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The state of the virus: cases decline, but death rates remain high

State of the virus: cases decline, but death rates remain high

Mitch smith

Mitch smithCoronavirus Reports

The New York Times

Caroline from the south, where authorities have found two cases of the variant first detected in South Africa, adds cases to the country’s second-highest rate. But even there, reports of new infections began to decline.

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Biden advisers say US will remain vulnerable to Covid unless Congress takes action

WASHINGTON – President Biden’s coronavirus tsar said on Wednesday that the United States was woefully behind other countries in tracking potentially dangerous variants of the virus, and used the White House’s first public health briefing to issue a stern warning that Americans would remain vulnerable to the deadly pandemic unless acts of Congress.

“We are 43rd in the world in genomic sequencing – totally unacceptable,” said Jeffrey D. Zients, coordinator of Mr Biden’s Covid-19 response, citing data from December from the GISAID Initiative, which provides a database global research on coronavirus genomes. In a brief interview later, he corrected himself, saying he had since learned that the United States is now behind 31 other nations.

Mr Biden has repeatedly vowed that his administration will hold regular briefings and be transparent about its efforts to fight the virus, and Wednesday’s virtual meeting was an effort to keep the president’s promise. But he was troubled by technical difficulties, as the audio cut off intermittently.

During the hour-long session, which drew 500 attendees, Zients also warned that the federal government still faces shortages of personal protective equipment and other essential supplies it could not. buy if Congress doesn’t pass Mr. Biden’s coronavirus relief plan. His calls for more money were echoed by Dr Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The White House has dispatched Zients and other senior officials to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill as they attempt to compete for support for a massive $ 1.9 trillion package that would provide billions of dollars for the distribution of vaccines, schools, unemployment benefits and another series of payments. Leading Democrats have said they hope to approve another package with bipartisan support.

But with several senators already hesitating over the scope and size of the package, Democrats are leaving open the possibility of using a legislative process, known as budget reconciliation, which would allow legislation to become law with a simple majority instead. than by the usual 60 -voting threshold.

Scientists have warned that in the absence of a robust system to identify genetic variations in the coronavirus, the United States is ill-equipped to track dangerous new mutants, leaving health officials blind as they try to fight them the serious threat.

Dr Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist and Mr Biden’s chief medical adviser on the pandemic, said the National Institutes of Health was working with the CDC on research to adapt vaccines so that they “have the capacity to neutralize these mutants.” A variant of the coronavirus, which has surged in Britain and weighed down its hospitals with cases, has been increasingly detected in the United States.

Federal health officials have warned that this variant, which is more contagious, could become the primary source of infection in the United States by March, and would most likely lead to a heartbreaking increase in cases and deaths that would further overwhelm people. hospitals. Other variants spreading to South Africa and Brazil have also raised concerns.

“I’m looking at the UK data and how quickly it got really bad in terms of contagiousness, and how much it could cause a spike, and I’m really worried about that,” said Dr Ashish K Jha, the dean. from Brown University School of Public Health, in an interview Tuesday. “It’s also spread across the United States – 20 some weird states have already identified it. This is the biggest one that concerns me.

On Monday, drugmakers Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech reported their vaccines were effective against variants discovered in Britain and South Africa. But they’re slightly less protective against the South African variant, which may be better at avoiding antibodies in the blood.

On Wednesday, Zients said the Department of Health and Human Services would use the Public Preparedness and Emergency Preparedness Act, a law passed in 2005 that gives the Secretary of Health emergency powers. , to allow retired doctors and nurses to administer vaccines and give to doctors. and nurse the right to immunize people across state lines.

And Mr. Zients said the president’s pledge to get “100 million shots in the arms of the American people” did not depend on passing a law by Congress. But he ticked off a list of other priorities that he said required Congress to act.

“In order to get all Americans immunized, we need Congress to provide funding for immunization,” Zients said, adding, “We need Congress to fund more testing to reopen schools and businesses. and caring for people in communities. Plus, believe it or not, we always have shortages of PPE and other critical materials. We need emergency funds to make sure we have these materials. “

The CDC said on Wednesday that about 20.7 million people had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and that about 3.8 million people had been fully vaccinated. More than a million people a day, on average, have received an injection to protect them against Covid-19 in the United States over the past week.

As vaccine rollout accelerates, the number of new daily cases in the United States, which has the world’s worst outbreak, has declined in recent weeks. American deaths, however, remain high, averaging more than 3,000 a day in recent days.

Emily cochrane contribution to reports.

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As Trump seeks to remain a political force, new targets emerge

Former President Donald J. Trump, determined to remain a force in GOP politics, gains new opportunities with the unexpected opening of a crucial Senate seat in Ohio, an ally announcing the governorship of the ‘Arkansas and increasing pressure on Congressional Republicans who did not oppose him in this month’s impeachment vote.

