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Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, urged Americans on Thursday to “double down” on basic precautions as coronavirus cases soared across the country and more Covid-19 patients were hospitalized than ever before.
Appearing on “Good Morning America,” Dr. Fauci reiterated that a nationwide lockdown was unlikely, saying there was “no appetite for locking down in the American public.” But he expressed confidence that virus cases could be reduced without such drastic measures — if Americans “double down” on basic preventive steps, like social distancing and masks.
“I believe that we can do it without a lockdown, I really do,” he said.
Here are three key takeaways about the virus in the U.S. today.
The numbers are grim, and likely to worsen.
Dr. Fauci’s remarks were made just hours before California reported its millionth case on Thursday, the second state to do so (Texas was first). More cases are being recorded than ever before: The 142,000 reported on Wednesday set yet another record as much of the country enters a period of cold weather, indoor life, colds and flus that are expected to add fuel to the contagion.
Even more troubling than the infections are the hospitalization figures, as several parts of the nation report that their hospital facilities and personnel are being stretched beyond capacity. On Wednesday, 65,368 people were hospitalized with Covid-19, a figure that has doubled in little over a month, breaking the record set a day earlier by more than 3,400.
All told, the United States has reported more than 10.5 million cases so far, and more than 241,000 virus-related deaths, the most in the world: The pandemic is killing Americans at a pace of about 1,000 a day.
States and cities are taking more aggressive measures.
Since Election Day, more than a third of the governors across the United States, Republicans and Democrats, have issued public appeals for people to take coronavirus prevention measures seriously, as the latest surge — the biggest so far — washes across the nation. Many also imposed new limits on public and private gatherings.
In many places, the changes are affecting schools and youth activities, even as research is increasingly indicating that children younger than 10 are at less risk of contracting and transmitting the virus.
Detroit’s public school system announced on Thursday that it would shift to online, remote learning until January. New York City is weighing closing its system, the nation’s largest. The governors of seven Northeastern states agreed on Thursday to suspend interstate youth hockey competition for the rest of the year after outbreaks were linked to games.
“Help is on the way,” Fauci says about vaccines in general. “But it isn’t here yet.”
There are signs of hope in scientific developments. The drug maker Pfizer announced this week that its experimental coronavirus vaccine was highly effective, according to an early analysis. Dr. Fauci said on “Good Morning America” that officials hope that “ordinary citizens should be able” to get a vaccine in the spring. Pfizer is expected to submit its data for review to the Food and Drug Administration once it has the necessary safety data next week. No coronavirus vaccine has yet been authorized by the U.S. government.
Moderna, Pfizer’s close competitor, announced on Wednesday that it had also reached a point in its late-stage trial that would allow it to begin analyzing data on its vaccine’s effectiveness. Both companies’ vaccines use the same technology, involving genetic material called mRNA, and both went into large trials on the same date in late July. Pfizer’s study has 44,000 participants, and Moderna’s 30,000.
The accelerating pace of the pandemic has helped to speed up testing for both companies, because researchers have to wait less time to see how many volunteers become infected. While the two companies are the frontrunners at the moment, nine others are pushing ahead with vaccine candidates, including efforts in Britain, China, Russia and Australia, among others.
While companies and government health officials have offered hopeful projections, there is no guarantee that there will not be major delays or failures in the coming months. Pfizer’s vaccine results and other companies’ must still be evaluated for safety over a longer time period, data which aren’t expected to be available until next week. The F.D.A. could take longer than expected to evaluate Pfizer’s results. Complications could arise in what is a complex manufacturing and distribution effort. And supply could be further constrained if other experimental vaccines don’t work as hoped.
In another public appearance on Thursday, at an online forum hosted by the London think tank Chatham House, Dr. Fauci said that he believed that vaccines would soon end the pandemic — although that might not mean the end of the virus, which health experts say could continue to circulate at lower levels.
