Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Nears 4 Million Cases as Multiple States Set Records

Lining up to get a coronavirus test in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Alabama, California, Idaho and Texas recorded daily death records. Other states reported their highest daily case totals. As pandemic protections reach an end, landlords are moving to evict people.

New state unemployment claims in the U.S. rose last week for the first time since early in the pandemic, to more than 1.4 million, amid new fears of an economic backslide.

California recorded new highs in both coronavirus deaths and total number of cases on Wednesday, as troubling data emerged across the United States and more than 1,100 deaths were reported for the second consecutive day.

Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia recorded their highest daily case numbers on Wednesday, while Alabama, Idaho and Texas reported daily death records, according to a database.

Nationwide, 69,707 new virus cases were reported on Wednesday. Total confirmed cases in the United States were expected to pass 4 million on Thursday.

And 59,628people were being treated at hospitals on Wednesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. That is near the peak of 59,940 on April 15, when the center of the outbreak was New York. Experts have warned that the data likely undercounts both cases and deaths.

Some, including President Trump, have said that more testing explains the increase in the number of cases, but The Times has found that the recent rise in cases far outpaces a rise in testing.

After warning on Tuesday the virus would get “worse before it gets better,” Mr. Trump shifted back on Wednesday to saying that virus testing was “overrated” and “makes us look bad.” He accused Democrats of sounding the alarm over the virus for political reasons.

“Watch,” Mr. Trump said, “on Nov. 4, everything will open up.”

The 1,130 deaths announced on Wednesday across the United States were the highest single-day death total since May 29, with the exception of two anomalous days in June when large numbers of deaths from unknown dates were reported.

In Texas, which recorded 201 deaths on Wednesday, a steady climb in daily death tolls has matched a similar increase in reported cases.

California recorded at least 155 deaths and 12,162 cases on Wednesday, both records. With more than 422,000 cases, the state has now reported more cases than New York, the early center of the pandemic in the United States.

And Louisiana, which is in the midst of its second case surge of the pandemic, surpassed New York as the state with the most known cases per capita in the country, though testing was scarce when cases peaked in New York this spring.

About as many people are now known to be hospitalized with the coronavirus in the United States as during any other time in the pandemic, matching the previous peak in April.

Public health experts say detailed local data on where people are hospitalized — a real-time measure that does not depend on levels of testing — is crucial to understanding the epidemic, but federal officials have not made this data public. The gathered data for nearly 50 metropolitan areas, including 15 of the 20 largest cities in the country, from state and local health departments to provide the first detailed national look at where people are falling seriously ill.

The data, as well as interviews across the country, show a far-reaching crisis. The worst-hit areas in Texas and Florida have approached the peak rates of hospitalization that New York, New Orleans, Chicago and other cities hit in the spring. A wide and growing expanse of hot spots around the country — including Las Vegas, Nashville and Tulsa, Okla. — have worsened over the past two weeks.

Not every hospital system is overwhelmed, and new treatments have improved the chances of survival for seriously ill people. But experts say a small but significant proportion of those currently hospitalized will die, and those who survive may face serious long-term health issues.

Months ago, the urgency of the virus outbreak was concentrated in the New York City area. Now, the scale of the crisis is dispersed and harder to grasp.

“There’s this pandemic fatigue,” said Thomas Tsai, an assistant professor of health policy at Harvard University. “All eyes were on New York. Houston is New York now. Miami is New York now. Phoenix is New York now. We need that shared collective urgency.”

After more than three months of slow declines, the number of people filing new claims for state unemployment benefits in the United States rose last week. The Labor Department reported Thursday another 1.4 million new state applications.

The uptick comes just days before an extra $600-a-week jobless benefit is set to expire.

An additional 975,000 claims were filed by freelancers, part-time workers and others who do not qualify for regular state jobless aid but are eligible for benefits under an emergency federal program, the Labor Department announced. Unlike the state figures, that number is not seasonally adjusted.

The stubbornly high rate of new weekly claims more than four months into the pandemic “suggests that the nature of the downturn has changed from early on,” said Ernie Tedeschi, a policy economist at Evercore ISI. It may mean that businesses are shutting down again as cases surge in some places, or that funds from emergency small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program are running out, he said — or worse, something more fundamental.

“It might be that businesses are running through their first line of credit,” he said, “and now they’re facing the music of an economy that has recovered a little bit but nearly enough.”

During the worst of the Great Recession in 2009-9, the weekly number of claims never exceeded 700,000. Since mid-March, new state unemployment applications have yet to fall below a million.

Congressional lawmakers and the White House are negotiating a roughly $1 trillion coronavirus relief package that would include extending some benefits for unemployed workers.

