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The Four Percent

Saudi Arabia imposes strict limits on this year’s hajj, dashing the hopes of many pilgrims.

Every year, Saudi Arabia plays host to millions of Muslims from around the world taking part in the pilgrimage to Mecca known as the hajj. It is a sacred rite for Muslims and a reliable source of income for the Saudi economy and of prestige for its monarchy.

But not this year.

The kingdom announced on Monday that the hajj, which is taking place next month, would welcome “very limited numbers” of pilgrims to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

In a statement published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, which oversees the pilgrimage, said the event would allow only Saudi pilgrims and those from other countries already inside the kingdom.

The ministry did not specify the target attendance, but the limitations will surely make this year’s pilgrimage much smaller than those in recent years, which have been vast.

As the virus spreads at record speeds around the world, the United States accounted for 20 percent of all the new infections worldwide on Sunday, according to New York Times data, even as the country’s population makes up about 4.3 percent of the world’s.

New cases continued to surge over the weekend in 22 states, especially in the West and the South. Oklahoma and Missouri reported their largest single-day case increases yet on Sunday.

Over the weekend, Florida also passed 100,000 cases according the state’s health department and the surgeon general there began formally advising that all residents wear face coverings “in any situation where social distancing is not possible.” In Miami, Mayor Francis Suarez went further on Monday, making it a requirement that residents wear masks in public, effective immediately.

In Washington’s Yakima County, where the number of cases has more than doubled in the past month, the situation is dire. Gov. Jay Inslee said the county was at a “breaking point.” With a shortage of hospital beds, patients were being taken to Seattle, more than two hours away, for medical care. Yakima hospitals are also reporting significant staffing shortages because of employees who are sick with the virus or are under a 14-day quarantine after being exposed.

In the wake of another record-setting day for new cases, Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the W.H.O.’s health emergencies program, said on Monday that increased testing was not driving the surge in cases.

“We do not believe that this is a testing phenomenon,” he said. “Clearly, hospital admissions are also rising in a number of countries, deaths are also rising, and they are not due to increase testing, per se. So there definitely is a shift in the sense that the virus is now very well established at the global level.”

Lori Tremmel Freeman, the chief executive of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, said in an interview last week that dozens of top health officials have resigned or been fired since the pandemic began.

“There’s a big red target on their backs,” she said. “They’re becoming villainized for their guidance. In normal times, they’re very trusted members of their community.”

The White House eased virus restrictions as two more campaign aides tested positive.

The White House on Monday began easing virus-related restrictions it has had in place since March, even as the Trump campaign announced that two more campaign aides had tested positive.

Temperature checks at the complex will be scaled back, allowing many White House staff members who have been working remotely to return to their offices. And the cafeteria in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, across the street from the West Wing, will be reopened.

But assuring that Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will not be exposed to the virus by visitors remains a priority.

“Every staff member and guest in close proximity to the president and vice president is still being temperature-checked, asked symptom histories and tested,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said in a statement.

Mr. Deere said that White House officials would continue to practice social distancing, use hand sanitizer and wear face masks on a voluntary basis, and that the work spaces would be deep cleaned regularly.

In announcing the new guidelines, the White House followed the lead of the City of Washington, which began the second phase of its reopening on Monday.

The White House guidelines also reflect Mr. Trump’s emphasis on returning to normal. They were put in place just days after he staged a “comeback” rally in Tulsa, Okla., where he tried to pack an indoor arena with 19,000 people.

Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman, said in a statement on Monday that the two staffers who had tested positive “attended the rally but were wearing masks during the entire event.”

“Upon the positive tests, the campaign immediately activated established quarantine and contact tracing protocols,” he added.

The news brought to eight the number of Trump campaign advance staffers who have tested positive in recent days. Six aides who had worked on the event had tested positive on Saturday, hours before the rally, and did not attend. The rally drew 6,200 people, according to the Tulsa Fire Department.

Democrats pounced on Monday on Mr. Trump’s claim during the Tulsa rally that he had asked his “people” to “slow the testing down” so they might find fewer cases, pressing top administration officials on Monday to provide records and internal assessments related to the sharp uptick in cases across the country.

Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina and the chairman of a special virus oversight committee, wrote to Mr. Pence and top health officials asking for details on what the Trump administration was doing to control the spread.

“No American should go untested because the president fears an accurate count of infections, and there is nothing ‘overblown’ about saving American lives,” Mr. Clyburn wrote.

Clusters around the U.S. have been increasingly linked with social and religious gathering places.

As parts of the country tentatively reopen, clusters of cases have spread from the most widely known locations — like meatpacking plants, nursing homes and prisons — to locations that have gotten far less attention.

