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Covid-19 Live Updates: As Cases Rise, Europe Enters ‘Living-With-the-Virus Phase’



Even as cases rise, Europe tries to contain the virus with targeted measures rather than nationwide lockdowns.

In the early days of the pandemic, President Emmanuel Macron exhorted the French to wage “war” against an invisible enemy. Today, his message is to “learn how to live with the virus.’’

Much of Europe has opted for a similar strategy as infections keep rising, summer recedes into a risk-filled autumn and the possibility of a second wave looms over the continent. Having abandoned hopes of eradicating the virus or developing a vaccine quickly, people have largely gone back to work and school, leading lives as normally as possible amid a pandemic that has already killed nearly 215,000 in Europe.

The approach contrasts sharply to the United States, where restrictions to protect against the virus have been politically divisive and where many regions have pushed ahead with reopening schools, shops and restaurants without having baseline protocols in place. The result has been nearly as many deaths as in Europe, though among a far smaller population.

Europeans, for the most part, are putting to use the hard-won lessons from the pandemic’s initial phase: the need to wear masks and practice social distancing, the importance of testing and tracing, the critical advantages of reacting nimbly and locally. All of those measures are intended to prevent the kind of national lockdowns that paralyzed the continent and crippled economies early this year.

“It’s not possible to stop the virus,” said Emmanuel André, a leading virologist in Belgium. “It’s about maintaining equilibrium.”

New infections have soared in recent weeks, especially in France, but the country’s death rate is a small fraction of what it was at its peak. That is because those infected now tend to be younger and health officials have learned how to treat Covid-19 better, said Dr. William Dab, an epidemiologist and a French former national health director.

In Germany, too, young people are overrepresented among the rising cases of infections, but they are not generally not becoming severely ill, spurring a debate over the relevance of infection rates in providing a snapshot of the pandemic.

“We are in a living-with-the-virus phase,” said Roberto Speranza, the health minister of Italy, the first country in Europe to impose a national lockdown.

Hendrik Streeck, head of virology at a research hospital in Bonn, cautioned that the pandemic should not be judged merely by infection numbers — health authorities are testing over a million people a week — but instead by deaths and hospitalizations.

“We’ve have reached a phase where the number of infections alone is no longer as meaningful,” Mr. Streeck said.

Michael R. Caputo, the assistant secretary of health for public affairs, apologized Tuesday morning to Health Secretary Alex M. Azar II and his staff for a Facebook outburst in which he accused federal scientists working on the pandemic of “sedition” and warned of coming violence from left-wing “hit squads.”

He is considering a leave of absence to address physical health problems, according to one source familiar with the situation.

Mr. Caputo, 58, a longtime Trump loyalist, told staff members in a hastily scheduled meeting that he was under stress because of concerns about his physical health and threats to his safety and that of his family. He said he regretted having embarrassed Mr. Azar and the Health and Human Services department.

Since he was installed at the 80,000-employee department last April by the White House, Mr. Caputo, a media-savvy former Trump campaign aide, has worked aggressively to control the media strategy on pandemic issues. But over the weekend, he was engulfed in two major controversies of his own making.

First Politico, then The New York Times and other media outlets, published accounts of how Mr. Caputo and a top aide, Paul Alexander, had routinely worked to revise, delay or even scuttle the core health bulletins of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an effort to paint the administration’s pandemic response in a more positive light. The C.D.C.’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports had previously been so thoroughly shielded from political interference that political appointees only saw them just before they were published.

Then on Monday, The Times reported that a Facebook presentation by Mr. Caputo the previous night was filled with bizarre and incendiary comments. He had attacked C.D.C. scientists as anti-Trumpers who had formed a “resistance unit,” engaged in “rotten science” and “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants” except for coffee shop meetings where they plotted against the president. He urged his gun-owning followers to buy ammunition because “it’s going to be hard to get” and warned that left-wing hit squads across the nation were training for violent attacks. He also referred to physical health concerns and said his mental health “had definitely failed.”

