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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Florida"

Live Hurricane Sally Updates

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_177090246_17200dd2-9811-4b72-9d1c-57e0db53a1ef-articleLarge Live Hurricane Sally Updates Wind rain Mississippi Hurricane Sally (2020) Florida Floods Alabama
Credit…Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

As Sally churns just off the coast, it is already causing widespread flooding and power failures.

Hurricane Sally, moving at a walking pace over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, gathered strength overnight even as its course shifted eastward toward Pensacola, Fla.

The languid pace and lurching path of Sally, which was moving at just 2 miles per hour as it intensified early Wednesday into a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mile-per-hour winds, has increased chances that the storm could bring catastrophic flooding.

As much as 30 inches of rain could fall in an area stretching from the Florida Panhandle to Mississippi, compounding a storm surge of four to six feet around Dauphin Island off the Alabama coast, according to the National Hurricane Center. Forecasters also warned of life-threatening flash floods.

More than 150,000 people lost power overnight, and local officials warned residents that flooding would most likely grow more severe throughout the day.

“This is a LIFE-THREATENING SITUATION. SEEK HIGHER GROUND NOW!!,” the National Weather Service office in Mobile, Ala., warned in a tweet.

Late Tuesday, residents and local news outlets in Mobile and Gulf Shores, Ala., were posting videos of ripping winds, storm surges and heavy rainfall. Videos from Pensacola Beach, Fla., showed storm surge pushing seawater into residential streets and parks. According to the National Weather Service, a casino barge near Coden, Ala., broke loose because of strong winds and storm surge and slammed into a dock.

In recent days, the storm’s projected point of landfall has veered by nearly 200 miles. It had once been expected to rake over the remote, low-lying areas of southeastern Louisiana and possibly reach beyond the New Orleans metropolitan area, but the latest projections show Sally clipping the southeast corner of Mississippi as it bears down on Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

John De Block, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Ala., said the storm was drifting “at the speed of a child in a candy shop,” as if it were meandering through the aisles and waffling over its choices.

“I’m well aware that those on the Gulf Coast are all too familiar with Mother Nature’s wrath,” Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama said on Tuesday. “We still hope and pray Sally will not bring that type of pain and heartache, but my fellow Alabamians, Hurricane Sally is not to be taken for granted.”

Video

Westlake Legal Group merlin_177012642_ef8d3a40-22a9-4ddb-81e9-394ad6d90068-videoSixteenByNine3000 Live Hurricane Sally Updates Wind rain Mississippi Hurricane Sally (2020) Florida Floods Alabama
Residents on the Gulf Coast prepared sandbags and boarded up windows as Hurricane Sally approaches.CreditCredit…Emily Kask for The New York Times

A hurricane warning remained in effect for an area stretching from Bay St. Louis, Miss., near the Louisiana border, to Navarre, near the tip of the Florida Panhandle.

A tropical storm warning covered the area west of the Pearl River to Grand Isle, La. — including metropolitan New Orleans — and east of Navarre to Indian Pass, Fla.

Officials urged people to take advantage of the storm’s sluggish pace and get out of harm’s way. Those who stayed behind were warned that the waters could climb high.

“I’ve seen streets and neighborhoods quickly fill up with five, six, seven and even more depth of water in a short period of time,” Sam Cochran, the Mobile County sheriff, said during a briefing on Tuesday.

For those who stay behind, he added, it might be “a couple of days or longer before we can get you out.”

Memories of past storms lead many in downtown Mobile to clear out.

Credit…Dan Anderson/EPA, via Shutterstock

There is a profound respect for the power of the weather in the 318-year-old port city of Mobile, Ala., where hurricanes have always been a fact of life. The proof on Tuesday was in its near-empty downtown streets as night fell and the city waited for slow-moving Hurricane Sally to make its way ashore.

Bars and restaurants that featured signs prompted by the coronavirus crisis (“No Handshaking,” one declared) were now sandbagged in anticipation of the new crisis coming up from the south. Violent winds animated the arms of old oak trees. Traffic lights on wires tossed and shook.

In Bienville Square, the 19th-century fountain honoring Dr. George Ketchum, who helped bring reliable drinking water to the city, burbled along with hardly anyone to see it.

Over the last day or so, some longtime Mobile residents said that Hurricane Sally, with its dangerous and stubborn procrastination, reminded them of Hurricane Danny in 1997, which also moved at a crawling pace while dumping rain for hours, triggering mudslides and catastrophic river flooding in South Alabama.

Mayor Sandy Stimpson urged people in low-lying areas known to be flood-prone to move to higher ground.

“The pleas that we’re making to you, the warnings that we’re giving you, they’re serious,” he said during a news conference on Tuesday. “They’re talking about unprecedented amounts of rainfall.”

Behind Sally, more storms loom in the Atlantic.

Credit…NOAA, via Associated Press

Still recovering from Hurricane Laura and now bracing for Hurricane Sally, residents along the Gulf Coast and the Eastern Seaboard warily watched reports of other major storms developing in the Atlantic.

On Monday, before Tropical Depression Rene dissolved, there were five concurrent named storms in the Atlantic, which has not happened since 1971, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Three are still active.

Hurricane Paulette packed winds of 100 miles per hour about 450 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada, and threatened to bring dangerous surf and rip current conditions to Bermuda, the Bahamas and parts of the Atlantic Coast.

Tropical Storm Teddy was gaining strength about 865 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, and it was projected to near “major hurricane strength” as it approaches Bermuda over the weekend.

Reporting was contributed by Johnny Diaz, Richard Fausset, Rick Rojas, Marc Santora, Daniel Victor and Will Wright.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Voting Will End Nov. 3. The Legal Battle Probably Won’t.

Westlake Legal Group 08DC-VOTING-facebookJumbo The Voting Will End Nov. 3. The Legal Battle Probably Won’t. Voter Fraud (Election Fraud) Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Florida Bush, George W absentee voting

The stormy once-in-a-lifetime Florida recount battle that polarized the nation in 2000 and left the Supreme Court to decide the presidency may soon look like a high school student council election compared with what could be coming after this November’s election.

Imagine not just another Florida, but a dozen Floridas. Not just one set of lawsuits but a vast array of them. And instead of two restrained candidates staying out of sight and leaving the fight to surrogates, a sitting president of the United States unleashing ALL CAPS Twitter blasts from the Oval Office while seeking ways to use the power of his office to intervene.

The possibility of an ugly November — and perhaps even December and January — has emerged more starkly in recent days as President Trump complains that the election will be rigged and Democrats accuse him of trying to make that a self-fulfilling prophesy.

With about 85 days until Nov. 3, lawyers are already in court mounting pre-emptive strikes and preparing for the larger, scorched-earth engagements likely to come. Like the Trump campaign, Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign and its network of Democratic support groups are stocking up on lawyers, and Democrats are gaming out worst-case scenarios, including how to respond if Mr. Trump prematurely declares victory or sends federal officers into the party’s strongholds as an intimidation tactic.

The emerging battle is the latest iteration of the long-running dispute over voting rights, one shaped by the view that higher participation will improve the Democratic Party’s chances. Republicans, under cover of dubious or unfounded claims about widespread fraud, are trying to prevent steps that would make it easier for more people to vote and Democrats are pressing more aggressively than ever to secure ballot access and expand the electorate.

But that clash has been vastly complicated this year by the challenge of holding a national election in the middle of a deadly pandemic, with a greater reliance on mail-in voting that could prolong the counting in a way that turns Election Day into Election Week or Election Month. And the atmosphere has been inflamed by a president who is already using words like “coup,” “fraud” and “corrupt” to delegitimize the vote even before it happens.

The battle is playing out on two tracks: defining the rules about how the voting will take place, and preparing for fights over how the votes should be counted and contesting the outcome.

“The big electoral crisis arises from the prospect of hundreds of thousands of ballots not being counted in decisive states until a week after the election or more,” said Richard H. Pildes, a constitutional scholar at New York University School of Law.

If the candidate who appears ahead on election night ends up losing later on, he said, it will fuel suspicion, conspiracy theories and polarization. “I have no doubt the situation will be explosive,” he said.

Some flash points have already emerged:

  • A long-troubled Postal Service, now run by a Trump megadonor and seemingly overwhelmed by the prospect of delivering tens of millions more votes cast by mail with an administration resistant to providing substantial new funding.

  • Concern among Democrats that Mr. Trump or Attorney General William P. Barr could use their bully pulpits to raise loud enough alarms about voter fraud to lead sympathetic state and local officials to slow or block adverse results.

  • Fights over whether mailed ballots should be counted if received by Election Day or simply postmarked by Election Day, not to mention what to do if the post office does not postmark them at all.

  • Fights over the use of drop boxes to return ballots and the number of polling places for in-person voting amid the risk of disease.

  • Fights over whether witnesses should still be required for absentee votes in a socially distant moment and what to do if signatures do not match those on file.

Already, by Mr. Pildes’s count, party organizations, campaigns and interest groups have filed 160 lawsuits across the country trying to shape the rules of the election. About 40 have been filed in 17 states by Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee, some in response to Democratic lawsuits, as part of an expansive $20 million litigation campaign against policies making it easier to vote on the grounds that they could lead to fraud.

“See you in Court!” Mr. Trump tweeted a few days ago to Nevada, which just passed universal mail-in balloting legislation, under which the state sends a mail-in ballot to every registered voter.

“They are just really efforts to throw tacks in front of the tires to make it so states can’t run their elections this time,” said Michael Waldman, the president of the Brennan Center for Justice and a former aide to President Bill Clinton.

Democrats and their allies, led by Marc E. Elias, the general counsel of the Democratic National Committee, are seeking to expand voting options, particularly through mail-in voting. They have active litigation in numerous battleground states, pursuing relief on deadlines, signature and witness requirements, among others.

