Fauci and Trump Are at Odds Again Over Masks

Credit…Pool photo by Graeme Jennings

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the leading U.S. official on infectious diseases, hit back at President Trump on Wednesday for what he called the misrepresentation of his stance on using masks to curb the coronavirus.

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

Dr. Fauci, whose relationship with his boss has often seemed tenuous at best, took issue with his claims the day after the debate.

“Anybody who has been listening to me over the last several months knows that a conversation does not go by where I do not strongly recommend that people wear masks,” he said in an interview on ABC News’s “Start Here” podcast. The full interview can be heard Thursday, ABC said.

Dr. Fauci explained that “very early on in the pandemic,” the authorities did not recommend masks to the general public because they were worried about shortages and hoarding. But that changed, he said, as it became clear that asymptomatic transmission was spreading the virus and that masks helped stop it.

“I have been on the airways, on the radio, on TV, begging people to wear masks,” Dr. Fauci said. “And I keep talking in the context of: Wear a mask, keep physical distance, avoid crowds, wash your hands and do things more outdoors versus indoors.”

Mr. Trump has often signaled his displeasure with Dr. Fauci, especially as the scientist’s stock has risen with many Americans. He once called him “a major television star” — apparently a compliment — but it was not clear that the president enjoyed sharing the spotlight.

In April, under fire for his slow initial response to the pandemic, the president reposted a Twitter message that said “Time to #FireFauci.” And in July, Trump advisers undercut Dr. Fauci by anonymously providing details to various news outlets about statements he had made early in the pandemic that they said were inaccurate.

Mr. Trump, watching the economy crumble in a re-election year, has been a cheerleader for state officials to reopen. Dr. Fauci has been rather the opposite. Just this week, he was ringing the alarm on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“We’re not in a good place,” he said when asked about the nation averaging 40,000 new coronavirus cases a day.

Dr. Fauci said the increases some states are seeing were especially ill timed, given the approach of flu season.

“You don’t want to be in a position like that as the weather starts getting cold,” he said. “So we really need to intensify the public health measures that we talk about all the time.”

Credit…Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times

A coronavirus cluster has emerged at a major teaching and research hospital in Boston, Brigham and Women’s, prompting employees to speak out about what they said was a lack of regular and convenient testing for staff members without symptoms.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 33 staff members, and 12 patients who were there for other reasons, have tested positive for the virus. The cluster was first identified last week, the hospital said in a statement.

Hospital policy requires testing all patients for the virus when they are admitted, and daily screening for symptoms thereafter, the statement said. The hospital said it would now test inpatients every three days as well, and on Friday it began offering voluntary testing to its staff. Since then, it said, 6,718 employees have been tested.

In a letter addressed to hospital leadership, a group of employees urged the hospital to go further and introduce mandatory testing of all staff members twice a week, and to keep it going past Oct. 18, when the voluntary testing is set to run out. A hospital spokesman said they would keep this testing “as long as necessary to support our testing needs.”

The letter has been signed by more than 1,000 employees, said Trish Powers, a trauma nurse at the hospital.

“We are literally putting our life on the line,” Ms. Powers said, adding, “We shouldn’t have to fight to be tested.”

A hospital spokesman addressed the letter in an email, saying that expanded testing went into effect before the hospital’s leaders received it. The hospital is providing weekly virtual forums for its staff members, which include an “opportunity for questions and answers” about the hospital’s response to the case cluster, the spokesman said.

So far, the cluster is confined to two inpatient units, the hospital said, noting in the statement that the virus might have spread in a variety of ways, including through a staff member who had mild symptoms and continued to work. In response to a Boston Globe article about the cluster, the hospital’s leadership said it did not in any way blame employees for the outbreak.

Government officials in the Boston area are concerned about a potential surge in coronavirus cases. Mayor Marty Walsh said Wednesday that Boston would postpone taking the next step in the city’s reopening plan because an increasing share of tests have been coming back positive: 3.5 percent in the week ended Sept. 26, compared with 2.7 percent the week before.

Referring to the cluster of cases among the hospital staff, Ms. Powers said, “If a lot of us get sick or test positive, then who’s going to take care of the patients if we go into a surge?”

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

House Democrats abruptly postponed a planned vote Wednesday evening on their latest $2.2-trillion stimulus plan, putting off action until Thursday to leave time for a last-ditch round of negotiations with the Trump administration to produce a deal.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin earlier said that they had made progress in a 90-minute meeting in the speaker’s Capitol office on Wednesday and that they would continue their talks, keeping alive the possibility of a late-stage breakthrough. But Ms. Pelosi’s decision to schedule an evening vote on the Democratic bill — one which Republicans had made clear they could not support — suggested that a compromise remained unlikely.

Her retreat signaled that agreement might in fact still be possible. Two aides, insisting on anonymity to describe private deliberations, said Democratic leaders had decided to allow one more day for talks to bear fruit.

“We made a lot of progress over the last few days,” Mr. Mnuchin told reporters as he left the Capitol. “We still don’t have an agreement, but we have more work to do and we’re going to see where we end up.”

The Democrats’ latest bill shaves $1.2 trillion off their original $3.4 trillion measure, which was passed by the House in May. But the measure was all but guaranteed to die in the Republican-led Senate, with Republicans dismissing it as far too expensive.

“We’re very, very far apart,” declared Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.

But rank-and-file lawmakers in both parties have increasingly been agitating for another vote on a relief package before the elections, as the economic recovery shudders and tens of thousands of workers are either furloughed or laid off as a result of the pandemic.

Democratic leaders appeared disinclined to make many concessions.

Ms. Pelosi, in a private call earlier Wednesday, counseled Democrats that “we’re closer to the inauguration of Joe Biden right now, so we will have our moment,” according to two people familiar with her remarks who disclosed them on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. Mnuchin, speaking on CNBC early Wednesday, said he was giving the talks “one more serious try.” He said he had prepared an offer of around $1.5 trillion, similar to a bipartisan framework a group of lawmakers presented earlier this month. Ms. Pelosi and her top lieutenants rejected that as inadequate.

The Treasury secretary said it would include liability protections for schools and businesses, more economic impact payments, support for airlines and relief money for emergency workers in states.

“More fiscal response will help the economy,” Mr. Mnuchin said.

Credit…Lisi Niesner/Reuters

They came from across the world to ski in the most famous resorts of the Austrian alps.

