World News

U.S. records 12 millionth case as virus surge gathers speed.

The United States passed 11 million total coronavirus cases on Sunday, and its caseload has now soared past 12 million. New daily cases are approaching 200,000: on Friday, the country recorded more than 198,500, a record.

As the nation reconsiders the usual winter holiday travel and cozy indoor gatherings, new cases are being reported at an unrelenting clip. The seven-day average has exceeded 100,000 cases a day every day for the last two weeks, according to a New York Times database.

The country’s death toll from the virus stood at 254,320 as of midday Saturday. And a Times analysis shows that the United States has death rates that are higher than normal in all 50 states, as the pandemic brings unusual patterns of death.

The latest virus surge began accelerating across much of the country in mid-October. It took just over two weeks for the nation to go from eight million cases to nine million on Oct. 30; going from nine to 10 million took only 10 days. From 10 million to 11 million took just under seven days.

Despite near-daily records for both new cases and hospitalizations, there remains bipartisan reluctance toward issuing the sort of sweeping stay-at-home orders seen in the earliest days of the pandemic. In their place, officials are instituting 10 p.m. curfews, closing schools and announcing long-resisted mask mandates.

In Illinois, residents received what once might have been considered an apocalyptic warning on their phones Friday evening: “Effective today, all of Illinois enters Tier 3 Mitigation. Work from home when possible, avoid unnecessary travel, and celebrate the holidays virtually with extended family.” The state has averaged more than 12,000 cases per day for the past week and some regions of the state are down to just a few dozen I.C.U. beds.

Still, the citizenry’s resolve is wearing thin.

And as families weigh whether to gather for Thanksgiving, creeping back into headlines are the hours-long lines for tests, the overwhelmed hospital systems and the demand for additional refrigerated morgue trucks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged Americans to avoid travel for Thanksgiving and to celebrate only with members of their immediate households. It remains unclear if many families across the United States will alter their holiday plans, despite pleas from government officials and public health experts.

“It will not be long before we can embrace one another, eat together and let this year become a distant memory,” Dr. Elisabeth Poorman, an internal medicine physician, wrote for NPR. “I beg of you, don’t let this Thanksgiving be your last.”

The records are falling at a time of great political tension. President Trump has refused to concede his loss while largely ceding the fight against the virus to state and local governments who continue to go their own way, and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. argues in vain for a start of the transition, warning that failing to do so will cost lives.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the Trump administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, has been issuing dire assessments, urging Americans to “increase their vigilance” as they await the approval of a vaccine.

She implored Americans on Thursday to practice social distancing and to wear masks.

The national rhetoric is slowing shifting. Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa, a Republican, announced a statewide mask mandate this week after months of insisting it was an unenforceable “feel-good measure.” Iowa has the sixth-highest rate of new cases in the nation.

“If Iowans don’t buy into this, we lose,” Ms. Reynolds said, warning that the hospital system could collapse. “The cost in human life will be high.”

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World News

A radical Islamic leader flouts Indonesia’s virus rules on his return from exile.

A radical Islamic leader returned to Indonesia last week from self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia to spread his idea of a “moral revolution.” But health experts worry that he is doing more to spread the coronavirus.

The cleric, Rizieq Shihab, and his backers have held gatherings after his arrival Tuesday that attracted thousands of people, including a chaotic welcome at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport that clogged airport roads and the international terminal.

The events ignored social-distancing requirements and limits on the size of gatherings. They also demonstrated the influence of Mr. Rizieq, the founder of the Islamic Defenders Front, which was once best known for raiding bars and smashing alcohol bottles.

Mr. Rizieq, who claims to be a descendant of Muhammad, has maintained a large following despite fleeing the country in 2017 while facing a pornography charge over salacious text messages with a woman who was not his wife. The charge has since been dropped.

Mr. Rizieq hosted a wedding for his daughter Saturday that drew about 10,000 guests. The government’s coronavirus task force, rather than ordering that the wedding be canceled, donated 20,000 masks and gallons of hand sanitizer for the event.

On Monday, two high-ranking police chiefs were fired for their mishandling of the events. Mr. Rizieq was fined about $3,500 on Sunday for flouting coronavirus regulations at the wedding — a token amount for him and his organization.

The police also announced that they would question Jakarta’s governor, Anies Baswedan, an ally of Mr. Rizieq, about his role in allowing the wedding to take place. The two met last week after the cleric’s return.

“I want to emphasize that the safety of the people is the highest law,” Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, said in a statement released after the chiefs’ firings were announced. “During this pandemic we have decided on social restrictions, including the dispersal of crowds.”

Mr. Rizieq, who apparently left Saudi Arabia because the government did not extend his residence permit, said he planned to travel around Indonesia promoting his ideas of strict adherence to Islam. The possibility that he could draw large crowds was another concern for health experts.

Indonesia, which has the world’s fourth-largest population, reports nearly half a million cases and more than 15,000 deaths, the worst record in East Asia.

On Friday, it hit a new daily high of 5,444 cases.

But health experts say that Indonesia’s testing is too limited and that it is missing far more cases of the virus than it finds.

