven vaccines could have harmful side effects, and ineffective vaccines could lead to a false sense of security and encourage behavior that can lead to even more infections. The wide use of vaccines also raises issues of consent.
While China is racing the United States and other countries to develop a vaccine, its rivals are moving more cautiously. U.S. companies have pledged to thoroughly vet a vaccine before wide use, despite pressure from President Trump to go faster. In Russia, the first country to approve a vaccine even before trials were completed, the authorities have yet to administer it to a large population, according to health officials and experts.
Tao Lina, a Shanghai-based vaccine expert, said that part of the government’s motivation was to “test” the public’s willingness to take a vaccine.
In other global news of the virus:
In Australia, the health minister for the state of Victoria resigned on Saturday after an inquiry into the causes of a second wave of infections in Melbourne. The state’s premier had blamed the minister, Jenny Mikakos, for her role in a bungled quarantine program that allowed returning travelers to spread the virus via hotel security guards. Ms. Mikakos said in a statement announcing her resignation that she was “deeply sorry for the situation that Victorians find themselves in,” but she said it was not a result of her actions. Melbourne, Victoria’s state capital, is expected to ease its lockdown rules on Monday.
Two months after reopening Asia’s most popular tourist destination, the governor of Bali, I Wayan Koster, disclosed this week that more than 20 workers at his official residence had tested positive for the coronavirus, including aides, a waiter, a gardener and a typist, and his wife posted on Instagram that she had tested positive, though was not suffering any symptoms.
In the Navajo Nation, residents are ordered to stay home or face fines as high as $1,000 as cases surge again.
The Navajo Nation, the largest Native American reservation, has reinstated a full weekend lockdown to try to contain new spikes in infections.
Weekend lockdowns helped curb the spread of the virus after harrowing outbreaks earlier in the year, and the 57-hour lockdown that started at 8 p.m. on Friday will last through Monday at 5 a.m.
Residents were ordered to stay home or face fines as high as $1,000. Stores, restaurants and businesses such as hay vendors are prohibited to operate during the lockdown, and the measure also bans wood hauling, a common weekend activity this time of year. The authorities said they would confiscate firewood from violators.
The nation has had more than 10,200 infections and 551 related deaths since the pandemic began. Months ago, when the virus first exploded on the reservation, leaders instituted full weekend lockdowns. Infections subsided, but they kept the restrictions from Saturday night through Monday morning.
The reservation recently experienced a stretch of weeks with few or no new virus cases on some days, but then new clusters were detected, and new daily cases reached 42 on Thursday, followed by 26 on Friday.
Jonathan Nez, the Navajo Nation’s president, said that contact tracers had found the new clusters to be connected to Navajo citizens who had contracted the virus after traveling off the reservation. All three of the states the nation is spread over — Arizona, New Mexico and Utah — are enduring high or rising rates of infection, and only New Mexico has a statewide mask requirement.
“Please do not hold family gatherings, and please do not travel to hot spots off the Navajo Nation,” Mr. Nez said in a statement after the new clusters were disclosed.
Under 10 percent of the U.S. population has coronavirus antibodies, a study finds.
Less than 10 percent of people in the United States have antibodies to the coronavirus, suggesting that the nation is even further from herd immunity than was previously estimated, according to a study published on Friday in The Lancet.
The study looked at blood samples from 28,500 patients on dialysis in 46 states, the first such nationwide analysis.
The results roughly matched those of an analysis to be released next week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that about 10 percent of blood samples from sites across the country contained antibodies to the virus.
Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the C.D.C., was referring to that analysis when he told a congressional committee this week that 90 percent of people in the country were still vulnerable to the virus, a C.D.C. spokeswoman said.
An accurate estimate of the country’s immunity is important because President Trump, in collaboration with his new medical adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, has tentatively promoted the idea of reaching herd immunity by canceling lockdowns, mask-wearing campaigns and social-distancing mandates. The plan would be to let the virus wash through the population while trying to protect the people deemed most vulnerable.
Most public health experts say that such a policy would lead to hundreds of thousands of additional deaths, as it is impossible to protect all Americans who are elderly or have underlying conditions like diabetes and heart disease that render a person more likely to become seriously ill or to die.
The study of dialysis patients, done by scientists from Stanford University, found wide variances in antibody levels around the country. In the New York metropolitan area, including New Jersey, antibody levels were higher than 25 percent of samples tested. In the western United States, they were below 5 percent.
Over all, the researchers estimated the prevalence to be about 9.3 percent.