In a statement Monday he said since the spring, he and his family had been continually harassed and threatened, including by some individuals who were later prosecuted.

In other fallout, McMaster University in Canada issued a statement on Monday distancing itself from Dr. Alexander, whom Mr. Caputo hailed to his Facebook followers as a “genius.” He did receive a doctorate from the university, but he is not on the faculty, the university said.

“He is not currently teaching and he is not paid by the university for his contract role as a part-time assistant professor,” a McMaster spokeswoman, Susan Emigh, said in a statement.

As a consultant, he is not speaking on behalf of McMaster University or the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said on Tuesday that the House would not leave for the November elections without acting on an additional round of stimulus to prop up the coronavirus-ravaged economy, responding to growing concern among rank-and-file lawmakers over the prospect of returning home to face voters without doing so.

“We have to stay here until we have a bill,” Ms. Pelosi privately told lawmakers on a conference call on Tuesday morning, according to two people familiar with the remarks who disclosed them on condition of anonymity.

Shortly afterward, Ms. Pelosi repeated the promise in an interview on CNBC.

Her vow came just before a bipartisan group of 50 centrist lawmakers was planning to present a $1.5 trillion stimulus plan, making a last-ditch effort to revive stalled talks between top Democrats and the White House.

Members of the group — which calls itself the House Problem Solvers Caucus — concede privately that their framework stands little chance of becoming law. But the decision to offer it up publicly reflected the frustration among some lawmakers in both parties at the failure by their leaders to agree to another round of pandemic aid.

The proposal includes measures that enjoy bipartisan support, like reviving the popular Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses and direct checks of $1,200 or more for American taxpayers, as well as more contentious ones like new legal rights and protections for workers and their employers.

But the bulk of its proposed spending would fall somewhere in the middle of what Republicans and Democrats have championed. The measure would reinstate lapsed federal jobless aid at $450 per week for eight weeks, then replace up to $600 weekly in lost wages for an additional five weeks. That is more than Republicans wanted, but less than the flat, $600-a-week benefit that lapsed at the end of July. And the proposal would send $500 billion to strapped state and local governments, less than the nearly $1 trillion Democrats included in their $3.4 trillion stimulus plan that passed the House in May, but roughly double what the White House has signaled it could support.

Texas surpassed 700,000 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, making it the second state in the country, after California, to reach the milestone, according to a New York Times database.

In recent days, inconsistencies and problems with Covid-19 data collection in Texas had clouded the picture of the pandemic’s trajectory in the state, prompting some residents and officials to say they could not rely on the numbers to tell them the truth. In mid-August, five metropolitan areas in South Texas had the highest rate of new coronavirus cases relative to their population, according to The Times’s data. More than 14,500 people have died in the state.

It has been a bleak week across much of the United States, especially in parts of America’s heartland, with a record number of virus-related deaths over a 7-day period ending on Monday in Kansas and Tennessee, and the highest number of new cases over a 7-day stretch in Missouri, Wisconsin and North Dakota, according to a Times database.

Fifty-eight people in Kansas died from a virus-related condition over a 7-day period ending Monday, and more than half of those deaths were concentrated in the state’s most populous counties. In Tennessee, 228 people have died during the same time period.

Returns to campus have also fueled an increase in cases in Missouri, Wisconsin and North Dakota. Each state reported the most number of cases over the past seven days, compared with all other 7-day stretches.

North Dakota currently has the highest number of new cases per capita in the country. In Cass County, home to North Dakota State University, 400 new cases have been reported in a 7-day period ending Monday. Some of the cases are attributed to the 153 students and employees who tested positive in the past two weeks, according to the university. As of Tuesday morning, more than 200 students were in quarantine in university housing.

And in Wisconsin, nearly 20 percent of the new cases since last Monday have been in Dane County, home to the University of Wisconsin’s Madison campus. On Monday, the university reported another 194 virus cases on campus, which includes 134 people living in student housing.

Vermont’s low infection rate is commended by Fauci: ‘This should be the model for the country.’

