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Colombia, where a surging coronavirus and a dearth of vaccines have led to widespread protests, has surpassed 100,000 recorded Covid-19 deaths, just the tenth country to pass that milestone.
Colombia and the wider Latin American region have become emblematic of the global divide between richer nations like the United States, Britain and Israel, which have reliable access to Covid vaccines, and poorer ones that lack them and are left grappling with rising death tolls.
The crisis has been particularly acute in South America, now home to seven of the 10 countries with the highest average daily death toll per person, according to a New York Times database. The list also includes Paraguay, Suriname, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and Peru. On Sunday, the Covid-19 death toll in Brazil surpassed 500,000, putting it behind only the United States and India in the total number of deaths.
The situation in South America is in sharp contrast with wealthier countries, where government officials have lifted emergency orders that require people to wear masks and practice social distancing.
Colombia has been averaging more than 500 deaths per day since the spring, according to the Colombian Ministry of Health. On Monday, Colombia reported 648 deaths, another record.
Less than 10 percent of Colombia’s population of about 51 million is fully vaccinated, public health data showed.
Colombia’s surge has steadily been worsening for months.
In the spring, Claudia López, the mayor of Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, warned residents that they should brace for the “worst two weeks” of their lives.
The crisis has exacerbated public anger in Colombia, with demonstrations over pandemic-related tax reforms intensifying as the nation grapples with rising infections and deaths.
There has also been an uptick in abuses by the national police force, with officers beating, detaining and killing protesters, sometimes opening fire on peaceful demonstrations and shooting tear gas canisters from armored vehicles, according to interviews by The New York Times with witnesses and family members of the dead and injured.
White House Outlines Plan to Send 55 Million Vaccine Doses Globally
Officials on Monday announced a global allocation plan for 55 million coronavirus vaccine doses, the remainder of 80 million doses that President Biden pledged to send overseas to countries in need by the end of June.
“The Biden-Harris administration announced the distribution list for the remaining 55 million of the 80 million doses of America’s own vaccine supply President Biden has pledged to send out globally and allocate by the end of June in service of ending the pandemic. Already, we have sent millions of doses to the world, including 2.5 million doses that arrived in Taiwan this weekend and in addition, sharing doses — In addition to sharing doses from our own vaccine supply, the Biden-Harris administration is committed to working with U.S. manufacturers to produce more vaccine doses to share with the world. And we’ve purchased, as we announced last week, or the week before that, half a billion Pfizer doses to donate to 92 low- and middle-income countries, and members of the African Union.” “Is there any indication that the red tape in this distribution is costing lives at this point? Why is it taking so long?” “Well, first, let me say, we’re committed to allocating those doses. We’ve done exactly that. What we found to be the biggest challenge is not actually the supply. We have plenty of doses to share with the world, but this is a herculean logistical challenge, and we’ve seen that as we’ve begun to implement. So, you know, as we work with countries, we need to ensure that there’s safety and regulatory information shared. Some supply teams need needles, syringes and alcohol pads. Transportation teams need to ensure that there are proper temperature storage, prevent breakage and ensure the vaccine immediately clears customs. So this has not, as you all know, been done before. Sometimes it’s even language barriers that occur as we’re working to get these doses out to countries. So, we have announced today where these doses are going. We will continue to announce as they land on the ground and as they are being shipped. And we’re looking forward to doing that as quickly as possible.”
Officials on Monday announced a global allocation plan for 55 million coronavirus vaccine doses, the remainder of 80 million doses that President Biden pledged to send overseas to countries in need by the end of June.CreditCredit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times
The White House outlined a plan on Monday to allocate 55 million doses of coronavirus vaccine around the world, the remainder of 80 million doses that President Biden pledged to send by the end of June to countries desperate for vaccine.
Mr. Biden has a week and a half to meet his deadline, a task made more difficult as the administration tries to change which manufacturers’ vaccines would be included in the 55 million portion. Production problems at an Emergent BioSolutions factory in Baltimore have forced the administration to revise its initial plan to rely heavily on AstraZeneca’s vaccine for that donation. The White House did not specify on Monday which vaccines it would be sharing, but people familiar with the operation have said the administration is working to swap shots made by Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson for AstraZeneca’s.
