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Covid-19 Live Updates: Fauci Says a Trump Campaign Ad Misrepresented His Comments

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top epidemiologist, said the Trump campaign had used his name and words in a political ad without his permission.Credit…Michael A. McCoy for The New York Times

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, took issue Sunday with a decision by the Trump campaign to feature him in an advertisement without his consent and said it had misrepresented his comments.

“I was totally surprised,” Dr. Fauci said. “The use of my name and my words by the G.O.P. campaign was done without my permission, and the actual words themselves were taken out of context, based on something that I said months ago regarding the entire effort of the task force.”

CNN first reported Dr. Fauci’s displeasure with the campaign ad.

The spot seeks to use Mr. Trump’s illness with Covid-19 and apparent recovery to improve the negative image many Americans have of his handling of the coronavirus.

“I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more,” the ad shows Dr. Fauci saying — though in fact he was talking about the broader government effort.

Dr. Fauci, who said he had never publicly endorsed a political candidate in decades of public work, has long had an uneasy relationship with President Trump. Just a little over a week ago, he clashed with his boss over his position on mask-wearing.

In his debate with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mr. Trump claimed that Dr. Fauci had initially said “masks are not good — then he changed his mind.” When Mr. Biden said wearing masks could save tens of thousands of lives, Mr. Trump contended that “Dr. Fauci said the opposite.”

In fact, in the early days of the pandemic, Dr. Fauci and other health experts discouraged the general public from rushing out to buy masks because they were worried about shortages for health workers. Their position changed when it became clear that asymptomatic transmission was spreading the virus.

Dr. Fauci may favor measured language, but his criticisms of the White House — and, implicitly, the man in the Oval Office — over the handling of the pandemic have not gone unnoticed — including by hard-core Trump supporters who claim he is part of a “deep state” conspiracy to undermine the president.

On Friday, Dr. Fauci called the White House ceremony announcing Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court a “superspreader event.”

“It was in a situation where people were crowded together and not wearing masks,” he said. “The data speak for themselves.”

Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee begins on Monday. The proceedings will play out partially by video to allow senators who may be sick or worried about infection to participate remotely. No members of the public will be allowed in the hearing room, which will be sparsely populated with senators and spectators.

Patient samples at an antibody trial site in Mesa, Ariz.Credit…Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

President Trump said over the weekend that the experimental medication he was given to fight his Covid-19 infection was “standard, pretty routine.” It seems likely it will be anything but should it ever reach the market.

There is not nearly enough of the drug that Mr. Trump called a “cure” and promised to distribute free to Americans who might need it, the chief executive of Regeneron, the drug’s maker, said on Sunday.

Currently, there are enough doses to treat 50,000 patients, the company has said. On Saturday alone, there were more than 51,000 new infections reported in the United States, according to a New York Times database.

“We have to figure out ways to ration this,” Dr. Leonard S. Schleifer, the co-founder and chief executive of Regeneron, said on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

Dr. Schleifer said the company was still in discussions with the administration about who may be first to receive the cocktail of monoclonal antibodies given the president, and when. The treatment has not been approved by the F.D.A., but the White House is pushing the agency to grant an emergency use authorization.

When the president spoke about his treatments on the Fox News program “Sunday Morning Future,” he said, “The medications that I took were standard, pretty routine.”

In fact, he received a cutting-edge combination treatment: remdesivir, an antiviral medication; dexamethasone, a steroid only recently shown to reduce death rates in severe cases; and the Regeneron drug.

Mr. Trump also said during the Fox News interview that he was immune and now “totally free of spreading” the virus. When he repeated the claim on Twitter, the platform added a label saying that the tweet violated Twitter’s rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Global Roundup

Testing for the coronavirus in Qingdao, China, on Monday. Officials have ordered that all 9.5 million residents be tested over five days.Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Chinese city of Qingdao is testing all of its 9.5 million residents after it recorded the country’s first locally transmitted cases of the virus in almost two months.

The authorities said that a dozen people in Qingdao, a seaside city in Shandong Province, had tested positive for the virus as of Sunday. Officials said the cases appeared to be linked to the Qingdao Chest Hospital, which has been treating people who test positive for the virus after arriving in China from abroad. The hospital has since been placed under lockdown.