Jacob Homiller and his college friends flew in from the United States. Jane Witt, a retired lecturer, arrived from London for a family reunion. Annette Garten, the youth director at a tennis club in Hamburg, was celebrating her birthday with her husband and two grown children.

After returning home, Mr. Homiller and four friends tested positive, Ms. Witt fought for her life and Ms. Garten’s family became ill.

They all knew in late February and early March that the coronavirus was spreading in nearby northern Italy, and across the other border in Germany, but no one was alarmed. Austrian officials downplayed concerns as tourists crowded into cable cars by day and après-ski bars at night.

“The whole world meets in Ischgl,” said Ms. Garten.

Then they all went home, unwittingly taking the virus with them. Infected in Ischgl (pronounced “ISH-gul”) or in surrounding villages, thousands of skiers carried the disease to more than 40 countries on five continents. Many of Iceland’s first known cases were traced to Ischgl. In March, nearly half the cases in Norway were linked to Austrian ski holidays.

Nine months into an outbreak that has killed more than one million people worldwide, Ischgl is where the era of global tourism, made possible by cheap airfares and open borders, collided with a pandemic. For decades, as trade and travel drew the world closer, public health policy, enshrined by treaty, encouraged global mass tourism by calling for open borders, even during outbreaks.

The ease and expansion of global travel is why “super-spreader” events helped accelerate the pandemic: Just as skiers in Ischgl carried the virus around the world, congregants at a French megachurch took the disease to Africa, Latin America and across Europe.

Now, at least 1,000 people from dozens of countries intend to sue the Austrian government. A lawyer in Vienna filed the first test cases on Wednesday on behalf of four visitors, two of whom have since died of Covid-19. The lawsuit contends that the government should have closed the resort earlier and warned tourists to stay away.

“They knew, they just weren’t telling anyone,” said Ms. Witt, who is part of the lawsuit.

“Wealth before health,” she said.

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Coronavirus Clusters Cause Uptick in N.Y.C. Positivity Rate

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York reported a slight uptick in the city’s seven-day coronavirus positivity rate, to 1.46 percent, and said nearly 1,000 city employees would be deployed to curb outbreaks in nine target ZIP codes.

Percentage of people testing positive, citywide, for Covid — threshold of five percent — again, this the citywide number. Today’s report 0.94 percent. And we are now also going be talking about the seven-day rolling average. So you have that perspective. Today, the seven-day rolling average number is 1.46 percent, so that’s the citywide picture. This is the first of probably several times. I will say today, it is so important for everyone to go out and get tested. We need to get a very clear picture of what is happening around the city. We need to get a very clear picture what’s happening in these nine key ZIP codes, and several others we’re concerned about. Four hundred-plus police officers will be out in these communities providing information, providing free masks, reminding people that they are required to wear masks, and obviously in the case where there is noncompliance, issuing summonses — 400 from the N.Y.P.D., 250 compliance officers from other city agencies, and approximately 300 members of the test and trace course. Almost 1,000 city employees will be out in these targeted ZIP codes doing distribution of mass information, and, when necessary, compliance.

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York reported a slight uptick in the city’s seven-day coronavirus positivity rate, to 1.46 percent, and said nearly 1,000 city employees would be deployed to curb outbreaks in nine target ZIP codes.CreditCredit…Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Officials in New York City continued to scramble on Wednesday to quell growing clusters of the coronavirus in several neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, as the seven-day average rate of positive test results citywide ticked slightly upward to 1.46 percent.

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio reported a significant uptick in the citywide daily positivity rate, driven in part by a rise in nine ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens. On Wednesday, the number of ZIP codes where cases were rising at an “alarming rate” grew to 10, health officials said.

The city was also watching seven additional neighborhoods, including parts of Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant, where cases were on the rise.

Still, Mr. de Blasio said the daily positivity rate had dropped to .94 percent, after the city had reported on Tuesday a 3.25 percent rate, the highest it had been since June. It was not immediately clear what explained the fluctuation in the numbers, but a spokesman for the health department said Wednesday that the rate could be influenced by the total number of tests each day.

The seven-day average is a better measure of the spread of the virus over time, officials have said.

The mayor has said that he will automatically shut down public school classrooms — which are all slated to be open by Thursday — if the test positivity rate exceeds 3 percent over a seven-day rolling average. On Tuesday, he said the seven-day average was 1.38 percent.

“We were the epicenter,” Mr. de Blasio said Wednesday. “We fought back. Testing was crucial. We have a problem now, we’re going to overcome the problem. I have no doubt we’re going to beat it back.”

Officials said the city on Wednesday was sending 400 police officers, 300 members of the city’s test and trace program and 250 other employees to the target neighborhoods to distribute masks, step up outreach and education about the virus and crack down on people and businesses violating public health rules.

“Almost 1,000 city employees will be out in these target ZIP codes,” the mayor said.

The city is also trying to ramp up testing in the neighborhoods.

The figures come at a particularly crucial moment, as the city tries to fully reopen public schools this week for in-person learning to hundreds of thousands of students in addition to resuming indoor dining at 25 percent capacity on Wednesday. The restaurant industry, battered by the pandemic, is hoping indoor dining will help ease months of hardship.

“It’s crucial to bringing back more jobs and helping businesses to survive,” Mr. de Blasio said. “But health and safety, as always, come first.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said a major priority for the state is managing 20 hot-spot ZIP codes, including areas in New York City and the Mid-Hudson region.

Those ZIP codes made up 23 percent of all cases in the state, he said, but only represent 6 percent of the overall population. Statewide, the daily positivity rate was 1.02 percent, the governor said. On Monday, the governor reported that the statewide rate was approximately 1.58 percent — a jump from results reported on Sunday and in prior weeks.

“If you don’t control a cluster, a cluster becomes community spread,” he said.

In New Jersey, Gov. Philip D. Murphy said Wednesday that the state’s daily positivity rate was 3 percent, the highest since July.

Credit…Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Seven former commissioners of the Food and Drug Administration have lashed out at the Trump Administration, arguing that political interference threatens to undermine the agency’s credibility as it prepares to approve a coronavirus vaccine.

“If the F.D.A. makes available a safe and effective vaccine that people trust, we could expect to meaningfully reduce Covid-19 risk as soon as next spring or summer,” the authors wrote. “Without that trust, our health and economy could lag for years.”

The statement, published as an opinion piece Tuesday in The Washington Post, was unusual not only for its sharp tone but for the wide political ties of the former commissioners.