The distribution formula closely followed the one that the White House announced earlier this month for the first 25 million doses in the president’s pledge. Three-fourths of the 55 million doses will go to Covax, an international vaccine sharing initiative that helps less wealthy nations. Of those, 14 million will go to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean; 16 million will be distributed to nations across Asia; and 10 million will be sent to countries in Africa.
The remaining one-fourth will be spread among at least two dozen places to help address virus surges, including Colombia, Argentina, Haiti, the Philippines, Vietnam, Iraq, Ukraine, Bosnia, South Africa, the West Bank and Gaza.
The donation of 80 million doses pales in comparison to the Biden administration’s plan, announced in early June, to share 500 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine within the next 12 months. But with many countries unable to vaccinate even a tiny percentage of their populations, global health officials are pressing the United States to move as quickly as possible to share its vaccine supply.
The gap in vaccination rates between rich and poor countries is stark. According to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford, high or upper middle countries account for 86 percent of shots administered worldwide while low-income countries account for less than half of one percent.
The federal government has purchased far more vaccine than the nation can possibly use, and distributed more than states can promptly administer as the pool of people eager to get vaccinated dwindles. More than 60 million doses of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are sitting in storage in states across the nation, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The White House said it is still working through a variety of logistical and regulatory issues involved in shipping vaccine overseas, like safely transporting the doses and, at times, having to send related supplies, like syringes and alcohol pads, along with them. It said it will release which specific vaccines are being shared and in what amounts later.
Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times
Younger Americans are less likely to be vaccinated than their elders, and factors like income and education may affect vaccine hesitancy, according to two new studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By May 22, 57 percent of adults had received at least one vaccine dose, the authors of one of the new papers found, but the rate varied considerably by age: Among those who were 65 or older, 80 percent had been at least partially vaccinated, compared with 38 percent of those between 18 and 29.
Some of the gap in rates could be attributed to the fact that many young adults did not become eligible for vaccination until March or April. But uptake has also been slower among younger Americans, and a substantial proportion of them remain hesitant.
If vaccine initiation rates remain stable, by late August, just 58 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds will have been vaccinated, compared with 95 percent of those 65 and up, the researchers found.
Vaccination rates lagged for young men, people living in rural counties and people living in counties where a high share of the population was low-income, uninsured or lacked access to a computer or the internet.
In a second study, 24.9 percent of 18- to 39-year-olds surveyed said that they would probably or definitely not get vaccinated. Those who were young, Black, low-income, lacked health insurance, lived outside of metropolitan areas or had lower levels of education were less likely to report being vaccinated or to say that they definitely planned to be vaccinated.
The studies highlight the hurdles that remain in improving vaccine coverage, with two weeks to go until President Biden’s self-imposed July 4 deadline for getting 70 percent of adults at least partially vaccinated. In recent weeks, his administration has shifted its approach, moving away from mass vaccination sites and adopting more targeted strategies, including the creation of mobile or pop-up vaccination clinics and on-site vaccination events at Black-owned barbershops.
The U.S. vaccination campaign began on Dec. 14. Health care workers, adults who were 75 and older and members of other high risk groups were generally the first to become eligible, though vaccine policies varied from state to state. By April 19, all adults were eligible for the shots. Using vaccination data submitted by the states, a team of C.D.C. researchers analyzed vaccination patterns in various demographic groups.
They also calculated the percentage of people in each age bracket who received their first dose during a given week. This vaccine “initiation rate” was highest for adults 65 and older, peaking during the week of Feb. 7, when 8 percent of adults in that group received their first dose.
Between April 19 and May 22, the share of 18- to 29-year-olds who received their first dose fell to 1.9 percent from 3.6 percent.
“If the current rate of vaccination continues through August, coverage among young adults will remain substantially lower than among older adults,” the researchers wrote.