In a sign of the growing alarm over the outbreak, the National Health Commission in Beijing said on Monday that it had dispatched a team to Qingdao to “guide local epidemic prevention and control work.”

The authorities in Qingdao have started a five-day campaign to test the city’s residents. Photographs on social media showed people lining up across the city for tests beginning late Sunday. At least one government notice described the exams as mandatory.

Testing has been crucial to Beijing’s efforts to contain the virus. The government has previously led mass testing campaigns in Wuhan, the original center of the outbreak, and the western region of Xinjiang, where a cluster of cases emerged over the summer.

Life in China has largely returned to normal after widespread lockdowns and other restrictions early this year. The country has reported no local transmissions of the virus since mid-August, attributing all cases to returned travelers in quarantine. Asymptomatic patients are not counted as confirmed cases.

Since the pandemic began, the Chinese mainland has reported more than 94,000 cases and 4,634 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

In other global developments:

  • Britain is expected to announce a plan on Monday that would rank areas in tiers, with tighter restrictions on places where the virus is spreading. The country is at a “tipping point,” Jonathan Van-Tam, Britain’s deputy chief medical officer, said Sunday. “This time is different,” he said, “as we are now going into the colder, darker winter months.”

  • In South Korea, masks will be mandatory in public starting on Tuesday even as social distancing measures are eased. After a 30-day grace period, people over age 14 who fail to wear masks could be fined as much as 100,000 won, or $87. Social-distancing measures will be reduced to their lowest level as of Monday as a second outbreak of infections appears to wane. Nightclubs, bars and karaoke parlors will be allowed to reopen and spectators will be able to go back to sports stadiums. South Korea reported 97 new cases on Monday, slightly higher than the increase most days last week.

  • New Zealand on Monday announced its first deal for a potential coronavirus vaccine, agreeing to buy 1.5 million doses from the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the German biotechnology company BioNTech if their product succeeds. Officials did not say how much it cost to buy the vaccine, which could be available early next year. With each person expected to require two doses, there would be enough to inoculate 750,000 of New Zealand’s five million people. Megan Woods, the research minister, said that the government was in negotiations with other drug makers and that there would be more announcements next month.

  • Iran surpassed 500,000 cases on Sunday, and registered a daily record of 251 deaths. Two of the country’s vice presidents, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht and Ali Akbar Salehi — who is also Iran’s nuclear chief — are the latest senior officials to test positive for the virus, the semiofficial Tasnim news agency reported.

  • Greece recorded a record 13 deaths on Sunday. New rules limiting the number of people allowed in restaurants, museums and archaeological sites go into effect on Monday in Athens and other parts of the country with high infection rates.

  • The Solomon Islands has recorded its second coronavirus infection, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said Sunday. Both infected people are students who were on the same repatriation flight from the Philippines in late September; the first case was announced on Oct. 3. The two students are asymptomatic and in isolation. Mr. Sogavare said there would be no national lockdown but that all repatriation flights would be suspended.

  • The president of French Polynesia tested positive for the virus two days after meeting in Paris with the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, according to the French newspaper Le Monde. The office of President Edouard Fritch said in a statement that he was tested after he returned to Tahiti and complained of fever and pain.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett will face the Senate Judiciary Committee for four days of nationally televised proceedings beginning Monday.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A deeply divided Senate Judiciary Committee will kick off four days of confirmation hearings on Monday for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, drawing battle lines that could reverberate through the election.

The hearing will look unlike any other in modern history, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans are insisting on proceeding despite an outbreak in Washington that appears to be linked to the crowded White House ceremony two weeks ago where Mr. Trump introduced Judge Barrett as his nominee. The president and most other attendees at the gathering were maskless. Mr. Trump has since tested positive for the virus, as have several other guests.

At least two Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee, Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, also tested positive after attending the event. They are expected to participate in the hearings, which will be led by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Judiciary Committee chairman, who has refused to be retested. Democrats called for a postponement, but were rebuffed.

The proceedings will play out partially by video to allow senators who may be sick or worried about infection to participate remotely. No members of the public will be allowed in the hearing room, which will be sparsely populated with senators and spectators.