Republicans said their own court efforts were aimed at preventing Democrats from changing the rules in the middle of the game.

“People are viewing it as an attack on vote-by-mail,” said Justin Riemer, the chief counsel for the Republican National Committee. But in fact, he said, “it’s by and large protecting the safeguards that are in place.”

Mr. Trump, who also made unfounded claims about fraud in the 2016 election even though he won, has signaled that he will not hesitate to go back to court after Election Day if he does not like the result. Unlike in 2000, when the Justice Department largely stayed on the sidelines, Democrats worry that Mr. Barr will intervene with civil suits, investigations or public statements, casting doubt on the result if Mr. Trump appears to lose. And some Democrats say they are not sure how Mr. Trump would respond, with the presidency on the line, to a court ruling against him.

Some Democrats even express fear that Mr. Trump would send federal agents into the streets as he did in recent weeks in Portland, Ore. Democrats have game-planned situations in which Mr. Trump deploys immigration officers into Hispanic neighborhoods to intimidate citizens shortly before the election and suppress turnout.

“It is very, very much a concern,” said Alex Padilla, the secretary of state of California.

Mr. Trump’s advisers dismiss such talk as overheated partisan messaging. Justin Clark, the president’s deputy campaign manager, said states like California and Nevada trying to expand mail-in voting on the fly were the ones setting the stage for a chaotic election.

“Rushing to implement universal vote-by-mail leads to delays in counts, delays in results and uncertainty about who won an election,” he said.

It took six weeks for the New York authorities to determine the winners of two House Democratic congressional primaries as they struggled with 10 times the normal number of absentee ballots, a case study in the potential for a lengthy count in the fall even if not an example of fraud as Mr. Trump has falsely claimed.

Mr. Clark is one of the party’s top warriors on election fraud fights. In a recording from 2019, he told fellow Republicans: “Traditionally, it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places. Let’s start protecting our voters.”

Republicans, he said, should be more aggressive. “Let’s start playing offense a little bit,” he said then. “That’s what you’re going to see in 2020. It’s going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program, a much better-funded program.”

He later said he was referring to false accusations made against Republicans. A federal judge in 2018 lifted a consent decree in place since 1982 that barred the Republican National Committee from certain so-called ballot security efforts.

Asked about those comments, Mr. Clark said: “Democrats have always accused Republicans of voter suppression. The fact of the matter is all Democrats have done this year is pushed crazy voting laws.”

The Trump team has also tried to halt another pillar of absentee voting — the drop box. In 2018 in Colorado, one of five states that already votes nearly entirely by mail, 75 percent of ballots were returned through a drop box or at a polling place. In Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign sued against expanding the use of drop boxes, an action that has concerned election officials across the country.

Jena Griswold, the secretary of state of Colorado, said the president’s attacks on the Postal Service and his refusal to devote enough resources to fix its problems showed his disingenuous motives.

“You do all that and then you attack drop boxes, the alternative to voting safely, it’s a pattern of voter suppression,” she said. “It’s a pattern of voter suppression and I just think it’s really reprehensible.”

Others are looking to head off disqualifying ballots over procedural issues like postmarks and the date of receipt. “Voting shouldn’t be a game of gotcha,” said Ann Jacobs, the chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

The Help America Vote Act, passed on large bipartisan votes in 2002 in response to the Florida recount, was meant to help states upgrade and standardize voting procedures. But it gives the attorney general the power to file civil suits to enforce its provisions and some critics said Mr. Barr could use that to step in.

Some Democrats said they were less worried about direct intervention by Mr. Trump or Mr. Barr, but said they could use their positions to prod sympathetic state and local officials to block votes while fostering a narrative undercutting the credibility of a vote count going against the president.

“The president has very little, if any, power with how elections are conducted,” said Mr. Elias, the Democratic lawyer. “Trump’s power is that he has no shame and that shamelessness has infected his entire political party.”

He added, “You cannot imagine the party of George Bush or of John McCain or Mitt Romney or even Reince Priebus saying out loud the things Donald Trump screams out loud on Twitter, in the Oval Office and the Rose Garden on daily and weekly basis.”

With the prospect of an extended and messy count lasting long past Election Day, new attention is focusing on deadlines set by federal law. Under the so-called safe harbor provision, states have until Dec. 8 to resolve disputes over the results, meaning only five weeks — the same deadline that led to the Florida recount being called off in 2000 with George W. Bush in the lead.

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, warning about “a nightmare scenario for our nation,” introduced legislation on Thursday extending that deadline to Jan. 1, giving states three-and-a-half more weeks to count. The Electoral College would then meet Jan. 2 instead of Dec. 14, still in time to provide their results to Congress to ratify the outcome on Jan. 6 as scheduled.

In the end, it may depend on how close the count really is.

If “it’s clear one candidate or the other has a clear majority in the Electoral College, then I don’t think there’s much Trump could do if he’s the loser except to complain,” said Trevor Potter, the president of the Campaign Legal Center and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. “But if it’s close, then I think there is the potential for lots of mischief.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Contact Tracing Is Failing in Many States. Here’s Why.

In Arizona’s most populated region, the coronavirus is so ubiquitous that contact tracers have been unable to reach a fraction of those infected.

In Austin, Tex., the story is much the same. Just as it is in North Carolina, where the state’s health secretary recently told state lawmakers that its tracking program was hiring outside workers to keep up with a steady rise in cases, as a number of other states have done.

Cities in Florida, another state where Covid-19 cases are surging, have largely given up on tracking cases. Things are equally dismal in California. And in New York City’s tracing program, workers complained of crippling communication and training problems.

Contact tracing, a cornerstone of the public health arsenal to tamp down the coronavirus across the world, has largely failed in the United States; the virus’s pervasiveness and major lags in testing have rendered the system almost pointless. In some regions, large swaths of the population have refused to participate or cannot even be located, further hampering health care workers.

“We are not doing it to the level or extent that it should be done,” said Steve Adler, the mayor of Austin, echoing the view of many state and city leaders. “There are three main reasons. One is the sheer number of people, the second is the delay in getting test results back, the third is the wide community spread of the disease.”

The goal of contact tracing for Covid-19 is to reach people who have spent more than 15 minutes within six feet of an infected person and ask them to quarantine at home voluntarily for two weeks even if they test negative, monitoring themselves for symptoms during that time. But few places have reported systemic success. And from the very beginning of the U.S. epidemic, states and cities have struggled to detect the prevalence of the virus because of spotty and sometimes rationed diagnostic testing and long delays in getting results.

“I think it’s easy to say contact tracing is broken,” said Carolyn Cannuscio, an expert on the method and an associate professor of family medicine and community health at the University of Pennsylvania. “It is broken because so many parts of our prevention system are broken.

Tracking those exposed is so far behind the virus raging in most places that many public health officials believe the money and personnel involved would be better spent on other resources, like increasing test sites, helping schools prepare for reopening and educating the public about mask wearing. Some public health experts now believe that, at the very least, testing and contact tracing need to be scaled back in places with major outbreaks. In some places, they say the effort may never succeed.

“Contact tracing is the wrong tool for the wrong job at the wrong time,” said Dr. David Lakey, the former state health commissioner of Texas who helped oversee the Ebola response in Dallas in 2014.

“Back when you had ten cases here in Texas, it might have been useful,” said Dr. Lakey, who is now the chief medical officer for the University of Texas System. “But if you don’t have rapid testing, it is going to be very difficult in a disease with 40 percent of people asymptomatic. It is hard to see the benefit of it right now.”

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Updated 2020-07-31T09:53:35.409Z

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, a former director of the C.D.C. who is a strong advocate for robust contact tracing programs, largely agreed that it is impossible to do meaningful or substantial contact tracing with huge numbers of cases. He noted that when testing results lag as much as they have, it becomes almost impossible to keep up with the high volume of infected individuals and those who have been in contact with them.

“At some point when your cases are very high, you have to dial back your testing and contact tracing,” said Dr. Frieden, who now runs Resolve to Save Lives, a nonprofit health advocacy initiative. “We may be in that situation in some parts of the country today.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 28VIRUS-TRACE2-articleLarge Contact Tracing Is Failing in Many States. Here’s Why. your-feed-healthcare Tests (Medical) States (US) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Medicine and Health Florida Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Contact Tracing (Public Health) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention California Austin (Tex) Arizona
Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times

Others argue that contact tracing efforts around the country are still nascent, and many workers fanning out in particular zones are still too inexperienced to call it quits. These experts contend that tracking remains an important mechanism that can help as flare-ups continue over the next year and beyond.

Crystal Watson, a risk-assessment specialist at the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said she had hoped more contact tracers would be trained and in place before states started reopening. For now, she expects it to be feasible only in Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota and the District of Columbia. Massachusetts, where the nonprofit group Partners in Health leads the efforts, has done particularly well.

Contact tracing has been used as a tool for hundreds of years to contain diseases like tuberculosis, yellow fever and Ebola. A rudimentary form was even used to track the route of a syphilis outbreak in the 16th century. Countries like South Korea, Ireland and Australia used the method to successfully control the spread of the coronavirus, too.

The C.D.C. has sent about $11 billion in relief funds to states and local jurisdictions for expanding coronavirus testing and contact tracing. A survey of state health departments by National Public Radio last month found they had roughly 37,000 contact tracers in place, with an additional 31,000 in reserve for when they would be needed. The work force — a mix of government employees, volunteers and contract workers hired by outside companies or nonprofit organizations — still falls short of the 100,000 people that the C.D.C. has recommended.

The contact tracers, whose training varies considerably in length and content depending on what state they are in, have struggled to keep up with the rising number of cases.