Scott Gottlieb was appointed by President Trump and served until April 2019; Robert Califf and Margaret Hamburg, by President Obama; Mark McClellan and Andy von Eschenbach, by President George W. Bush; Jane Henney by President Clinton, and David Kessler by President George W.H. Bush. The position requires a Senate confirmation.

The authors argued that a vaccine must be more than just safe and effective. “People will also have to choose to take it,” they wrote. “This depends on widespread confidence that the vaccine approval was based on sound science and not politics.”

The former commissioners added that the Trump administration was undermining “in deeply troubling ways” the public belief that their judgment was “grounded in science.”

They noted that the White House has said that it might try to influence the F.D.A.’s scientific standards for vaccine approval, or block the agency from issuing further guidance on its criteria for judging a vaccine’s safety and benefits: “This pronouncement came just after key leaders at the F.D.A., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health all publicly supported that guidance.”

The implications of the administration’s interference were “potentially dire,” they added. “When the F.D.A. approves a Covid-19 vaccine, will Americans accept it?”

Credit…Narendra Shrestha/EPA, via Shutterstock

Leaders from 16 major life-science companies pledged on Wednesday to collectively work to get their Covid-19 diagnostic, treatment and vaccine products to the developing world in a variety of ways, including donations, not-for-profit price models and tiered pricing.

There is mounting concern that poor countries may be shut out of lifesaving products in the marketplace, especially as the United States and other countries strike deals to buy billions of dollars’ worth of potential vaccines before they have received regulatory approval.

A number of groups — among them the public-private partnership GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — have been trying to work out their own deals to get vaccines, treatments and tests to low- and middle-income countries. Bill and Melinda Gates joined in signing the pledge.

The companies signing the pledge were AstraZeneca, Bayer, bioMérieux, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eisai, Eli Lilly, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Merck KGaA, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, and Sanofi.

They said they would support “global mechanisms,” but made no specific commitments in their statement.

Separately, Johnson & Johnson announced Wednesday that it would make 500 million doses of its vaccine available to low- and middle-income countries. Previously, AstraZeneca agreed to supply 300 million doses of a vaccine to low- and middle-income countries. To increase access to its drug, Remdesivir, Gilead has licensed the drug to pharmaceutical companies without collecting royalties.

The pledge document called on countries, multilateral institutions, other corporations, and nongovernmental organizations to “provide sufficient, dedicated, sustainable, and timely funding for the procurement and delivery of the tools necessary to end the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Making the global deals work would require roughly $38 billion, much of it from wealthier countries. While Britain and the European Union have made financial commitments, the United States has not.

Credit…Douglas P. Defelice/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning won hockey’s top trophy on Monday from within the confines of a 24/7 pandemic bubble in western Canada, and without any fans in the arena to watch.

The team had been living under a strict hygiene regimen that included daily coronavirus testing since the National Hockey League’s extended postseason began in late July.

But by Wednesday, they were back in Florida with the Stanley Cup in tow, greeting the hordes of unmasked fans who had turned out to celebrate their victory. No one appeared to mind that the state had passed 700,000 confirmed coronavirus cases a few days earlier and was still reporting about 16,000 per week — roughly on par with the weekly caseload in Morocco or the Philippines.

Wednesday’s celebration began with a boat parade by Lightning players through downtown Tampa, and segued into a party in a local stadium that was attended by about 12,000 to 15,000 people, according to The Tampa Bay Times.

“It almost feels like what we’re doing now is, like, wrong,” one fan, Wes King, told one of the newspaper’s reporters on the riverfront.

Photos from the event showed thousands of unmasked fans cramming together on the bank of the Hillsborough River as unmasked players from the Lightning floated by on motorboats, drinking beer and puffing on cigars.

Other unmasked players slapped hands and posed for selfies with fans who had jammed together into a receiving line, and even allowed fans to drink from the cup, as winning teams normally do.

“So … why did they spend months in a bubble if they were just going to go Covid crazy the minute they were released?” one Canada-based Twitter user wrote. “Not the brightest bulbs.”

The N.H.L. was the first of the four major North American pro sports leagues to complete a season during the pandemic. It chose to base its playoff “bubbles” in Toronto and Edmonton because of their relatively low infection rates, especially compared with cities in the United States.

Players, team and league staff members, and medical officers were fenced off inside “secure zones” that included hockey arenas, practice facilities and hotels. Broadcasters stood at a social distance while interviewing players on the ice. And many players went weeks, or months, without seeing their families.

Even the league’s commissioner, Gary Bettman, had to produce negative tests during a weeklong home isolation, then quarantine in his hotel room for several days, before he could present the Stanley Cup to the Lightning.

“There’s no harder championship to win,” Mr. Bettman said before handing the trophy to the team’s captain, Steven Stamkos. “The gauntlet that you have to run to hoist this trophy is unbelievable, and never more unbelievable than this year.”

Credit…Mike Hutchings/Reuters

South Africa will begin allowing some international tourists to enter the country on Thursday, for the first time since a national lockdown took effect in March.

But in a blow to hopes of reviving the country’s key tourism sector, at least a dozen high-risk European countries — those whose infection rate exceeds that of South Africa, including Britain, France, Russia, Iceland and the Netherlands, as well as the United States and most of Latin America — will remain on a no-fly list.

South Africa has reported 672,572 cases of the virus, including 16,667 deaths, the highest official death toll on the continent. But the infection rate has slowed drastically in recent weeks, and President Cyril Ramaphosa eased restrictions this month.

“We have arrived at a point where the infection rate has started to go down, and we believe we can now accommodate the process towards a return to a more normal side of business in South Africa,” Naledi Pandor, the foreign minister, said Wednesday in a televised address, noting that the developments had occurred “in the context of a new normal.”

The list of permitted countries will be reviewed every two weeks, Ms. Pandor said.

The announcement comes ahead of what would normally be the beginning of a new tourism season — when colder weather in the northern hemisphere starts luring up to 10 million foreigners annually to the country’s pristine beaches and luxurious game safaris.

Many of those visitors come from countries with major outbreaks, including Brazil, the United States and Britain, or countries otherwise on the banned list, such as the Netherlands. Several major airlines, including British Airways and KLM, had said they were planning to resume daily flights to South Africa as restrictions eased, and had started taking bookings.

No African countries were on the list, and leisure travelers will be permitted from countries deemed “low risk.”

Visitors will be required to have travel insurance, and to present a negative P.C.R. test performed no more than 72 hours prior to arrival. Business travelers, diplomats and those with critical skills will be permitted to enter starting Thursday, even if they are coming from countries considered high-risk.

