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As cases near 25 million, protests over restrictions and warnings of new rules to come.
With the total number of global confirmed coronavirus cases approaching 25 million, some countries that had escaped the worst of the outbreaks are experiencing surges in caseloads — and in resistance to the lockdowns and social distancing measures that have transformed daily life in much of the world.
In Germany on Saturday, thousands of people took to the streets of Berlin, arguing that government measures to thwart the coronavirus violate their constitutional rights.
Although the country has been lauded for mostly minimizing the pandemic’s toll health-wise, many who have found themselves out of work are angry and afraid that they would not survive a second lockdown. Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that she believed the pandemic would worsen as colder weather drives people back indoors.
In Cuba, the authorities are imposing the island’s first curfew since the start of the pandemic amid a spike in new cases: Starting Monday, freedom of movement in the capital, Havana, will be suspended between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m.
And in France, President Emmanuel Macron has warned that the nation could be subject to another lockdown, saying on Friday that the authorities were doing “everything to avoid” one, but that “nothing in theory could be ruled out.”
The country reported more than 7,300 new coronavirus cases on Friday — the largest rise since March 31 — at a time when the number of new cases worldwide is growing faster than ever, with an average of over 200,000 reported each day.
“I feel even worse than I did before,” said Adilen Sardiñas, 28, a musician in Cuba who has been out of work since the nation closed its borders to tourism five months ago. “I know wearing a mask is important, but it makes me feel claustrophobic, so I hardly leave the house these days. I’m in limbo, because I don’t know when this is going to end.”
Marilyn Cortez, a retired cafeteria worker in Houston who has no health insurance, spent much of July in the hospital with Covid-19. When she finally returned home, she received a $36,000 bill that compounded the stress of her illness.
Then someone from the hospital, Houston Methodist, called and told her not to worry — President Trump had paid it.
But then another bill arrived, for twice as much.
Ms. Cortez’s care is supposed to be covered under a program that Mr. Trump announced this spring as the pandemic was taking hold — a time when millions of people were losing their health insurance and the administration was doubling down on trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the law that had expanded coverage to more than 20 million people.
“This should alleviate any concern uninsured Americans may have about seeking the coronavirus treatment,” Mr. Trump said in April about the program, which is supposed to cover testing and treatment for uninsured people with Covid-19, using money from the federal stimulus package.
The program has drawn little attention since, but a review by The New York Times of payments made through it, as well as interviews with hospital executives, patients and health policy researchers who have examined the payments, suggest that the quickly concocted plan has not lived up to its promise.
It has caused confusion at participating hospitals, which in some cases have mistakenly billed patients who should be covered by it. Few patients seem to know the program exists, so they don’t question the charges. And some hospitals and other medical providers have chosen not to participate.
Large numbers of patients have also been disqualified because Covid-19 has to be the primary diagnosis for a case to be covered (unless the patient is pregnant).
“This is not the way you deal with uninsured people during a public health emergency,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University.
Thousands of people took to the streets of Berlin on Saturday, demanding an end to the government measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that they say violate their constitutional rights.
But before the march reached its destination in the Tiergarten, the police shut down the protest, saying that demonstrators were not following social distancing rules. That came an hour after the police decreed that protesters would have to wear masks.
Officials estimated that 18,000 people had turned out to demonstrate.
Although Germany has been celebrated for its handling of the pandemic, with schools reopening and its economy showing signs of rebounding, many in the country who have found themselves out of work are angry and afraid they would not survive a second lockdown.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that she believed the pandemic would get worse as colder weather drives people back indoors.
“We have all enjoyed the freedoms and relative protection from aerosols in the summer, which is possible through life outdoors,” she said during her traditional summer news conference. “We must expect that some things will be even more difficult in the coming months.”
German health authorities registered 1,571 new infections on Friday, a slight dip from a recent high point last week when more than 2,000 new cases were registered in a single day, according to a New York Times database.
