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On Monday, 100 days after the first coronavirus case was confirmed there, the city that was once the epicenter of America’s coronavirus pandemic began to reopen. The number of cases in New York has plunged, but health officials fear that a week of protests on the streets could bring a new wave.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) estimated that between 200,000 to 400,000 workers returned to work throughout the city’s five boroughs.

“All New Yorkers should be proud you got us to this day,” de Blasio said at a news conference Monday morning at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a manufacturing hub.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Since the start of June, 14 states and Puerto Rico have seen their highest-ever seven-day average of new covid-19 cases, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.
  • Harsh nationwide lockdowns, while widely loathed by those undergoing them, may have saved millions of lives and prevented hundreds of millions of infections, according to a pair of studies published Monday in the medical journal Nature.
  • The U.S. economy officially entered a recession in February, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, which announced that a 128-month expansion officially ended then. The World Bank estimates that global gross domestic product will shrink 5.2 percent in 2020 as the pandemic continues to disrupt business, travel and manufacturing.
  • A Post review found that several large states are not following federal recommendations to report probable coronavirus cases and deaths. That is partly why government officials and public health experts say the virus’s true toll is above the U.S. tally of about 1.9 million cases and 109,000 deaths.
  • Officials from the World Health Organization warned that the coronavirus pandemic is “far from over,” saying "this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal.”
  • Tropical Storm Cristobal made landfall in Louisiana on Sunday evening, producing dangerous flooding in communities where residents were forced to weigh the relative risks of staying in the storm’s path and evacuating to shelters where social distancing could be difficult.

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June 8, 2020 at 11:11 PM EDT

After 128 months of expansion, U.S. economy started a recession in February

The U.S. economy peaked in February before the coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the country and prompted an unprecedented shutdown in economic activity, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. It had been growing since June 2009.

Economists frequently point to mid-March as the launching point for sweeping layoffs and frozen consumer spending as people cleared out of stores, restaurants, offices and travel to avoid the virus’s spread. Now, as states gradually ease restrictions, the question will be whether “reopening” fuels an economic turnaround anytime soon, or whether the downturn will extend into next year as people struggle to go back to work and the nation contends with a possible second wave of infections.

That the economy had plunged into a recession was not a surprise. As economist Ernie Tedeschi put it: “It’s now official (and utterly unsurprising).”

By Rachel Siegel
June 8, 2020 at 10:31 PM EDT

Latest MLB proposal to salvage season viewed as a step backward by players’ union

Major League Baseball remained deadlocked with its players at the start of a critical week in efforts to launch the 2020 season. The owners made a new economic proposal Monday, the union indicated it would reject it, and as the impasse drags on, the default solution of a shortened season of about 50 games becomes more likely.

In its latest proposal, MLB pitched a 76-game regular season, with players earning up to 75 percent of their prorated salaries. MLB officials framed it as an attempt to find middle ground between the significant pay cuts the owners asked for in their initial proposal of an 82-game season and the MLB Players Association’s consistent demands for full, prorated shares of 2020 salaries based on the number of games played.

The season would begin in mid-July, and the World Series would wrap up by the end of October; MLB fears a second wave of the novel coronavirus in the fall could wipe out its lucrative playoffs.

Read more here.

By Dave Sheinin
June 8, 2020 at 10:07 PM EDT

Amid financial difficulties, zoos begin to welcome back visitors

Hit hard financially by shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, several zoos on Monday announced plans to reopen to the public, though they will do so with new safety guidelines in place.

As part of its first phase of reopening Saturday, the Milwaukee Zoo will allow visitors to explore outdoor exhibits only. Admission and parking passes must be purchased online and physical distancing rules followed.

The Louisville Zoo will open to members Friday and to the general public June 26. Advance tickets are required. During the initial opening phase, the zoo will operate at reduced capacity of 100 guests per hour and strongly encourage visitors to wear masks.

The Denver Zoo will reopen Friday, with visitors required to purchase tickets in advance and maintain social distancing while following one-way paths around the 80-acre campus. Indoor exhibits will remain closed. Interactive digital maps will replace paper maps.

More than 200 major U.S. zoos and aquariums have suffered significant financial losses amid shutdowns to offset the spread of the virus. Unlike sports arenas and theaters, which have gone dark, zoos have had to remain in operation to care for more than a million animals.