“The challenge is that we are not dealing with ones and twos,” said Fran Phillips, a deputy Secretary for Public Health for Maryland, a state that has largely kept the virus in check but still faces over 900 new cases daily. For every new case, there are several if not dozens of people to contact, especially in large cities, which further strains the system.

Contact tracing generally works best, public health experts say, when a disease is easily detected from its onset. That is often impossible with the coronavirus because a large percentage of those infected have no symptoms.

“When you have a situation in which there are so many people who are asymptomatic,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at a recent Milken Institute event. “That makes that that much more difficult, which is the reason you wanted to get it from the beginning and nip it in the bud. Once you get what they call the logarithmic increase, then it becomes very difficult to do contact tracing. It’s not going well.”

Perhaps most harmful to the effort have been the persistent delays in getting the results of diagnostic tests. Often by the time an individual tests positive, it’s too late for the health care workers tracking that person to do anything.

“It’s a race against time,” Ms. Phillips said. “And if we have lost days and days of infectious period because we didn’t get a lab result back, that really diminishes our ability to do contact tracing.” In Maryland, like many states, some labs are taking as long as nine days to turn around results. “We are getting some assurances from national manufacturers this lag is short term,” she said. “I am not confident.”

In contrast, when sports teams and staff of the White House test people constantly, with fast turnarounds, contact tracing is instant and effective.

Even as health care workers leap over these hurdles, they are also finding that it can be difficult not just to reach people who were potentially exposed to the virus but to get them to cooperate. Sometimes there is no good phone number, and in the cellphone era, unrecognized numbers are often ignored; 25 percent of those called in Maryland don’t pick up. Others, suspicious of contact tracers or fueled by misinformation about them, decline to cooperate, a stark contrast with places like Germany where compliance with contact tracers is viewed as a civic duty.

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In Florida’s Miami-Dade County, contact tracers employed by the state have reached only 18 percent of those infected over the last two weeks, according to Mayor Dan Gelber of Miami Beach; many of the others were never even called. Mr. Gelber wrote a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday decrying the state of the program.

“You think it’s a natural situation where people will say, ‘Oh of course, I’ll cooperate,’” Dr. Fauci said. “But there’s such pushback on authority, on government, on all kinds of things like that. It makes it very complicated.”

Credit…Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

In Seattle, tracers found 80 percent of the people they reached were not in quarantine, even if they had symptoms. And there is little appetite in the United States for intrusive technology, such as electronic bracelets or obligatory phone GPS signals, that has worked well for contact tracing in parts of Asia. Although Americans are free to cross state lines, no national tracing program exists.

“We need federal leadership for standards and privacy safeguards, and I don’t see that happening,” said Dr. Luciana Borio, a former director of medical and biodefense preparedness at the National Security Council.

Many epidemiologists believe fixing the program in the United States to combat and contain the coronavirus outbreaks is essential.

We have to start by supporting people in getting tested, which means making it easy enough for those exposed to someone or has symptoms to just show up and not worry about a doctor’s order,” Ms. Cannuscio said. “People in the Covid era have a hard time telling you what day it is.”

Dr. Joia Mukherjee, the chief medical officer at Partners in Health, the group in charge of the Massachusetts effort, outlined the principles her group insisted on: Tracers must come from the hardest-hit communities and be able to speak Spanish, Haitian Creole or whatever language the communities do.

Every tracer must be paid, not a volunteer. And Massachusetts had to put in enough money to let the tracers “support” anyone expected to self-quarantine.

“We ask: Do you need food? Infant formula? Diapers? Cab fare? Unemployment insurance? And we help them get it,” Dr. Mukherjee said. “That way people feel it’s care, not surveillance.”

Dr. Marcus Plescia, the chief medical officer at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said that despite the failures so far, it was too soon to surrender. States need more time to build up a tracing work force and the infrastructure to do it well, he said, and Americans need to grow more comfortable with the concept, similar to becoming accustomed to wearing masks.

Dr. William Foege, a former director of the C.D.C., said recently that effective tracers should be “psychiatrists, detectives and problem solvers all at once,” and that will also take time for many who are new to the job.

But in the meantime, Dr. Plescia said, even finding a fraction of cases through contact tracing will help slow the virus’s spread.

“We don’t have to strive for perfection on this,” Dr. Plescia said. “It’s a heavy lift and it’s going to take some time. We need to hang in there and keep at it.”

Donald G. McNeil Jr. contributed reporting to this article.

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Val Demings is on Biden’s VP List. Will Her Police Career Hurt or Help?

An Orlando police officer shoved a 27-year-old Hispanic woman down a flight of stairs, breaking her ankle. A jury ordered him to pay her medical bills.

Another officer slammed an 84-year-old World War II veteran to the ground during a car-towing dispute, resulting in doctors’ putting him into a medically induced coma. The city had to pay him $880,000.

Outside a Target store, officers investigating a robbery surrounded a minivan and fired into it nearly a dozen times, critically injuring an unarmed man. He won a $750,000 settlement.

The episodes all occurred between 2007 and 2010, long before the ongoing protests currently sweeping the country, denouncing the disproportionate use of police force against people of color. If the Orlando police felt even a fraction of the pressure that departments face today, the leadership did not bend to it: The chief, Val B. Demings, defended the officers in each case.

A decade later, Ms. Demings, now a second-term Democratic congresswoman, has emerged as a finalist to be Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s running mate. She rose in politics as a Black woman with law enforcement credentials, but her moment in the spotlight comes as the nation reckons with the difficult legacy of police brutality and racial discrimination.

If she is chosen as the vice-presidential nominee, her career could prove to be a political asset against an incumbent president who is building his re-election campaign around his call for law and order, while attacking Mr. Biden as weak on crime. But in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, with protests continuing to rock the country, it could also be a political liability.

“This is an opportunity to change the way things are,” said David Porter, a former newspaper columnist active in progressive causes, who worked for Ms. Demings early in her political career. “I just don’t know that picking a cop would send the right message right now.”

Police misconduct cases are also the focus of renewed scrutiny for another top contender for the vice presidency, Senator Kamala Harris, who has been criticized for not aggressively prosecuting officers accused of wrongdoing as California’s attorney general. And they derailed the hopes of another candidate, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who withdrew last month amid criticism that as a prosecutor she had failed to charge officers accused of misconduct.

In recent weeks, Ms. Demings has become a leading voice calling for changes in policing, and she has cast herself as an experienced reformer, repeating that she started out as a social worker and brought a “social worker’s heart” to police work. But a review by The New York Times shows a more complicated record: that of a police leader with a long history of defending the status quo.

Ms. Demings, 63, spent 27 years in one of the most violent police departments of its size in the United States. She repeatedly defended fellow officers, dating at least to 1999, when she helped vindicate a white chief in a neighboring city of allegations of racial discrimination. During her time as chief, crime sharply declined, but police use of force remained high; a 2015 study by The Orlando Sentinel showed that in the second half of Ms. Demings’s tenure and during the tenure of her successor, officers used force at a rate that was twice as high as those of officers at other departments of similar size.

While she was chief, her department also began arresting people for violating a years-old ban on distributing food to homeless residents in city parks.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_175049277_e36a676f-c5bd-4240-a21c-9f44d481de76-articleLarge Val Demings is on Biden’s VP List. Will Her Police Career Hurt or Help? United States Politics and Government Presidential Election of 2020 Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings police Orlando (Fla) House of Representatives Florida Democratic Party Demings, Val Black People Black Lives Matter Movement Biden, Joseph R Jr
Credit…Reinhold Matay/Associated Press

And in Congress, Ms. Demings is one of the only Democrats to co-sponsor the Protect and Serve Act, which would make it a hate crime to attack a law enforcement officer.

In an interview this week, Ms. Demings stood by her record on police accountability, saying she improved hiring practices and increased officer training. But she said her top priority as chief was addressing a spike in crime.

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Updated 2020-07-30T00:35:28.896Z

“Police work is not a perfect science,” she said. “We’re there to clean up messes. And sometimes when you clean up messes, it’s not pretty.”

Supporters said Ms. Demings should not be judged for all the flaws of policing in America.

“You can’t blame Val for institutional racism,” said Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress.

Mr. Clyburn, who has not endorsed anyone to be Mr. Biden’s running mate, is one of many Democrats who believe Ms. Demings could bring a lot to the ticket.

She rose from humble roots to become Orlando’s first female chief and a House manager in Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial this year. Her supporters believe she could appeal to enough independents, and perhaps even Republicans, to improve Mr. Biden’s prospects in Florida, a battleground state where major elections are routinely decided by razor-thin margins.

Mr. Biden is expected to announce his decision next week.

Ms. Demings is well liked by colleagues, though for a time she was confusingly a member of both the centrist and progressive caucuses.

On Tuesday, during a nationally televised hearing, she leveraged her experience in law enforcement while questioning the attorney general, William P. Barr, about the removal of U.S. attorneys under President Trump. “As a former police detective, I have solved many cases based on patterns of behavior, and there is an alarming pattern I believe that is developing,” she said. “It appears that any time a U.S. attorney investigates the president or those close to them, he or she is removed and replaced by one of your friends.”

Ms. Demings was born Valdez Butler, the youngest of seven children of a maid and a janitor. She grew up in a two-room house outside Jacksonville, and said growing up she experienced racism and the vestiges of segregation. She has said that her law enforcement career began in sixth grade, when she served on the school patrol and intervened in altercations on the bus.

After graduating from Florida State University with a degree in criminology, she worked for a year at a security company and then for two years as a counselor to children in foster homes.

In 1983, she heard a radio ad recruiting officers for the Orlando Police Department and decided to apply.

Ms. Demings rose through the ranks, serving in nearly every part of the department, including the patrol division, the hostage negotiation team and the public information office, and earning stellar reviews.