“Certainly, it is not going to be a pandemic for a lot longer because I believe the vaccines are going to turn that around,” Dr. Fauci said.
But he repeated that basic protective practices remain the most crucial weapon against the virus.
“Help is on the way,” he said, speaking about vaccines in general. “But it isn’t here yet.”
Corey Lewandowski, a Trump campaign adviser who has been working on efforts to bring lawsuits contesting the election outcome in several states, tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, a person briefed on the diagnosis said Thursday.
He attended a crowded election night party at the White House that several other people who later tested positive also attended. The latest figure to join their ranks was Jeff Miller, a Republican strategist, according to a person with knowledge of the situation on Thursday.
Several hundred people gathered at the election night event in the East Room for several hours, many of them not wearing masks as they mingled and watched election returns.
Mr. Lewandowski had been in Philadelphia for days since attending the event, and believes he may have contracted it there, the person said.
The other people who had previously tested positive after attending the election night event were: Mark Meadows, President Trump’s chief of staff; Ben Carson, the housing secretary; David Bossie, an adviser to Mr. Trump who is leading the charge on the election-related lawsuits and other efforts; and Brian Jack, the White House political director.
After another event at the White House — a celebration of Mr. Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Sept. 26 — more than a dozen aides, reporters and guests who were in attendance or came into contact with people who were there tested positive for the virus. Mr. Trump also tested positive and was hospitalized for a few days in early October.
Richard Walters, the chief of staff of the Republican National Committee, has also tested positive for the virus, according to a person with knowledge with the situation. He did not attend the election night event at the White House.
The proportion of emergency room visits related to children’s mental health has increased significantly during the pandemic, highlighting concerns about the psychological effects that lockdowns and social distancing have had on American youth, according to a new analysis released on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As states locked down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and schools turned to remote learning, the number of emergency room visits for mental health reasons rose 31 percent among children ages 12 to 17, from March through October, compared with the same period last year, according to the C.D.C. study.
For children 5 to 11 years old, the visits increased 24 percent.
In addition to coping with the adjustments that come from having school online, many children are dealing with anxiety about the virus and the fear of potentially losing someone they love. Sports and other group activities have been canceled, depriving them of an easy way to release stress and be around their peers and friends. All these changes can lead to issues like anxiety, sleep disruption, sadness and unhealthy eating.
The C.D.C. study looked at hospitals in 47 states, representing nearly three-quarters of the country’s emergency room visits.
The increase in the proportion of mental health-related visits may have been influenced by the overall decline in emergency room visits during this period, the C.D.C. noted, as people avoided hospitals when possible to prevent exposure to the coronavirus.
In 2019, one out of 85 pediatric visits to these hospitals from mid-March through mid-October were mental-health related. This year, that number rose to one in 60 visits, according to the study. In 2019, there was an average of 262,714 pediatric emergency room visits weekly during this period, and 3,078 mental-health related visits. In the same period of 2020, there was an average of 149,055 visits weekly during these months, and 2,481 were mental health-related.
The proportion of such emergency room visits was higher among young girls than boys, according to the C.D.C.
Children may be relying more on emergency room treatments, the study noted, because it is more difficult to access mental health services from schools and community agencies that have turned remote during the pandemic.
The study also likely underestimates the overall mental health toll of the pandemic on children, since many families seek mental health care outside of emergency rooms.
GLOBAL ROUND UP
Britain has become the first European country to pass 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, with officials trying various tactics to curb a second spike in cases.
As of Wednesday, 22,950 new infections were recorded and at least 1.2 million cases had been confirmed, according to a Times database. The government reported 595 daily deaths on Wednesday, taking the total to 50,365.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that the milestone showed the country was “not out of the woods,” and that “every death is a tragedy.”
But he said the country had reached a new phase of handling the outbreak and would fight it with new restrictions, more testing and use of a vaccine when it was available. The deaths only account for those who have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus, with the actual total likely to be much higher.