Should any more Republican senators fall ill, it could complicate Judge Barrett’s chances of confirmation. Two members of the party, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, are opposed to proceeding before Election Day, and Republicans, who control the Senate by a 53-to-47 majority, can afford to lose only one more vote.

Coronavirus cases have soared in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn.Credit…Mark Abramson for The New York Times

The New York City authorities cracked down over the weekend on some coronavirus hot spots, issuing more than 60 summonses and tens of thousands of dollars in fines to people, businesses and houses of worship that did not follow newly imposed restrictions on gatherings or were found violating mask and social-distancing requirements.

Among those issued a summons by the New York City sheriff were a restaurant and at least five houses of worship in the city’s “red zones,” where infection rates are the highest. Each of those locations was given a summons that could result in up to $15,000 in fines, said Sheriff Joseph Fucito.

In total, officials issued 62 tickets and more than $150,000 in fines during the first weekend the new restrictions were in effect, the city said on Sunday.

New York is wrestling with its most acute pandemic crisis since the virus first swept through the five boroughs in March. City and state officials say that large gatherings and lax social distancing have been causing a surge in new cases in pockets of Brooklyn and Queens, many of them in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods.

The spike prompted Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to issue new restrictions on large gatherings and nonessential businesses in some parts of the city. Some religious leaders expressed staunch opposition to the crackdown.

The moment has set an already anxious city on edge, particularly as doctors, experts and health officials express growing concern about a second wave of the virus this winter. It also foreshadows the challenges city officials may face as they try to quash emerging hot spots in small communities before the virus can spread into the rest of the city.

A crowded restaurant in Stockholm last month.Credit…Elisabeth Ubbe for The New York Times

In today’s edition of the Morning newsletter, David Leonhardt examines Sweden’s unconventional efforts in confronting the virus:

The White House event to celebrate Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination — a gathering that appears to have spread the coronavirus — would have violated the law in Sweden.

It was too large. More than 200 people attended the Barrett celebration. In Sweden, public events cannot include more than 50 people. Anyone who organizes a larger gathering is subject to a fine or up to six months in prison.

If you’ve been following the virus news out of Sweden, this fact may surprise you. Sweden has become notorious for its laissez-faire response. Its leaders refused to impose a lockdown in the spring, insisting that doing so was akin to “using a hammer to kill a fly.” They also actively discouraged mask wearing.

Ever since, people in other countries who favor a more lax approach have held up Sweden as a model. Recently, as new cases have surged in other European countries, some of Sweden’s defenders have claimed vindication.

How are you supposed to make sense of all this? Several readers have asked me that question, and the answers point to some lessons for fighting the virus. I think there are three key ones from Sweden:

1. It is not a success story. Over all, Sweden’s decision to let many activities continue unabated and its hope that growing immunity to the virus would protect people does not look good. The country has suffered more than five times as many deaths per capita as neighboring Denmark and about 10 times as many as Finland or Norway.

“It was a terrible idea to do what they did,” Janet Baseman, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, told me.

Credit…By The New York Times | Sources: Johns Hopkins University, World Bank

2. But Sweden did more than some people realize. It closed schools for students ages 16 and older. It encouraged residents to keep their distance from one another. And it imposed the ban on big gatherings, which looks especially smart now.

Compared with other viruses, this one seems especially likely to spread in clusters. Many infected people don’t infect a single other person, while “as few as 10 to 20 percent of infected people may be responsible for as much as 80 to 90 percent of transmission,” The Atlantic’s Zeynep Tufekci has explained.

Given this, it’s less surprising that Sweden’s recent virus performance looks mediocre rather than horrible.

Credit…By The New York Times | Sources: Johns Hopkins University, World Bank

3. Swedish officials have been right to worry about “sustainability.” Strict lockdowns bring their own steep costs for society. With a vaccine at least months away, societies probably need to grapple with how to restart activities while minimizing risk.

Sweden’s leaders do not seem to have found the ideal strategy, but they are asking a reasonable question. “We see a disease that we’re going to have to handle for a long time,” Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s top epidemiologist, told The Financial Times, “and we need to build up systems for doing that.”

The fact that Sweden is no longer an extreme outlier in new virus cases — even as life there looks more normal than in most places — offers a new opportunity to assess risk.

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