Credit…Frank Torres/Alamy

She also met a fellow officer whom she later married — Jerry L. Demings. He became Orlando’s first Black police chief in 1998; when she served as chief, he was the sheriff of Orange County, which encompasses Orlando. He is now Orange County’s mayor.

In 1999, the Gainesville Police Department asked Ms. Demings to help review its chief, who had resigned after 28 complaints from his 30 Black officers. Her review cleared the chief, saying they found no evidence of racial discrimination. The local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. derided the inquiry as a public relations stunt.

When similar issues arose in Orlando, Ms. Demings often supported police leadership, including in multiple op-eds in The Sentinel.

“As the highest-ranking African-American member of the Orlando Police Department, I have read and heard quite enough about the suggestions of racism, racial profiling and the like,” she wrote in 2006, seeming to try to shut down a conversation that is still burning years later.

Violent crime in Orlando was at a high when Ms. Demings became chief the next year. She responded by focusing on specific neighborhoods and housing complexes, and during her tenure, violent crime fell by 40 percent.

“If I had not been successful in reducing the crime rate, we know what people would’ve said,” Ms. Demings said recently during a television appearance. “‘First woman chief, oh my God, she can’t handle that job.’”

But her tenure also was marked by repeated allegations of police brutality.

The first major case to come across her desk in 2007 involved an officer who pushed a woman down the stairs at a club where he worked as a security guard. The officer claimed the woman spit on him and drunkenly fell. Prosecutors charged her with felony battery on a police officer, and she lost her job. (They later dropped the charges, but she did not get her job back, her lawyer said.)

In a rare instance of imposing discipline on an officer, investigators concluded his version was not accurate and removed two of his vacation days. But Ms. Demings returned one of the vacation days, citing a technical mistake in the process.

Perhaps the most scrutinized case she faced occurred in 2010, when Officer Travis LaMont, then 26, encountered 84-year-old Daniel Daley arguing with a tow-truck driver outside of a bar.

Mr. Daley urged Mr. LaMont to help, and he later acknowledged tapping the officer’s arm several times. The officer told him to stop, and when he did not, he performed what is known as a “dynamic takedown,” leaning into Mr. Daley with his hip and throwing him to the ground.

Mr. Daley landed on his head and broke his neck.

Ms. Demings defended Mr. LaMont, saying, “The officer performed the technique within department guidelines,” although she said she would review the guidelines.

That decision set off a protest outside Police Headquarters; one demonstrator held a sign with a photo of the veteran wearing a neck brace. “Threat neutralized,” it said, according to The Sentinel.

A jury ordered the city to pay Mr. Daley $880,000.

That same year, a group of officers pursuing an alleged credit card thief fired a flurry of shots into a minivan they claimed had rammed their vehicles, hitting one man at least five times. Video later showed that a police car pushed the minivan into the vehicles.

Again, outrage against the police erupted, and the city paid the man $750,000. But the department cleared the officers.

Ms. Demings declined to answer written questions about specific cases but said she did her best to hold officers accountable.

“I did what I could, when I could and where I could,” she said in an email.

Asked in the interview her biggest mistake as chief, she cited the time her service weapon was stolen from her vehicle.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Dwain Rivers, the longtime head of internal affairs at the Orlando Police Department, disputed the notion that Ms. Demings was overly protective of officers accused of misconduct. He said she was limited by union contracts, but she was as tough as any of the other chiefs for whom he has worked.

Mr. Rivers said that Ms. Demings had engaged the community and helped create a professional organization to support Black officers.

Under Ms. Demings, officers used force about 600 times a year, according to a New York Times analysis of city data. That did not significantly change during her tenure, although shootings involving police officers slightly increased. Today, the website MappingPoliceViolence.org lists Orlando as the fourth-worst major city for police killings per capita, a culture that activists say stems in part from Ms. Demings’s tenure as chief..

“It wouldn’t be that high if she had gotten with the community. She ignored us,” said Lawanna Gelzer, the president of the Central Florida chapter of the National Action Network. “And she gets up and criticizes other law enforcement agencies. It’s hypocritical.”

Ms. Demings has said comparisons are unfair, in part because Orlando has many bars that attract rowdy crowds.

After Ms. Demings retired in 2011, she ran unsuccessfully for Congress and for mayor of Orange County. When she ran for Congress a second time in 2016, police brutality became a major campaign issue in the primary.

Still, with support from the national party, Ms. Demings prevailed, impressing Democratic officials with her lively speaking style and the ease of her victory.

“If she had done a bad job as police chief, she wouldn’t have been elected to Congress,” said John Morgan, a major Democratic donor from Orlando. Mr. Morgan added, “If being a police officer and a police chief is now a liability, then God help the country.”

As protests have swept the nation, Ms. Demings has responded carefully. She published an op-ed in The Washington Post entitled, “My fellow brothers and sisters in blue, what the hell are you doing?” But she has declined to say whether the officers who killed Breonna Taylor should be arrested, as protesters have demanded.

This spring, before the protests began but after impeachment hearings increased her profile, Ms. Demings updated her campaign website. Her logo previously read “Chief Val Demings for Congress.” Now it says “Val Demings for Congress.”

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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‘Mugged by Reality,’ Trump Finds Denial Won’t Stop the Pandemic

Westlake Legal Group mugged-by-reality-trump-finds-denial-wont-stop-the-pandemic ‘Mugged by Reality,’ Trump Finds Denial Won’t Stop the Pandemic Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Masks Florida Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — He insisted that it was safe, that people could go back to work, that schools could reopen, that he could hold packed indoor campaign rallies, that he could even hold a full-fledged, boisterous, bunting-filled nominating convention as if all were well.

Only now, it is all crashing down around President Trump. The president who shunned masks and pressured states to reopen and promised a return to the campaign trail finds himself canceling rallies, scrapping his grand convention, urging Americans to stay away from crowded bars and at long last embracing, if only halfheartedly, wearing masks.

It may not be the death of denial, but it is a moment when denial no longer appears to be a viable strategy for Mr. Trump. For more than three years in office, he proved strikingly successful at bending much of the political world to his own vision of reality, but after six months the coronavirus pandemic is turning out to be the one stubborn, inalterable fact of life that he cannot simply force into submission through sheer will.

The president’s springtime confidence that he could cheerlead the country back to a semblance of normalcy in time to kick-start the moribund economy and power himself to a second term in November’s election has proved unequal to the grim summertime medical and autopsy reports emerging from the South and West. With 60,000 new cases and 1,000 more deaths being registered each day, Mr. Trump has been forced this week to retreat from the rose-colored assessment of the health of the nation — and his presidency.

Not that he has admitted a change. As he revived his coronavirus briefings this week, he still insisted that most of the country was doing well and offered upbeat predictions about conquering the virus. But his actions belied that view as he canceled the convention in Jacksonville, Fla., citing the same health care concerns that he had disparaged in shifting it abruptly from Charlotte, N.C., in the first place.

Even the decision to begin holding the briefings again was itself an admission that the crisis he wanted so desperately to be over in fact is accelerating even as he falls behind former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. by double digits in the polls. Mr. Trump would have rather been talking about almost any subject other than the virus, but there he was again at the lectern three days in a row dutifully reading the warnings that his advisers had given him to read.

“This is a case when you line it all up, it’s the last season of ‘The Apprentice,’ we’ve got 100 days left and the reality TV star just got mugged by reality,” said Rahm Emanuel, who served in Congress and as White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama before becoming mayor of Chicago.

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Updated 2020-07-24T23:21:46.051Z

His defenders said Mr. Trump has responded to the situation as it has changed. “With this virus we entered a realm of unknown unknowns, making decision-making tough for anyone, including this president,” said Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax and a friend of Mr. Trump’s. “Considering the conflicting advice he’s gotten from medical experts, I think he’s done a great job on the economic response and a good job in lowering the daily death count. The public will eventually see that.”

In speaking before the cameras this week, White House officials insisted that Mr. Trump had not changed his view of the virus at all and that he always took it seriously. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, however, senior Republican officials express exasperation that the president in their view mishandled the virus, leaving the party vulnerable to not only losing the White House but the Senate as well.

The public has grown increasingly worried as caseloads soar to twice as high as they were during the earlier peak of the pandemic in March and April. Where just 30 percent of Americans believed the crisis was getting worse in early June, 66 percent now believe it is, according to Gallup. Three-quarters of those surveyed said they expected the disruption to travel, school, work and public events to continue until the end of the year or even into next year before the situation begins to improve.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_174910800_fb021a0c-0560-4bdb-abc7-231bd8ab9b63-articleLarge ‘Mugged by Reality,’ Trump Finds Denial Won’t Stop the Pandemic Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Masks Florida Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Biden, Joseph R Jr
Credit…Nitashia Johnson for The New York Times

“He needed to be the pandemic president. Instead he became a pandemic denier,” said Dr. Jonathan S. Reiner, a prominent cardiologist who treated former Vice President Dick Cheney. “Unfortunately, when a president refuses to accept scientific reality,” Dr. Reiner added, “his words and actions are emulated by large numbers of Americans who then dismiss the seriousness of the pandemic with predictable disastrous consequences.”

From the start, Mr. Trump has repeatedly underestimated the virus, likening it to the flu, frequently predicting that it will simply “disappear” on its own, denouncing media “hysteria” over the disease, insisting that cases will go down to almost zero and then prematurely declaring victory in the war against it.

He said in March that “no way am I going to cancel the convention” and contended that “we’re going to be in great shape long before then.” A month later, citing health experts, he declared that “the worst days of the pandemic are behind us.” When North Carolina’s governor insisted that the convention in Charlotte would have to be limited by public health measures, Mr. Trump angrily moved most of it to Jacksonville, where he promised a full event.