In the second study, researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of adults, including 2,726 18- to 39-year olds, between March 5 and May 2. Among those who said they would probably or definitely not get the vaccine, 57 percent said that they did not trust the vaccine, while 56 percent expressed concern about possible side effects and 36 percent said they did not think they needed the shot.
The study also pointed to potential strategies for increasing vaccination coverage. Among those who said they were unsure about or would probably get the vaccine, 20 to 40 percent said they would be more likely to get it if they had more information about its safety and effectiveness, if it would prevent them from spreading the virus to family and friends, or if it would allow them to return to normal social activities.
Medicaid enrollment rose sharply during the coronavirus pandemic, with nearly 10 million Americans joining the public health coverage program for the poor through January, a government report released Monday shows.
Eighty million people — more than ever before in the program’s history — now carry Medicaid coverage, for which states and the federal government share the cost. The new figures demonstrate the program’s increasingly important role not just as a safety net, but as a pillar of American health coverage, with fully a quarter of the population covered under it.
“The purpose of Medicaid is for times like this, when there is an economic downturn” said Peggah Khorrami, a researcher with Harvard Chan T.H. School of Public Health, who has studied the program’s enrollment increases during the pandemic. “As people are losing jobs, that’s where Medicaid comes in and we get people insured that way.”
The Affordable Care Act transformed Medicaid from a targeted health care benefit meant to help certain groups of people — expectant mothers, for example, and those with disabilities — to a much wider program that provides largely free coverage to most people below a certain income threshold. The exception is in 12 states, mostly in the South, that have resisted expanding Medicaid under the health law to cover all adults with income up to 138 percent of the poverty level, which would be $17,774 for an individual this year.
The expansion of Medicaid in most states since the bulk of the A.C.A. took effect in 2014, though, has proved important during the pandemic, creating a public source of coverage for the newly unemployed that did not exist a decade ago. Adult enrollment in Medicaid grew twice as quickly as child enrollment last year, suggesting widespread job loss related to the pandemic created a huge group of newly eligible adults.
“In past economic downturns there has been substantial growth in Medicaid enrollment but it was concentrated among children,” said Rachel Garfield, co-director of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Program on Medicaid and the Uninsured. “This time, it’s interesting we’re seeing much of the enrollment happening among adults.”
Ms. Garfield also noted that Medicaid coverage has spiked much faster during this recession than in previous downturns. Fewer than 4 million Americans joined the program in 2009 at the beginning of the Great Recession.
There may also have been increased interest among uninsured Americans who were eligible for Medicaid before but only decided to enroll because of heightened health concerns during the pandemic.
“The increase we are seeing is exactly how Medicaid works: the program steps in to support people and their families when times are tough,” Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the Biden administration official who oversees the Medicaid program, said in a statement.
Medicaid enrollment had been declining in the years leading up to the pandemic. More than a million children lost coverage between December 2017 and June 2019, a trend that had rattled health care advocates. Many attributed the changes to new rules during the Trump administration that made it more difficult to enroll in the benefits.
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There are 11 states in the United States where at least 20 percent of older adults still haven’t received a Covid shot, potentially putting the recovery there at risk.
People 65 and older were given top priority for vaccinations because they are far more vulnerable to serious illness and death from the coronavirus than younger people are. Those 65 and older have the highest rate of vaccination among all age groups, with 87 percent having received at least one dose, compared with 60 percent for people ages 18 to 64, and 31 percent for those 12 to 17.
But in 11 states, seniors who have yet to get a dose of the vaccine pose a risk to their states’ recovery as most places remove restrictions aimed at limiting new outbreaks.
Most of them are in the South: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. Georgia, Idaho and Missouri are at the 20 percent threshold. West Virginia and Wyoming also have more than 20 percent of people 65 and over without one dose.
“The 20 percent lines up pretty well with a group of people, especially in the South, who say, ‘No way, no how am I getting vaccinated,’” said Dr. Michael S. Saag, associate dean for global health and professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Among the factors at play, he said: conspiracy theories, a belief in pseudoscience and a libertarian mind-set that says, “You can’t tell me what to do.”