The surprise announcement Monday by Senator Rob Portman of Ohio that he would not run for a third term sparked a political scramble, with top state strategists receiving a flood of phone calls from potential candidates testing their viability. A consultant said he received calls from five potential candidates at noon.

This opening, along with another statewide contest next year in which Gov. Mike DeWine is expected to face at least one Trump-aligned main challenger, is expected to make Ohio a central battleground for control. from the Republican Party, and calling on Mr. Trump, who retained Ohio in the election while losing three other northern battlefield states.

Mr Portman’s announcement came hours after Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Mr Trump’s former White House press secretary, launched her campaign for governor of Arkansas. The Republican primary already includes the lieutenant governor and state attorney general in it, but Sanders is seen as Mr. Trump’s preferred candidate, and a private poll indicates she starts well ahead of the primary. An endorsement of his candidacy by Mr. Trump is imminent, a Trump adviser has said.

Mr. Trump only left the presidential office for five days and has little political infrastructure. He told his staff that he would like to take a break for several months.

But the former president has remained the party’s most powerful fundraiser, with tens of millions of dollars in PAC at his disposal, and he maintains a lasting base of Republican support across the country. Perhaps more importantly, he harbors a deep desire to punish those he believes have crossed paths with him and to reward those who remain loyal.

So far, he has mainly focused on Georgia, where he believes the Republican governor and secretary of state have betrayed him by certifying his loss there. The two are up for re-election in 2022. And he had a sort of test over the weekend by getting involved in the Arizona Republican leadership fight, after President Kelli Ward firefighters, asked for his help in getting re-elected. , according to a person familiar with the discussions.

There is already a movement at the national and local levels to challenge outgoing members of Congress seen as breaking with the former president, starting with the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him earlier this month.

The overwhelming consensus among Ohio Republicans is that a candidate aligned with Trump would be in the best position to win a competitive Senate primary, and no potential candidate has a better claim to Mr. Trump’s voters in the state. than Representative Jim Jordan, who was Mr. Trump’s. Chief Advocate in his first impeachment trial and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the final days of his tenure.

“Jim is in a good position if in fact he’s ready to take that step; I’m not sure there is anyone who would beat him, ”said Ken Blackwell, former Ohio Secretary of State and longtime ally of Portman who last month was a constituency voter for Mr. Trump. Referring to Mr. Trump’s legion of supporters, Mr. Blackwell added, “In Ohio, it will be who has the record to show that his platform respects the party’s newly realigned base.

Mr. Trump is now settled at his resort town of Mar-a-Lago, Florida, where helpers are building something that can serve as an office. He played golf on several occasions and was spotted by people at his club in Florida playing with the brother of former tennis star Anna Kournikova on Sunday.

His advisers have had discussions about whether to bring him back to some form of social media platform, though they insist he doesn’t have to be on Twitter or Facebook to collect. funds and his email solicitations continue to perform well. On Monday, he officially opened the office of the former president, to manage his “correspondence, public statements, appearances and official activities”.

As President Biden’s inauguration approached, Mr. Trump began telling some allies that he was considering forming a third party if Republicans decided to convict him during the Senate trial. But on Saturday, after his own advisers said it was a mistake, Mr Trump began to signal he was stepping away from his threat.

“He understands that the best thing for his movement and his conservatism is to move forward together, that third parties will lead to the domination of the Democrats,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican of South Carolina, a close ally of Mr. Trump .

The president’s advisers say he has just over $ 70 million in his PAC, Save America, with few restrictions on what he can do with it. At the moment, most of its employees are on a government payroll given to past presidents for some time after they leave.

Mr. Trump would like to call for retaliation against House members who voted against him, and he has been particularly angry with Reps Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio and Fred Upton of Michigan, advisers said. He will also focus at one point on the governor’s race in Arizona, where Doug Ducey cannot be re-elected; The reelection candidacy of Governor Greg Abbott in Texas; and the North Carolina Senate race, as places where he can show his strength, councilors said.

In Ohio, Mr Gonzalez faces a potential main challenge from Christina Hagan, a former state lawmaker whom he defeated in a 2018 primary. Ms Hagan lost in the general election last year facing Democratic Representative Tim Ryan in a neighboring district. She said in an interview Monday that she would decide the race, if any, to enter 2022 after Ohio redesigned its congressional districts; the state risks losing a seat and the Republicans control all the levers of redistribution.

“A lot of people elected what they thought was Tory leadership and now see someone flouting their values,” Hagan said, referring to Mr. Gonzalez’s vote for impeachment.