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci praised Vermont as a model on Tuesday, using the state’s success in controlling the coronavirus as evidence that the principles he has been touting can lead to a safer reopening. “Listening to the numbers that you said, I wonder if I could bottle that and take it with me when I go around talking to other parts of the country,” he said, appearing via video at the governor’s biweekly Covid-19 briefing.

“This should be the model for the country, how you’ve done it,” he said, adding that states should heed the recommended benchmarks for reopening regardless of their size.

Vermont has the lowest per capita rate of cases of any state, and one of the lowest death rates. According to the state health department’s coronavirus dashboard, only two Covid-19 patients are currently hospitalized.

At the briefing, Gov. Phil Scott said the state’s positivity rate was 0.2 percent.

“When you have a test positivity of 0.2 percent, you are starting the game on your side,” said Dr. Fauci.

The governor delayed the start of school until after Labor Day, and so far there have been few reported cases linked to schools. Most schools have been using a hybrid model of in-person and remote instruction.

He said that cooler weather would bring additional challenges, but added that if people continued to observe safety measures like wearing masks and social distancing, “I don’t think you are inevitably going to have a second wave.”

Deaths of young Covid-19 patients mirror patterns in adults, with higher rates among young people of color.

Although children and young adults are less likely to suffer deadly consequences following infection with the coronavirus, young Americans are not immune. A new study of Covid-19 deaths suggests some youth populations may be especially vulnerable and that many young patients appear to be brought to the hospital only once they have become severely sick.

The analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published on Tuesday, looked at 121 infants, children and young adults aged 20 and under who died of Covid-19 between Feb. 12 and the end of July. Deaths in this age group are rare, representing 0.08 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the United States, the researchers found.

Most of those who died had underlying health problems, and many had two or more underlying medical conditions, including chronic lung disease, obesity, neurological and developmental conditions, and cardiovascular conditions. But one-quarter of those who died were healthy before being infected.

The report found that while 65 percent died after being admitted to the hospital, many others died at home, or were critically ill by the time they were brought to the hospital and died in the emergency room. Infants and those 14 to 20 years old were most likely to have died at home or in the emergency department.

Ten percent of those who died were under a year old. And while 70 percent of deaths occurred among those between 10 years and 20 years old, college-aged adults between 18 and 20 years old represented 41 percent of the deaths.

People of color — including Hispanic, Black and American Indian/Alaska Native people — accounted for about three-quarters of the deaths, while representing only 41 percent of the American population in this age group, the study found.

Nearly half of the deaths occurred among Hispanic young people and non-Hispanic Black young people accounted for nearly one-third. Men and boys were also disproportionately affected, representing 63 percent of the deaths.

The researchers concluded that children and young adults of color were disproportionately affected by the pandemic because racial and ethnic minority groups are overrepresented among essential workers who have been unable to work from home, and the virus spreads quickly within households, the researchers concluded.

Germany’s government invests millions in domestic vaccine production.

The German government will invest 750 million euros, or $891 million, to bolster three domestic companies’ quests for a Covid-19 vaccine, two German ministers confirmed at a news conference on Tuesday.

The goal is to get safe vaccines to the majority of Germans and other Europeans as soon as next summer.

CureVac and BioNTech are developing vaccines using messenger RNA, which carries instructions for cells to make proteins. There’s never been a vaccine made with this technology that has reached the global market.

CureVac will receive 252 million euros and BioNTech will receive 375 million euros in federal grants, according to Anja Karliczek, the minister for education and research.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the Trump Administration tried to convince CureVac to move its research to the U.S., according to German officials.

In the United States and elsewhere, BioNTech is partnering with Pfizer on its vaccine, which began human trials in May. The U.S. government has a $2 billion contract with the companies for 100 million doses of the vaccine.

Funding talks with a third company, IDT Biologic, which is developing a vaccine using a different technology, will conclude soon, Ms. Karliczek said.

Both Ms. Karliczek and federal health minister Jens Spahn emphasized that the vaccines would not be available until they had been proven safe after extensive testing.

“A vaccine can only be used if the proven benefit is significantly higher than possible risks,” Ms. Karliczek said.