By this week, he was grudgingly bowing to the reality that the virus has spread, not ebbed, admitting that it would “get worse before it gets better” and canceling Jacksonville, saying “it’s not the right time for that.” After his initial effort to resume arena rallies was a bust in Tulsa, Okla., and the second one scheduled for Portsmouth, N.H., was canceled, Mr. Trump now says he will conduct “telerallies.”

The rising infections have also forced Mr. Trump to be more supportive of masks after months of scorning them. When he first announced that public health experts wanted the public to wear masks, he immediately undercut the message by declaring that “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it,” complaining that it would not look good in the Oval Office as he greeted foreign visitors.

In the months since, he reposted a Twitter message that mocked Mr. Biden for wearing a mask, disparaged a reporter who insisted on wearing a mask to a news conference “because you want to be politically correct,” insisted that masks were a “double-edged sword” and agreed that some people might only be wearing masks to make a political statement against him.

Over the past two weeks, he wore one in public where he would be photographed for the first time and told Americans that it was an act of patriotism to wear one. “If you can, use the mask,” he said in a televised briefing. “When you can, use the mask.”

Even so, he has not worn one himself in public again, not even when visiting his Washington hotel for a political event or hosting Little League players on the South Lawn to mark the reopening of Major League Baseball.

Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, insisted on Friday that Mr. Trump had not adjusted his approach to the virus, saying he “has been consistent” on masks and always supported them. “He hasn’t changed,” she said. “The reason he wants to bring back these briefings is to get information out there.”

Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, acknowledged that the spikes in infections followed states’ reopening, but blamed the governors. “Some of these states blew through our gated criteria, blew through our phases and they opened up some of the industries a little too quickly like bars,” she told reporters this week. Reminded that it was the president who had encouraged them to reopen quickly, she pointed to the one time he chided one state, Georgia, for going too far.

Mr. Trump and his team continued to insist that he had handled the virus decisively, always citing his decision early on to limit travel from China and the increases in the supply of ventilators and testing capacity. The president likewise continued to press schools to reopen fully and in person in the fall, even though his own son’s private school will not, but even there he gave some ground this week by acknowledging that some schools in areas hard hit by the virus might need to delay doing so.

But in much of the country, school leaders, like many governors and mayors, are paying less attention now to a president whose predictions have fallen flat and are paying more attention to the numbers on the charts. If a political convention in Jacksonville is not safe in the coronavirus age, many schools are coming to the conclusion that it may not be safe for them either, at least not on a full-scale basis.

“The virus and science, not politics, will determine spread of the virus and whether and when schools and our economy can reopen without having to slam shut again,” Thomas R. Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Friday. “Facts matter. Science matters. Supporting and being guided by public health matters.”

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Miami Mayor Wants Florida to Mask Up, Too

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ImageWestlake Legal Group onpolitics-timer-sand-articleLarge-v3 Miami Mayor Wants Florida to Mask Up, Too Suarez, Francis X (1977- ) Republican Party Republican National Convention Miami-Dade County (Fla) Miami (Fla) Masks Florida Coronavirus Risks and Safety Concerns Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

When Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami contracted the coronavirus in March, schools offered in-person classes, churches held worship services and restaurants were packed with diners. A very prominent patient No. 2 in Miami-Dade County, Mr. Suarez entered isolation just hours before declaring a state of emergency in his home city.

More than four months and 90,000 cases later, Mr. Suarez now finds himself overseeing a city in crisis, as Florida emerges as a new epicenter of the pandemic. In recent days, the state has smashed records for new cases, hospitalizations and death totals from the virus. Dozens of hospitals report that they are out of I.C.U. beds and Mr. Suarez has become a frequent guest on national newscasts, pleading for more state and national leadership.

This week, Mr. Suarez shuttered summer camps and announced beefed up enforcement of his mask-wearing ordinance. A registered Republican, he’s critical of Gov. Ron DeSantis and refuses to say whether he’ll support President Trump in the presidential election in November.

We spoke with Mr. Suarez about what he wants to hear from Mr. Trump, why he thinks the state of Florida should act more like Miami and how his relatively asymptomatic case of coronavirus affected his view of the crisis. (As usual, our conversation has been edited and condensed.)

Hi, thanks for joining us. Things haven’t been going great in Florida. The death toll from the virus in the state is breaking records, I.C.U.s are at capacity. Are you going to need another stay-at-home order?

In Miami, we’ve implemented a variety of remediation measures over the last 10 days that are starting to bear fruit. The one that’s getting the most attention is the mask-in-public rule that I implemented a few weeks ago. We have, this week, dedicated 39 officers specifically to enforce it. We’re doing a strict enforcement campaign. We closed down our summer camps [on Tuesday]. So we’re trying to see how far this gets us, because — let’s face it — the decisions that are before us are very, very difficult decisions.

One of them is potentially a stay-at-home order, which would cause an untold amount of devastation, particularly to low-wage workers in our community who don’t have the ability to be out of a job. Unemployment now is 11 percent; it was 3 percent when we shut down the first time.

We have, on the one hand, a possibility of putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work, and, on the other hand, you obviously have a virus that you want to contain. Those are the two difficult extremes.

As you mentioned, you started issuing citations for people not wearing masks. Why do you think some people refuse to wear masks?

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Updated 2020-07-22T23:59:41.896Z

Some of them believe that it’s an infringement on their freedom. I don’t agree with that argument. We are a country of laws, and we implement laws for public safety all the time: our seatbelt laws, our stop sign laws, our red light laws. In the absence of those laws, you have lawlessness. You have disorder. You really can’t have a functional city.

It obviously doesn’t help that our federal and state leaders have not called for any mask-in-public rule. I’ve asked our governor to implement one. He responded that a lot of the urban cities have it already, and that’s true. But I think that there’s a population within our urban cities that listen to him and the president.

You’ve seen the president’s rhetoric changing a little bit over the last week or so. But I think it needs to go further, frankly. There’s a lot of people that will take the path of least resistance not to do something if a leader that they look up to isn’t doing, or isn’t advocating for it.

As much as you may want to wall off your city, the reality is that viruses spread. And in Florida, Disney is open. The Republican National Convention will happen next month. Is the governor doing enough to slow transmission?

Not only is Walt Disney open and the convention center, but we have an international airport. Our international airport has — on a regular year — 50 million passengers. And even at 10 percent capacity — five million passengers — is double the population of Dade County.

People will often focus on Miami-Dade County as the place with the most cases. But comparatively speaking, we’re doing far better because of our restrictive measures than the state over all. The state’s peak was 1,300 cases. Their recent peak is 15,000 cases. That’s over a 10-to-one ratio. The county had 532 cases. Our peak now at 3,500 cases — that’s less than a seven-to-one ratio. So I think it behooves the state to implement some of the measures that we’ve implemented in Dade County across the board.

Why do you think Governor DeSantis is so resistant to taking those steps?

What he has told me is that all the urban cities have [measures in place]. He’s also told me that he doesn’t want to give a false sense of security because, in his perspective, distancing is more important than wearing a mask. He’s afraid that if people wear masks, they won’t distance. Obviously, there’s a lot of people who speculate that it’s political. I don’t get into that speculation just because, for me, this is not about politics. And I know that sounds a little bit Pollyanna-ish in an election year. But for me, this is about a public health crisis. And I can’t even fathom that it could be political because of what’s at stake.

You might be one of the few with that view.

Look, if it is political, and I’m not denying that it may be political, because, I mean, I did an interview this week where a moderator gave me a hard time. I was complaining about the C.D.C. and they thought I was somehow not critical of the president. And that’s not the way I look at it. It’s like — if someone’s critical of my solid waste department, they’re being critical of me. You know what I mean?

With the president, you never know because he changes his stance. So now he happens to be wearing a mask. Who knows next week what he may do.

What do you want to hear from Mr. Trump?

What I want to hear from him is a masks-in-public rule. What I want to hear from his C.D.C. is guidance on what should cities do that have, like ours, experienced a second wave. What are the metrics for closing? We’ve only gotten guidance for opening, never gotten guidance for closing. Instead of fighting with the C.D.C., he should be asking his C.D.C. to provide us that clear guidance. That’s the kind of leadership that we need.

Just like voters, you’re watching his response. You’re a Republican; does he have your vote?

As mayor of a big urban city, I am definitely watching how he responds to Covid. That is incredibly important to me. I have issues with his opponent, as well. Some of the stances that he’s taken, as well, but I — this is definitely something that I have to analyze, without a doubt.

Are you going to go to the convention in Jacksonville?

I’ve never been to a political convention in my life, believe it or not. So it’s not something that I think too much about, to be honest with you. I’ve actually thought about maybe taking some time off, like a vacation with my family, and I don’t even feel comfortable taking a vacation right now because of the situation in Miami. So if I can’t get away with my family, I don’t know. I haven’t traveled since this all happened, either.

I’d say it’s not likely right now.

Looking toward the fall, the governor is pushing to open schools. The teachers’ union doesn’t agree. They’re suing. Beyond being a father of young kids, you have a personal connection to this issue because your mom is an elementary-school teacher. Where do you come down on school reopening?

I’m very concerned. We had three kids infected in two different summer camps and one counselor infected, so we ended up having to shut down our summer camps.

We’re bending the curve some now, but it’s nowhere near enough to open up that sector of the economy. It is hard for me to imagine that an opening like that is not going to be a potential super-spreader — that worries me.

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Obviously, I’m worried for the children, but I’m also worried for the teachers. And I’m worried just for the general community, because what we see is, most of the way this is spreading in our community is one person comes home exposed, and then they expose everybody else in the household.

I believe you had one of the first detected cases in Dade County?