Mr Gonzalez’s office did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Mr. Trump’s deepest hostility is reserved for Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia, advisers said, and they expect him to spend the most energy trying to undermine Mr. Kemp for re-election. The governor’s original sin was picking Kelly Loeffler over Mr. Trump’s preferred candidate, Doug Collins, to fill a vacant Senate seat in 2019, but this has evolved into something more consuming as Mr. Trump has repeated his debunked allegations of widespread fraud in the state held Mr Kemp accountable for not doing enough to challenge the election results.

Mr Collins, a hard-line Trump supporter, has not decided to challenge Mr Kemp or seek the Republican nomination against Senator Raphael Warnock, the Democrat who defeated Ms Loeffler in a special election and will face again voters in 2022, or if he chooses not to run for anything, a Collins aide said on Monday.

Next on Mr. Trump’s personal list is Representative Liz Cheney, the Republican of Wyoming, relatives said. Ms Cheney was the only member of the House GOP leadership to vote for impeachment. It’s unclear whether Mr. Trump will target his seat or just his leadership position in the House, but advisers said they anticipate he will seize opportunities to hurt him.

Sarah Longwell, executive director of the Republican Accountability Project, an anti-Trump group, said she and her colleagues plan to raise and spend $ 50 million to defend the 10 Republicans pro-impeachment House in primary contests and attack those who voted to oppose the results of the Electoral College after the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. She said the group would aim to defeat Mr. Jordan in an Ohio Senate primary if he ran against an established-minded Republican.

Mr Jordan’s spokesperson did not respond to messages on Monday.

The 2022 card will be Mr. Trump’s first real sustainability test in the party. As Ms Sanders runs for Governor of Arkansas, rumors that her daughter Ivanka is running for the Senate in Florida are unlikely to develop further. And although her daughter-in-law Lara Trump was considering a Senate election in North Carolina, people close to the family say it’s less clear what she will do now that Mr. Trump has lost.

Trump’s advisers are focusing more on the impending impeachment trial. He works closely with Mr. Graham, who has argued to his colleagues that Mr. Trump’s Senate trial sets a bad precedent.

Mr. Graham helped him retain the services of a South Carolina-based attorney, Butch Bowers, who also works to complete a legal team with colleagues in the state, Graham and others said. Mr Bowers is expected to work with Trump adviser Jason Miller on a kind response operation.

Unlike his first impeachment trial, when the Republican National Committee engaged in constant defense of the president, including paying his lawyers, the most that is expected of him this time around is to call the trial. of the Senate procedural overrun, a person familiar with the plans said.

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Unemployment claims are expected to remain high last week

New clues about the economy’s path to 2021 will come on Thursday morning when the government releases the latest data on initial claims for unemployment benefits.

While the Christmas holidays could lead to a drop in numbers, with national unemployment bureaus that process claims closed for at least one day last week, new deposits are expected to remain at a very high level, in the range of over 800,000 a week said Greg Daco, chief economist at Oxford Economics. “It is very high and we are facing an economy which has slowed down considerably.”

Claims for benefits were turned down during Thanksgiving week, only to pick up later, and a similar catch-up phenomenon could also occur after Christmas and New Years.

In California, widening restrictions on restaurants and other businesses and an increase in coronavirus infections could lead to increased deposits, said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco.

“California has locked down even more, and there is no end in sight in terms of cases and hospitalizations,” he said. “We are seeing more layoffs and that has yet to show in the numbers.

The $ 900 billion stimulus package President Trump enacted on Sunday comes too late to affect unemployment claims data. It will take months for the impact of aid to be felt, and most economists expect the layoff rate to remain high.

When new monthly employment data is released by the Labor Department next week, Anderson expects it to show an increase in the unemployment rate to 6.9% in December from 6.7 % last month. The unemployment rate has fallen sharply from its peak of 14.7% in April, but hiring has slowed as the economy has weakened in recent months.

Additionally, the pace of layoffs has been consistently high as industries like food service, travel and entertainment struggle as the pandemic has left many people at home.

The introduction of vaccines is a positive, as are the positive economic signs, such as soaring stock prices and a booming real estate market. But it will be months before enough Americans can be vaccinated to allow people to go to restaurants, events and theaters without fear of being infected.

“The trend is not good with the additional closures being implemented across the country,” said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust in Chicago.

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Unemployment aid is set to expire on Saturday as Trump’s plans for relief bill remain uncertain

“Why wouldn’t politicians want to give people $ 2,000, rather than just $ 600?” he said on twitter, possibly referring to his own party’s decision on Thursday to block a Democratic House bill that would have increased the amount of direct payments to $ 2,000. “It wasn’t their fault, it was China. Donate money to our people!