Border closures and national lockdowns have devastated Africa’s $39 billion tourism industry. In South Africa, tourism employs some quarter of a million people directly, although more than double that number of jobs remain threatened by the lockdown, according to Tourism South Africa.

global roundup

Credit…Pool photo by Mikhail Klimentyev

The Federal Protective Service, Russia’s answer to the Secret Service, has helped build a virus-free bubble around President Vladimir V. Putin that far outstrips the protective measures taken by many of his foreign counterparts.

Russian journalists who cover Mr. Putin have not seen him up close since March.

The few people who meet him face-to-face generally spend as much as two weeks in quarantine first.

And the president still conducts his meetings with senior officials — including with his cabinet and his Security Council — by video link from a spartan room in his residence outside Moscow, which has been outfitted with a disinfectant tunnel that visitors must pass through.

The contrast between the behavior of Mr. Putin and that of his people looms especially large now as a second wave of the pandemic threatens to wash over Russia. In Moscow, where people packed indoor bars and restaurants all summer with few masks in sight, the number of daily reported new cases tripled to more than 2,300 in the last two weeks.

As the coronavirus spread, Mr. Putin’s Russia has often been compared to the United States and Brazil, two other large countries with leaders who played down the disease’s risk and saw it spiral out of control.

But while President Trump and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil have chafed against restricting their own movements, Mr. Putin has retreated into an intricate cocoon of social distancing — even as he has allowed life in Russia to essentially return to normal.

In other developments around the world:

  • In India, an ambitious new study of nearly 85,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 600,000 people found to have been in contact with them, reports that India now has more than six million cases, second only to the United States. Among the findings of the study: The median hospital stay before death was five days in India, compared with two weeks in the United States, possibly because of limited access to quality care. And the trend in increasing deaths with age seemed to drop off after age 65 — perhaps because Indians who live past that age tend to be relatively wealthy and have access to good health care.

  • Singapore’s civil aviation authority said that the city state would no longer require visitors from Vietnam or most of Australia to self isolate, starting on Oct. 8, as long as they pass a Covid-19 test on arrival and have not traveled to other countries in the two weeks leading up to the flight. The new rules do not include the Australian state of Victoria, which reported 15 new cases on Thursday. Self-isolation requirements were lifted for travelers from Brunei and New Zealand on Sept. 1.

  • A health official in Russia said that early clinical trials have been completed on a second vaccine, moving it closer to registration under the Russian approach of approving vaccines for emergency use before beginning late-stage trials to determine whether they are effective. Russia registered its first Covid-19 vaccine — one based on common cold viruses — in August, and is now offering a small number of doses outside of trials to people at elevated risk of infection, like health care workers. Western vaccine experts criticized the Russian approach as potentially dangerous.

  • A former president and opposition politician in Ukraine, Petro O. Poroshenko, announced on Wednesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus amid a flurry of virus-related disruptions to Ukrainian politics. The Parliament said on Wednesday that it had canceled plenary sessions until Oct. 20 because of rising infections. The speaker, Dmytro Razumkov, said at least 10 members of Parliament tested positive before the shutdown.

  • South Korea said on Wednesday that it would impose a fine of up to $85 on anyone caught without a mask in high-risk areas like outdoor gatherings and public transportation, starting on Oct. 13. As people in the country began on Wednesday to celebrate Chuseok, a major holiday that runs through the weekend, health officials reported 113 new cases, the highest daily tally in five days.

  • The Czech Republic and Slovakia have declared states of emergency to deal with rising cases. In the Czech Republic, the order comes into effect on Monday. “If we don’t do anything, we will end up in a situation when all our hospital beds will be filled with Covid patients,” said Health Minister Roman Prymula. Slovakia’s state of emergency begins Thursday and will be in place for 45 days, Prime Minister Igor Matovic said on Facebook. The country will also evaluate what happens when residents travel for All Saints Day, on Nov. 1, a national holiday and busy travel time.

  • Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany warned citizens that infections will probably rise and called for vigilance. “I appeal to you all, follow the rules that will be in effect in the next while,” she said in a prepared speech during a budget debate. “We have a difficult time ahead of us with autumn and winter approaching.”

Credit…Cristobal Herrera-Ulashkevich/EPA, via Shutterstock

Facing pressure from Florida officials, the school board in Miami-Dade County voted on Tuesday to begin opening classrooms nine days earlier than planned. The district’s youngest students can now return to schools on Monday, with nearly all students who have opted for in-person instruction returning by the end of next week.

The decision will make Miami-Dade, the fourth-largest school system in the United States and the largest in Florida, with roughly 345,000 students, by far the biggest public school district in the country to offer students in-person classes five days a week. About half of the district’s families have opted for in-person learning.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican and ardent supporter of President Trump, has followed the president’s lead by demanding that all schools in Florida reopen for in-person learning. The state allowed only its three largest counties, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, to continue offering fully remote instruction past Aug. 31.

Last week, the Miami-Dade school board had voted to reopen schools on Oct. 14, with all students returning by Oct. 21. The board expressed concerns about whether schools were fully prepared to implement safety measures to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. On Wednesday, the 14-day average positivity rate reported for the county was 4.46 percent.

But on Friday, the board received a letter from the state’s education commissioner, Richard Corcoran, calling on the district to fully open schools by Oct 5. The district feared that if it did not comply, the state might withhold funds.

Broward County, Florida’s second-largest district, is currently planning to open schools on Oct. 14 and received a similar letter from Mr. Corcoran. The board will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday, but the superintendent, Robert Runcie, has said that he believes the district should stick with its planned date.

New York City, the largest district in the country, has been gradually reopening schools, but on a hybrid model, with students allowed to split their time between in-person and remote learning.

United Teachers of Dade, the union representing Miami-Dade teachers, had praised the board’s decision last week to delay reopening schools. On Tuesday, the union’s president, Karla Hernandez-Mats, criticized the reversal, saying that “the pressure from President Trump and Governor DeSantis proved to be far greater a force on our school board than our pleas for public health and safety.”

Credit…Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

Relatives of people killed by the virus in the United States are organizing a national day of mourning for victims and survivors of the pandemic, to be held in Washington on Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event reflects grass-roots efforts that are gaining momentum around the country to acknowledge the losses experienced by thousands of families. At least 206,700 people have died from the virus in the United States as of Wednesday, with hundreds more added every day. Infectious disease experts warn that the way things are going, the death toll could surpass 300,000 by the end of the year.