In Connecticut, people attending a private party that exceeds the state’s gathering limits will face a fine of $250. Hosting that party? A $500 fine.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced the series of fines on Monday for those caught breaking rules meant to prevent the spread of the virus. Violating the state’s mask mandate will result in a $100 fine, starting as of midnight on Thursday.

Private gatherings across the state are limited to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

“If you have to count, get out,” Mr. Lamont said at a news conference.

The fines give municipalities “more leverage” to enforce rules without having to charge violators with misdemeanors, he said. Fines can be issued by police officers, local health officials, or local elected official designees, and were set to take effect this week, a state official said Monday.

State officials on Monday also announced an adjustment to the rules for travelers coming from its list of restricted states. Travelers must quarantine for 14 days or have a negative coronavirus test result from three days before arrival. They can also get tested after arriving in Connecticut, but they must remain in quarantine until the results are negative.

If travelers who are required to quarantine fail to do so or do not complete the state’s required travel health form, they face a civil penalty of $1,000.

On Tuesday, Connecticut said travelers from Puerto Rico were now subject to the restricted states rules, joining a list of dozens of states and Guam. California, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada and Ohio were removed in the weekly update.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said Tuesday that travelers from Puerto Rico were also required to quarantine for 14 days. California, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada and Ohio were removed from New York’s extensive list of places to which the quarantine applies. Travelers to New Jersey are also subject to a 14-day quarantine if coming from a vast list of places, though compliance is voluntary.

As many colleges shift to remote learning, these U.S. universities are bringing more students back to campus.

Even as U.S. colleges and universities have become hot spots, forcing some schools to suspend or cancel in-person classes, a few — Brown, Clemson and Miami University of Ohio — are inviting more students back to campus.

They are also beseeching students not to allow the decision to backfire.

“I want to kindly ask each and every one of our students, faculty and staff to do all they can to minimize the spread of this virus,” wrote James P. Clements, Clemson’s president, when announcing that about 7,000 students could move into on-campus housing, and that the South Carolina school would return to some in-person instruction on Monday.

He said the move did not suggest that the outbreak was over, adding that “we should expect to see more cases over the next few weeks.”

A Times tracker has identified at least 782 cases at Clemson since the pandemic began. A Clemson spokesman said the university believed it was safe for students to return.

At Miami University of Ohio, in Oxford, which has recorded at least 836 cases since the spring — and where students were cited by police last week for holding a house party despite being under quarantine — students are allowed to begin moving into residence halls on Monday, although it is limiting campus housing capacity to 40 percent.

Miami’s president, Gregory Crawford, warned students in his reopening message that they would “need to make a conscious commitment to live differently this term.”

A spokeswoman said the university was testing every arriving on-campus student before allowing them to move in, and the positivity rate among them was less than 1 percent.

Brown University is allowing the majority of undergraduates to move back to campus this weekend, and said some smaller classes would begin meeting in person on Oct. 5.

Global Roundup

Ukraine sends reinforcements to its border with Belarus to stop Hasidic pilgrims from entering the country.

Hundreds of Hasidic Jewish pilgrims seeking to enter Ukraine from Belarus in defiance of virus travel restrictions were stopped by border guards on Tuesday, as Ukraine mobilized additional guards to bolster its forces.

Ukraine closed its borders last month as cases in the country ticked up, partly to halt the yearly pilgrimage to the city of Uman, the site of the grave of Rabbi Nachman, the founder of the Breslov branch of the Hasidic movement. The pilgrimage is timed to the Jewish New Year, which begins on Friday. Israeli health officials have supported Ukraine’s decision in light of the pandemic.

The pilgrims began arriving at a border crossing with Belarus on Monday afternoon, according to the Ukrainian border guard service. Authorities in Belarus let the group pass and they gathered on a road in the buffer area between the two border stations.

Through the night, hundreds of men and boys danced and sang songs. Their luggage was piled along fields on both sides of the road. The men tried to convince the border guards to let them through to celebrate the new year, the most important religious holiday for Hasidim. Little boys, looking bored and sleepy, stood by watching.