Mr. Trump was largely not involved in the negotiations over the legislation, but his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was supposed to negotiate on behalf of the president.

The aid bill also includes billions of dollars to help states distribute coronavirus vaccines, a replenished small business loan program, and relief funds for airlines. It was passed with a spending measure to maintain government funding for the remainder of the fiscal year, the cost of the combined package is $ 2.3 trillion.

Treasury Department officials, expecting the president to sign the bill this week, had planned to work over the Christmas break to revive the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program and move payments to direct deposit early next week. However, all of this now remains in limbo.

Congressional lawmakers and White House officials have indicated they are still unsure whether Mr. Trump will cede and sign the legislation, issue a formal veto, or simply leave it unsigned. While Congress could potentially overturn Mr. Trump’s veto, sitting on the bill – a so-called pocket veto – would require the next Congress to reintroduce and pass the legislation early next year.

California Democrat President Nancy Pelosi said she would hold a recorded vote on Monday on direct payments legislation that would satisfy Mr. Trump’s call for $ 2,000 direct payments and put pressure on Republicans , who oppose such high payments. Congress could also be forced to pass another interim spending measure to avoid a shutdown.

Official figures released this week revealed the lingering stress the economy is facing with falling personal income and unemployment claims remaining high. An additional 398,000 people have requested assistance in the event of an unemployment pandemic, one of two federal programs to expand unemployment benefits that will expire.

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Video: ‘Results remain unchanged’: Georgia to recertify election results

new video loaded: ‘Results remain unchanged’: Georgia to recertify election results

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‘Results remain unchanged’: Georgia to recertify election results

Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the state will recertify its presidential election results after a second recount reaffirmed Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory over President Trump.

It has been 34 days since the November 3 election. We have now legally counted the ballots three times, and the results remain unchanged. Today, the Secretary of State’s office will recertify our state’s election results. Then the safe harbor according to the US code for appointing voters is tomorrow, then they will meet on December 14 to officially elect the next president. The vast majority of Georgians – Republicans and Democrats – want all of us as elected officials to focus on protecting and growing jobs in Georgia, releasing the vaccine as effectively as possible, and getting back to normalcy. The focus on November 3 draws energy away from these goals. The president has his due process rights and these are available to him. It is time for all of us to focus on the future and growth. I know there are people who believe the election was fraught with pitfalls, but the evidence, the real evidence, the facts tell us a different story.

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Military role in vaccines will remain strictly behind the scenes, despite Trump’s claims

WASHINGTON – When President Trump talks about efforts to provide the coronavirus vaccine to millions of Americans eager to resume their normal lives, he often says he “relies on the military” to make it happen.

Mr Trump gave the impression that the troops would pack vials, transport them from factories to pharmacies, and maybe even administer injections. And, at times, military officers working on the vast interagency program to move those doses of vaccines from drug companies to doctors’ offices have indicated the same.

In reality, the role of the military has been less public and more pervasive than this characterization suggests.

When companies did not have the physical spaces to conduct their drug trials, the Department of Defense acquired trailers and permits to create pop-up medical sites in parking lots. When a required piece of plastic or glass was scarce, the military used a law passed during the Korean War to force manufacturers to bring it to the fore. If a hurricane hits somewhere, blocking trucks, the military has ready the transport.

But the distribution of vaccines will largely be left to their producers and commercial transport companies. Black Hawk helicopters will not land near the neighborhood pharmacy to drop off doses. No troops will administer fire.

“It’s extremely unlikely that anyone in government will touch a vaccine, whether it’s loading a truck, unloading a truck, moving dry ice, or actually injecting the vaccine before the Americans get it. get, ”said Paul Mango, deputy director of policy. to the Department of Health and Human Services and the main spokesperson for Operation Warp Speed, the federal multi-agency consortium to speed up vaccine implementation.

However, he added, “all the logistical details you could think of, needles, syringes, swabs, bandages, dry ice”, could be obtained through the government procurement process, and often more quickly. than by the private sector.

Dozens of Defense Department employees are spread across government offices involved in the effort, constituting a large portion of the federal staff dedicated to the effort. These numbers have led some current and former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials to complain in private that the military’s role in Operation Warp Speed ​​was too important for a task that is, at its core, a task. public health campaign.

“Frankly, it was mind-blowing to watch,” said Paul Ostrowski, director of supply, production and distribution for Operation Warp Speed. He is a retired army lieutenant general who was chosen to manage the logistics of the program by General Gustav F. Perna, the COO of Operation Warp Speed.

Arguing over volunteers for four fast-track vaccine trials – a chore in any circumstance – became even more difficult during a pandemic, when it was often impossible to ask hundreds of thousands of subjects to sit in wards. waiting for hospitals and other health care centers. The Pentagon has helped three companies – AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Janssen – set up pop-up sites to conduct trials at 63 sites across the country.