The ceremony, called the National Covid-19 Remembrance, will involve a service held in the Ellipse, a park directly south of the White House. Organizers say the socially distanced event will include a moment of silence led by faith leaders, live and recorded musical performances and the installation of 20,000 empty chairs on the Ellipse, each one representing 10 or more lives lost during the pandemic. The singer Dionne Warwick, a former United States ambassador of health, is scheduled to host the ceremony.

The mobilization for the ceremony comes as President Trump has been trying to play down the impact of the virus, claiming it “affects virtually nobody.” As they call on political leaders to do more to curb the spread of the virus, organizers say they are drawing inspiration from previous remembrances for victims of gun violence, of the AIDS epidemic and of terrorist attacks.

“The lack of recognition has compounded people’s grief and trauma,” said Chris Kocher, executive director of Covid Survivors for Change, an organization created in June that is leading the remembrance effort. “We want to give folks a space where their loved ones can be honored and remembered.”

President Trump will travel to Wisconsin this weekend for two large outdoor campaign rallies, even as the White House coronavirus task force warned that the state is in the “red zone” for new cases and that “intense virus transmission is seen throughout the state.”

“To the maximal degree possible, increase social distancing mitigation measures until cases decline,” the task force urged Wisconsin officials in a Sept. 27 report obtained by The Times.

On Wednesday, officials in Wisconsin reported 26 new deaths, a single-day record. The previous record was 22, reported on May 27.

Mr. Trump, who trails former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the polls in a state he narrowly won in 2016, will speak at airports in La Crosse on Saturday and Green Bay on Sunday, his campaign website says. Both areas are categorized in the report as red zones themselves.

The president’s rallies have often prompted criticism from public health authorities about the lack of social distancing and the absence of masks. One held on Sept. 17 in Mosinee, Wis., drew an estimated 5,000 people.

After that event, the White House task force warned officials in Wisconsin that the virus was surging in their state and advised them to become more vigilant.

“Wisconsin has continued to see a rapid worsening of the epidemic in the last week with the governor declaring a health emergency,” the report said. The state’s rate of new cases in the past week is the country’s third highest.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier reported that Mr. Trump was going ahead with the rallies despite the warnings.

On Tuesday, during the first presidential debate, Mr. Trump boasted about the rallies and mocked Mr. Biden for avoiding large in-person events. “We have tremendous crowds as you see and, literally, on 24 hours notice, and Joe does the circles and has three people someplace,” Mr. Trump said.

Credit…Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

As New York City begins allowing indoor dining at 25 percent capacity on Wednesday, its neighbor across the Hudson River offers a preview of what may be in store for struggling restaurants.

Restaurants in New Jersey are three weeks ahead of New York in offering indoor dining, also at reduced capacity. But with a 25 percent cap on indoor dining, some restaurant owners said the costs and the staffing levels needed to provide a safe restaurant experience outweighed the benefits.

“We can’t cover our bills at 25 percent,” said, Jeanne Cretella, the president of Landmark Hospitality, a restaurant group. She has the Liberty House restaurant in Jersey City and Felina in suburban Ridgewood. “And we are at a point where we’re starting to get a little nervous once outside dining is no longer possible.”

During a summer of struggle, expansive outdoor seating options and takeout buoyed some restaurants that still had to cover rent and other expenses. It remains to be seen whether limited-capacity dining rooms can entice customers who are concerned about the coronavirus, or can make up for diminished outdoor dining as fall fades into winter.

The National Restaurant Association has estimated that one in six restaurants nationwide have already closed down either long-term or for good during the pandemic, and restaurant industry groups in New York and New Jersey predict more hard times ahead.

In New Jersey, where officials have said that no cases have been linked to indoor dining, pressure is mounting on Gov. Philip D. Murphy to raise occupancy limits to match those of most parts of New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, where dining rooms can be half-full.

Officials in New York City continued to scramble on Wednesday to quell growing clusters of the coronavirus in several neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, as the seven-day average rate of positive test results citywide ticked slightly upward to 1.46 percent, from 1.38 percent reported on Tuesday.

The uptick comes as the city also tries to fully reopen its public schools for in-person learning this week.

“It’s crucial to bringing back more jobs and helping businesses to survive,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said of indoor dining on Wednesday. “But health and safety, as always, come first.”

The mayor said that he personally preferred to continue dining outdoors until the weather cools.

Shortly afterward, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York emphasized that local officials should focus on enforcing compliance with safety rules before activities such as indoor dining in New York City were scaled back, noting that closing down establishments would cause “significant economic damage.”

“We have escalating actions that we take, but do step one first: Enforce the mask compliance, issue a ticket,” he said. “And if that doesn’t work, yes, then we’re going to have to take more serious actions.”

Credit…Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The N.F.L. has moved the Pittsburgh Steelers-Tennessee Titans game — originally scheduled for Sunday — to next week to allow more time to test members of the Titans team for the virus. On Tuesday, three Titans players and five employees tested positive. And in a separate testing, a fourth player tested positive as well, according to NFL network.

The outbreak is the first in the league since the beginning of the 2020 season played during the pandemic.

The league announced its decision in a statement and said the game, originally scheduled for noon local time on Sunday in Nashville, had been moved “to allow additional time for further daily Covid-19 testing and to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel.” The league said it would announce the new date and time for the game as soon as it could.

The Titans halted in-person activities on Tuesday after learning that members of the organization tested positive for the virus. The team has not disclosed the names of those who tested positive.

Another employee, the outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen, did not accompany the team to Minnesota for Sunday’s game against the Vikings in accordance with Covid-19 protocol, which forbids anyone who tests positive or has been exposed to someone who has from traveling.

The Minnesota Vikings, who hosted the Titans on Sunday, had not received any positive results as of Tuesday morning, they said in a statement, but also shut down in-person activities.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

In media appearances and talks with investors, Pfizer’s chief executive nearly always mentions a word that most of his competitors shy away from: October. “Right now, our model — our best case — predicts that we will have an answer by the end of October,” Dr. Albert Bourla told the “Today” show this month.

His statements have put his company squarely in the sights of President Trump, who has made no secret of his desire for positive vaccine news to boost his chances on Election Day.

By repeating a date that flies in the face of most scientific predictions, Dr. Bourla is making a high-stakes gamble. If Pfizer puts out a vaccine before it has been thoroughly tested — something the company has pledged it will not do — it could pose a major threat to public safety. But if Americans see the vaccine as having been rushed in order to placate Mr. Trump, many may refuse to get the shot.