Some of the pilgrims had traveled to the Novi Yarylovychi border crossing believing it was open, which was not the case, Israel Public Broadcasting tweeted. Ukrainian authorities said the foreigners were warned about the border closure.

Ukraine’s border guard service said that 690 pilgrims had gathered along the border by Tuesday, and the agency’s director, Serhiy Deyneko, said that more were expected on charter flights arriving in Belarus. Belarusian media reported a different number of pilgrims on the border, saying about 1,500 had already arrived.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said that the border closure will be enforced until it expires on Sept. 28. The country has reported nearly 20,000 new virus cases over the past week, bringing the total to more than 160,000, according to a Times database.

In other developments around the world:

  • High schools and universities in Pakistan opened Tuesday after being closed for almost six months. Online classes were offered in most schools. Students were divided into two groups, which attend classes on alternate days. Officials said that they would monitor the situation for a week and if things remain under control, classes for young children would begin in the coming weeks.

  • The Australian state of Victoria, the center of the country’s outbreak, on Tuesday reported no new coronavirus deaths for the first time in more than two months. The state’s capital, Melbourne, remains in lockdown, but restrictions have been loosened in the rest of the state as cases continue to fall.

  • In England, new lockdown measures went into effect on Tuesday in parts of the West Midlands, which includes Birmingham, the country’s second-largest city. Under the restrictions, people are barred from meeting others who are not part of their household, either indoors or outside. The measure comes after the British government lowered the limit on gatherings to six from 30.

  • The United Nations is about to turn 75, but celebrations will be muted. World leaders are unable to gather in person — the pandemic has reduced the General Assembly beginning this week to virtual meetings — but the organization is also facing profound questions about its own effectiveness, and even its relevance.

The United States’s international standing is at or near its lowest levels in nearly two decades, in part because of Mr. Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center reported Tuesday as it released a new poll.

Pew, which surveyed residents of 13 countries on four continents, found that only 15 percent believe that the United States has done a good job combating the virus.

In every country polled, respondents gave much higher marks to the World Health Organization and China than to the United States, despite Mr. Trump’s attempts to shift blame for the outbreak to Beijing and his repeated criticism of the W.H.O.

“Since Donald Trump took office as president, the image of the United States has suffered across many regions of the globe,” the report’s authors concluded, accelerating a downward trend that began when Mr. Trump took office in 2017 after campaigning on a platform of “America First.”

Before the Trump era, public opinion of the United States remained steadily north of 50 percent in most countries — with the exception of the early 2000s, when President George W. Bush waged an unpopular war in Iraq. In the new survey, the U.S.’s median approval rating among the 13 countries was 34 percent.

Pew surveyed 13,273 adults from June 10 to Aug. 3 in Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the U.K., Australia, Japan and South Korea.

In other pandemic news around the U.S.:

  • “As they say, the U.S. government — after it’s tried every other thing — does the right thing,” said Bill Gates. He expressed hope about new avenues for foreign aid amid the pandemic in an interview with The Times.

  • The virus has ravaged nursing homes across the country, with at least 75,000 deaths attributed to long-term care facilities — more than 40 percent of virus deaths in the United States. Here’s what it’s like inside a New Mexico home dedicated to treating long-term care patients who are infected.

  • As colleges struggle to contain virus outbreaks, administrators and local health authorities are cracking down on fraternities and sororities, putting them under quarantine orders or threatening harsh sanctions for partying.

Reporting was contributed by Sarah Almukhtar, Matt Apuzzo, Emma Bubola, Emily Cochrane, Shaila Dewan, Nicholas Fandos, Antonella Francini, James Gorman, Rick Gladstone, Jennifer Jett, Anemona Hartocollis, Eric Lipton, Salman Masood, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Constant Méheut, Claire Moses, Eshe Nelson, Norimitsu Onishi, Gaia Pianigiani, Roni Caryn Rabin, Campbell Robertson, Amanda Rosa, Christopher F. Schuetze, Michael D. Shear, Jeanna Smialek, Eileen Sullivan, Derrick Taylor, Glenn Thrush, Maria Varenikova, Sui-Lee Wee, Ceylan Yeginsu and Elaine Yu.

