The Biden administration said on Friday that it would begin restricting travel to the United States from India, where a devastating coronavirus outbreak is claiming over 3,000 lives each day.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said in a statement that the move was done on the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that it would go into effect on Tuesday.
“The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high Covid-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India,” she said.
Months ago, India appeared to be weathering the pandemic. After a harsh initial lockdown, the country did not see an explosion in new cases and deaths comparable to those in other countries. But after the early restrictions were lifted, many Indians stopped taking precautions. Large gatherings, including political rallies and religious festivals, resumed and drew millions of people.
Doctors and news reports have cited anecdotal — but inconclusive — evidence to suggest that a homegrown variant called B.1.617 is driving the country’s outbreak and that people who have been fully vaccinated are getting sick. But researchers say that data so far suggests that another variant that has spread widely in Britain and the U.S., the highly contagious B.1.1.7, may also be a significant factor.
One in five coronavirus tests are coming back positive in India, but experts fear the true toll is much higher.
As the U.S. Air Force delivered the first shipments of oxygen cylinders, test kits, masks and other emergency supplies promised to India by the Biden administration, several Indian states said they could not fulfill the government’s directive to expand vaccinations to all adults beginning on Saturday because they lacked doses. Only a small fraction of the country has been vaccinated so far.
After President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, the Biden administration announced Monday that it intended to make up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine available to other countries, so long as federal regulators deem the doses safe. It was a significant, albeit limited, shift for the White House, which had been reluctant to export excess vaccines in large amounts.
As hospitals face shortages of intensive-care beds, relatives of the sick are broadcasting desperate pleas on social media for oxygen, medicine and other scarce supplies. Many Indians say they do not know if they are infected with the coronavirus because overwhelmed labs have stopped processing tests.
As plumes of smoke rose from cremation grounds, where bodies were arriving faster than they could be burned, teams of professional cricket players squared off under the lights of a cavernous stadium named for India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi.
The jarring scenes unfolded on Thursday in Ahmedabad, the capital of Mr. Modi’s home state of Gujarat and a hot spot in India’s spiraling coronavirus outbreak, which is claiming an average of nearly 3,000 lives a day nationwide.
For decades, cricket and its charismatic stars have commanded exalted status in India, where the once-genteel colonial game attracts its biggest and most passionate fan base. Now, public anger is growing at the sport’s marquee international product, the Indian Premier League, which is playing matches in a “bio-bubble” without spectators that has drawn criticism for diverting resources from the country’s wider coronavirus fight.
“There is a lack of empathy for dead bodies lying in crematoriums surrounding your stadium,” said Rahul Verma, a lawyer and die-hard cricket fan who said he had been a devoted follower of the cricket league since it started in 2008. “This game, a gentleman’s game, never was so grotesque.”
India set another global record on Friday with nearly 383,000 new infections, the health ministry reported, pushing the global coronavirus case count to more than 150 million.
In India, with one in five tests coming back positive, experts fear the true toll is much higher. As the U.S. Air Force delivered the first shipments of oxygen cylinders, test kits, masks and other emergency supplies promised to India by the Biden administration, several Indian states said they could not fulfill the government’s directive to expand vaccinations to all adults beginning on Saturday because they lacked vaccine doses.
As hospitals face shortages of intensive-care beds, relatives of the sick broadcast desperate pleas on social media for oxygen, medicine and other scarce supplies. Many Indians say they do not know if they are infected with the coronavirus because overwhelmed labs have stopped processing tests.
But one group that seems unaffected is the wealthy and powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India, the regulatory body that oversees the Indian Premier League, which was modeled on soccer’s Premier League in England and features players from around the world.
The board has kept ambulances fitted with mobile intensive-care beds on standby outside stadiums where matches are being played in case a player falls sick. It is testing players every two days and has created a travel bubble between stadiums in the six states hosting matches, including dedicated airport check-in counters for cricketers.
Meanwhile, some Indians say they cannot cross state lines to find hospital beds for Covid-19 patients.
Hemang Amin, the board’s chief operating officer, said in a letter released this week that the health and safety of players and staff members were “of paramount importance,” and added that the matches, which conclude on May 30, were a needed distraction in a difficult time.
“When you all walk out onto the field, you are bringing hope to millions of people who have tuned in,” he wrote.
But the league’s safety protocols have only highlighted the gap between its star players — who have said little publicly in the face of criticism — and the rest of the country.