“This is a point that should never have been reached,” Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association said in a statement. The milestone was “a terrible indictment of poor preparation, poor organization by the government, insufficient infection control measures, coupled with late and often confusing messaging for the public.”
England is one week into a four-week national lockdown, with restaurants, pubs and most nonessential stores closed. Northern Ireland has partially shut restaurants, pubs and closed hairdressers and salons. Scotland has introduced a five-level framework with localized responses to outbreaks, and Wales ended a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown last Monday.
Hospitalized patient numbers in the United Kingdom are still less than half of its spring peak, according to hospital data released last week, unlike other European nations like the Czech Republic, where the number of patients has overshot the level seen in the first wave.
But the death toll could have been kept much lower, experts have said, if lockdown measures had been enacted sooner.
In other news from around the globe:
Athletes traveling to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics next summer will not be subject to the 14-day quarantine requirement, organizers said Thursday, though they must test negative before and in some cases after they arrive. Rules have not yet been decided for spectators at the Games, which were postponed for a year because of the pandemic.
All kindergartens and day care centers in Hong Kong will close for two weeks as a precaution, health officials said on Thursday, citing a cluster of more than 100 upper respiratory tract infections. So far, no students or teachers have tested positive for the coronavirus, but some have symptoms that are associated with it. Day care centers and kindergartens reopened in late September after spending most of the year operating remotely.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine was hospitalized after he contracted the coronavirus this week, a presidential official said on Thursday. He moved to the hospital to “accurately isolate and not expose anyone,” a presidential spokeswoman told Reuters. “There are better conditions for patients. Nothing serious,” she said referring to the president’s health. Mr. Zelensky said on Monday that he had tested positive for coronavirus. Three other top officials, including the finance minister, the defense minister and Mr. Zelensky’s top aide, were also reported to be infected.
As cases continue to grow in most of Canada, the western province of Manitoba implemented sweeping restrictions on Thursday. The orders closed most stores other than grocers and pharmacies, sports fields and playgrounds, bars, cinemas and theaters. Restaurants are limited to takeout service and a maximum of only five people may gather indoors or out. Manitoba’s cumulative number of cases reached a record 9,308 on Wednesday, up from 1,232 at the beginning of September.
Almost two weeks into a second national lockdown, a surge of coronavirus cases in France appears to be slowing. France has reported an average of 25,000 new Covid-19 cases per day since the beginning of the week, which is about half as many as last week. Meanwhile, the reproduction rate — which refers to the number of people an infected person contaminates — has fallen below one, according to health authorities. Still, more than half of French people surveyed said they have broken the rules of the lockdown at least once, according to IFOP, an international polling firm.
The European Union has increased its support for COVAX, a global fund that aims to ensure that low- and middle-income countries have access to a Covid-19 vaccine. The bloc’s total contribution is 500 million euros. As of now, 184 countries — 92 of them low- and middle-income economies — participate in COVAX, whose goal is to procure 2 billion doses of a vaccine by the end of 2021. Vaccines would be delivered by UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization.
The coronavirus is tearing across the United States at a pace that is more fierce than ever. Hospitals are filled to perilous levels. More than 120,000 new cases are being identified every day. And ever higher and more miserable records — of cases in states, of positive testing rates, of hospitalizations — are being set, day after day.
A pandemic that was once raging in New York and later across the Sun Belt is now spread so widely across the country that any number of cities and states might now be considered the worst off, depending on the measurement used.
The Minot, N.D., area has seen more cases per capita in this upsurge than anywhere in the country. Wisconsin’s outbreak has escalated more rapidly than those in other states. The county that includes Los Angeles has reported more Covid-19 cases since the pandemic’s start than anywhere else. Texas has the most cases of any state, and the most cases reported on college campuses.
The list of deeply troubled locations — each with its own, different gauge of the problem — goes on and on. If anything, the sheer number of hot spots comes as a reminder of how widespread this outbreak has grown.