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France seeks EU sanctions on Turkey over energy tensions | World News




NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — France on Friday backed Cyprus’ calls for the European Union to consider imposing tougher sanctions on Turkey if the Turkish government won’t suspend its search for energy reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters where Cyprus and Greece claim exclusive economic rights.

French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said sanctions should be among the options the 27-member bloc considers employing if Turkey continues to “endanger the security and sovereignty of a member state.”

“We believe that the European Union must be ready to activate…all available tools and certainly to resort to sanctions, if developments don’t proceed in a positive direction,” Beaune said after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides in Nicosia.

EU leaders are set to hold a summit in a few days to discuss how to respond to Turkey’s refusal to recall a warship-escorted research vessel it dispatched to a part of the eastern Mediterranean that Greece maintains is over its continental shelf. The dispute has ratcheted up military tensions between the two NATO allies.

The tensions appeared to ease in the last week, with Greek and Turkish officials having contact after Turkey temporarily pulled back the research vessel. But Ankara extended its gas search in waters southeast of Cyprus until mid-October.

Turkey doesn’t recognize ethnically divided Cyprus as a state and insists it have every right to prospect for hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean. It has vowed vowed do defend its rightful claims to the region’s energy reserves, as well as those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots.

Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a “double standard” by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud and police brutality while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members.

Beaune said the EU cannot accept Turkish actions and that France has “committed” to resolving the issue while making its military presence felt in the eastern Mediterranean in support of its EU partners.


This version corrects the spelling of the French minister’s surname to Beaune. not Baume.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Friday briefing: ‘Prejudiced’ Home Office not learning – MPs | World news




Top story: ‘Too little intent to change’

Hello, Warren Murray bringing you matters topical this Friday morning.

The Home Office has drawn on “anecdote, assumption and prejudice” to draw up immigration policies instead of relying on evidence, the public accounts committee of MPs has concluded in a highly critical report. Priti Patel’s department was unaware of the damage caused by policy failures, with officials having “no idea” what its £400m annual spending on immigration enforcement achieves.

Meg Hillier, chair of the committee, said that while the Home Office accepts the damage done by the Windrush scandal, “the evidence we saw shows too little intent to change”. Despite years of debate and concern, the department has not estimated the illegal population in the UK since 2005, meaning “potentially exaggerated figures calculated by others could inflame hostility towards immigrants”, says the report. A lack of diversity at senior levels has created blind spots in the organisation: “Only one member of its executive committee came from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background.” On Brexit, the report warns officials have been caught “unprepared for the challenges”, such as cooperation with the EU on the return of foreign offenders and illegal migrants.

The committee has given the Home Office six months to come up with a detailed plan to fix problems, particularly with regard to tackling illegal migration. Minnie Rahman of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said the report was a “very accurate picture of a clueless, careless and cold-hearted Home Office”. A Home Office source said the home secretary agreed with the PAC assessment of “historical issues … She has spoken at great length about how the department puts process before people, and it is why she has committed to implementing the findings of the Wendy Williams review into Windrush.”

Coronavirus latest – Test and trace has been condemned as “barely functional” as its tsar, Dido Harding, admitted demand was up to four times capacity while 90% of tests were failing to hit the 24-hour turnaround target. The Guardian has seen documents showing tracers taking up to two weeks to alert contacts of people diagnosed with Covid-19. But Harding has told MPs: “I strongly refute that the system is failing.” Leeds and Lancashire are expected to face enhanced lockdown measures, bringing the number of people subject to restrictions to more than 11 million, including nearly 2 million in north-east England.

Just 1.9% of people using a home test kit in England got their results within 24 hours in the week to 9 September – the lowest since test and trace began in May. Results from 33.3% of in-person tests were turned around within 24 hours, down from 66.5% the previous week. Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, has said in a CNN town hall: “I don’t trust the president on vaccines. I trust Dr Fauci. If Fauci says a vaccine is safe, I would take the vaccine. We should listen to the scientists, not to the president.” Follow further developments at our live blog.