“Convincing them that it is in their own interest is a tough nut to crack,” Dr. Saag said. “For the state of Alabama and other Southern states, this is not for a lack of effort or resources. This is about a population resistant to receiving the message.”
Older people, in general, feel more threatened from the coronavirus and more likely to die from it, experts say, and it’s not surprising that they have been among the most receptive to the vaccines. After older age groups were given priority when the first vaccines were authorized for emergency use in December, the proportion of those dying started dropping immediately.
Across the United States, those 50 and older continue to make up the bulk of Covid-19 deaths, and the virus continues to kill hundreds of people daily.
Death rates remain high in pockets of the nation where vaccination rates are not. Experts are concerned that Southern states, where vaccination rates are lagging, could face a surge in coronavirus cases over the summer.
“All epidemics are local at the end of the day, and transmission is person to person,” Dr. Saag said. “There is going to be a hot pocket of transmission if someone becomes infected and others around them are unvaccinated. This is not Epidemiology 101, this is common sense.”
Last year, a summer surge lasted until September in the South. This year, many people are vaccinated, and there is residual immunity from those who have already had it, Dr. Saag said.
What’s more worrying for him, he said, is the dropping of mask ordinances as the more infectious Delta variant spreads. U.S. health officials this week classified the Delta variant, which was first found in India, as a “variant of concern,” sounding the alarm because it spreads rapidly and may cause more serious illness in unvaccinated people.
“We’re sitting on a powder keg,” Dr. Saag said.
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found last month that 10 percent of unvaccinated seniors said that they would “definitely not” get inoculated against the coronavirus. But the same poll showed signs that some hesitant people have been persuaded: About a third who had planned to “wait and see” whether they would get vaccinated said that they had made vaccine appointments or planned to do so.
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The White House is considering extending by one month a federal moratorium on evictions scheduled to expire on June 30, in a bid to buy more time to distribute emergency housing aid, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.
The freeze, instituted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last fall to stave off an anticipated wave of evictions spurred by the economic downturn during the pandemic, has significantly limited the economic damage to low-income and working-class renters, according to local officials and tenants’ rights groups.
But the moratorium was never considered more than a stopgap, and landlords have prevailed in several recent federal court cases challenging the legal justification for the C.D.C.’s order — the public health risk posed by the dislocation of tenants during the pandemic.
Local officials have been bracing for a rise in evictions as the federal moratorium and similar state and city orders expire this summer. In some cases, that scramble to assist tenants has dovetailed with the broader goal of improving affordability that is now a core part of the Democratic Party’s agenda.
On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced that the state had set aside $5.2 billion from federal aid packages to pay off the back rent of any tenant who fell behind during the pandemic, an extraordinary move intended to wipe the slate clean for millions of renters in a state dealing with acute homelessness and a housing affordability crisis.
President Biden’s team has been seeking ways to speed up the sluggish distribution of $21.5 billion in emergency rental assistance allocated in the American Recovery Act this spring.
The group met throughout the weekend to discuss potential moves, including the idea of pushing back the deadline until the end of July, which has been under consideration for weeks, the officials said.
But they have yet to sign off on an extension, in part, over concerns in the White House Counsel’s Office that leaving the freeze in place, even for a month, could expose the order to a ruling that could affect executive actions during future crises, one of the officials said.
Administration lawyers are particularly concerned that the Supreme Court will strike down a stay in a lower court decision that ruled the moratorium unconstitutional.
Mr. Biden’s team is pushing ahead with several other actions, including issuing new guidance on using pandemic relief funds that could speed up distribution of payments by states, and increasing coordination with mayors, bar associations and legal services organizations.
But tenants’ rights groups say that simply stopping the clock is the most important action.
“Extending the moratorium is the right thing to do — morally, fiscally, politically, and as a continued public health measure,” said Diane Yentel, the president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, who has pressed the White House for an extension. “Allowing evictions to proceed when there are tens of billions in resources to prevent them would be wasteful and cruel.”
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Domestic spectators will be allowed to attend Olympic events in Tokyo this summer, the president of the Games announced on Monday, ending months of speculation that athletes could be deprived of a live audience in an effort to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.