Yeah, I think I was No. 2.

How did that experience inform how you approach your policymaking?

When everybody was struggling to get tested and trying to figure out what this disease meant, I was already on the other side of that equation. I think it put a lot of people at ease, in the beginning, to know that I was OK, that I was doing well, and that it gave them hope that if they got it they would also do well.

The other part of it is it allowed me to understand how a fairly asymptomatic person can be walking around the city getting other people infected. I got off very lucky because they caught it very quickly, so I was able to quarantine from my wife and my two kids. What we’re seeing now is the opposite. We’re seeing people not being able to isolate fast enough for a variety of reasons, and we’re seeing the entire household get infected.

It gave me a perspective that this is something that’s real, that you can get it very easily and through minimal contact, if any. Maybe I shook the person’s hand who had it. Maybe they spoke in my presence. That’s about it. So it is highly, highly contagious.


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As the Virus Surged, Florida Partied. Tracking the Revelers Has Been Tough.

MIAMI — Miami’s flashy nightclubs closed in March, but the parties have raged on in the waterfront manse tucked in the lush residential neighborhood of Belle Meade Island. Revelers arrive in sports cars and ride-shares several nights a week, say neighbors who have spied professional bouncers at the door and bought earplugs to try to sleep through the thumping dance beats.

They are the sort of parties — drawing throngs of maskless strangers to rave until sunrise — that local health officials say have been a notable contributing factor to the soaring coronavirus infections in Florida, one of the most troubling infection spots in the country

Just how many parties have been linked to Covid-19 is unclear because Florida does not make public information about confirmed disease clusters. On Belle Meade Island, neighbors fear the large numbers of people going in and out of the house parties are precisely what public health officials have warned them about.

“We have hundreds of people coming onto this island,” said Jeri Klemme-Zaiac, a nurse practitioner who has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years. “This is how this is spreading: People have no regard for anyone else.”

The city of Miami and the Miami-Dade Police Department shut down a party at the house just before midnight on Wednesday, a spokesman for the department said. Officers kicked out perhaps a hundred people, estimated Rita Lagace, who lives next door and saw the attendees reluctantly depart. She predicted the festivities would soon return: Targeting loud parties has always been a game of whack-a-mole in Miami, a city famous for its dazzling nightlife.

But the quest to end parties and other social gatherings has gained new urgency because of the exploding coronavirus in Florida, which reported more than 10,000 new cases on Sunday. The state’s contact tracers, already overwhelmed by the surging number of new cases, have found it especially difficult to track how the virus jumped from one party guest to the next because some infected people refused to divulge who they went out with or had over to their house.

“We are starting to encounter a fair amount of pushback from younger folks when you call them up and say, ‘We want to know everyone who was at your party,’” said Dr. J. Glenn Morris Jr., director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida in Gainesville, a college town where local officials have begged students to stop partying. “There’s very much a sense of, ‘That’s none of your business.’”

The party problem is not limited to Florida. In New York, officials in Rockland County issued subpoenas to eight partygoers, all in their 20s, who had refused to answer even basic questions about a party they attended, hosted by a person who was sick. The subpoenas threatened a daily fine of up to $2,000. The eight people quickly complied.

In Miami, the city attorney plans to sue the owner of the Belle Meade Island party house next week, citing repeated “illegal activity.” Local officials have not publicly disclosed any case of the virus traced to the house, whose owner could not be reached for comment.

Florida’s cases began climbing in June, about a month after the start of the state’s economic reopening. The surge came after Memorial Day and several weeks of protests against police brutality, though public health officials had not publicly tied any outbreaks directly to the beaches or the demonstrations. Instead, they said people resuming their normal jaunts to bars, restaurants and parties had spread the virus.

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Updated 2020-07-06T10:01:14.975Z

Governments can force restaurants and bars to scale back or close, but it is harder to tackle house parties — or even define them in a way that would grant officials jurisdiction.

“What’s a house party?” Mayor Carlos Gimenez of Miami-Dade County said this week. “It’s very hard to control,” he said, unless unlawful commercial activities in residences, like cover charges, are involved.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_174006723_485b4aba-240b-4ab1-8d66-13d754693544-articleLarge As the Virus Surged, Florida Partied. Tracking the Revelers Has Been Tough. Parties (Social) Miami (Fla) Florida DeSantis, Ron Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Contact Tracing (Public Health)
Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

Some of the parties have involved inviting friends of friends — and even random people — on social media, making attendees challenging to trace.

The contact tracing effort was intended to be comprehensive. Human nature, however, has made it frustratingly narrow, its limitations amplified in Florida by the state’s failure to hire sufficient contact tracers, test everyone who has shared close quarters with infected people and isolate all of those who test positive, experts say.

“Contact tracing and testing is a tool for action, and that’s not the way we’ve been using it in the United States, for the most part,” said Dr. Aileen M. Marty, an infectious disease professor at Florida International University. “When you do it right, testing and contact tracing can eliminate the virus from the community.”

“We failed to act,” she said.

The socializing that followed Florida’s rapid economic reopening has left the state reeling from the virus. The Department of Health reported more than 11,400 infections on Saturday, a record. Florida cases made up 20 percent of all U.S. cases on Thursday. Patients with Covid-19 have begun to fill up Florida hospital wards, forcing some hospitals to scrap elective surgeries, as they did early on in the pandemic. More than 3,600 people have died, including an 11-year-old boy.

Desperate local officials have adopted local mask requirements and closed the beaches over the long holiday weekend. Some communities were deploying teams to go door-to-door in the hardest hit neighborhoods, distributing masks, hand sanitizers and fliers with information on coronavirus symptoms and testing.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, insisted there would be no new shutdown, but a piecemeal rollback is still underway: The state banned drinking at bars. Miami-Dade County ordered entertainment venues to close again and imposed a curfew

“If everyone is enjoying life but doing it responsibly, we’re going to be fine,” Mr. DeSantis said on Thursday in Tampa after a visit from Vice President Mike Pence.

The Florida Department of Health has about 1,600 students, epidemiologists and other staff doing contact tracing, and it has hired a contractor to bring on 600 more people, for a total of 2,200. That is about a third of the roughly 6,400 tracers that will be needed to meet the target of 30 tracers per 100,000 people recommended by the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

With so much community spread, trying to trace the contacts of every positive case becomes unrealistic, several public health officials said.

“We may have to change the priorities on tracing as the numbers continue to increase, because at some point it is like drinking out of a fire hose,” said Dr. Raul Pino, the health department officer in Orlando.

He has traced some contacts himself and found that many of the cases emerged from people going out to dinner and parties.

Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

“What we have found is young individuals who went out in a group,” he said. “They later learned that someone in that group was positive.”

Dalton Price, a recent college graduate who has been hired to do contact tracing in Daytona Beach, said he and the other tracers used to have a handful of new cases to call each day. Now they have more than a hundred, which has shortened each interview to perhaps 10 to 20 minutes from 30 to 45 minutes, he said. They must also spend time calling people being monitored for their exposure, who get called periodically to make sure they have not developed symptoms.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” said Mr. Price, 22. “We’ve started doing a more expedited case investigation so if the person’s symptoms aren’t super severe, we will just get a general idea of where they’ve been, but we won’t necessarily monitor all their contacts. We just say to them if they could call them and tell them to self-quarantine.”

Officials in Miami-Dade, which recorded more than 1,600 cases on Thursday, wanted to pay for additional contact tracers to work locally. But because they must be hired by the state, the county has been unable to grow the contact tracing force on its own.

Instead, the county assembled teams of county employees and sent them to neighborhoods with the highest concentration of cases: less affluent communities full of essential workers living in small, often multigenerational homes. They carried blue tote bags each containing a reusable mask, bottles of hand sanitizer and informational pamphlets.

Wearing masks, gloves and face shields, crews of workers fanned across Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood on a recent scorching morning and began knocking on doors.

“After three months?” one man said, chiding the team for not having come by earlier in the pandemic. “I’d be dead by now!”

Most people, however, were grateful. Narcisa Jirón, 67, hustled from her second-floor apartment into the courtyard to get her bag and later asked for a second mask. “I need this like I need water,” she said.

“They have to lock everything down now,” said Tomás Trujillo, 47. “Because this is just too much.”

Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.

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Coronavirus Cases Are Rising Sharply, but Deaths Are Still Down

Westlake Legal Group merlin_174113760_429dffad-438b-44b4-aaa4-2c6113a95001-facebookJumbo Coronavirus Cases Are Rising Sharply, but Deaths Are Still Down your-feed-science Ventilators (Medical) Tests (Medical) hospitals Florida Elderly Disease Rates Deaths (Fatalities) Coronavirus Risks and Safety Concerns Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Arizona

After a minor late-spring lull, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States is once again on the rise. States like Arizona, Florida and Texas are seeing some of their highest numbers to date, and as the nation hurtles further into summer, the surge shows few signs of stopping.

And yet the virus appears to be killing fewer of the people it infects. In April and May, Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, led to as many as 3,000 deaths per day, and claimed the lives of roughly 7 to 8 percent of infected Americans. The number of daily deaths is now closer to 600, and the death rate is less than 5 percent.

In general, experts see three broad reasons for the downward trend in the rate of coronavirus deaths: testing, treatment and a shift in whom the virus is infecting. The relative contribution of these factors is not yet clear. And because death reports can lag diagnoses by weeks, the current rise in coronavirus cases could still portend increases in mortality in the days to come.