Four people who spent time at Cruisin’ Chubbys Gentlemen’s Club, a Wisconsin strip club, recently tested positive. In Colorado, at least 11 staff members at Eagle Lake Overnight Camp came down with the virus before any campers showed up, leading the camp to close for the rest of the summer.

Other clusters have been linked to fraternity rush parties in Mississippi. Officials said those gatherings appeared to violate rules that ban indoor gatherings of more than 20 people unless social distancing steps are taken.

And in Connecticut, the city of New Haven shut down a nightclub that the authorities said hosted a gathering of about 1,000 people on Saturday night in its parking lot, violating orders on the size of gatherings.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas delivered a somber assessment of the coronavirus on Monday, saying that it was spreading in the state at “an unacceptable rate” and that tougher restrictions could be necessary, although he did not specify what those measures would be.

“Closing down Texas again will always be the last option,” he said at a news conference. “We can protect Texans’ lives while also protecting their livelihoods.”

The number of daily hospitalizations and confirmed cases in Texas has doubled when compared with last month, according to the governor. But he said he was hopeful that the trend could be reversed if people wore face masks, washed hands and abided by social distancing.

“I know that some people feel that wearing a mask is inconvenient, or it’s like an infringement of freedom, but I also know that wearing a mask will help us to keep Texas open,” he said. “Not taking action to slow the spread will cause Covid to spread even worse.”

Texas has averaged more than 3,500 new coronavirus cases a day during the last five days, Mr. Abbott said, compared with about 1,500 daily cases during the second half of May. There have recently been more than 3,200 hospitalizations a day, compared with 1,600 last month.

Even though Mr. Abbott again assured Texans that there was an abundant supply of hospital beds, fears of plummeting capacity have continued to escalate among local officials after the state reported its 10th consecutive day of record-high hospitalizations.

In other U.S. news:

Trump signed an order suspending work visas, barring entry to foreigners and angering businesses.

President Trump on Monday signed a proclamation temporarily suspending work visas and barring more than half a million foreigners from coming to work in the United States, part of a broad effort by the administration to dramatically limit entry into the country during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The restrictions would block entry into the United States under the H-1B visa program for high-skilled workers, and would also affect several other categories of visas, although it would exempt health care professionals and farm workers, among others. Taken together, senior administration officials said, the worker visa bans and green card suspensions would prevent 525,000 immigrants from working in the United States between now and the end of the year.

The order, which has been expected for several weeks, is fiercely opposed by a broad swathe of businesses — including high tech companies in Silicon Valley, manufacturers, and others — whose leaders say it will block their ability to recruit critically needed workers from overseas countries for jobs that Americans cannot or will not perform.

Stephen Miller, the architect of the president’s restrictive immigration policies, has pushed for years to limit or eliminate the worker visas, arguing that they harm employment prospects for Americans. In recent months, he has argued that the economic distress caused by the virus has made it even more important to turn off the spigot of foreign entry into the United States.

In April, the president signed an executive order that suspended for 60 days the issuance of green cards to foreigners looking to live in the United States. But at the time, Mr. Miller and the president bowed to pressure from the business community to avoid imposing limits on worker visas.

Monday’s order extends the green-card prohibition in addition to suspending the issuance of many of the worker visas, which will be effective through the end of the year. In addition, the administration officials said that the president would order new regulations to permanently change worker visas in the future so that foreign job offers go to more highly paid, highly-skilled workers that will compete less with Americans.

Germany is scrambling to contain a fast-growing outbreak in the country’s largest pork processing plant.

The authorities have confirmed 1,331 new cases among workers at the Tönnies plant in the northwestern town of Rheda-Wiedenbrück in the last week. The surrounding community has been quarantined and schools and day care centers have been closed. State and federal health workers and soldiers had been deployed to carry out large-scale testing.

Some workers blamed a lack of safety measures and space to practice social distancing. A video released in early April, apparently recorded by a worker, showed a crowded cafeteria. The state prosecutor said he was considering opening an investigation.

In other international news:


New York City begins a new phase of reopening: offices.

At his daily briefing on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio called it “a giant step for this city.”

“This is where most of our economy is,” he said.

Still, with offices required to limit their maximum capacity to ensure social distancing, the number of people returning to work appeared to be a fraction of those who once jostled elbows on crowded subways and in high-rise elevators.

“It’s nice to get back to kind of normal, even though it’s not 100 percent normal,” said Kiki Boyzuick, 45, who works in human resources in Midtown Manhattan.

On Monday morning, a time when Midtown would typically be crammed with workers, the sidewalks remained largely vacant and the subway cars still felt relatively empty.