But “an answer by the end of October” is not the same as having a vaccine then.

When Dr. Bourla referred to a “conclusive readout” next month, a company spokeswoman said, he meant that it’s possible the outside board of experts monitoring the trial would have by that date found promising signs that the vaccine works.

In public interviews, government health officials have refuted the October date. Both Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, the federal effort that has awarded billions of dollars to vaccine makers, and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, have said October was unlikely.

Pfizer’s leading competitors in the vaccine race, Moderna and AstraZeneca, have been more vague about timing, saying they expect something before the end of the year. In a recent interview, Moderna’s chief executive, Stéphane Bancel, said: “October is possible, because very few things in life are impossible.” The better word, he said, is “unlikely.”

Credit…Arun Sankar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

An ambitious new study of nearly 85,000 coronavirus cases in India and nearly 600,000 of their contacts, published Wednesday in the journal Science, offers important insights not just for India, but for other low- and middle-income countries.

India now has more than six million cases, second only to the United States.

Among the findings of the study: The median hospital stay before death from Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, was five days in India, compared with two weeks in the United States, possibly because of limited access to quality care. And the trend in increasing deaths with age seemed to drop off after age 65 — perhaps because Indians who live past that age tend to be relatively wealthy and have access to good health care.

The contact tracing study also found that children of all ages can become infected with the coronavirus and spread it to others — offering compelling evidence on one of the most divisive questions about the virus.

“The claims that children have no role in the infection process are certainly not correct,” said Dr. Joseph Lewnard, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the study. “There’s, granted, not an enormous number of kids in the contact tracing data, but those who are in it are certainly transmitting.”

And the report confirmed, as other studies have, that a small number of people are responsible for seeding a vast majority of new infections.

Though its overall total of cases is huge, the per capita number of cases reported daily in India — and in many other low-income countries, including in Africa — is lower than in Spain, France or even the United States. And its number of deaths has not yet topped 100,000 — which has surprised some scientists.

The study focused on two southern Indian states, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, which together have a population of about 128 million, and represent two of the five Indian states with the most cases. They also have among the most sophisticated health care systems in the country.

Contact tracers reached more than three million contacts of the 435,539 cases in these two states, although this still did not represent the full set of contacts. The researchers analyzed data for the 575,071 contacts for whom test information was available.

The data revealed that the people infected first — known as index cases — were more likely to be male and older than their contacts. That may be because men are more likely to be out in situations where they might be infected, more likely to become symptomatic and get tested if they do become infected, or perhaps more likely to respond to contact tracers’ calls for information, said Dr. Lewnard. They also found that infected people tend to spread the virus to those of similar ages.

Global roundup

Credit…Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/Associated Press

Early clinical trials have been completed on a second Russian vaccine, a health official said Wednesday, moving it closer to registration under the Russian approach of approving vaccines for emergency use before beginning late-stage trials to determine whether they are effective.

Early trials provide information about safety, though rare side effects may go undetected until much larger late-stage trials are conducted. The later trials, known as Phase 3, are the only means of determining whether a vaccine actually protects against the coronavirus.

Russia registered its first Covid-19 vaccine — one based on common cold viruses — in August, and is now offering a small number of doses outside of trials to people at elevated risk of infection, like health care workers. Western vaccine experts criticized the Russian approach as potentially dangerous.

Anna Papova, the head of Rospotrebnadzor, a Russian agency regulating health care, said on Wednesday that researchers had completed early clinical trials of a different vaccine, based on proteins that mimic those in the coronavirus.

Ms. Papova defended the Russian regulatory approach, saying that it drew on a long history of Soviet vaccine development. “The Russian vaccines deserve absolutely no criticism,” she said.

Her agency said earlier this month that it planned to register the second vaccine, made by Vektor, a Siberian laboratory that studied biological weapons during the Cold War, by Oct. 15. A third Russian vaccine, made by the Chumakov Institute in Moscow and based on inactivated coronavirus, is now in early-stage trials.

In other developments around the world:

  • A health official in Russia said that early clinical trials have been completed on a second vaccine, moving it closer to registration under the Russian approach of approving vaccines for emergency use before beginning late-stage trials to determine whether they are effective. Russia registered its first Covid-19 vaccine — one based on common cold viruses — in August, and is now offering a small number of doses outside of trials to people at elevated risk of infection, like health care workers. Western vaccine experts criticized the Russian approach as potentially dangerous.

  • A former president and opposition politician in Ukraine, Petro O. Poroshenko, announced on Wednesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus amid a flurry of virus-related disruptions to Ukrainian politics. The Parliament said on Wednesday that it had canceled plenary sessions until Oct. 20 because of rising infections. The speaker, Dmytro Razumkov, said at least 10 members of Parliament tested positive before the shutdown.

  • South Korea said on Wednesday that it would impose a fine of up to $85 on anyone caught without a mask in high-risk areas like outdoor gatherings and public transportation, starting on Oct. 13. As people in the country began on Wednesday to celebrate Chuseok, a major holiday that runs through the weekend, health officials reported 113 new cases, the highest daily tally in five days.

  • cases. In the Czech Republic, the order comes into effect on Monday. “If we don’t do anything, we will end up in a situation when all our hospital beds will be filled with Covid patients,” said Health Minister Roman Prymula. Slovakia’s state of emergency begins Thursday and will be in place for 45 days, Prime Minister Igor Matovic said on Facebook. The country will also evaluate what happens when residents travel for All Saints Day, on Nov. 1, a national holiday and busy travel time.

  • Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany warned citizens that infections will probably rise and called for vigilance. “I appeal to you all, follow the rules that will be in effect in the next while,” she said in a prepared speech during a budget debate. “We have a difficult time ahead of us with autumn and winter approaching.”

Credit…Sergei Gapon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A former president and opposition politician in Ukraine, Petro O. Poroshenko, announced on Wednesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus amid a flurry of virus-related disruptions to Ukrainian politics.

The Parliament said on Wednesday that it had canceled plenary sessions until Oct. 20 because of rising infections. The speaker, Dmytro Razumkov, said at least 10 members of Parliament tested positive before the shutdown.

Cases ticked up in Ukraine during summer holiday travel, because of lax observance of mask-wearing and social-distancing rules, and after schools opened last month.

Mr. Poroshenko, who assumed the presidency after a pro-Western popular uprising in 2014, has diabetes, a risk factor for complications. The diagnosis will remove him from campaigning ahead of local elections next month. Mr. Poroshenko said in a statement posted on social media that the positive test was “very untimely” because of the campaign and that he would self-isolate at home.