Having multiple jobs has become business as usual for millions of Americans. But many cobbled-together employment arrangements, which enabled people to get by when the jobless rate skimmed along at record lows, collapsed after the pandemic froze large sectors of the economy.

People who rely on paychecks from different employers are already more likely to have shifting schedules and unpredictable weekly paychecks, low hourly wages and the absence of benefits like sick days and health insurance. And when hard times hit, they are excluded from regular state unemployment benefits.

The latest government unemployment figures will be released Thursday. For 17 straight weeks, there have been more than one million new jobless claims, and this morning’s tally is expected to extend that streak. The question is whether the number of claims will grow as lockdown restrictions have been put back in place to stop the virus’s spread.

When economic shutdowns began rolling through the country, Congress focused on the existing unemployment insurance system as the primary vehicle for assistance. Lawmakers moved quickly to fill in some of the holes and created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, a temporary benefit for the ranks of freelancers and part-timers, as well as contract, self-employed and gig workers, who are ineligible for normal state benefits.

The emergency federal program, which expires at the end of the year, provided a lifeline for millions of people, but it has struggled with a slow rollout and complicated rules, as well as overburdened administrators and computers. Organized fraud has further bedeviled the process.

In most states, regular state benefits replace less than half of lost wages, and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefit is half of that average state benefit. What’s more, there are at least 20 million people unemployed but only five million job openings.

Belgium’s prime minister on Thursday issued broad new mask-wearing requirements, including for pedestrians outdoors, and warned of even stricter measures if the country’s coronavirus infections continued to rise.

The policy change, in a country that had dramatically reduced the spread of the virus, reflects growing European fears of a second wave. As infections declined and the world’s attention turned to the out-of-control spread in parts of the United States, many Europeans have grown more complacent in their socializing.

Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said visitors to outdoor markets and pedestrians on commercial streets must wear masks. Masks were already mandatory in indoor public spaces. Ms. Wilmes also required restaurants, bars and hotels to collect phone numbers from all customers to help contact-tracing efforts.

“The future will depend on the behavior of everyone,” Ms. Wilmes said at a news conference. “These are not suggestions, but orders.”

Other European leaders have already reinstituted restrictions. Slovenia has capped gatherings at 10 people, and lawmakers in Luxembourg were voting Thursday on a similar cap. In Spain, regional health officials have urged millions of people in and around Barcelona to stay home.

Belgium has one of the world’s highest per-capita death tolls, largely driven by infections in nursing homes. But after a strict lockdown and a phased reopening, the nation had seemingly brought the virus under control.

Recently, though, infections have risen. New cases have nearly doubled in the past week and hospitalizations are up 40 percent. Both figures remain relatively low, but the trend is worrying. The health authorities say most infections occurred in close social settings like parties.

“The second wave has started,” Marc Van Ranst, a virologist and government adviser, said last week.

As the number of coronavirus cases has grown across the United States, another disturbing trend has emerged: landlords commencing eviction proceedings even though the federal CARES Act still protects millions of tenants. The four-month pause in eviction cases is set to expire at the end of this week.

Yet landlords in Tucson, Ariz., filed dozens of eviction cases last month despite the federal moratorium, which was put in place because of the pandemic.

State and local governments have also issued eviction moratoriums, but the CARES Act is the furthest reaching, covering as many as 12.3 million renters living in apartment complexes or single-family homes financed with a federally backed mortgage. But like other moratoriums, it is about to expire: After Friday, landlords can file eviction notices for failure to pay rent. It will be at least 30 days after that before any tenants are kicked out.

The CARES Act does not penalize landlords who violate the moratorium.

The Private Equity Stakeholder Project, a consumer advocacy group, found more than 100 eviction filings in apparent violation of the CARES Act in Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts and Texas.

And in a survey of 100 Legal Aid lawyers in 38 states, all but nine said they knew of illegal eviction attempts in their cities. That prompted the group to create a draft complaint to challenge a violation of the CARES Act moratorium.

China’s National Health Commission on Thursday issued new guidelines for the country’s meat processors, citing outbreaks at plants in the United States, Germany and Britain, as well as the higher risks of transmission in the closed, crowded and low-temperature environments at such facilities.

All imported meat must be certified as having passed nucleic acid tests that check for the coronavirus before being processed in the country, according to the guidelines. And five environmental samples must be collected for those tests daily from meat-processing facilities in medium- and high-risk regions. In low-risk areas, such tests should be conducted at least once a week.

The guidelines were released after China has recently halted imports from a range of overseas suppliers. A worker at a seafood processing plant in the northeastern city of Dalian tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, Chinese state media reported.