By Steven Goff
June 8, 2020 at 9:47 PM EDT

Social media influencers put the coronavirus in the spotlight

Just as the coronavirus was establishing its deadly grip on the United States and President Trump once again revised his often-contradictory assessment of its risks, comedian Chris Rock posted a video for his 5.2 million Twitter followers. His message was brief and direct.

“During biblical times, Noah was the only one who took the rain serious. Everybody else died. The coronavirus is the rain,” the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member intoned in the late-March clip.

The one-minute, 10-second video was Rock’s creation, but it was inspired by an unusual nonpartisan coalition of experts who are repurposing new technologies to keep the most vulnerable populations safe by providing them with clear guidance. They are drawing on behavioral science, social media savvy, lessons from political campaigns and their own connections to persuade influencers such as Rock to spread their messages.

Read more here.

By Frances Stead Sellers
June 8, 2020 at 9:05 PM EDT

Trump to restart rallies in upcoming weeks, campaign says

President Trump is expected to restart his raucous “Keep America Great” rallies in upcoming weeks, his campaign said Monday, following several months off the trail amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Americans are ready to get back to action and so is President Trump,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “The Great American Comeback is real and the rallies will be tremendous. You’ll again see the kind of crowds and enthusiasm that Sleepy Joe Biden can only dream of.”

News of the Trump campaign’s plans was first reported by Politico.

Parscale had previously said the rallies would probably resume in late summer. But Trump has been increasingly determined to get back out on the road, fueled by polling that shows him trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden five months out from the November election, according to officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the campaign’s plans.

The pandemic, which has claimed the lives of at least 109,000 Americans, has grounded Trump’s campaign for the longest stretch since he announced his candidacy five years ago.

Read more here.

By Josh Dawsey and Felicia Sonmez
June 8, 2020 at 8:45 PM EDT

Families say new lawsuit protections are shielding nursing homes and hiding the truth

Like others with family members in nursing homes, Brenda Anagnos was terrified about what might be happening behind closed doors. Her fears grew the next morning when a family friend peered through the window and took a photograph of Anagnos’s mother, Carol Ballard, 81, lying on the floor in front of a wheelchair.

The grandmother of four died the next morning, on April 6, amid one of the deadliest nursing home outbreaks in the country.

“She had life left,” Anagnos said. “She didn’t deserve to die like this.”

Anagnos and the bereaved families of other residents want answers from the home, where 47 of its 138 residents have died of covid-19 — more than one in three, according to facility administrators. But exactly what happened at Kimberly Hall North during the chaotic early weeks of the pandemic may never be known.

On the day before Ballard died, isolated from family members, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) issued an emergency order granting nursing homes immunity from most lawsuits during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here.

By Debbie Cenziper, Peter Whoriskey, Shawn Mulcahy and Joel Jacobs
June 8, 2020 at 8:30 PM EDT

14 states and Puerto Rico have hit highest seven-day average of new infections

As rates of covid-19 infections ease in places like New York and Illinois and onetime hot spots move into new phases of reopening, parts of the country that had previously avoided being hard-hit by the outbreak are now tallying record-high new infections.

Since the start of June, 14 states and Puerto Rico have seen their highest-ever seven-day average of new covid-19 cases, according to data tracked by The Post: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

If the pandemic’s first wave burned through dense metro hubs like New York City, Chicago and Detroit, the highest percentage of new cases are coming from places with much smaller populations: Lincoln County, Ore., an area of fewer than 50,000, has averaged 20 new daily cases; Bear River County, Utah has averaged 78 new cases a day in the past week, most of them tied to an outbreak at a meat processing plant in the small town of Hyrum.

The increase of covid-19 cases in counties with fewer than 60,000 people are part of the trend of new infections surging across rural America. Those areas were already under-resourced before the pandemic, and health experts worry it would be a struggle to track new cases with the limited infrastructure in place.

Adding to the disparity in health-care support, residents in states such as Mississippi, Florida and South Carolina are living under only minor-to-moderate restrictions — even in as their average daily infection rate is rising.

The past two weeks of anti-police brutality protests will be yet another variable to how the virus spreads in the United States. Protesters flooded the streets of major cities but gathered in small towns across America, too. Though the widespread protests are a boon for the movement, health officials have warned of impact so many people in closely packed with one another will have on transmission rates.