After a strict lockdown in Ukraine ended in June, the country switched to what authorities called “adaptive measures,” closing some businesses and encouraging social distancing and wearing masks.

Mr. Poroshenko, who now leads an opposition party, had criticized the government’s decision to ease lockdowns in June, for fear that it would lead to a second wave of the virus.

Before catching the virus over the summer, Yulia Tymoshenko, a populist former prime minister, had last spring criticized government lockdowns from the opposite perspective, saying they went too far and infringed on personal freedoms.

Ukraine has reported an average of 3,488 new cases daily over the past seven days.

Credit…Gianfranco Tripodo for The New York Times

As Spain struggles to cope with a second wave of the virus, its capital, Madrid, the epicenter of the latest outbreak, has locked down about 1 million people in 45 neighborhoods.

But those areas, where registered cases per 100,000 inhabitants have exceed 1,000, are for the most part poorer areas of Madrid, outside the city center. The renewed lockdown measures include the closure of public spaces like parks and restricted hours for bars and restaurants, leaving empty streets and struggling businesses.

By contrast in the city center, life goes on as normal as it can in a pandemic, with masked shoppers on the streets and customers keeping social distance as they eat and drink at tapas bars and restaurants until late at night.

The sharp difference between the two Madrids underlines how the coronavirus is hitting the most economically vulnerable districts of the capital disproportionately hard.

The one million people living in the neighborhoods that are now locked down are increasingly chafing at the restrictions, especially since they can see that residents of affluent areas are free to travel most places they like.

“This health crisis has nothing to do with a way of life, but a lot to do with people’s living conditions,” said Patricia Estevan, a doctor. “If you share a tiny apartment, and travel across the city on public transport every day to work as a supermarket cashier or cleaner, that is not a choice of life but an economic necessity.”

On Wednesday, the central government was hoping to push through new nationwide lockdown rules and force Madrid to drop its strategy of localized restrictions.

A 19-year-old student at Appalachian State University — a basketball player “in tremendous shape,” according to his family — died Monday night, apparently of neurological complications related to Covid-19, his family and the university said.

Chad Dorrill, a sophomore at the school in Boone, N.C., had been living off campus and taking classes online when he became ill with flu-like symptoms, Appalachian State’s chancellor, Sheri Everts, wrote on Tuesday in a statement to students.

Mr. Dorrill tested positive for the coronavirus on Sept. 7 and quarantined for 10 days with his family in Wallburg, N.C., before returning to Boone, according to an uncle, David Dorrill. He said after his nephew returned to college, he almost immediately began experiencing dramatic neurological problems.

Credit…Yasmin Leonard Photography

“When he tried to get out of bed,” Mr. Dorrill said, “his legs were not working, and my brother had to carry him to the car and take him to the emergency room. The doctor said it was a one-in-a-million case — that they’d never seen something progress the way it did. It was a Covid complication that rather than attacking his respiratory system attacked his brain.”

Although colleges and universities have become hot spots in the pandemic, young, healthy people generally have been at lower risk for developing severe forms of Covid-19. Only a handful of deaths among American college students has been linked to the virus, including a football player at California University of Pennsylvania.

A New York Times database tracking the virus on college campuses has recorded at least 130,000 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, mostly this fall, but only about 70 confirmed deaths, mostly in the spring among college employees.

David Dorrill said an autopsy was being conducted. Dr. Colin McDonald, chair of neurology at Forsythe Medical Center in Winston Salem, N.C., where Chad’s parents removed him from life support at 8 p.m. on Monday, said that the hospital and staff who cared for him were “devastated.”

“We are doing everything we can to figure out why this happened,” Dr. McDonald said.

Credit…KCNA, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has discovered “faults” in its anti-epidemic measures, its state news media reported on Wednesday, days after the country apologized for killing a South Korean official found adrift near the disputed western sea border with South Korea.

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, convened the politburo of his ruling Workers’ Party on Tuesday to review its fight against the coronavirus. In its report on the meeting, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency did not mention the killing of the South Korean official, but said that the North’s officials had discussed some faults in the country’s antivirus efforts, such as “self-complacency, carelessness, irresponsibility and slackness.”

This is not the first time that North Korea has admitted to falling short in its antivirus campaign. In late August, Mr. Kim convened the party’s politburo and its Executive Policy Council to discuss “shortcomings” and “defects” in its battle against Covid-19.

Both the United States military and South Korean officials said that North Korea had given its soldiers “shoot to kill” orders to prevent smugglers and others illegally crossing its borders in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The South’s National Intelligence Agency told lawmakers that the North issued such orders in August.

On Sept. 21, an official from a South Korean government ship monitoring fishing near the disputed western sea border went missing. He was found adrift in North Korean waters a day later and shot and killed by the crew on a North Korean patrol ship that considered him an “illegal intruder,” according to a message North Korea sent to the South on Friday.

South Korea accused the North of killing its official despite his expressing a desire to defect and burning his body for fear of Covid-19. But the North said the official did not express any such intentions. It said that it had burned only his flotation device and that his body had been lost at sea.

Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

For six months, Disney has kept tens of thousands of theme park workers on furlough with full health care benefits in hopes that a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel would appear. On Tuesday, Disney conceded that none was coming.

The company said it would eliminate 28,000 theme park jobs in the United States, or about 25 percent of its domestic resort work force.

“As heartbreaking as it is to take this action, this is the only feasible option we have in light of the prolonged impact of Covid-19 on our business, including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic,” Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said in an email to “cast members,” which is how Disney refers to theme park workers.

About 67 percent of the layoffs will involve part-time jobs that pay by the hour. However, executives and salaried workers will be among those laid off. Disney’s theme parks in California and Florida employed roughly 110,000 before the pandemic. The job cuts, which will come from both resorts, will reduce that number to about 82,000.

Disneyland in California has remained closed because Governor Gavin Newsom has refused to allow theme parks in the state to restart operations. About 31,000 people work at the Disneyland complex and the majority are unionized and have been furloughed.

Walt Disney World in Florida reopened on a limited basis in mid-July. But attendance has been weaker than Disney expected, with concern about coronavirus safety a major factor.

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Trump and Biden on a Coronavirus Vaccine

President Trump claimed that a vaccine for the coronavirus would be available to the public “soon,” while Joseph R. Biden Jr. expressed concern over the safety of any rapidly approved vaccine.