The mayor said that while some businesses might be reluctant to reopen their offices in the summer, he would encourage them to bring workers back in the fall.

“The more that people see it’s working, the more people will want to come back,” he said. “I think a lot of businesses will say, ‘We just cannot get done this work as well if people don’t spend more time together.’”

In a survey conducted this month by the Partnership for New York City, a business group, respondents from 60 companies with Manhattan offices predicted that only 10 percent of their employees would return by Aug. 15.

At Fancy Wave Salon in Flushing, Queens, hairstylists wore face shields, gloves and masks as they attended to their clients’ hair. Derrick Chan, the owner, said he was thrilled to reopen.

“We had to pretty much stay home, no income,” he said. “That’s why you have to save up for the rainy days.”

Here’s what else is happening in the region:

  • More riders returned to public transportation during Phase 1 in New York City than transit officials had anticipated. On the subway, daily ridership has climbed to 17 percent of pre-pandemic levels, when ridership exceeded five million. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority expects as many as two million people during Phase 2.

Still, the evidence suggests that the programs Congress hastily authorized in March have done much to protect the needy, a finding likely to shape the debate over next steps at a time when 13.3 percent of Americans remain unemployed.

“Right now, the safety net is doing what it’s supposed to do for most families — helping them secure a minimally decent life,” said Zachary Parolin, a member of the Columbia University team forecasting this year’s poverty rate. “Given the magnitude of the employment loss, this is really remarkable.’’

The Columbia group’s midrange forecast has poverty rising only slightly this year, to 12.7 percent, from 12.5 percent before the virus. Without the March law that provided one-time checks to most Americans and weekly bonuses to the unemployed, it would have reached 16.3 percent, the researchers found. That would have pushed nearly 12 million more people into poverty.

Remdesivir, which interferes with virus replication, is the first drug to show effectiveness against the coronavirus in human trials. It was given Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration on May 1, allowing physicians to administer the drug to Covid-19 patients. But the drug has not yet been approved, and its safety and efficacy are currently being investigated in several clinical trials.

Beginning this week, healthy volunteers will be screened for participation in Phase I trials, which will test for safety. Covid-19 patients are expected to join the lineup as early as August.

Culture and Sports Roundup

The Golden Globes picked a later date for their 2021 event, a date the Oscars abandoned.

The 2021 Golden Globes will take place on Feb. 28, a date that the Oscars abandoned last week in pushing its ceremony back. That allows the Globes to retain its place before the Oscars in the calendar.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the small group of journalists that hands out the Globes, did not say how the date would affect eligibility of film and television series, which normally adheres to the calendar year. In other culture and sports news:

  • The P.G.A. Championship announced that golf’s first major championship this year would proceed without spectators Aug. 6 to 9 at T.P.C. Harding Park in San Francisco. Originally scheduled for May, the event would be the first golf major of 2020 contested without fans, but potentially not the last.

  • The Orlando Pride withdrew on Monday from the National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup after several staff members and players tested positive without specifying how many. The team said that no one displayed symptoms.

  • An exhibition tennis tournament organized by the top-ranked men’s player, Novak Djokovic, is causing panic in Zadar, Croatia, which had no confirmed infections until it hosted a leg of the competition, where there weren’t social distancing protocols. Now the players Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric and two coaches have confirmed infections.

  • Wednesday is the deadline for N.B.A. players to notify their teams whether they wish to withdraw from participation when play resumes July 7 at the Walt Disney World Resort. The rate of confirmed cases in Orange County, Fla., where the resort is, has risen significantly over the last week.

Here’s how domestic work can safely resume.

As communities begin to reopen, many people are wondering when it will be safe for babysitters and housekeepers to return to work. Here are some tips on how domestic employees and their employers can stay safe.

Reporting was contributed by Ian Austen, Brooks Barnes, Julie Bosman, Aurelien Breeden, Christopher Clarey, Choe Sang-Hun, Troy Closson, Michael Crowley, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Jeffrey Gettleman, Rick Gladstone, Michael Gold, James Gorman, Andrew Higgins, Ben Hubbard, Annie Karni, Jeré Longman, Iliana Magra, Raphael Minder, David Montgomery, Heather Murphy, Joe Orovic, Matt Phillips, Tariq Panja, Suhasini Raj, Adam Rasgon, Dagny Salas, Christopher F. Schuetze, Nate Schweber, Michael D. Shear, Daniel E. Slotnik, Megan Specia, Mitch Smith, Marc Stein, Eileen Sullivan, Lucy Tompkins, Neil Vigdor, David Waldstein, Katherine J. Wu, Mihir Zaveri and Karen Zraick.

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