Necessary for each site: Double width trailers equipped with wheelchair ramps and septic tanks. In addition, some will need to be hurricane proof.

These are the types of things the military can get quickly through their contracting system, as well as the permits needed to put everything in place. “We have the ability to build large-scale housing capacities around the world at any time,” General Ostrowski said.

Military officials can call companies, he said: “And say, ‘I need X number of trailers, and I need them immediately.'” Staff on his team “are working in working closely with all city officials to make sure we have all certificates and all codes are addressed, ”he said.

The two pharmaceutical companies currently leading the vaccine race, Pfizer and Moderna, have estimated they will have 45 million doses, enough to immunize 22.5 million Americans, by early next year. Since they have started making vaccines awaiting federal approval, they should be ready to start shipping them within days of obtaining them.

But some companies have been hampered by a lack of excess manufacturing capacity in the United States and a shortage of many products needed to manufacture and package vaccines. For raw materials, the military was able to take advantage of its force of contraction, as well as the Defense Production Act, a law dating from the Korean War that allows the federal government to impose some control over the private sector.

“Everyone is asking for this substance or this product,” General Ostrowski said. “That’s what we do, we understand the capture of supply chains.”

Operation Warp Speed ​​issued six Defense Production Act orders to companies to take the lead for certain supplies, such as the large vats needed to produce a vaccine. In October, the government granted $ 31 million to manufacturer Cytiva to expand production of the tanks.

“There are only a number of producers of these products in the world,” General Ostrowski said. “We were able to make sure they knew where the priority was.”

Military officials also had the smart idea – if it works – of coordinating the delivery of vaccines to pharmacies, medical centers and other vaccination sites by sending kits full of needles, syringes and alcohol wipes. Vaccine manufacturers will be alerted when kits arrive at a vaccination site so they know how to ship doses. After the first dose has been administered, the manufacturer will be notified so that they can send the second dose with the patient’s name attached several weeks later.

But when it comes to the Herculean task of distributing vaccines, much of the task will fall on manufacturers to transport vaccines from loading docks to pharmacies and doctor’s offices.

While governors can use their National Guard units in their immunization programs, the military is the least likely to play a role in transferring vaccine doses – and troops are certainly not expected. help administer the vaccines, although Mr. Trump has suggested they will. .

“I was surprised when Trump spoke about the Defense Department releasing any vaccine,” said Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territory Health Officials, who has been deeply involved in the vaccine planning process. “There is no role for the military there. And if there were, we would be angry about it because we are the defenders of states.

Concerns about vaccine conspiracy theories are even more of a reason to keep the military out of sight, Dr Plescia said. “There was a lot of concern about the reluctance to get vaccinated, and having a group of soldiers around wouldn’t be very helpful,” he said. “Even the participation of the National Guard could have a downside.”

As one of the largest suppliers of liquid injectable drugs in the country, Pfizer already has an extensive network of commercial shippers that help move its drugs from its Michigan manufacturing facility to suppliers across the country. This will be all the more important with the company’s coronavirus vaccine, which must be kept at a temperature below zero.

The military has spent hours conducting tabletop exercises to help think about how the program might go wrong and how it might need to step in to help.

“The government has offered its full support and is ready to help overcome any obstacle,” said Amy Rose, spokesperson for Pfizer. Of the six companies developing a vaccine, the pharmaceutical giant was the only one to reject federal funding.

Pentagon planners have looked at a range of risks associated with the distribution of a vaccine, from large-scale protests that could disrupt traffic to poor weather conditions. The military says it can use its planes and helicopters to deliver vaccines to remote locations, but only if no other means of transport is possible.

The army will also monitor vaccine distribution through an operations center. “They will know where each dose of vaccine is,” Mango said on a call with reporters. “If a dose of vaccine is likely to expire, they will guide its movement to another location.”

General Ostrowski said this specific assignment was worth delaying his retirement. “It is very important to our nation and our world,” he said. “I couldn’t think of a better challenge and something nobler than being able to do it.”

Abby Goodnough contributed reporting from Washington.

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Nearly a third of U.S. museums remain closed due to pandemic, survey finds

At the San Diego Museum of Natural History and similar institutions across the country, exhibit halls remain dark, atriums empty, frontline workers on leave.

Judy Gradwohl, the museum’s president and CEO, decided in August to close for the rest of the year – and she said in an interview on Tuesday that she thought she made the right call.

“We’re finding great ways to channel our energy into online programming and move forward on a number of projects,” Ms. Gradwohl said, “rather than spending all of our time trying to figure out how to stay open safely. .