“The entire country is out of control,” said Dr. Dara Kass, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York who treated numerous Covid-19 patients this spring and had the virus herself. “When you see the Dakotas and Montana and Oklahoma and Utah and Iowa and Texas — all these states — overrun with cases, it’s jarring to know that no matter what we do here, it’s going to depend on the action or inaction of leadership and people everywhere else.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York is on the brink of shutting the city’s public schools, where about 300,000 students are in classrooms, as the city faces the major new wave of coronavirus infections that is sweeping the country.
Transmission of the virus in schools has been strikingly low, with a positive-test rate of just .17 percent according to the most recent data, prompting one of the city’s top health officials to declare that the public schools are among the safest public places around. The city’s success at curbing the outbreak after the devastating and lethal wave in the spring had made it the envy of the country.
But the mayor could order the schools closed again by Thanksgiving, if not sooner, city officials say. The move — which is now regarded by some City Hall officials as a question of when, not if — would be perhaps the most significant setback yet for the city’s recovery since the bleak days of spring, when it was a global center of the pandemic and all the schools were shuttered.
New York’s agonizing decision reflects a divisive debate raging in almost every country over the importance of reopening schools while the outbreak grinds on. That fight has sometimes seen parents, teachers, politicians and epidemiologists stake out conflicting positions and has raised difficult questions about the health threats of returning schoolchildren to classrooms — and the educational and economic risks of keeping them out.
Mr. de Blasio has said he would close schools again if 3 percent or more of all coronavirus tests taken in the city turned out positive. On Thursday, Mr. de Blasio said the seven-day average rate of positive test results citywide was 2.6 percent.
“Closing the schools would probably be the single policy most likely to jolt the public into realizing how serious this current situation is,” said Mark Levine, who chairs the City Council’s health committee. “If you recall the spring, it was that moment when we closed the schools when the city really said, ‘Oh, my God, this is real.’”
The city’s approach stands in stark contrast to the strategy adopted in much of Western Europe, where keeping schools open has been a political and societal priority, even as governments have imposed strict lockdowns on public life, shutting or imposing restrictions on restaurants, bars, museums and theaters.
But New York City, which may close its classrooms before it halts indoor dining and office work, has adopted a policy typical of many big American cities. Last month, Boston canceled in-person classes, which had been offered to high-needs students for just a few weeks. On Tuesday, Philadelphia shelved plans to reopen schools later this month. Both those cities still allow some indoor dining. San Francisco, which paused indoor dining this week, has never reopened its schools for in-person instruction, despite a low transmission rate.
NEW YORK ROUNDUP
Officials in New York urged residents on Thursday to fight their pandemic fatigue and adhere to precautions and restrictions, including the state’s newly announced limits on private gatherings and earlier closing times for restaurants, bars and clubs.
“Every single thing you do matters,” Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said at a news conference on Thursday. “You can stop the disease from being transmitted by doing the right thing, or you can inadvertently transmit the disease by doing the wrong thing.”
On Thursday, Mr. de Blasio said the seven-day average rate of positive coronavirus test results citywide was at 2.6 percent, coming closer to the 3 percent threshold that he has said would prompt him to shut down the city’s public schools. The positivity rate has been rising consistently lately, and is up more than one percentage point from a month ago.
Mr. de Blasio has warned that the city is edging toward a much-feared second major wave of the virus, though he has also said it is not yet too late to reverse the trend.
The new restrictions Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Wednesday were among its broadest efforts to blunt the spread of the virus since the devastating first wave of infection in the spring, when tens of thousands of people died. The measures, which take effect on Friday evening, limit private indoor gatherings to 10 people. Gyms, restaurants and bars must close at 10 p.m., though restaurants can provide continue to provide takeout and delivery service later than that.