“That ambulance outside that stadium could have saved at least ten lives a day,” said Ishan Singh, a cricket fan in Delhi. “These players are thieves. Given a chance, they will rob wood from the cremations and sell it in the market.”
The New Indian Express, a daily newspaper, said in an editorial this week that it would suspend coverage of the cricket league until “a semblance of normalcy is restored” in the country.
“This is commercialism gone crass,” the newspaper wrote. “The problem is not with the game but its timing.”
Restaurants in New York City can broaden indoor dining to 75 percent capacity beginning on May 7, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday, an expansion already available to restaurants in the rest of the state.
The governor also said the city’s gyms and fitness centers would expand to 50 percent capacity beginning May 15. Hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services can move to to 75 percent capacity on May 7, he said.
The expansions will effectively apply to the entire city because Mr. Cuomo also announced that he was rescinding his “micro-cluster zone strategy.” That set of restrictions were divided into three color-coded zones — red, orange and yellow — each with different rules for gatherings, schools and businesses for specific neighborhoods or boroughs, in New York City. Zones in the rest of the state had been lifted earlier this year.
The governor’s announcement came a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio declared that New York City would fully reopen on July 1, after more than a year of virus-related restrictions imposed by the governor.
After months of persistently high case numbers during a second virus wave, the city has started to turn a corner, particularly as the weather has warmed and drawn residents outside. Public health officials and epidemiologists expect vaccinations to continue to drive down new cases over the next two months.
Still, they have acknowledged that the virus will likely remain a threat, at least to some extent.
At a White House news conference on Friday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the mayor’s July 1 date “a reasonable target” if the current pace of vaccinations and declines in case numbers continued. She declined to predict updates to the C.D.C.’s guidance that those dining indoors should wear masks except when actively eating or drinking, noting that “this virus has tricked us before.”
At a news conference on Thursday, Mr. Cuomo scoffed at Mr. de Blasio’s comment about the city reopening by July 1, emphasizing that the state was in charge. He said that he was “reluctant to make projections” on a reopening date, saying that doing so would be “irresponsible.”
Even so, the governor, who has moved recently to roll back restrictions, said that he too was hopeful that a wider reopening was within sight, possibly sooner than Mr. de Blasio’s goal.
“I think that if we do what we have to do, we can be reopened earlier,” Mr. Cuomo said.
Earlier this week, the governor said that the longstanding curfew requiring establishments to stop serving customers at midnight will end statewide on May 17 for outdoor dining areas and May 31 for indoor dining.
Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement on Friday that easing restrictions on restaurants and bars “provides a shot of optimism to small business owners and workers who have been financially devastated over the past year.”
“We look forward to working with Governor Cuomo’s administration to safely reopen New York City, so we can get the restaurant capital of the world cooking again,” he said.
Michael Gold contributed reporting.
Coronavirus cases in Colorado are rapidly increasing among middle and high school students, state public health officials said this week, four months after schools began to reopen.
“Their rate is much higher on average for what we’re seeing for adults in the state, and that increase we’re seeing is pretty steep at this point,” Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday.
There is also an increase in younger children, between 3 and 10 years old, though it is “not as dramatic,” she said.
All told, there have been more than 2,300 reported cases among children in Colorado, up from 861 in December, according to the Denver Post. State data show that people under the age of 19 made up 26 percent of all cases in Colorado last week. People between 20 and 29 accounted for 40 percent.
Other states are also seeing sharp increases in infections among young people. For instance, in West Virginia, the proportion of cases among people under 20 has gone from 16 to 26 percent. Over all, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, cases among those under 20 have averaged 13.7 percent over the pandemic, but 20.9 percent for the week ending April 22.
The rise among that group reflects the current age restriction for vaccinations: 18 for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and 16 for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. And even when schools themselves keep mask-wearing, distancing and other precautions in place, there are extracurricular activities when the measures are abandoned.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, variants that are more transmissible among all age groups are spreading in Colorado, as they are in many states, including B.1.1.7, the more lethal variant first found in Britain.
Colorado’s governor, Jared Polis, a Democrat, has said that “schools are a relatively safe place,” and partly attributed the outbreaks to vaccinated parents and grandparents taking children with them to restaurants and social gatherings.
“While their elders may be protected, the young people don’t have that level of protection,” he said on Tuesday, adding that he hoped vaccines would be approved for 12- to 15-year-olds in the coming months. He urged everyone 16 and older to get vaccinated.
C.D.C. numbers show that 46 percent of the state’s population has had at least one shot of a Covid vaccine, with 31 percent fully vaccinated.