As of Monday, at least 109,000 people in the United States have died of covid-19 with more than 1.95 million cases reported.

By Kim Bellware and Jacqueline Dupree
June 8, 2020 at 8:22 PM EDT

Health official suggests protesters get tested, consider self-quarantine

Protests against systemic racism within law enforcement continue to be held in communities from coast to coast as health officials worry about the spread of covid-19 among large groups of people. Though officials are still encouraging social distancing, protests with thousands of people aren’t necessarily set up to adhere to those guidelines.

Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for Los Angeles County, has asked people to take the proper measures if they attend the protests. She encouraged the use of face covering and continued to stress the value of social distancing. Ferrer also asked anyone who has attended a protest and was unable to social distance, and think they may have been exposed, to self-quarantine for 14 days.

“Every single social interaction that happens outside your household,” Ferrer said, “comes with risk to both the people who interact and if anyone should get infected, to the people they live, work and play with into the future.”

Ferrer added that it is appropriate to get tested if a person believes they were exposed to someone infected at the protests. She also warned against false positive tests and suggested remaining in the self-quarantine even if the results are negative. Those exposed may want to wait a few days before getting tested, she advised.

“If the virus has entered your system and is starting to replicate, you do technically have the infection, but it won’t show up in the nasal or mouth swab test immediately, which means your result will come back as a false negative (and be a false sense of security).”

“Since testing depends on having a certain amount of the coronavirus present in your nose (or nasopharynx), it can take several days from the time you’re exposed to when you will be able to be tested,” according to the University of Chicago School of Medicine.

By Kareem Copeland
June 8, 2020 at 8:15 PM EDT

Shuttered zoos are hemorrhaging money, and they want federal help

Three months after stranding on a Delaware beach, a gray seal dubbed Pippi Longstocking is recovering at the National Aquarium in Baltimore and will soon be released to the wild. She may be the facility’s last such patient for the foreseeable future.

The aquarium has lost more than $8 million and furloughed one-third of its staff since closing in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Although its 20,000 animals — including 13 endangered sea turtles convalescing in a new rehabilitation center — are still being cared for, the institution’s rescues of stranded seals and other federally protected marine mammals can’t happen now.

The National Aquarium is one of more than 200 major U.S. zoos and aquariums that — like most attractions that rely on ticket sales — have suffered huge losses amid shutdowns to combat the spread of the coronavirus. But these zoos say they have been hit harder than many other shuttered institutions because their occupants — more than a million animals nationwide, some owned by the U.S. government — still need food, water, heating, cooling and veterinary care.

By Karin Brulliard
June 8, 2020 at 7:18 PM EDT

Pennsylvania county traces new cases to Jersey Shore parties

The director of a Pennsylvania county health department is warning people to continue to be diligent about social distancing after 11 new covid-19 cases were traced back to Jersey Shore parties.

Bucks County, which is just north of Philadelphia and borders New Jersey, reported 33 total new cases Saturday and 11 of them traced back to a person who attended several house gatherings in the past two weeks. The individual is a New Jersey resident, according to the Bucks County Department of Health.

The department’s director, David Damsker, expects the infections of the new cases to spread to family members.

“This is exactly why we can’t let our guard down now, even if it feels `safe’ to be at the beach,” Damsker said. “One unlucky exposure can lead to a large cascade of cases down the line. We want everyone to enjoy the warmer weather and have fun, but let’s keep in mind that COVID is still circulating in the community at baseline levels.”

States throughout the country have begun to reopen at various stages and Pennsylvania is in its yellow phase, with more businesses and activities back open. Beach locations like the Jersey Shore have seen crowds increase as the weather has improved, particularly starting on Memorial Day.

By Kareem Copeland
June 8, 2020 at 6:45 PM EDT

CDC report describes spike in unsafe use of cleaning products

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report states that calls to poison centers because of people misusing chemicals and disinfectants have spiked since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the incidents included using bleach on food products, using household cleaners and disinfectants on the skin and inhaling those products. Some people drank or gargled a household cleaner, soapy water or a diluted bleach solution. Others washed food with bleach, and some misted their bodies with cleaning or alcohol sprays after being in public.

The survey questioned 502 adults in May to evaluate their knowledge and practices of household cleaning and disinfection during the pandemic. Those who reported high-risk practices more frequently suffered adverse health effects they attributed to using those products.