Since mid-March, when the coronavirus was declared a national emergency, diagnostic testing for the coronavirus has risen significantly. More than 600,000 tests are administered each day in the United States, up from about 100,000 per day in early spring. Although the nation is still falling short of the millions of daily tests that experts have called for, the increased testing has identified many more infected individuals with mild or no symptoms, driving down the overall proportion of patients who die from Covid-19, said Caitlin Rivers, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

And with more tests available, infections are often identified earlier, “which allows us to intervene earlier,” said Saskia Popescu, a hospital epidemiologist and infectious disease expert in Arizona. Many treatments seem to work best when given well before people are at death’s door.

As the weeks have worn on, doctors and nurses have also gained a better handle on how to treat the coronavirus. In several states, emergency departments are no longer overflowing; between April and June, nationwide hospitalizations dropped to less than 30,000 from nearly 60,000, according to the Covid Tracking Project. That may have eased the strain on exhausted employees and limited medical supply chains, including those that keep lifesaving equipment like ventilators in stock, said Dr. Taison Bell, a physician specializing in infectious disease and pulmonary and critical care at the University of Virginia. Under less pressure, hospitals are now “better able to take care of critically ill patients,” he said.

Health care workers have also become more knowledgeable about promising treatments and palliative care options to combat the coronavirus and its effects. For instance, prone positioning, in which patients are flipped onto their stomachs, can ease respiratory distress by opening up the lungs. Critically ill individuals are also now known to be vulnerable to excessive blood clotting, and may benefit from blood thinners. And the steroid dexamethasone appears to reduce deaths among patients with severe Covid-19, although the data demonstrating this emerged only recently. (Another drug, an antiviral called remdesivir, seems to speed recovery, but does not appear to have notable effects on mortality.)

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Updated 2020-07-03T19:32:49.976Z

“Before, it felt like we were stumbling in the dark,” Dr. Bell said. “It feels a little bit better now.”

A shifting patient population is probably also altering the disease’s dynamics. Coronavirus-related hospitalizations increase with age, and elderly individuals remain some of those hardest hit by the coronavirus; patients over 65 account for eight out of 10 deaths from Covid-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But younger people now make up a growing proportion of cases, and they are less likely to die from the disease. In Arizona, people ages 20 to 44 now account for nearly half of all cases. In Florida, which just recorded more than 10,000 new cases in a single day, the median age of residents testing positive has dropped to 35 from 65. And in Texas, more than half of those testing positive are under the age of 50.

Numerous states recently began reopening their economies, which might be driving some of the youthful bias, said Natalie Dean, an infectious disease epidemiologist in Florida, where new cases are hitting record highs. People in their 20s and 30s have returned to bars and beaches; working-age employees have resumed jobs that cannot be done from home.

“We know that’s high-risk,” Dr. Dean said. “We’re hearing a lot of reports of clusters being linked to these places” as they open back up.

At the same time, elderly individuals, as well as those with underlying health conditions thought to exacerbate Covid-19, may be warier of exposure, said C. Brandon Ogbunu, a computational biologist and disease ecologist at Yale University. “Early on, this disease ripped through older populations with such aggression,” he said. “It’s possible that’s where the message was felt the most strongly.”

Moreover, nursing homes and other facilities that harbor vulnerable populations may be working harder to protect their residents, Dr. Dean said. In general, “We now have a better set of tools to keep our communities safer,” he said. “More people are wearing masks. We’re better at sanitizing things.”

Of course, “Young people don’t live in isolation,” Dr. Bell said. They are still mingling with older members of the population — potentially seeding transmission events that have yet to appear.

Experts can’t be sure, but behaviors like mask wearing, physical distancing and hygiene may also be reducing the dose of coronavirus that people encounter in the population at large, Dr. Dean said. The amount of virus that individuals carry may influence the severity of their symptoms. But so far, there is no evidence that this dynamic is contributing to the lower mortality rate in the United States.

There is also no indication that the death rate is lower because the coronavirus itself has become less deadly, Dr. Ogbunu said. Mutation is a normal part of any virus’s evolutionary trajectory, but these genetic changes are often inconsequential.

Given the recent rise in infections, the dip in coronavirus mortality will not necessarily last. As more people socialize, those with milder infections might end up ferrying the pathogen to vulnerable individuals. As states reopen, local leaders are urging residents to continue physical distancing and to wear masks. But even tempered by warnings, moves back toward normalcy could inadvertently signal to people that the worst is already over, Dr. Popescu said.

Experts are also reluctant to place too much emphasis on falling death rates. “We’re training a lot of attention on the idea of mortality,” said Dr. Jennifer Tsai, an emergency medicine physician at Yale University. Behind that picture, she added, there is a great deal of suffering. Reports from around the world have painted a sobering portrait of chronic Covid-19 syndromes, some of which last for months. Patients may be saddled with physical and emotional distress that persists long after the virus has left their bodies.

“Death is not the only outcome,” Dr. Dean said. And people marginalized by race, ethnicity and social standing will inevitably bear more of the disease burden than others, Dr. Tsai added. “The risk and the mortality is going to be passed on to the most vulnerable, no matter who gets infected first,” she said.

Recent upswings in coronavirus case numbers leave experts apprehensive of what’s to come. Death, when it occurs, tends to trail infection by about two to four weeks. Early on in the pandemic, when testing focused on patients with worrisome symptoms, the typical lag between case and death reporting was a week or two. Now that diagnostic testing is more widespread, that interval has widened.

Two weeks into a new round of coronavirus cases, the United States may be verging on another wave of deaths. Already, hospitalizations have begun an alarming upsurge in several states.

“I think the next two to three weeks will be very telling,” Dr. Popescu said.

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All Eyes on Bars as Virus Surges and Americans Go Drinking

When the bars in Michigan reopened in June, Tony Hild forgot about face masks, social distancing and caution and headed out to Harper’s Restaurant and Brewpub, a popular spot in the college town of East Lansing. There was a line out the door. Inside were 200 people dancing, drinking and shouting over the music.

“It was just so crowded, and I’m like, ‘This is going against everything I’m told not to do,’” Mr. Hild, 23, a college student, said. “But I didn’t think I was going to get it.”

As people eager for a night out flood back into public after months of confinement, public health experts say that college-town bars, nightclubs and corner taverns are becoming dangerous new hot spots for the coronavirus, seeding infections in thousands of mostly young adults and adding to surging cases nationwide.

Louisiana health officials tied at least 100 coronavirus cases to bars in the Tigerland nightlife district in Baton Rouge. Minnesota has traced 328 recent cases to bars across the state.

And in East Lansing, home to Michigan State University, nearly 140 cases have been linked to Harper’s, Mr. Hild included. He came down with a sore throat, chest pains and fatigue, and by then — more than a week later — he had already visited four other restaurants.

“I definitely regret doing it,” he said. The outbreak, the largest in the county and possibly the state, prompted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan to announce on Wednesday that she was closing indoor seating in bars in parts of the state, including East Lansing.

Public health experts say that the long nights, lack of inhibitions and shoulder-to-shoulder confines inside so many bars — a source of community and relaxation in normal times — now make them ideal breeding grounds for the coronavirus.

Now it is closing time — again.

Governors in California, Texas and Arizona, where coronavirus cases are soaring, have ordered hundreds of newly reopened bars to shut down. Less than two weeks after Colorado’s bars reopened at limited capacity, Gov. Jared Polis ordered them to close.

In other states, local health inspectors have fined bars and revoked their liquor licenses for allowing huge crowds and flouting other new health regulations aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

Even Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, this week addressed the issue of bars, which he deemed “really not good,” adding, “Congregation in a bar inside is bad news.”

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Updated 2020-07-02T11:12:07.304Z

The whipsawing rules have incited a backlash from bar owners who say that bars are being singled out and scapegoated by politicians and on social media as symbols of America’s reckless reopening.

They worry that a second round of closures will destroy their businesses, and question why bars are being targeted for closure while Americans in some states can still eat inside restaurants, wheeze on fitness-center treadmills and shop at malls.

In Texas, a group of bar owners sued Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, over his order last week closing the state’s bars, saying that the state’s taverns had been “relegated to Governor Abbott’s loser category and sentenced to bankruptcy.” The closures also spurred protests at the governor’s mansion and at the Texas State Capitol.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_173996886_1e61ca61-9eaf-475c-a715-3dfa78d47253-articleLarge All Eyes on Bars as Virus Surges and Americans Go Drinking Michigan Florida Coronavirus Risks and Safety Concerns Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Bars and Nightclubs Alcoholic Beverages
Credit…Erin Trieb for The New York Times

“Hopefully it’s not a stigma now, like the Salem witch trial, now we’re banished,” said Steve Wegman, who owns the 507 bar in Mankato, Minn. State health officials said they had connected 51 recent cases to his bar, including a bouncer who worked there while ill.

Mr. Wegman said he had adhered to every new rule and guideline from the state. He blocked off tables and put up signs telling people to keep six feet from one another. His staff members wore masks and gloves, and cleaned the bar continually.

“We went above and beyond,” he said. “What are you supposed to do different from what we did?”

In recent weeks, as states began reopening public life in phases, some people celebrated their first post-coronavirus haircuts and got long-delayed dental cleanings. Neighborhood bars, back in business, seemed to have a special allure.

“I cringe to see people flocking back into bars, but I get it,” said the novelist and journalist J.R. Moehringer, whose memoir, “The Tender Bar,” chronicles a boyhood among tavern regulars. “It’s an incredibly lonely moment in American history,” he said. “When they let us out of our houses, some of us go for a hike, and others of us go for a beer.”

That beer can pose unique risks. Bars are often smaller and narrower than restaurants, with fewer windows, weaker ventilation systems and less space to squeeze by another person. Pounding music forces people to shout into one another’s faces, spraying more viral particles into the air.

Unlike restaurants where small groups stay at their own tables, bar patrons often linger and mix with one another for hours as drinks dull their caution, including about masks and social distancing. Even the conversations that animate so many evenings at bars — the laughs, the boasts, the stories and jokes — can release 10 times as many particles as a cough, experts say.