Mr. de Blasio said Thursday he had spoken with Mr. Cuomo about the rules, and that the city would work to enforce them, without giving details. But the restrictions would be most effective, he said, if city residents bought into them.
Mr. Cuomo, who on Thursday reported that the statewide seven-day average positivity rate was 2.6 percent, made a similar plea. “These next weeks are going to be key, and we really need people to buckle down,” he said during a brief television appearance on Spectrum News Albany.
Officials across the country have confronted growing public fatigue with social-distancing rules and other limitations, a reality that the mayor acknowledged.
“Everyone’s feeling a lot about this situation, and it’s so frustrating, and it’s painful — meaning the whole eight, nine months we’ve gone through now,” Mr. de Blasio said.
The mayor also said that new state restrictions would take effect Friday on Staten Island, now a hot spot in the city. They include mandatory testing at schools, capacity limits at houses of worship and a limit on four-person tables at restaurants.
At the news conference on Thursday, the borough president, James Oddo, urged Staten Island residents to “rise up to the occasion” and adhere to mask-wearing guidelines.
Elsewhere in the New York area:
Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey announced on Monday that restaurants and bars across the state must close to indoor patrons at 10 p.m., starting Thursday. He has also now given municipalities the flexibility to enforce even stricter, 8 p.m. closing times to address town-by-town hot spots. Local officials are not, however, permitted to enforce gathering limits that differ from the governor’s executive orders, which currently limit indoor gatherings to 25 people. The new flexibility appeared designed to accommodate the mayor of Newark, Ras J. Baraka, an ally of the governor who had already begun enforcing an 8 p.m. closing time for all nonessential businesses.
Top congressional Democrats renewed calls for a sweeping coronavirus relief package on Thursday, insisting that voters had given President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his party a mandate to fight the pandemic aggressively.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader in the Senate, cited record-breaking infections across the country, along with the presidential election results, to justify their position that any package must be much larger than what Republicans had been suggesting.
By holding firm to keeping $2.4 trillion in new spending as their starting point, Democrats appeared to be closing the door on the possibility of a year-end compromise with Republicans, who have proposed spending a fraction of that amount.
“This election was maybe more a referendum on who can handle Covid well than anything else,” Mr. Schumer said. “The Donald Trump approach was repudiated and the Joe Biden approach was embraced. That is why we think there is a better chance of getting a deal in the lame duck.”
Hours after their remarks, the top Democrats talked to Mr. Biden by phone, stressing in a statement afterward that they were on the same page about the “urgent need” for Congress to provide funds to support Americans struggling in the pandemic, as well as the nation’s health care system, before he takes office. It had been unclear how actively Mr. Biden, the incoming head of the party, would involve himself in negotiations before his inauguration.
Leaders in both parties have acknowledged the need for another round of stimulus, but they have yet to agree on the scope and cost of a second package, with Republicans insisting on a much smaller bill than what Democrats — and even the White House — had been advocating ahead of the election.
But the potential for agreement appeared to narrow further on Thursday, with a top Republican indicating that Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, was no longer planning to rely on Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to cut a deal with Democrats.
“There hasn’t been any discussion yet between McConnell and Pelosi, but McConnell is not going to rely on Mnuchin anymore to do the dealing,” Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, told reporters on Thursday morning. “I think he’s intending to take it over and try to get something going.”
Mr. McConnell, for his part, told reporters on Capitol Hill that “my view is, the level at which the economy is improving further underscores that we need to do something at about the amount that we put on the floor in September and October,” referring to the targeted $500 billion packages Senate Republicans tried to pass before the election.
The price tag Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer were discussing, he said, “is not a place I think we’re willing to go, but I do think there needs to another package.”
But Ms. Pelosi portrayed Republicans as “cold-hearted” for insisting on a smaller relief package and tried to upbraid them.
“It’s like the house is burning down and they just refuse to throw water on it,” she said.