The CDC suggests more public messaging to emphasize proper, “evidence-based” safe cleaning and disinfection methods, including washing hands and disinfection of high-touch surfaces.

President Trump suggested in April that scientists test whether disinfectants, such as bleach, could be injected into the body to fight the novel coronavirus. He later said he was being sarcastic.

“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” Trump originally said during a briefing. “And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”

Doctors, lawmakers and the makers of Lysol promptly warned people against injecting or ingesting the highly toxic disinfectants.

By Kareem Copeland
June 8, 2020 at 5:50 PM EDT

Kentucky Gov. Beshear says he wants health-care coverage for entire black community

Acknowledging racial inequality in the health-care system, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said Monday that the state will seek to provide coverage for everyone in the black community.

“The inequalities have been exposed by this covid-19 epidemic and the results of inequality in health care have been shown: It’s death,” Beshear said at a news conference in Frankfort, Ky.

“It simply can’t be allowed to continue any longer and it shouldn’t have taken this type of pandemic — or it shouldn’t have taken this type of demonstrations — for us to committing to ending it.”

Beshear did not offer specifics, but the Louisville Courier Journal reported he could use a mix of Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance.

Blacks make up 8 percent of the state’s population but represent 15.7 percent of its novel coronavirus cases and 16.4 percent of covid-19 related deaths, according to state data. The death total in the state is 472.

“My commitment today is we are going to begin an effort to cover 100 percent of our individuals in our African American communities. Everybody,” he said. “We are going to be putting dollars behind it. We are going to have a multifaceted campaign to do it. But it’s time, especially during covid-19, when we see what happens when you don’t have coverage, we are going to make sure that everybody does.”

By Steven Goff
June 8, 2020 at 5:23 PM EDT

Biden campaign emerges with a low-tech coronavirus protocol: Masks and distancing, but no testing

Joe Biden, who by dint of his age is among those most at risk from the novel coronavirus, has significantly escalated his public presence over the past week and prompted a fraught question: What is his presidential campaign doing to keep this most tactile of candidates safe from the deadly virus?

In little over a week, the 77-year-old former vice president has walked the streets in Wilmington, Del., to view protest sites, held a meeting with a group of clergy at a church and delivered two speeches before small audiences. On Monday, he is flying to Houston to meet privately with the family of George Floyd, whose killing May 25 in Minneapolis police custody has ignited national protests over police brutality and systemic racism.

Those attending Biden’s events are not being tested, and his campaign aides will not say whether they have asked the White House for a rapid-testing machine, as President Trump once offered seemingly in jest. Instead, Biden’s campaign has been screening attendees, sometimes taking their temperatures, and asking everyone around him to wear masks and keep a social distance, a strategy that some of those advising Biden say they view as much more reliable than testing.

Read more here.

By Matt Viser
June 8, 2020 at 4:44 PM EDT

U.S. markets extend gains, with Nasdaq closing at all-time high

Wall Street notched another day of gains Monday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index closing at an all-time high and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index on the brink of breaking even for 2020 as investors bet that the United States is on its way to economic recovery.

U.S. indexes opened positive amid a wave of investor optimism regarding the country’s reopening, even as some states, including Texas, Florida and California, are seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases.

Markets received a late afternoon boost after the Federal Reserve announced it would expand its Main Street Lending program to make financial support available for more small- and medium-size businesses.

At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was up more than 460 points, or 1.7 percent, to 27,572. The S&P 500 advanced 1.2 percent to 3,232, leaving the blue-chip index just .3 percent from erasing the monumental losses it incurred in the past three months. The Nasdaq closed up 1.1 percent to 9,924, surpassing its previous high. It is now up more than 40 percent from its March lows.

“The market sees conditions as ripe for a strong and sustainable period of economic recovery,” Lauren Goodwin, economist and Multi-Asset Portfolio Strategist at New York Life Investments, wrote in a commentary Monday. “It had also become a story of defeating covid-19.”

Despite the prevailing optimism, experts believe that the road to recovery will be long. In a report published Monday, the World Bank said the pandemic has created the worst global recession since World War II. In a report in the past week, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that fallout from the coronavirus crisis will shrink the size of the U.S. economy by roughly $8 trillion over the next decade. That amounts to a 3 percent decline in U.S. gross domestic product compared with its initial estimate.

By Taylor Telford