The decision settles the last major logistical issue facing the organizers of the Games, which have been delayed for a year because of the pandemic, all but guaranteeing that the event will go forward despite lingering concerns. Spectators from overseas were barred from attending in March in a major concession to the realities of the pandemic.
The president of Tokyo 2020, Seiko Hashimoto, said that the International Olympic Committee had agreed that crowds would be allowed up to 50 percent of a venue’s capacity, up to 10,000 people. However, if the pandemic situation worsens or if emergency measures are declared by the Japanese government, the Games could be held without spectators.
The decision to allow people in Japan to attend events indicates a growing certainty that the Tokyo Games, which are scheduled to begin on July 23 and run through Aug. 8, will go on, after months of concern that they could become a superspreader event as athletes and other personnel pour into the city from around the world.
Concerns have diminished substantially in recent weeks as Japan’s virus case numbers drop and vaccination rates skyrocket. After a slow rollout, the country is now administering nearly one million doses of the vaccine every day. About 18 percent of the population has received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 7.3 percent are fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times database.
Nevertheless, worries remain. Japan’s top coronavirus adviser, Shigeru Omi, has consistently warned against allowing spectators, which he believes adds an unnecessary layer of risk. This month, organizers said that about 10,000 of the 80,000 volunteers who signed up to help with the Games had quit, citing fear of infection among their reasons.
As recently as May, a poll showed that 83 percent of people in Japan disapproved of plans to go through with the event. But those numbers have turned around along with the improvement in the country’s virus situation.
Olympic officials said that more than 80 percent of athletes had been vaccinated. Other groups, including staff members, journalists covering the event and some volunteers, will also receive shots.
Conscious of the public’s concerns, Olympic officials have also agreed to strict conditions on the Games. Athletes will be tested regularly for the coronavirus and their movements will be restricted and monitored. Failure to abide by the rules could lead to disqualification or even deportation.
The Games will have rules for spectators aimed at reducing the risks of transmission, including mask wearing, a ban on shouting, and specific guidelines on travel to and from venues.
A panel of expert advisers to the committee told reporters on Friday that the rules were likely to be stricter than those currently in place for other live sporting events, such as baseball.
Credit…Rahmat Gul/Associated Press
Afghanistan’s medical oxygen supply is under serious strain, a government official said on Monday, as the country’s third wave of coronavirus cases pummels its already feeble health care system.
“There is more need for oxygen, and the number of patients is too high,” said Dr. Osman Tahiri, an adviser in Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health. “We are worried that the situation may become more critical.”
Dr. Tahiri said that the government had tried to contend with dwindling supplies by installing oxygen generators in hospitals in Kabul, the country’s capital, and in provinces across the country. That plan, he said, has been hampered by fighting in several areas.
The shortage in oxygen was first reported by The Associated Press.
The ministry recorded nearly 2,000 coronavirus cases and more than 70 deaths on Monday, part of an upward trend in the country in recent weeks, driven in part by new variants of the coronavirus. Last week, the government recorded the most deaths in a single day — 101 — since the start of the pandemic.
The true death toll and number of new cases is probably far higher than those recorded by the government, as there is limited coronavirus testing in Afghanistan.
The country’s problems extend much further than the recent coronavirus surge, however. This is especially true in the country’s more rural reaches where recent Taliban offensives have wedged many civilians in the crossfire between government and insurgent forces, and a dry winter has precipitated a coming drought.
In some cases, road closures and gun battles at a key border crossing on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border have stopped oxygen bottles from getting to hospitals.
“The war has affected 100 percent of the oxygen supply and the roads are completely closed,” said Ihsanullah Fazly, director of health in Kunduz, a province in the country’s north that has been racked with fighting in recent days.
The conflict and hoarding of oxygen supplies has also led to price gouging.
“There is an atmosphere of fear of the virus in the country, so people buy oxygen beforehand, which has led to a lack of oxygen and even multiplied the price of oxygen,” Dr. Tahiri said.