Today, a survey by the American Alliance of Museums released on Tuesday clearly shows that nearly one in three museums in the United States remains closed due to the pandemic, and most of these have never reopened since. the initial closure in March.

The San Diego Museum is an active scientific research center that is not as dependent as other museums on ticket revenue. But, for others, financial problems are becoming critical.

Of the 850 museum directors who responded to the survey, which was conducted in the second half of October, just over half said their institutions had six months or less of their financial exploitation reserve. . Eighty-two percent said they were 12 months or younger.

These numbers are similar to the results of the group’s first survey in June, indicating that, for museums that have reopened, a few months of limited-capacity operations haven’t made much of a difference.

“The financial situation of American museums is going from bad to worse,” said Laura Lott, president and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums, in a statement announcing the results of the investigation. “Those who have served their communities safely this summer do not have enough income to offset higher costs, especially during a possible winter lockdown.

Establishments that have reopened are only operating at about a third of their capacity, according to the survey. Just over half have laid off or laid off staff since March, with nearly 70% of frontline workers, including those working in customer services, admissions and retail, affected.

American museums, which receive smaller government grants than European institutions, have been particularly affected by the pandemic. They rely on donations and ticket sales to keep their doors open, but these have declined or have dried up since March. Museum directors said that on average they expected to lose about a third of their institution’s budgeted operating profit in 2020.

Nearly one in three museum directors said their establishment was at risk of closing for good if they did not find additional funding in the next 12 months. Twelve percent of administrators rated their facility as “significant risk,” and 17% said they “didn’t know” if they would survive.

Some museums have tried to put their annual fundraising galas online, but virtual events, on average, fall short of targets institutions had projected before the pandemic, according to the survey, reporting only about the two third of expected donations.

A number of smaller museums have been unable to hang on due to a lack of a solid donor base or new financial support from the government. The World of Speed ​​Motorsports Museum in Wilsonville, Ore., Announced in May that it would not reopen; the Tahoe Maritime Museum in California closed in July; and the KGB Museum in Manhattan closed last month,

“Without financial support, we could see thousands of museums shut down forever,” Ms. Lott said.

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Biden speaks to European allies as strongmen remain silent on US vote

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. responded to calls for congratulations from EU leaders on Tuesday, even as some of President Trump’s authoritarian allies maintained ostentatious silence over the election that could herald upcoming tensions with the administration Biden.

Mr Biden met with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin on Tuesday. He offered the leaders messages of support and cooperation, said his transition team in a statement, expressing in particular to Mr. Macron “his interest in revitalizing bilateral and transatlantic relations, including through NATO” and l European Union – institutions that Mr. Trump has repeatedly mocked.

The conversations offered a clear reaffirmation of US-European relations and the signal for a broader return to normalcy in foreign relations to come. Coupled with the ostentatious silence of more authoritarian leaders, they also provided early hints of a rearrangement of American allies and antagonists in their state before Mr. Trump’s disruptive foreign policy sank transatlantic relations to their lowest point. since World War II.

Among those who have remained silent are Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and Chinese President Xi Jinping. After days of calm, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finally congratulated Biden on Tuesday, according to Turkish state media, days after most other allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had already done so. None of these authoritarian leaders – with the possible exception of Mr Xi, whose calculations are unclear – rejoice at the prospect of a Biden presidency after years of mostly friendly relations with Mr Trump.

Mr. Biden’s conversations with European leaders – the contents of which were described by Biden’s transition team in more detail than typical of Trump’s White House – were also a stark contrast to the early days afterwards. the 2016 election, when Mr. Trump appeared to be in the field at random visits and calls. Then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe quickly flew to Trump Tower in mid-November to become the first foreign leader to meet with Mr. Trump, a first for a Japanese leader, while Mr. Trump has picked up a call from the president of Taiwan in what was a startling violation of diplomatic protocol that infuriated Beijing.

“He’s doing it in the right order, unlike Trump when he took office,” said Evelyn N. Farkas, former assistant deputy secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia in the Obama administration. “Protocol is back.”

Jeremy Shapiro, a former Obama State Department official now at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said that under the circumstances of the past it would be nothing remarkable for an elected president to address many European allies. But given four years of tensions with Mr. Trump, the appeals have unusual significance.

“It’s part of his whole approach of saying, ‘We’re back and we’re going to start obeying diplomatic standards, we’re going to start treating allies better than dictators,” “Shapiro said.

Whether intentionally or not, European leaders have also served to further legitimize Mr. Biden’s victory and discredit Mr. Trump’s continued false claim of being the winner.

“They all came out and congratulated him and, in a sense, weighed in on what is an internal political struggle, which is a risky thing for them after all,” Shapiro said. “Of course everyone thinks Joe Biden will be president. But they are not 100% sure.