Both sides will also have to reach an agreement on critical spending legislation to prevent a lapse in government funding on Dec. 11, with either an agreement on the dozen annual must-pass bills or another stopgap spending bill.
Faced with the prospect of its health care system collapsing under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, the Hungarian government is hoping to bring an unproven Russian vaccine to its citizens. Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, who is in quarantine after being diagnosed with the coronavirus, said Wednesday that the Hungarian authorities were preparing a temporary six-month import permit for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for tests and trials.
Mr. Szijjarto said samples of the vaccine for laboratory testing would arrive in the next 10 days, and that a small number of samples would be delivered in December for clinical testing. He said that he hoped a large shipment would arrive in the second half of January but did not say for what purpose.
Mr. Szijjarto also said that he and representatives of a Hungarian pharmaceutical company would have a video conference on Friday with Russian officials to see if Hungary could localize production of the vaccine.
The Russian coronavirus vaccine showed strong effectiveness in early data from a clinical trial, the Russian financial company promoting the shot said Wednesday.
The vaccine demonstrated 92 percent efficacy, based on results from the 20 people in the trial who developed Covid-19 after getting either the experimental vaccine or a placebo shot, the Russian Direct Investment Fund said.
Because few scientific details were given, independent vaccine experts have not been able to fully assess the veracity of the results.
Medical professionals in Hungary expressed concern that the country was already planning to import the vaccine.
“I would be happiest if vaccines brought to Hungary have been approved by the European Medicines Agency,” says Dr. Ferenc Falus, Hungary’s former chief medical officer, referring to the EU agency tasked with evaluating medicines.
In a statement released Wednesday, the government said that Hungary “is open to any solution, be that Chinese, Russia, Israeli, American, or a vaccine from other countries.”
The statement adds that the government is working to “simplify and speed up” the regulatory processes for importing and licensing pharmaceuticals.
MELBOURNE, Australia — In the late afternoon of July 4, dozens of police vehicles pulled up at a public housing tower in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city. It was, witnesses said, like a scene from an action movie — but instead of responding to a terrorist threat, the officers were responding to a coronavirus spike.
Minutes earlier, Daniel Andrews, the premier of the state of Victoria, had announced expanded stay-at-home orders that would begin just before midnight. For one group, though, the lockdown would be immediate, and far more restrictive. Hence the sudden police presence at the north Melbourne tower and eight others, housing 3,000 people in all.
While most Melbourne residents could leave their homes briefly to exercise and shop for necessities, the residents of the towers were effectively placed, without warning, under house arrest for up to 14 days. The authorities said the towers had “explosive potential” because of their population density, but the concentration of infections was not out of line with rates in other areas of the city, and private residential towers were not treated with similar alarm.
To the public housing residents, many of them immigrants, it felt like discrimination. Complaints flooded the ombudsman in Victoria, who is conducting an investigation.
Melbourne’s broader lockdown — one of the longest and strictest in the world — finally ended on Oct. 28 after 111 days. But while the rest of the city celebrates its freedom and what many see as a triumph over the virus, the residents of the towers are still contending with feelings of trauma, anger and confusion.
The Times spoke to a handful of residents about their experiences. Barry Berih, 26, said his mother was at work when the lockdown began and wasn’t allowed to return home for two weeks. He and his brother both contracted the virus, but neither became seriously ill. The greater toll, he said, was on his mental health.
“As migrants, many people who live here come from war-torn countries,” said Mr. Berih, whose parents are from Eritrea. “They felt that Australia was a safe space for them. Many of them have been here for 30 years. They’ve raised their kids here. I was born here. And now that this is over, it isn’t the only challenge. It’s how do we resolve this, after the fact?”
— Besha Rodell and Christina Simons
As the second wave of Covid-19 patients fills hospitals across Europe, countries that managed to keep case numbers and deaths low in the initial wave are introducing further lockdowns, extending online learning and preparing their health care systems as they try to stave off rising infection rates.