The group that organized the protest, based in the southwestern city of Stuttgart, is angry over the economic damage caused by a monthslong lockdown in the spring and restrictions imposed on public life that have led the German economy to shrink 9.7 percent and put millions out of work.
Yale students in Barbados. Michigan students in Brooklyn. Berkeley students in Las Vegas?
As the fall semester begins, many U.S. college students will be attending classes from the relative safety of their family homes. Others have arrived to live on university campuses, with varying amounts of success; even schools that enforce strict social distancing guidelines are seeing outbreaks of the coronavirus.
But some students are pursuing a third option: renting houses with friends — sometimes in far-flung locales — and doing school remotely, together.
Two groups of students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have rented large houses in Hawaii for the fall semester. Several rising seniors at Harvard are renting property in Montana. There are at least seven large houses that have been rented in the greater Salt Lake City area alone, filled with students from different colleges.
These houses range in scale from lavish and pricey productions to smart, budget-friendly solutions for first generation, low-income students.
Hanah Jun, 19, a rising sophomore at Yale who is from Queens, said that her family’s financial instability and lack of reliable Wi-Fi had made completing her studies from home nearly impossible.
“I’m on full financial aid,” said Ms. Jun, who plans to move to Barbados in the fall with three friends. “In terms of financial privilege, there’s a lot of students from alternative backgrounds looking to do this.”
The Tour de France, the prestigious cycling race that typically draws hundreds of thousands of roadside spectators, departed from the southern city of Nice on Saturday, even as the country has experienced its largest rise in coronavirus cases since March and President Emmanuel Macron has warned that the possibility of a new nationwide lockdown could not be ruled out.
The Tour usually takes place in July but was delayed because of the coronavirus. It is now scheduled to finish its serpentine, 2,156-mile journey across the country on Sept. 20 in Paris, although that, like everything else in the pandemic era, is subject to change.
Organizers have instituted stringent protocols to the peloton of 220 cyclists and the hundreds of staff members, including coronavirus tests before the race and daily health controls.
But the sprawling race, which organizers hope can remain contained in an infection-free bubble, will take place in a country that in recent days has reported thousands of new cases — its highest levels since March, when Europe was an epicenter of the pandemic and France one of its hardest-hit countries.
Mr. Macron told journalists on Friday that the authorities were doing “everything to avoid a new lockdown,” but added that “nothing in theory could be ruled out.”
Masks are compulsory in public in cities like Paris and Nice, and fans watching the Tour on the sides of the road or in the departure and arrival areas will be required to wear them, too. The number of spectators allowed will also be limited.
“It will still be the Tour,” said Benoît Cosnefroy, 24, a rider for AG2R La Mondiale who rode his first Tour last year, “but without the euphoria that the public brings.”
what we learned this week
As the Republican National Convention neared its end this week, President Trump vowed that a vaccine against the coronavirus would be produced before the end of the year “or maybe even sooner.”
The pledge is a tall order by any measure: Patients must be willing to take the vaccine, and there must be enough doses to be distributed.
The longer that vaccines are tested before being released, the likelier they are to be safe and effective. But the White House’s search for a silver bullet has prompted fears among government researchers that the president — who has spent his time in office undermining science and the expertise of the federal bureaucracy — may push the Food and Drug Administration to overlook insufficient data and give at least limited emergency approval to a vaccine.
Seven months into the pandemic, more than 30 vaccines are rapidly advancing through clinical trials. At least 88 vaccine candidates are under active preclinical investigation in laboratories across the world, with 67 of them due to begin clinical trials before the end of next year.
Other highlights in coronavirus news from the week:
A New York Times survey found more than 26,000 cases of the coronavirus at more than 750 U.S. colleges and universities over the course of the pandemic. Clusters of cases have emerged in dorms, on Greek rows and at college bars, in some cases upending plans for the fall semester. Seven universities, all of them large public schools in the South, have announced more than 500 cases each.
Reporting was contributed by Ed Augustin, Melissa Eddy, Tess Felder, Abby Goodnough, Taylor Lorenz, Stuart Miller, Elian Peltier and Christopher F. Schuetze.