Pandu Riono, an epidemiologist at the University of Indonesia, says the total could be 10 to 20 times higher than the official number, putting it at five million to 10 million cases.

Dicky Budiman, an Indonesian epidemiologist at Australia’s Griffith University, estimated that the total is at least three times higher, about 1.5 million cases.

“We are already experiencing a silent outbreak in the community,” Dr. Budiman said. “We will face a serious problem when the most vulnerable get this virus.”

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Uneasy under lockdown, pubs in England are counting the days till Christmas.

At the Crooked Well, a neighborhood pub in south London that prides itself on its food, the Christmas menu is already decided. There will be venison and beef stews. But whether the stews will actually be served is another question.

Under a new lockdown planned to last a month, pubs in England have closed again. From Nov. 5 to Dec. 2, restaurants, gyms and nonessential shops are being shuttered as part of a government effort to suppress a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Britain’s first lockdown lasted more than three months, followed by an ever-changing array of restrictions since. No one knows how long this lockdown will really last.

The two nights before the lockdown took hold, “we were crazy busy, it was like the whole of London was out,” said Hector Skinner, one of the owners and the manager of the Crooked Well. “Now, I don’t know. I really don’t know. I feel like it’s going to go on for longer.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to sell the new lockdown to pandemic-weary Britons by saying it would, hopefully, allow families to be together over the holidays. But, he conceded, “Christmas is going to be different this year, very different.”

And that’s the problem for the hospitality industry, which fears losing out on a crucial month. Some 20 to 30 percent of a year’s revenue is made around Christmas and the holidays, according to the British Beer and Pub Association. At the Crooked Well, a good week in December would bring in double the best week in the summer.

If pubs can’t reopen in December, “then these businesses won’t survive January and February, which are like graveyard months for us,” said Emma McClarkin, the chief executive of the industry trade group, which represents about 20,000 pubs.

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World News

In New Zealand, some find a solution to pandemic hunger in fish heads.

Leo Mulipola found a lifeline in a load of fish heads.

Mr. Mulipola, 49, has struggled to find even an entry-level job at a gas station during the coronavirus pandemic and is now unemployed. So, with a household of six to feed, he jumped at the chance to pick up donated snapper and bluenose heads at a Maori community hall in Auckland, New Zealand.

The hall, known as a marae in the Maori language, has been distributing two tons of fish a week — the parts often discarded in commercial and recreational fishing — to families affected by New Zealand’s sputtering economy.

“It would be $150 to get a meal like this,” said Mr. Mulipola, adding that he planned to roast or fry the fish, whose cheeks contain a good amount of fatty meat and whose eyes he called tasty.

Maori and Pacific Islanders don’t need any convincing about the value of these donations. Far from being scraps, fish heads are prized as a “chiefly” food in Polynesian culture, creating an equilibrium where one person’s trash is another’s treat.

But this effort to feed those in need isn’t just a matter of charity. It’s part of a movement to reduce food waste by encouraging people to consume or otherwise use more parts of fish, which are typically stripped of their fillets and then tossed away. For every pound of fish produced by the seafood industry, roughly double that amount becomes waste, though much of it is edible.

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World News

Biden calls for masks as some Americans face new restrictions.

As the virus surges throughout the United States, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has begun preparing for how he will manage the pandemic by naming several high-profile advisers — including a former surgeon general and a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner — and imploring Americans to wear masks.

“A mask is not a political statement, but it’s a good way to start pulling the country together,” Mr. Biden said in Wilmington, Del. on Monday.

Mr. Biden has said he will ask governors to institute a mask mandate in their states; if they refuse, he will work with local officials to get mandates in place.

More than 130,500 new cases were announced in the United States on Monday, the second-highest total of the pandemic, and the sixth day in a row the country exceeded 100,000 cases in a single day. Twelve states and the territory of Guam set single-day records for new cases.

Across the country, governors and local leaders have put new restrictions in place in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey laid out new restrictions for the state on Monday, calling for restaurants and nightclubs to shut down indoor service at 10 p.m. starting Thursday, and saying that no one may be seated directly at the bar.

Mr. Murphy said he was considering additional targeted restrictions on nonessential businesses.

In New York City, where the number of new cases is swiftly rising, health officials and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s aides have been discussing whether new citywide restrictions should be imposed.

New measures could include a broader shutdown of nonessential businesses if the citywide seven-day average rate of positive virus test results climbs, and stays, above 3 percent. The figure as of Monday was 2.26 percent over the last week, according to the city’s health department.

There have been more than 1,000 cases identified in New York City five days in a row this past week, according to a New York Times database.

In Utah, Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, has announced a state of emergency, including a mask mandate that would apply statewide.

Social gatherings will be limited to “household only” for the next two weeks, Mr. Herbert said in a tweet, and all extracurricular activities at schools will be put on hold.

Utah had the 10th-highest daily average of cases per person on Monday evening, according to a New York Times database.

Denver installed a “Home by 10” order on Sunday evening, instructing people to remain in their homes between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., except for essential activities. The order also prohibits “all public and private gatherings” between people from different households at all times.

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