The implication, Dr. Redfield said in a statement, is that most people in the country are still susceptible to the virus and therefore should continue to take steps such as wearing masks, staying six feet away from other people, washing hands frequently, staying home when sick and “being smart about crowds.”
‘I feel sorry for Americans’: The world watches the U.S. response to the virus.
As the pandemic persists and the U.S. presidential election approaches, much of the world is watching the country with a mix of shock, chagrin and, most of all, bafflement.
The diminution of the United States’ global image began before the pandemic, as Trump administration officials snubbed international accords and embraced an “America first” attitude. Now, though, its reputation seems to be in free-fall.
From Southeast Asia to North America, people are asking: How did a superpower allow itself to be felled by a virus? And why won’t President Trump commit to a peaceful transition of power?
The number of known cases in the United States surpassed seven million this week, and California, the country’s most populous state, recorded its 800,000th case since the start of the pandemic. The country had reached six million cases less than a month ago, on Aug. 30.
Already, a U.S. passport, which once allowed easy access to almost every country in the world, is no longer a valuable travel pass. Because of the virus, American tourists are barred from most of Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and Oceania.
That hasn’t stopped politicians around the world from commiserating with a superpower that they think has lost its way.
“I feel sorry for Americans,” said U Myint Oo, a member of Parliament in Myanmar, a poor country struggling with open ethnic warfare and a coronavirus outbreak that could overload its hospitals. “But we can’t help the U.S. because we are a very small country.”
The same sentiment prevails in Canada.
“Personally, it’s like watching the decline of the Roman Empire,” said Mike Bradley, the mayor of Sarnia, a Canadian city on the border with Michigan.
A judge in Texas blocked a change to the state’s ballots that was years in the making, citing the pandemic.
Only a handful of states still allow for straight-ticket voting, the option of choosing a party’s entire slate of candidates with one mark of the ballot.
On Friday, just three weeks before the start of early voting, a U.S. district judge in Texas blocked plans to fully eliminate the straight-ticket option in the state, citing an interest in minimizing the time voters have to spend in their polling places amid a pandemic.
The judge, Marina Garcia Marmolejo, said in her ruling on Friday that she feared that eliminating the practice would “cause irreparable injury” to voters “by creating mass lines at the polls and increasing the amount of time voters are exposed to Covid-19,” according to The Texas Tribune.
The Republican-controlled Texas Legislature passed a law in 2017 eliminating straight-ticket voting beginning in 2020. While supporters said the move would force voters to make more informed choices, Democrats argued at the time that it was actually done to stem their party’s growing margins for down-ballot races, particularly in the state’s large cities.
Democratic organizers filed a legal challenge in March of this year, arguing that the straight-ticket option saved voters time. In some of Texas’ urban counties, races for local and statewide candidates can force voters to pore over ballots that are several pages long.
Whether straight-ticket voting actually benefits either party disproportionately is unclear, and both Democrats and Republicans in Texas have expressed concern about how eliminating it could affect voters’ behavior. But the Democrats who challenged the proposed changes said it placed an undue burden on voters and could discourage turnout.
Judge Marmolejo agreed in her ruling, saying that removing the option would not only inconvenience voters lining up to cast ballots amid a pandemic, but was likely to disproportionately impact Black and Hispanic voters as well.
The pandemic could set working women back years, or more.
As if working mothers did not have enough to worry about, experts are sounding the alarm that progress toward gender equality may be a casualty of the pandemic.
Women tend to take on more of the burdens of caring for children and the family. To go to work, they need someone to help with that care. But fathers have been slow to change their behavior, and private child care can be prohibitively expensive.
Workplaces also tend to penalize women who work fewer hours or need more flexibility, and that is being exacerbated in the pandemic.
Around the world, working women are facing brutally hard choices about whether to stay home if they haven’t already been laid off. And the effect may be particularly severe in countries like the United States, where the pandemic is compounding inequalities that women already faced without guaranteed paid maternity leave and affordable child care.
Before the pandemic, many mothers in America were effectively forced to stop working for some period of time because they could not afford paid child care. And research shows that the longer a woman is out of the work force, the more severe the long-term effects on her earnings will be.
“The question is,” said Dr. Olivetti, who studies gender inequality: “How far back do we go?”
Reporting was contributed by Hannah Beech, Emma Bubola, Karen Crouse, Matthew Futterman, Rick Gladstone, Mike Ives, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Zach Montgomery, Richard C. Paddock, Elian Peltier, Simon Romero, Adam Satariano, Mitch Smith, Amanda Taub and Sui-Lee Wee.