Dr. Herlihy said the state’s overall case numbers began ticking up this week. The average for the past week is 1,772 new cases per day, up about 7 percent from the average two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database. In mid-March, the state was averaging 888 cases a day. Hospitalizations are also up 33 percent over the last two weeks, largely attributed to an increase in cases among young adults.
Despite what Colorado officials are calling a fourth wave, superintendents are hoping to make an already disruptive school year less so. Twelve district leaders asked the state health department to ease quarantine requirements for students who have potentially been exposed to the virus.
At a news conference on Thursday, Dr. Herlihy said the state was exploring options to try to “decrease the burden of quarantine” while balancing public safety measures.
ISTANBUL — Turkey granted emergency use approval on Friday to Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine as the country entered an 18-day lockdown to contain the country’s worst surge of the pandemic.
Sputnik V will be the third Covid vaccine to be used in Turkey. The country has already given emergency approval to a vaccine produced by the Chinese company Sinovac and another created by a collaboration of the U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer with the German company BioNtech.
Brazil rejected Sputnik V this week over questions about its production and safety, but the vaccine has been approved for use in dozens of countries. Albania also approved it for use on Friday, and said it had already received a shipment, according to Reuters.
Turkey’s health minister, Fahrettin Koca, said an arrangement with Russia would bring 50 million doses of Sputnik V into Turkey within six months. The first shipment is expected in May. Turkey also wants to secure the technology to produce the vaccine domestically.
Turkey has been reporting more than 40,000 confirmed daily cases, down from a record of more than 60,000 mid-April but still far above its previous high of about 30,000 in December, according to data from John Hopkins University.
The country’s lateset lockdown requires people to stay home except to run essential errands or to go to certain jobs. Schools, kindergartens and day care centers will be closed. Grocery stores will be open, but only for customers who live within walking distance. Even solitary outdoor exercise will be banned.
Critics accuse the government of easing restrictions too early, in March, and say the government failed to secure enough vaccine for the population of 83 million.
So far, government data shows that only 9.1 million people have been fully vaccinated.
Mr. Koca on Thursday admitted that there would be vaccine procurement difficulties for the next two months, but on Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied any shortages.
“I do not accept we will have any difficulty,” Mr. Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul after Friday Prayer. “We have already had enough vaccines.’’
He said that “if necessary,” he would speak to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.
The two leaders have a close but sometimes tense relationship. Russia recently sold an air defense system to Turkey, causing the ire among the country’s fellow NATO members in Europe, and the United States.
The vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford brought in $275 million in sales from about 68 million doses delivered in the first three months of this year, AstraZeneca reported on Friday.
AstraZeneca disclosed the figure, most of which came from sales in Europe, as it reported its first-quarter financial results. It offers the clearest view to date of how much money is being brought in by one of the leading Covid vaccines.
AstraZeneca, which has pledged not to profit on its vaccine during the pandemic, has been selling the shot to governments for several dollars per dose, less expensive than the other leading vaccines. The vaccine has won authorization in at least 78 countries since December but is not approved for use in the United States.
The vaccine represented just under 4 percent of AstraZeneca’s revenue for the quarter; it was nowhere near the company’s biggest revenue generator. By comparison, the company’s best-selling product, the cancer drug Tagrisso, brought in more than $1.1 billion in sales in the quarter.
AstraZeneca has said it is planning to seek emergency authorization for its vaccine to be used in the United States, even as it has become clear that the doses are not needed. The Biden administration said this week that it would make available to the rest of the world up to 60 million doses of its supply of AstraZeneca shots, pending a review of their quality.
If the company does win authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it could help shore up confidence in a vaccine whose reputation been hit by concerns about a rare but serious side effect involving blood clotting. The F.D.A.’s evaluation process is considered the gold standard globally.
Johnson & Johnson, whose vaccine was authorized for emergency use at the end of February, reported last week that its vaccine generated $100 million in sales in the United States in the first three months of the year. The federal government is paying the company $10 a dose. Like AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson has pledged to sell its vaccine “at cost” — meaning it won’t profit on the sales — during the pandemic.
Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna cost more, and neither company has said that it will forgo profits. Pfizer has said that it expects its vaccine to bring in about $15 billion in revenue this year; Moderna said it anticipates $18.4 billion in sales.
Both companies are scheduled to report their first-quarter results next week.
Executives of Emergent BioSolutions, the vaccine manufacturer that was forced to discard up to 15 million doses because of possible contamination, reported a shake-up in leadership on Thursday and offered the most fulsome defense yet of the company’s performance.