China has already suspended imports from major meat producers such as Germany’s Tönnies and American meat giant Tyson. And it banned imports from three Ecuadorean companies after the coronavirus was detected on a container and on packages of frozen shrimp from Ecuador.

China’s health authorities on Thursday recorded 22 new confirmed cases in the previous day, including 18 cases in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

The owner of Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant, which just a few years ago was one of the country’s largest clothing retailers for women and girls, filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, after declining sales and high debt were exacerbated by store closures mandated by coronavirus lockdowns.

The company, Ascena Retail Group, will close “a select number” of Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, LOFT and Lou & Grey stores as well as all of its Catherines locations, the company said in a Chapter 11 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Virginia.

The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on retailers, especially apparel sellers and other mall-based chains that might have otherwise stayed afloat, perhaps even for a short period, without turning to bankruptcy court. Ascena, based in Mahwah, N.J., is at least the ninth prominent retailer to file for bankruptcy since early May, right on the heels of Brooks Brothers and Sur La Table on Wednesday, and in the wake of J. Crew, Neiman Marcus Group, J.C. Penney, Lucky Brand, Stage Stores and GNC.

Two cafeterias used by White House staff members were closed and contact tracing was conducted after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus, a Trump administration official said on Wednesday.

The cafeterias are in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the New Executive Office Building, which are part of the White House complex and are next to the West Wing.

It was not immediately clear whether the employee was a cafeteria worker, and the White House did not say what kind of symptoms the person showed.

The White House notified employees about measures in an email and said that there was no need for them to self-quarantine, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about the situation.

In May, a military aide who had contact with President Trump tested positive for the virus, as did Katie Miller, the press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence.

The surge of coronavirus cases could be slowed if the world’s poorest people receive a temporary basic income, enabling them to stay at home, according to a United Nations report released on Thursday.

The pandemic is spreading by more than 1.5 million new virus cases a week, but in some places it may not be possible for workers to take measures like isolating. In developing countries, seven out of 10 workers can’t earn money if they are at home, according to the United Nations Development Program report, “Temporary Basic Income: Protecting Poor and Vulnerable People in Developing Countries.”

It would cost at least $199 billion a month to provide fixed-term basic income to 2.7 billion people in 132 developing countries, the report said, allowing these people to pay for their food, and health and education expenses.

Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Program, said the introduction of a temporary basic income might have seemed impossible a few months ago, but “unprecedented times call for unprecedented social and economic measures.”

“Bailouts and recovery plans cannot only focus on big markets and big business,” he said in a statement.

Adding that up to 100 million more people have so far been forced into extreme poverty this year, the report suggested that countries could pay for this measure by repurposing the funds they would use to service their debt.

They worked and lived together at a Michigan convent: some for more than a half century, many pursuing higher education and each with a variety of interests. In the end, 12 Felician sisters, ranging in age from 69 to 99, would also die in the same way — of Covid-19 and its effects — within a month, according to their order.

After the first 12 deaths from April 10 to May 10, a 13th sister at the convent, the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Livonia, Mich., died of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, on June 27.

The virus, which preys on the elderly and thrives anywhere people are in close contact, may have posed a particular danger to the sisters, who live communally.

The deaths cut deep in the communities where the sisters worked in schools, libraries and the medical field, the order said in a statement.

The women were all members of the Felician congregation for at least 50 years, according to obituaries provided by Suzanne English, executive director for mission advancement for sisters.

For example, Sister Celine Marie Lesinski, who died at 92, worked for 55 years in education, including 27 years as a librarian. And a former director of nursing, Sister Victoria Marie Indyk, who died at 69, was a nursing professor at Madonna University and was known for leading nurses on mission trips to support the Felician sisters’ mission in Haiti.

Major League Baseball begins a shortened season on Thursday, and the Times columnist Tyler Kepner writes that the only certainty is lots of uncertainty:

Baseball makes you wait. That is part of its old-world charm. The story takes time to reveal itself, pitch by pitch, inning by inning, game by game by game by … well, you get the idea. Players weather a rigorous six-month schedule, with few days off. No other professional athletes spend as many days performing.

So what will it look like now, after more than four months in hibernation since the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in mid-March? We will find out Thursday, when Major League Baseball begins its 60-game schedule with two games: the Yankees at the Nationals in Washington, and the Giants at the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Get ready for rule changes, extensive safety protocols and a whole lot of unknowns.

“It’s hard for those of us in baseball because we want to be knowledgeable about what’s going on,” said the longtime broadcaster Jim Kaat, 81, who pitched for 25 seasons in the majors, “and sometimes the toughest thing to say is, ‘I don’t know.’”

Lining up to get a coronavirus test in Los Angeles on Wednesday.