Ms Merkel is clearly delighted with Mr Biden’s victory, after four years of Mr Trump’s complaints that Germany is profiting from the United States economically and militarily.

After Mr. Trump won the presidency in 2016, Merkel issued a statement pointedly reminding him that the United States and Germany were “bound by the values ​​of democracy, liberty and respect for the law and the law. human dignity ”. On the other hand, she said she welcomed Mr. Biden’s victory “very warmly” with a statement that notably removed any doubt about the outcome, declaring: “The American people have made their decision.”

Mr Johnson, while in some ways a populist travel companion of Mr Trump, was also particularly enthusiastic in a tweet posted after his speech on Tuesday with the president-elect, saying he was looking forward to working with the new president on climate change, promoting democracy and, echoing the Biden campaign slogan, ‘build back better’ from the coronavirus pandemic .

According to descriptions of the calls by Biden’s transition team, Mr Biden and the Europeans also discussed human rights, conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, and Iran’s nuclear program – all areas in which they are. Broadly at odds with Mr. Trump’s policy.

The descriptions also indicated that Mr Biden and Mr Johnson had spoken of ‘strengthening democracy’, a central foreign policy theme of Mr Biden’s campaign, in which he was committed to upholding and restoring values. democratic in the world under the assault of many of the same leaders. who were silent or slow to recognize his victory.

These include Mr Putin, whose spokesman said on Sunday that the Kremlin “would wait for an official announcement” before making any statement. The Chinese Foreign Ministry used similar language.

Ms Farkas said any congratulations on Mr Biden’s victory by Mr Putin could be particularly painful for Mr Trump, who has spent years courting the Russian leader’s favor and bragging about their relationship. “I think if Putin recognized the reality it would become more difficult for Trump to ignore the reality,” she said.

Several Middle Eastern autocrats who have enjoyed friendly relations with Mr Trump also praised Mr Biden shortly after he was declared the election winner by major US news outlets, reflecting his growing lead in multiple counts. of votes in the States. Among them are Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has formed a close alliance with Mr. Trump, also praised Mr. Biden.

Until Tuesday, Mr. Erdogan, who has cultivated a connection with Mr. Trump, stifled the US response to several Turkish actions that angered other members of the Atlantic alliance, such as the invasion of the northeast of Syria by Turkey in October 2019 and its purchase of a Russian-made Missile System.

“Erdogan has made all his bets on a Trump victory and is now devastated that Biden won,” said Aykan Erdemir, a former member of the Turkish parliament now with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, explaining the dragging foot of the Turkish leader. “The Turkish president is distraught at no longer having a personal relationship with his American counterpart, which has granted him impunity on a myriad of issues.

Thomas Wright, director of the Center for the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, has seen a simple message emerge in recent days.

“The free world is ready to move on,” he said. “The autocrats mourn one of their own.”

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Travel News

The election is over. The nation’s flaws remain.

MAPLEWOOD, NJ – Late morning calm settled in a November Saturday in a cozy blanket of suburban serenity. Suddenly, during the explosion at the stadium level, there was the shattering rock ‘n’ roll roar of victory:

We will, we will rock you
We will, we will rock you

Sounds of something unleashed – banging pots, honking horns, primitive screams – erupt from all directions in Maplewood, NJ And as another Queen song echoed from the muscular speakers in his garage, Zack Kurland stood at the edge of his driveway, his arms raised like Rocky.

We are the champions
We are the champions

His wife, Neena Kumar, ran up and jumped into his arms. News had just arrived that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had been declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, and now both whirled around in an impromptu public dance of triumph.

The moment conjures up an iconic American image: a WWII sailor spontaneously kissing a woman in a nurse’s uniform in Times Square after the announcement of victory in Europe. Only instead of VE Day, it was VB Day: Victory for Biden.

But not everyone was dancing. The triumph in a foreign war unifies a country; triumph in an election has the hidden potential to further divide. And by Sunday morning, part of the celebration and mourning had melted to expose a difficult question for divided families and a divided nation:

Now what?

Certainly, a record number of more than 75 million Americans voted for Mr. Biden, the Democratic challenger, and his vice president, Kamala Harris, the first woman elected vice president. It’s also true that more than 71 million others are now grappling with the concept that their candidate – Donald J. Trump, the incumbent Republican – would most likely be marked by his worst epithet: loser.

If Trump loyalists were honking their horns at all on Saturday, it was likely to clear the streets of cheering Biden supporters. And the only hope offered by their leader was a wish to challenge in court what he claimed, without proof, was a fraudulent election.

By refusing, for now, to publicly accept the election results, Mr. Trump was almost inviting discord and interrupting the dance. And some have accepted his invitation.