GCSE gap narrows – Disadvantaged students in England narrowed the GCSE attainment gap with their peers this summer, according to an analysis. Based on this year’s results at 1,200 secondary schools, researchers found that 56% of disadvantaged pupils achieved a 4 or above in English and maths, compared with 78% of non-disadvantaged pupils. At 22 percentage points the gap remains vast, but it is an improvement on 2019 when it was 26 percentage points. A separate report has found that state schools in the most deprived areas of England have suffered their worst decline in funding since the 1980s. The decline that began under David Cameron’s Tory-led coalition is so deep that the additional £7bn pledged by the current government will not be enough to reverse the cuts by 2023, says the IFS. England spends around £6,100 per pupil a year, well behind £7,300 in Scotland where investment continued to rise over the course of the 2000s.

Russia still meddling: FBI – Christopher Wray, the FBI director, has warned that Russia is interfering in the 2020 US presidential elections to undermine Joe Biden and sap Americans’ confidence in the election process. He said a “steady drumbeat of misinformation” could undermine confidence in the result of the election. On the US campaign trail, Donald Trump has been condemned for downplaying America’s historic legacy of slavery and claiming schoolchildren have been subjected to “decades of leftwing indoctrination”.

Toe springs’ internal toll – Trainers that curve upward at the toe may carry a risk of doing long-term damage to the wearer’s feet, researchers are warning. The “toe spring” is a common feature that helps the front of the foot roll forwards, making thick and cushioned soles more comfortable. But the effect on foot muscles had not been well studied until now. A team at Chemnitz University of Technology in Germany found the spring makes the muscles’ work easier but this might weaken them to the point where other structures in the foot, such as ligaments, take over, increasing the risk of conditions like plantar fasciitis. Responding to the study, Trevor Prior, consultant podiatric surgeon and spokesman for the College of Podiatry in the UK, said the detrimental effect was theoretical but people should wear a range of footwear to minimise the negative effect any specific shoe design might have.

Ockham’s poo knife – To test a folk story, Metin Eren from Kent State University in Ohio tried making a knife from his own frozen faeces. He tested it on animal hide – ending in failure but ultimately earning an Ig Nobel award for research that “first makes people laugh, and then makes them think”. This year’s awards included a physics prize for recording the shape of earthworms when vibrated at high frequency; a peace prize to India and Pakistan for having their diplomats ring each other’s doorbells and run away; and an economics prize for the UK after Chris Watkins, a psychologist at the University of Abertay, found French kissing is more common in areas of high income inequality. Boris Johnson shared a medical education prize with the likes of Trump and Putin for demonstrating during the pandemic that politicians can have a more immediate effect on life and death than scientists and doctors.

Today in Focus podcast: Amy Dorris – ‘Trump groped me’

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, former model Amy Dorris talked to Lucy Osborne about allegations that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her at the US Open tennis tournament more than two decades ago, in an alleged incident that left her feeling “sick” and “violated”.

Today in Focus

Amy Dorris – Trump groped me

Lunchtime read: ‘I was 19 with cornrows from Harlem’

With the release of a new album, Alicia Keys picks favourite tracks from her back catalogue and talks about the magic of working with Kanye West, surviving the tough streets of New York and her struggles with self-worth.

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys. Photograph: Milan Zirnic


Recently crowned US Open champion Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open in another serious blow to organisers of the tournament in Paris. Rory McIlroy made a solid start to the US Open, scoring 67 in the first round to lie two shots behind leader Justin Thomas. Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign the midfielder Thiago Alcântara from Bayern Munich for €30m (£27.3m) on a four-year contract. Goals from Harry Kane and Tanguy Ndombele secured a Europa League comeback win for Tottenham against Lokomotiv Plovdiv after the hosts had two men sent off. Jemma Reekie again emphasised her striking talent by beating her friend and housemate Laura Muir in a tactical 800m at the Rome Diamond League.