While announcing the high-level personnel changes and taking responsibility for the ruined doses, executives nonetheless forecast record revenues this year of nearly $2 billion.
Robert Kramer, the chief executive, speaking on a call with investors, said that one senior vice president overseeing manufacturing would depart the company while another executive would go on leave. A third official, Mary Oates, who recently joined Emergent after a long tenure at Pfizer, is now leading the company’s response to a recent federal inspection that found serious flaws at the Baltimore facility that produced the vaccines.
The call on Thursday came at a tumultuous time for Emergent, a once-obscure federal contractor that has built a lucrative business selling biodefense products to the government. Production at the company’s Baltimore plant was suspended this month after the discovery that workers had potentially contaminated millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Addressing these setbacks, Mr. Kramer offered a vigorous defense of the company on Thursday.
He took “full responsibility” for the manufacturing problems, acknowledging that the “loss of a batch for a viral contamination is extremely serious, and we treated it as such,” but he also said that Emergent had taken on a “herculean task” in a crisis.
GREENVILLE, TENN. — This community and its surroundings in northern Tennessee are rural, overwhelmingly Republican, deeply Christian and 95 percent white. Polls show that resistance to the vaccine is most entrenched in such areas.
While campaigns aimed at convincing Black and Latino urban communities to set aside their vaccine mistrust have made striking gains, towns like Greenville will also have to be convinced, if the country is to achieve widespread immunity.
But a week here in Greene County reveals a more nuanced, layered hesitancy than surveys suggest. People say that politics isn’t the leading driver of their vaccine attitudes. The most common reason for their apprehension is fear — that the vaccine was developed in haste, that long-term side effects are unknown. Their decisions are also entangled in a web of views about bodily autonomy, science and authority, plus a powerful regional, somewhat romanticized self-image: We don’t like outsiders messing in our business.
Still, conversations here show that for many people, resistance is not firm. Roiled by internet fallacies, many hunger for straightforward information from people they trust. Others have practical needs, like paid time off to recover from side effects, which the Biden administration has urged employers to offer, or the opportunity to get the shot from their own doctor.
Thousands of people letting loose on a nightclub dance floor. Hundreds of suited-up people gathering for a business conference. And none of them wearing masks.
As Britain slowly emerges from a lengthy lockdown, a flashback to life before the pandemic is taking place in Liverpool as part of a series of government-led experiments.
Liverpool on Wednesday hosted Britain’s first business conference since March 2020 and the northwestern English city will on Friday kick off a two-day nightclub event, the first in Britain in more than a year, and an outdoor music festival will take place on Sunday.
The events are part of a British government research project to see how mass gatherings can happen safely. Participants are asked to take a coronavirus test before events and are required to produce a negative result. Once they are inside the venues, social distancing and face coverings are not required.
The pilot events are taking place across England this month and next month, closely monitored by the health authorities. Some sports competitions with audiences have already been part of the program and thousands of people will gather in London next month for the Brit Awards music show, and soccer’s F.A. Cup final.
Every attendee will be asked to undergo a virus test after the event and the research gathered will shape the government’s policy on bringing back large events.
England has set a provisional date of June 21 for all of its virus restrictions to be dropped, including those on mass gatherings, and scientists are hoping that the events that they are monitoring will provide insights into how to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
In other updates from around the world:
Authorities at tollbooths and ports in Greece on Friday have turned back hundreds of people attempting to defy virus restrictions on travel between regions ahead of Orthodox Easter, the most important date in the religious calendar. Although cases have stabilized in recent weeks, deaths and hospitalizations remain high. Greece has gradually lifted restrictions in recent weeks, including ending quarantine requirements for visitors from dozens of countries, as it prepares to fully reopen its tourism sector next month.
While Spain is expected to lift its nationwide state of emergency on May 9, allowing for the return of tourists in June, some regional administrations are preparing to extend their own lockdown measures for longer. Cases are down, and more people are getting vaccinated. Reopening tourism is key to the economy, which contracted in the first quarter, the government said on Friday. Tourism arrivals dropped to 19 million last year, after seven years of growth, from 84 million in 2019.
In Portugal, Prime Minister António Costa announced late Thursday that the country’s only land border — with Spain — would reopen on Saturday, having remained shut since January. Portugal is also fast-tracking the removal of lockdown restrictions after reducing significantly its coronavirus infection rate.
Raphael Minder and Niki Kitsantonis contributed reporting.