Ahmad Fardin, who works for an oxygen sales company in Kabul, said that empty oxygen bottles once sold for around $20. Now they can cost upward of $150.
“Hundreds of people are waiting behind the gates of oxygen companies to buy oxygen,” he said.
Credit…Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press
Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated will be able to forgo a 14-day quarantine when arriving in the country, the Canadian government announced Monday. The new policy spares them from a polarizing requirement that they stay in a government-approved quarantine hotel.
The closure of Canada’s border with the United States to nonessential travel was recently extended to July 21, angering people on both sides of the border who have been irked by family separations and the inability to plan vacations or shopping trips.
The Canadian government has defended the hotel quarantine policy, which requires travelers to pre-book a three-day minimum stay at a government-approved hotel — at a nonrefundable cost of as much as 2,000 Canadian dollars — as a necessary measure to help keep the coronavirus at bay. Travelers are allowed to finish their quarantine at home once the Covid-19 test they take upon arrival at the airport comes back negative.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the cautious approach was predicated on the desire to keep Canadians safe and not to “squander” hard-earned progress in the fight against the coronavirus.
But critics have castigated the quarantine hotel policy as overly expensive and an encroachment on individual liberty. An advisory panel recently advised scrapping the policy, saying that many Canadians were opting to pay a heavy fine rather than stay in the hotels. Others were choosing to fly to the United States and then enter Canada by car, because the hotel-quarantine policy did not apply to travelers arriving by land.
The relaxing of the hotel policy for fully vaccinated Canadian travelers takes effect at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on July 5. It was greeted with muted joy, in part because most Canadians are not yet fully vaccinated. Also, the changes do not apply to non-Canadians, including Americans, unless, for example, they are essential-service workers or qualify for another exemption to quarantining.
As of June 18, about 4.9 million Canadians, or 13 percent of the population, had been fully vaccinated, and another 19.5 million, or 51 percent, had received the first of two doses, according to data from Canada’s public health ministry. Those figures are expected to rise rapidly once the country obtains larger supplies of vaccine.
Credit…Lanna Apisukh for The New York Times
The lives of many in New York were marked by solitude and alarm during the worst months of the pandemic. But as vaccination rates have climbed, the city’s long hibernation has begun to end.
When some capacity restrictions and mask mandates fell away, neighbors, for the first time in months, greeted one other with bright smiles, no longer struggling to recognize the person behind the mask. Family members and friends reunited with long-sought embraces. Still, some parts of pandemic life — temperature checks and socially distanced lunch tables — remained.
Last week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s order to lift almost all virus restrictions on businesses and social gatherings represented one of the final steps in the city’s reopening. The governor said the new guidance represented a “return to life as we know it.”
But for some, the news was only a symbolic triumph, as the most stringent restrictions had been removed weeks ago. And the decision over whether to do away with precautions lies with individuals and business owners, many of whom said the governor’s announcement would not spur immediate change.
Some New Yorkers are opting for small gatherings and parties among close friends over bars and nightclubs. And though many vaccinated New Yorkers are no longer wearing masks in public, some say they are not rushing to remove them.
Both New York and California celebrated the same milestone this past week: Both states announced that 70 percent of adults had received at least one dose of the vaccine. But inoculation rates remain significantly lower in some pockets of New York, particularly across Brooklyn and the Bronx.
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The house lights inside Madison Square Garden went down Sunday night, and the thousands of fans, packed like sardines in their seats, stood as if on cue. As they roared their approval, bouncing in place on the balls of their feet, the ground began to tremble. Cellphone flash lights illuminated the darkness.
The sound of a keyboard echoed through the rafters. Dave Grohl, the Foo Fighters’ frontman, appeared on the stage.
“It’s times like these, you learn to live again,” Grohl sang.
The lyrics had seldom felt so on point.
After many difficult months of illness, death, hardship and pain, and shifting limits on how many people could gather, especially indoors, arena rock returned to New York City just over a year after the city was the center of the outbreak. It was the Garden’s first concert in more than 460 days, and it drew a full-capacity crowd that was asked to show proof of vaccination to enter. Inside, people grooved, tightly packed, with few masks visible.