Trump supporters have staged ‘Stop the Steal’ rallies outside state capitals across the country, though their cries of electoral corruption have occasionally come as news of Mr Biden’s declared victory lit smartphones everywhere .

In Sacramento, California, videos captured confrontations that turned into physical assaults; some in the fray wore the black and yellow polo shirts often associated with the Proud Boys, a pro-Trump far-right group that was no stranger to violence. Another video, from Salem, Ore, showed a man dressed in Proud Boys clothing discharging what appeared to be pepper spray, after which a mob beat a vehicle with fists and a baseball bat.

These little moments reflect the significant rift in the collective American psyche that Mr. Biden sought to begin to close in his speech on Saturday night. With a stand of American flags behind him, he said the time had come to restore the soul of the nation; to adopt the first three words of the Constitution: “We, the people”.

Mr. Biden knows from experience how difficult these simple feelings are to achieve. Another historic moment not long ago – the election in 2008 of the country’s first black president, Barack Obama, with Mr. Biden as vice president – also sparked dancing in the streets. And that too was presented as a unifying healing moment. The feeling did not last.

But Mr Biden has always recognized the need to make the call, once again, for the nation to come together. “It’s time to put hard rhetoric aside,” he said. “To lower the temperature. To see each other again. To listen to yourself again.

His words seemed to speak as much to the individual American as to the nation as a whole, as if to recognize the gaping divisions created. in the tumultuous four years since Mr. Trump’s election.

Friendships are broken. Relationships in the workplace have cooled. Family reunions have been altered by fears that a demand for passage of salt might somehow lead to a political brawl.

In Trump-solid Mercer County, Pa., A retired special education teacher named Beverly Graham, a Democrat, celebrated the big news on Saturday by pouring a glass of whiskey with honey. She drank it in a quiet toast, then tackled the chore of cleaning the bathrooms.

It has been four difficult years for Ms. Graham, with various political disagreements, including with sons who have gone from supporting Mr. Obama to supporting Mr. Trump. Brutal mockery of Democrats – in other words, people like her – on social media by members of her church has been particularly difficult. Their disdain was so vitriolic that she found it difficult to attend Sunday services.

In other words, when people went to church. Before the coronavirus.

“I just don’t think it’s ever going to be the same,” said Ms. Graham, 65. “Because I felt like it was beyond politics. It was personal.

Across Pennsylvania, 300 miles east in Monroe County, a cell phone salesman named Austin Garone said he was exhausted telling an ex-girlfriend to which way he had voted.

They broke up in 2016 because of politics, mainly after voting for Mr. Trump – a choice, he said, that she found incomprehensible. This time around, she had called, texted, and sent long letters to Facebook, all to persuade him not to vote for Mr. Trump anymore.

“People hate Trump so much,” said Garone, 26. “It’s an emotional reaction and they lose their sense of reason.”

He said he told his ex-girlfriend, still a close friend, that he would not vote for Mr. Trump if she could show that he had violated his rights as a bisexual woman.

Mr. Garone ultimately decided that the president had not. But he’s not volunteering for voting for Mr. Trump in 2020.

“If she asks, I’ll tell her,” he said. “But otherwise, I won’t mention it.”

And in Louisville, Kentucky, an attorney by the name of Dustin Meek said she spent a lot of time trying to overcome the political schism between herself, a self-proclaimed Progressive Democrat, and her family in her hometown of ‘Ashland, who supports Trump, 190 miles away. ballast.

“We’re going to start the evening by saying, okay, no political discussion,” said Ms. Meek, 54. “But inevitably a joke will be thrown, or something will happen and people will sting, and honestly, I have to say, it strained relationships.”

“It’s difficult,” she added.

She and her family members don’t even seem to agree on what constitutes a “fact,” she said. They follow right-wing news sites, as she favors more traditional sources of information that Mr. Trump has encouraged his supporters to be wary of.

Ms Meek expressed hope that the less inflammatory rhetoric of a new president would help matters. And she said she wouldn’t allow politics to prevent her from attending future family reunions.

“If some of my family will choose not to attend certain events because my husband and I are there – it is possible,” she said.

Sunday morning, a semblance of serenity returned to Maplewood. Mr. Kurland, a digital designer and musician whose garage speakers had rocked his neighborhood, mowed the lawn. His wife, Ms. Kumar, a psychologist, accompanied the family’s two Black Labradors.

The fact that the President of the United States was tweeting again about a stolen election didn’t bother them. They had already danced for joy in their driveway.

Mike Baker of Seattle contributed reporting; Campbell Robertson of Mercer County, Pennsylvania; Sabrina Tavernise from Monroe County, Pennsylvania; and Will Wright of Louisville, Ky.