“He puts pressure and disagrees with his own scientists.” “But you’re saying, Senator Harris is saying you can’t trust the scientists.” “No, no, no, no — you can trust the scientists. She didn’t say that. You can trust —” “She said the public health experts, quote, will be muzzled, will be suppressed.” “Yes — well, that’s what he’s going to try to do, but there’s millions of scientists, there’s thousands of scientists out there, like here at this great hospital, that don’t work for him. Their job doesn’t depend on him. That’s not — they’re the people, and by the way —” “I spoke to the scientists that are in charge —” “— and by the way —” ”— they will have the vaccine very soon.” “Do you believe for a moment what he’s telling you, in light of all the lies he’s told you about the whole issue relating to Covid? He still hasn’t even acknowledged that he knew this was happening, knew how dangerous it was going to be back in February, and he didn’t even tell you.”

President Trump claimed that a vaccine for the coronavirus would be available to the public “soon,” while Joseph R. Biden Jr. expressed concern over the safety of any rapidly approved vaccine.CreditCredit…Mark Makela for The New York Times

The first presidential debate between President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. unraveled into an ugly melee Tuesday, as Mr. Trump hectored and interrupted Mr. Biden nearly every time he spoke and the former vice president denounced the president as a “clown” and told him to “shut up.”

During the chaotic, 90-minute event in Cleveland, Mr. Trump defended his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and deflected blame, referring to the virus as the “China plague.”

“It’s China’s fault,” he said of the crisis. “It should have never happened.”

In Beijing on Wednesday, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said the accusations leveled against the country during the debate were “groundless and untenable.”

Mr. Trump also voiced impatience with a range of public-health restrictions, while Mr. Biden criticized the president for being dismissive of measures like mask wearing and social distancing.

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Trump Downplays Masks and Mocks Biden for Wearing Them

President Trump said he wore masks “when needed” but mocked Joseph R. Biden Jr. for regularly wearing masks in public.

“President Trump, you have begun to increasingly question the effectiveness of masks as a disease preventer, and in fact, recently you have cited the issue of waiters touching their masks and touching plates. Are you questioning —” “No, I think masks are OK. You have to understand, if you look, I mean, I have a mask right here. I put a mask on, you know, when I think I need it. Tonight as an example, everybody’s had a test, and you’ve had social distancing and all of the things that you have to — but I wear masks when needed. When needed, I wear masks.” “OK, let me ask —” “I don’t wear masks like him — every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from — he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.” “Masks make a big difference. His own head of the C.D.C. said if we just wore masks between now — if everybody wore masks in social distance between now and January, we’d probably save up to 100,000 lives. It matters.” “And they’ve also said the opposite.” “And no serious person said the opposite. No serious person.” “Dr. Fauci. Dr. Fauci said they didn’t.” “He did not say the opposite.” “He said very strongly, masks are not good. Then he changed his mind, he said masks are good. I’m OK with masks.”

President Trump said he wore masks “when needed” but mocked Joseph R. Biden Jr. for regularly wearing masks in public.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“He said, ‘It is what it is,’” Mr. Biden said, referring to Mr. Trump’s reaction when the country’s death toll from the virus surpassed 100,000 in May (the number is now over 200,000). “It is what it is, because you are who you are,” Mr. Biden said.

When Mr. Trump was asked about his statements regarding the availability of a vaccine before the election — which directly contradict his own health experts who say it will most likely not be publicly available before next summer — the president said they were wrong: “I’ve spoken to the companies and we can have it a lot sooner.”

Mr. Biden said, “We’re for a vaccine, but I don’t trust him at all and nor do you, I know you don’t. We trust the scientists.”

Global roundup

Credit…Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press

Israel’s second national lockdown is likely to last at least a month and perhaps much longer, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, as the country’s soaring infection rate of around 8,000 confirmed new cases a day remained among the highest in the world.

“In my opinion, it won’t be less than a month, and it could take much more time,” Mr. Netanyahu said during a Facebook Live video session.

The lockdown came into effect this month, on the eve of the Jewish New Year holiday, and was tightened on Friday after Mr. Netanyahu warned that without immediate measures, Israel would “reach the edge of the abyss.” Israelis must remain within 1,000 meters of their homes unless they are going to authorized places of work or seeking essential supplies or services, and outdoor gatherings are limited to 20 people.

But synagogues were allowed to hold indoor prayers for limited numbers of worshipers during Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, which fell on Sunday night and Monday, and large gatherings of ultra-Orthodox worshipers were captured on video in several locations.

The number of seriously ill virus patients has surpassed 800, a number that government and health officials had long cited as the maximum that Israel’s hospitals could cope with in their current capacity.

Israel reported 243 virus deaths over the past week, according to a New York Times database. That works out to 2.7 per 100,000 people, one of the highest per capita death rates in the world.

In other developments around the world:

  • South Korea said on Wednesday that it would impose a fine of up to $85 on anyone caught without a mask in high-risk areas like outdoor gatherings and public transportation, starting on Oct. 13. As people in the country began on Wednesday to celebrate Chuseok, a major holiday that runs through the weekend, health officials reported 113 new cases, the highest daily tally in five days. Tens of millions of South Koreans are traveling for Chuseok and officials fear that holiday gatherings could create new vectors of infection.

  • Finland on Tuesday ordered bars and restaurants to close at 1 a.m. and to stop alcohol sales at midnight starting Oct. 8 to help contain the spread of the virus. Finland’s virus numbers have remained among the lowest in Europe for months but its public health authority said 149 new coronavirus cases had been reported on Tuesday, among the country’s highest daily numbers for several months. Finland has recorded nearly 10,000 cases of the virus and 345 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

  • Belgium has recorded more than 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus, one of the highest death tolls in Europe. In a country where paramedics and hospitals sometimes denied care to older people, more than half of the deaths in Belgium have been residents of nursing homes.

  • Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany warned citizens that infections will probably rise and called for vigilance. “I appeal to you all, follow the rules that will be in effect in the next while,” she said in a prepared speech during a budget debate. “We have a difficult time ahead of us with autumn and winter approaching.” Ms. Merkel and state governors agreed on Tuesday to lower ceilings on group gatherings and to fine bar and restaurant owners and other businesses who are lax about verifying patrons’ contact information. The country reported 1,798 new infections on Tuesday, more than its recent average of more than 1,600 a day. According to a New York Times Database, Germany has had a total of 289,219 reported cases and 9,488 deaths since the pandemic began.