“This is a book end to what we have gone through for a year and a half,” said Heather Morris, 47, of Chicago. “We’ve survived it. We’re going forward.”
Credit…Ibraheem Al Omari/Reuters
The government of Qatar has announced that everyone attending the World Cup to be held in the country next year must be fully vaccinated for the coronavirus. And with up to 1.5 million international fans expected to descend on the Gulf nation during the world’s largest soccer tournament next November, the logistics will be no small feat.
The Qatari government has plans to secure one million shots to immunize unvaccinated attendees if global inoculation efforts are not enough, the prime minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, told state news media on Sunday.
“We are currently negotiating with a company to provide one million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in order to immunize and vaccinate some of those coming to Qatar,” he said, according to Reuters, though he did not indicate which company he was referring to.
Qatar has spent billions of dollars preparing for the 2022 World Cup after winning hosting rights in 2010. The country will become the first in the Middle East to hold the four-week tournament.
In April, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, said that vaccination programs were being developed for attendees of the World Cup to ensure a “Covid-free event,” according to Reuters. Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, said in February that matches would play to full stadiums in the Gulf nation next year.
Qatar is currently administering the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines to its citizens and residents. About 57 percent of the population have received one dose, and 44 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
Credit…Alain Jocard/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
France announced on Monday that concerts with a standing audience could resume on June 30 and that nightclubs could reopen from July 9, bringing some relief to the country’s entertainment industry, which has been hobbled by the pandemic.
Alain Griset, a government minister, told reporters on Monday, “In this new phase where the health crisis begins to subside, we will be able to look forward to this summer in good conditions and to party in complete safety.”
The decision comes as France lifts the last remnants of coronavirus-related restrictions that have fueled a deep sense of fatigue in the country, particularly since the start of the third national lockdown this spring. The country’s eight-month nighttime curfew was lifted on Sunday, three days after the government dropped mandatory mask wearing outdoors.
Mr. Griset said that guests would have to show a digital health pass to enter nightclubs. The pass, available in a phone app, shows proof of either vaccination, a positive coronavirus test within the last six months — but more than two weeks old — or a recent negative test.
The coronavirus situation in France has largely improved in recent weeks, with fewer than 3,000 daily new infections on average. After a sluggish start at the beginning of the year, the country’s vaccination campaign has accelerated and about half of the population has now received at least a first shot of the vaccine. A quarter are fully vaccinated.
In other news from around the world:
The authorities in South Australia on Saturday barred entry to the state to travelers from the eastern suburbs of Sydney, in New South Wales, after an outbreak of the coronavirus in that city on the country’s eastern coast. The cluster of cases in Sydney, totaling 11 on Monday, is believed to have started after a limousine driver, whose passengers included international airline crew, tested positive for the more virulent Delta variant. South Australia has also banned travelers from Melbourne, in Victoria State, where an outbreak this month sent the city of five million into a two-week lockdown.
A member of Uganda’s Olympic team tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving in Japan on Saturday, local news media reported, citing government officials. The person was traveling with eight other athletes, all of whom have so far tested negative, reports said. The case comes amid a scramble to ensure the safety of Olympians before the Tokyo Games begin on July 2.
Indonesia will introduce new coronavirus restrictions in response to a rise in cases in the country. The rules will be placed on crowded centers including malls and markets, limiting capacity to 25 percent, Airlangga Hartarto, the country’s coordinating minister for economic affairs, told reporters on Monday. Indonesia logged 13,737 new cases on Sunday, the highest since January.
The United States extended restrictions on nonessential travel at land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico until July 21, the Department of Homeland Security said in a post on Twitter. But the department also said that there had been “positive developments in recent weeks” and that it was working with government agencies and with Canada and Mexico to identify the parameters under which restrictions could be eased.
SHANGHAI — Dozens of huge container ships have been forced to drop anchor and wait. Freight rates have surged. Stores in the United States and Europe find themselves with understocked shelves, higher prices or both.