Bulgaria has seen the number of people per 100,000 hospitalized with the virus more than triple compared with the spring outbreak. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is among those who caught the virus in the second wave.
The country has made wearing face masks obligatory in all outdoor spaces until the end of the month and many school students who have been learning from home have been instructed to continue with online classes for at least a few more weeks.
An 11 p.m. curfew was introduced in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday. The nation has seen an average of 1,566 daily cases in the past week, according to a New York Times database.
Lithuania, already in a three-week national lockdown to stem the spread of the virus, has seen the number of daily cases increase tenfold from a month ago. Officials in the capital, Vilnius, are preparing a makeshift hospital that can accommodate up to 700 patients in an exhibition center after fears the number of people requiring medical treatment could soon overrun the city’s hospitals.
A video showing a man lying dead on the floor of a bathroom inside a packed Naples emergency room incited outrage as it spread across Italy on Thursday, prompting government officials to call for “immediate intervention” as the coronavirus pandemic ripples across the country’s vulnerable south.
Raffaele Nespoli, a spokesman for Cardarelli Hospital in Naples, confirmed the authenticity of the video, saying it was filmed inside the hospital’s emergency room. In a statement Wednesday, the hospital said that a “suspected Covid patient” was found dead in the bathroom of the emergency room, though the cause of death was still under investigation.
The person filming the video, which emerged Wednesday, can be heard saying, “This one is dead,” as the camera points at a man lying underneath a sink. Another patient is seen prostrate on a bed surrounded by uneaten food. “This one we don’t know whether he is alive or dead,” the person filming says.
Hospital officials deemed the footage’s publication “despicable,” and said they were trying to identify who filmed it, arguing that the person was purposefully trying to generate hysteria. But the video struck a nerve in Italy, which was ravaged by the virus in the spring and is dealing with a surging outbreak now.
“The images of the patient found dead in the bathroom of the Cardarelli are shocking,” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who is from a town near Naples, wrote on Facebook. He called the situation “dramatic and unacceptable” and added “now we need to act immediately, especially in the south, which risks imploding.”
Mr. Di Maio said the video was the latest, and worst, example of public health debacles related to the coronavirus he had seen in the southern region of Campania. He wrote that he had received reports of doctors treating people in cars in parking lots, of patients dying in ambulances because no hospital would take them, and of the sick left at home despite calls for help.
Italy on Wednesday surpassed one million total coronavirus cases. More than half of those people are still positive, according to government statistics, and many of them live in Italy’s south, which is poorer and less equipped to handle an outbreak than the wealthy north.
Preventing a spread of the virus south was a major motivator of Italy’s initial national lockdown in March, and the declining health situation there is a significant contributor to what many observers here consider an increasingly likely nationwide lockdown.
Last week, the government locked down the southern region of Calabria, where the coronavirus is putting enormous stress on a health care system weakened by years of bad management and criminal exploitation.
Calabria’s regional health commissioner resigned last week after an embarrassing interview aired on Italian television. In the video, the official, Saverio Cotticelli, said it was not his responsibility to draft a regional coronavirus plan. To demonstrate as much, he retrieved an official document which he read out loud, and discovered in real time that the responsibility for the plan in fact belonged to him. Then, asked about the number of intensive care beds available in the region, he deferred to a doorman for specifics.
The pandemic transformed maternity wards into ghost towns overnight, as visitor restrictions tightened and grandparents-to-be canceled flights. In its wake, officials closed schools, then reopened them, only to close them again, sending parents scrambling for child care, wrangling remote learners and struggling to do their own jobs. Millions of families lost income and many lost loved ones. For parents in particular, this year has meant recalibrating time and again. Yet, there was also joy — cobbled-together peaceful moments — amid a steady thrum of chaos, which isn’t letting up. We asked mothers and fathers across the country what parenting has been like for them during the pandemic and how, in their own ways, they have each learned to cope.