“The combination of all the factors — the age, alcohol, time of day, all those things come together to make it hard for even the most conscientious bar manager,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division at Minnesota’s Department of Health.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 30, 2020

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


Many of the people being infected at bars and clubs are in their 20s, a group that is more likely to have milder cases of Covid-19. Health experts warn that young people with mild symptoms or none at all still pose a serious threat to older family members or other vulnerable people.

In the hot spot traced to Harper’s in East Lansing, contact tracing has shown that the young adults who were infected spread the virus to people from 16 to 63 years old, health officials said. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York cited the Harper’s cluster as a reason to re-examine the city’s indoor dining reopening rules for restaurants. Harper’s has been shut down until it can provide a plan to address its failures to enforce mask wearing and social distancing, said Linda Vail, an Ingham County health officer.

Bartenders say they have no good options: Stay closed and go bankrupt, or reopen and trip on shifting standards for how to operate during a pandemic.

When the Knight’s Pub in Orlando, Fla., reopened in early June, it did so with a jubilant Facebook post: “We’re back, baby!” Four days later, the bar was closed after a patron phoned to report a possible case of the coronavirus.

Florida officials eventually suspended the bar’s liquor license and said it was part of a cluster that had contributed to the coronavirus cases of at least 13 employees and 28 patrons. At a news conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, singled out the bar as an example of a place “that was having really big parties, that was just not following the guidelines.”

As part of their evidence, state officials cited two promotional photos of happy patrons holding drinks and crowded together inside the bar. But both photos were taken in 2019, according to Michael D’Esposito, the bar’s owner, who contends the state has used the Knights Pub as a “scapegoat for all Covid-19 cases in the surrounding Orlando area.”

Robel Berhane, 30, was there for happy hour the first day the Knight’s Pub reopened, soaking up a social life he had been missing. He also had a mission: to check out the scene for guidance on how he should go about reopening the bar he manages across town.

The Knight’s Pub, in normal times packed with University of Central Florida students rubbing shoulders, felt weirdly empty.

“It was kind of awkward at first,” he said.

Workers stood at the entrance armed with a clicker to count patrons and keep capacity at 50 percent and a temperature gun to check for fevers. People were turned away both for high temperatures and once the bar reached its limit. Not all customers were wearing masks, but employees were and people posted at the door even wore gloves. Bartenders stopped serving drinks every 30 minutes or so and wiped down bar surfaces to disinfect them.

Jenna Cavaliere, 21, lives across the street from the Knight’s Pub, but she has steered clear of bars, even before the state closed them again.

“I just want to stay safe and make sure I’m not doing anything that could put any people’s health at risk,” she said.

Mark Walker contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Florida’s Covid Cases Up Fivefold in 2 Weeks: ‘The Numbers Are Scary’

MIAMI — John Delgado has slept in a tent in his backyard for 57 nights and counting.

As the inventory manager of Farm Share, an immense South Florida food bank, Mr. Delgado, 51, finds himself holding his breath under his face-covering as he speaks to the many clients who come in without masks, for fear that coronavirus particles will seep through the fabric.

Because he interacts with the public every day, Mr. Delgado sleeps outdoors to avoid contaminating his wife, aging mother-in-law, three sons and grandson. At night, he sometimes peeks through the window to watch his wife sleep. By day, he does socially -distanced yard work with his sons.

“I want to sleep in my house, sleep in my bed,” he said. “I want to hug my wife, my children, grandson, and want to go out to the community not feeling like I’m in ‘The Walking Dead,’ where I’m going to be attacked by a zombie. I want to live. Right now, I don’t feel like I’m living.

“How long is this going to be?”

On Saturday, for the second straight day, Florida crushed its previous record for new coronavirus cases, reporting 9,585 infections. Another 8,530 were reported on Sunday.

The closest hospital to Mr. Delgado’s house in Homestead, 40 miles south of Miami, is nearing capacity as Covid-19 cases soar. The situation in Miami is equally serious: One-third of all patients admitted to the city’s main public hospital over the past two weeks after going to the emergency room for car-crash injuries and other urgent problems have tested positive for Covid-19.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_174013140_6b16bec9-a3b3-482b-b02b-b89f4007268c-articleLarge Florida’s Covid Cases Up Fivefold in 2 Weeks: ‘The Numbers Are Scary’ Miami-Dade County (Fla) Miami (Fla) Florida Disease Rates DeSantis, Ron Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald

Six-hour lines formed in Jacksonville over the weekend as thousands of people flocked to get drive-through tests. Orlando has seen an explosion of coronavirus: nearly 60 percent of all cases diagnosed in that county came in just the past two weeks.

Much of Florida’s new surge in cases appears to follow from the reopening of beaches, bars, restaurants and other social activities. The state’s beaches are full and throngs of revelers pack its waterways on boats.

Many people have had enough of staying inside, feeling trapped and scared. As fear subsided, coronavirus grew.

Florida now joins South Carolina and Nevada among the states that broke daily records over the weekend.

“I’m one of the people who contributed to the 9,000-person day,” said Ian Scott, a 19-year-old college sophomore in Orlando who tested positive on Friday. He has no idea how he got it.

Mr. Scott said that for young people, getting tested has become an amusing pastime. They challenge each other to see who can get the nasal swab test without crying. About half of his fraternity has tested positive.

“We’re seeing positive, positive, positive, positive,” he said. “My generation says: ‘Let’s get this over with. Let’s suck it up for two weeks, sit in our rooms, play video games, play with our phones, finish online classes, and it’s over.”

Mr. Scott barely felt sick, and was fine by the time the test results came back. Patients like him could help account for the fact that while Florida’s daily case count has increased fivefold in two weeks, the rate of deaths has not increased so far. State records show that hospitalization rates have inched up but are not at crisis levels.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said more Covid-related fatalities in the state had been people over 90 than people under 65.

Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

The median age of new coronavirus patients is now 36, the Department of Health said.

“Those groups are much less at risk for very serious consequences,” Governor DeSantis said of younger patients. But they can spread the virus to their older relatives and others who are medically vulnerable without even realizing it, he stressed.

Officials have done little so far to halt public interactions. The mayor of one affluent Miami suburb implored residents this week to stop throwing house parties; on Friday, state officials prohibited the sale of alcohol in bars. Miami-Dade County chose to close its beaches for the busy Fourth of July weekend.

Governor DeSantis said the surge of new cases can be attributed to the huge numbers of tests results that are coming in each day. But he acknowledged that since the second week of June, the share of tests coming back positive has been creeping upward. That trend coincided with the reopening of the economy, and also the onset of recent street protests.

Statewide, about 20 percent of people aged 25 to 34 are testing positive, he said at a news conference Sunday.

He said the risk has also increased as temperatures outside rise and people seek relief in the air conditioning.

“As it gets warmer in Florida, people want to beat the heat,” he said. “They are more likely to do that indoors, in closed spaces. That is going to increase the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.”

Florida public health experts worry that the surging case numbers will lead to a crush of hospitalizations and, eventually, of deaths.

“We know that there’s a lag,” said Natalie E. Dean, an assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida.

Even though young people are less likely to have severe cases, the long-term consequences of Covid-19 infection among the young are still unknown, she said. “Some people do get pretty sick,” she said. “Even what’s classified as a mild disease, some people really get the wind knocked out of them for a week.”


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 24, 2020

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


Mariely Ferraro, 40, a heart-monitor technician who lives in Orlando, caught Covid-19 seven weeks ago and has been unable to shake it.

“I think the situation in Florida is scary,” she said. “The numbers are climbing, and the numbers are scary. I wish there was a way that it could be explained. If there were 9,000 people in one day, are they symptomatic? Do they have fevers? Are they sick?”

Ms. Ferraro’s entire family caught the virus last month, but only she is still ill. Her 13- and 14-year-old daughters had very mild symptoms, losing their sense of taste and smell for a while.

“The whole age thing is — I don’t want to say offensive, but it’s untrue,” she said. “Coronavirus is affecting everyone. People protesting the masks think it’s fake. It’s not fake. It sucks to wake up and you can’t catch your breath, or to have a headache you can’t get rid of, no matter how much Advil you take. It sucks to take a shower and fall down because you got dizzy.”

Shamarial Roberson, deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Health, said in an interview on Sunday that the state is monitoring hospital admissions and intensive care units’ bed capacity and watching for problem areas.

One of them is an outbreak at a meatpacking facility in Suwannee County in northern Florida, she said.

“We are working to make sure that if we are seeing surges, that we’re in communication with those hospital systems to ensure their capacity,” she said. “I am keeping my eye on the entire state of Florida.”

Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

Rose Castanon, 35, who works on the business side of a hospital chain in Orlando, tested positive June 18, after her gym alerted her to a fellow customer who was infected.

“I know almost 10 people that have tested positive,” she said. “All of our friends are freaking out, because it’s getting a little too close to home now.”

Jeanette Matas, a 41-year-old reading teacher in Coral Gables, Fla., had been limiting her visits to her 95-year-old grandmother, Reina L. Palacios, so as not to put her at risk. But her grandmother wound up catching the virus from her home health care attendant, a woman in her 40s. Mrs. Palacios died on June 17.

“You can’t blame them for feeling trapped” Ms. Matas said of the people who had lost patience with isolation and had resumed socializing in public. “I feel like they’re stupid. They don’t realize what they’re doing. They’re only thinking of themselves.”

Now, Ms. Matas said she is conflicted about what to do with her two children when it is time for school.

“Parents are scared; teachers are scared,” she said. “I don’t know what to do. I think about it every day.”

Amaris Castillo in Tampa and Patricia Mazzei in Miami contributed reporting.

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