The blockage of the Suez Canal in March? No, there is another disruption in global shipping. This time, the problem lies in Shenzhen, a metropolis adjacent to Hong Kong in southeastern China.
Global shipping has been disrupted by the pandemic for months, as Western demand for goods made in Asia has outstripped the ability of exporters to get their containers onto outbound vessels. But the latest problem in Shenzhen, the world’s third-largest container port after Shanghai and Singapore, is making the difficulties even worse.
The shipping delays are related to the Chinese government’s stringent response to a recent outbreak of the virus. Shenzhen, with a population of more than 12 million, has had fewer than two dozen locally transmitted coronavirus cases; city health officials have linked them to the Alpha variant, which was first identified in Britain.
Shenzhen has responded by ordering five rounds of coronavirus testing of all 230,000 people who live anywhere near the Yantian container port, where the first case was detected on May 21. All further contact between port employees and sailors has been banned. The city has required port employees to live in 216 hastily erected, prefabricated buildings at the docks instead of going home to their families every day.
The port’s capacity to handle containers plummeted early this month. It was still running at 30 percent below capacity last week, the port announced, and state-controlled media said on Monday that full recovery might require the rest of June.
“A few weeks into a very substantial port congestion in Yantian caused by a Covid-19 outbreak, supply chain disruptions continue to be very present in global trade,” Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping line, said in a statement on Thursday.
Long lines of container ships awaiting cargo bound for North America, Europe and elsewhere have had to anchor off Shenzhen and Hong Kong as captains now wait as long as 16 days to dock at Yantian. Small vessels mounted with their own cranes have been ferrying many containers straight from riverfront factory docks in the Pearl River Delta to container ships near Hong Kong, as exporters try to bypass delays at Yantian.
“It looks like rush hour — there’s a lot of ships waiting,” said Tim Huxley, the chairman of Mandarin Shipping, a container shipping line based in Hong Kong. He predicted that sorting out all of the shipping delays at Yantian and elsewhere could take the rest of this year.
The Suez Canal was blocked for almost a week by the Ever Given container ship in March, while Yantian coincidentally halted all loading of export containers for six days early this month. But Yantian’s problems have now dragged on much longer. Simon Heaney, the senior manager for container shipping research at Drewry Maritime Research in London, said the global transportation disruption caused by the Yantian port problems was similar to the Suez Canal blockage, although differences between the two incidents make any statistical comparison difficult.
The average cost of shipping a 40-foot container from East Asia to Europe or North America has roughly quadrupled in the past year. Rates have soared this month with the Yantian difficulties.
The Chinese government accused the United States on Monday of interfering in its internal affairs after Washington shipped 2.5 million doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine to Taiwan, saying that any form of vaccine assistance should not be used as a form of “political manipulation.”
China regards Taiwan as its own territory and is acutely sensitive to any form of interaction between the United States and the self-governed democracy. The donations, which were more than triple the original amount that the Biden administration had promised, were celebrated in Taiwan.
In Beijing, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, criticized the move.
“We urge the U.S. not to use vaccine assistance to engage in political manipulation and not to interfere in China’s domestic affairs,” Mr. Zhao said at a regular news briefing.
The vaccine donations come at a time when tensions between the United States and China are running high over Taiwan. Chinese officials were annoyed this month when three U.S. senators visited the island to announce the original pledge of 750,000 doses.
Mr. Zhao also took aim at Taiwan’s governing Democratic Progressive Party, headed by President Tsai Ing-wen, which has long been considered a thorn in Beijing’s side. Mr. Zhao said that the party had “tried all means to obstruct the shipment of vaccines from the mainland to Taiwan and even lied that the mainland is obstructing its procurement of vaccines.”
Taiwan’s leaders had previously blamed “Chinese intervention” for their inability to buy doses from the German company BioNTech, which developed its vaccine with Pfizer.
A Chinese company, Fosun Pharmaceutical, claims the exclusive commercial rights to distribute BioNTech’s vaccine in Taiwan, but for many in the self-governing democracy, the idea of buying shots from a mainland Chinese business is unpalatable.