Before the pandemic, Google’s sprawling campus of airy, open offices and whimsical common spaces set a standard for what an innovative workplace was supposed to look like.
Now, the company is creating a workplace for the Covid era, with a concept perhaps best described as Ikea meets Lego.
Instead of rows of desks next to cookie-cutter meeting rooms, Google is designing “Team Pods.” Chairs, desks, whiteboards and storage units on casters can be wheeled into various arrangements, and in some cases rearranged in a matter of hours. It is building outdoor work areas to respond to concerns about the coronavirus.
At its Silicon Valley headquarters, it has converted a parking lot and lawn area into a “camp,” with clusters of tables and chairs under open-air tents. The area is a fenced-in mix of grass and wooden deck flooring about the size of four tennis courts with Wi-Fi throughout.
David Radcliffe, Google’s vice president for real estate and workplace services, said that while moving more than 100,000 employees to virtual work last year was daunting, “now it seems even more daunting to figure out how to bring them back safely.”
With vaccinations mounting in some of the world’s wealthiest countries and people envisioning life after the pandemic, the crisis in Latin America is taking an alarming turn for the worse, potentially threatening the progress made well beyond its borders.
Last week, Latin America accounted for 35 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the world, despite having just 8 percent of the global population, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
The length of the region’s epidemic makes it even harder to fight. It has already endured some of the strictest lockdowns, longest schools closures and largest economic contractions in the world.
And if Latin America fails to contain the virus — or if the world fails to step in to help it — new, more dangerous variants may emerge, said Dr. Jarbas Barbosa of the Pan-American Health Organization.
“This could cost us all that the world is doing” to fight the pandemic, he said.
After being closed for more than a year, Disneyland reopens on Friday to California residents only. Travel advisers around the country said tickets sold out quickly, and people have been waiting online for hours to get a reservation to the Anaheim, Calif., theme park.
As more people across the United States are vaccinated and as summer approaches, theme park bookings are picking up, even though children are still not eligible for coronavirus vaccines. Greg Antonelle, the chief executive of MickeyTravels, a travel agency that helps plan Disney trips, said that if bookings keep up at the current pace, this will be the company’s strongest year.
Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., opened in July and is operating at 35 percent capacity. At Disneyland, capacity is now capped at 25 percent, and officials have not said when restrictions would be eased or bookings would be opened to out-of-state visitors.
Getting in requires both a ticket and a reservation to the park. Park rules state that masks must be worn at all times, except when swimming or eating, even by those who have been vaccinated. The parades, fireworks, and nighttime spectaculars that are typical of the Disney park experience are still suspended, and character interactions are socially distanced.
But for Bethany Millar, an administrator at a medical school in St. Louis who visited Walt Disney World in April, it was worth it: “Disney’s staff did everything in their power to make you feel like you were having a safe Covid experience,” she said.
A daughter holding her mother’s hand. A son overcome that his 95-year-old mother had survived the pandemic. A stoic family patriarch, suddenly in tears.
After a year of excruciating lockdowns, these were the scenes at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities as they began to open up this spring. Before the arrival of vaccines, one in three coronavirus deaths in the United States had ties to nursing homes or similar facilities.
The New York Times sent photographers across the country to document reunions. For many family members, it was the first time they were able to be together, hold hands and hug in more than a year.
In interviews, which have been edited and condensed for clarity, families recalled a deep fear that they would never see their loved ones again. When the time finally came, they were flooded with a year’s worth of emotion in a single instant: joy, relief, love — and grief for all the time that had been lost.
San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living
Con Yan Muy, 93, has been a resident at the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living nursing home since 2019. Anita Li, 24, grew up with her grandmother and previously visited daily. For a year during the pandemic, she saw her grandmother only a handful of times through a window or at a distance. Even now, her visits remain limited, as is the case at many facilities.
ANITA LI: I was hiding in the bathroom when she came in. It was a surprise. She didn’t recognize me initially because I had my mask on. I am going to be honest, I was kind of sad. I am one of the most involved persons in her life, and she couldn’t recognize me. I immediately just started patting her legs and her arms for better blood circulation. I had brought some dumplings and also brought her some sesame balls that she really enjoys. We made a video for the rest of the family for her to say hi.
It’s like a sigh of relief that we could finally be together, but also knowing that this was a one-time thing, and not really sure what the future holds. Am I going to see her every week face to face? Can I eventually take her out on walks where she can get some sun? What is the new normal, and how much can we be involved in her life postquarantine?