Rob Baxter backed the decision to allow Northampton to draft in Gloucester’s Alex Seville for the European Champions Cup quarter-final at Exeter on Sunday, but he accused the Saints of playing mind games to swing the decision. Fifty years after she helped form a breakaway women’s tour, the Fed Cup has been renamed the Billie Jean King Cup. And German amateur side SG Ripdorf/Molzen II sacrificed a tight defence for social distancing as they fielded only seven players as a coronavirus precaution in a 37-0 loss to local rivals SV Holdenstedt II.


Asia-Pacific shares have been slightly higher despite the overnight fall on Wall Street. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 inched up as did South Korea’s Kospi and the Hang Seng while Sydney was little changed and Shanghai added 0.5%. A 0.18% fall is indicated for the FTSE at the open while the pound is worth $1.295 and €1.093 at time of writing.

The papers

Test and trace ‘barely functional’ as 10m people now face lockdown” reports the Guardian and our print edition’s front-page picture is of Amy Dorris who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Donald Trump at the US Open in 1997. The Mirror also reports the 10m figure and “tough new local curbs imposed all over UK”.

Guardian front page, Friday 18 September 2020

Guardian front page, Friday 18 September 2020.

The Times reports “‘Chaos and inefficiency’ in Covid-19 testing labs” while the Telegraph has “Hospitals told to clear beds for Covid spike in two weeks”– both papers give a picture slot to models for London fashion week. Metro leads with “Cases up 75% in one week … 24-hour test results down 50%”.

“Here, at last!” – a debatable comma there but the Express continues “Virus test result in just 90 minutes”. It’s about the NudgeBox – as our report explains the device is a game-changer for testing where lab facilities are unavailable, but can only take one sample at a time, meaning a maximum of 16 tests in 24 hours. The Mail has “£1bn cost of maternity blunders”. The i bags a decent angle: “Emergency powers will allow use of unlicensed vaccine in UK”, saying the government is prepared to sidestep EU licensing laws. The FT goes with Brexit: “Von der Leyen ‘convinced’ Brussels can still reach trade deal with UK”.

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Global coronavirus cases surpass 30 million as deaths continue to rise – National




Coronavirus is continuing to spread across the globe, with the number of confirmed cases surpassing 30 million on Thursday and the death toll fast approaching one million.

As of 7:15 p.m. ET, 30,003,378 cases have been diagnosed worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Since COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China, late in 2019, it has claimed more than 943,000 lives around the world.

Read more:
‘This is a concern’: Canada’s daily coronavirus cases rise 25% over last week

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reminded Canadians that “we are not out of the woods,” and urged people to continue practising physical distancing and wear masks whenever possible.

Concerns of COVID-19 second wave as new cases rise

Concerns of COVID-19 second wave as new cases rise

The number of reported COVID-19 cases first surpassed 10 million on June 28, then reached 20 million just over six weeks later on Aug. 10, according to Johns Hopkins’ data.

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The U.S. has remained the epicentre of the virus, with more than 6.6 million infections and more than 197,000 fatalities.

Read more:
Study sheds light on coronavirus ‘long-haulers,’ but experts still lack clear picture

India has seen a recent spike in coronavirus cases and has surpassed Brazil (4.4 million cases) to emerge as the second hardest-hit country in the world, just below the U.S.

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On Wednesday, India had more than 5.1 million confirmed cases — one million cases were reported over the last month.

Canada has reported more than 140,000 coronavirus cases, with 9,200 confirmed deaths.

Coronavirus: Dr. Tam calls case-count increase as schools reopen ‘concerning’

Coronavirus: Dr. Tam calls case-count increase as schools reopen ‘concerning’

Canada has seen a steady uptick of coronavirus cases over the past few weeks as the weather gets colder and children and teachers head back to school.

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The federal government has pledged billions of dollars in funding to provinces and territories to boost testing capacity, while some provinces have begun re-imposing measures to rein in the spread of the virus.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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