Covid Live Updates: U.S. Vaccine Rollout for Children 12-15 Starts

mental health emergencies among children during the pandemic.

“This is your ticket out of that problem,” he said.

Still, many parents remain hesitant to put their children on the frontline of a vaccine that they view as experimental. And unlike in previous phases of the vaccine rollout, there were few reports of crowds and long lines during the first hours of eligibility on Thursday, when many children were in school.

In New York City, Julian Boyce, 14, was among a scattering of teenagers who showed up to be vaccinated first thing Thursday morning at Harlem Hospital Center. His family has known as many as 20 people who have died of Covid-19, his father said, and Julian has spent much of the last year indoors, keeping up with school work and playing video games.

Julian, an eighth grader at The Cathedral School, asked a nurse to administer his shot in his left arm, so any soreness wouldn’t affect his writing. Then he turned his attention to his cell phone.

“I just got my vaccine,” he texted his friends.

Mayor Bill de Blasio encouraged parents to have their children vaccinated to protect their families. “Parents, let’s get our zoomers off of Zoom and back to life as normal,” he said Thursday morning.

Amanda Rosa contributed reporting.

A vaccination center in New Delhi on Thursday. A government panel has again recommended widening the gap between the first and second doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shots.
Credit…Prakash Singh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

With new infections now engulfing rural regions across India even as the daily death toll in crowded cities remains staggeringly high, regional leaders across the country are engaged in a desperate struggle to secure vaccines and stretch the doses they have on hand.

The states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, where case numbers are surging, have suspended vaccination altogether for people under 45 so that older people can receive second doses.

And a government panel on Thursday recommended widening the gap — for the third time since March — between the first and second doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, also known as Covishield in India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India is facing increasing pressure to quickly expand the scope of the country’s fledging Covid-19 vaccination campaign as major cities run out of doses.

Some states and cities have started floating their own global tenders to import vaccines.

In a rare show of unity, a dozen opposition parties called for free, universal vaccination in a letter that said the pandemic had “assumed unprecedented dimensions of a human catastrophe.”

The parties also said that Mr. Modi’s government should invoke an order temporarily suspending patent protections for vaccines — a proposal India and South Africa jointly made for all virus vaccines globally that is under consideration by the World Trade Organization. In India, the order would allow more factories to make Covaxin, the indigenous vaccine codeveloped by the Indian government’s top scientific research body and the Hyderabad-based company Bharat Biotech.

Covaxin is in such short supply that the capital, New Delhi, has had to shutter about 100 vaccination centers. All of the doses produced by the Serum Institute of India, which is producing the Oxford-AstraZeneca shots and is the world’s largest vaccine maker, are staying in India, but still falling far short of the requirements for a population of nearly 1.4 billion people.

The ad hoc approach could also further fuel the skepticism and hesitancy that greeted the rollout of shots this winter. Leaders of Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party claimed that the virus had been all but defeated in India, possibly tempering interest in a vaccine.

Jairam Ramesh, leader of the opposition Indian National Congress party, questioned the validity of widening the intervals between doses.

“Is this because there are not enough stocks of the vaccines for all who are eligible or because professional scientific advice says so?” Mr. Ramesh wrote on Twitter.

India reported about 362,000 cases on Wednesday, with infection numbers appearing to level off in Delhi and in the financial capital, Mumbai, but picking up in the southern city of Bengaluru and across rural India.

Less than 3 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Lockdown restrictions are in place in many parts of India, but on Thursday, when Muslims celebrated Eid al-Fitr, the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, people were seen crowding markets.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines are safe and effective during pregnancy, according to preliminary results from two continuing studies.

Both vaccines produce robust immune responses in pregnant and lactating women, and are likely to provide at least some protection against two dangerous coronavirus variants, B.1.1.7 and B.1.351, according to a study published in JAMA on Thursday. Vaccinated women can also pass protective antibodies to their fetuses through the bloodstream and to their infants through breast milk, the research suggests.

In a second study, published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology on Tuesday, researchers found no evidence that either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines damaged the placenta during pregnancy.

Covid presents serious risks during pregnancy. Research has shown that pregnant women with coronavirus symptoms are more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit, to require mechanical ventilation and to die from the virus than are symptomatic women of a similar age who are not pregnant.

Because of these risks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that the vaccines at least be made available to pregnant people, many of whom have opted to receive the shots.

“We can shift our framework from, ‘Let’s protect pregnant people from the vaccine,’ to ‘Let’s protect pregnant people and their infants through the vaccine,’” said Dr. Emily S. Miller, an expert in maternal-fetal medicine at Northwestern University and co-author of the placenta study. “I think that’s really powerful.”

A teacher receiving a vaccine in January in Redmond, Ore. On Tuesday, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon joined a handful of other states in setting a vaccination benchmark for lifting restrictions.
Credit…Ryan Brennecke/The Bulletin, via Associated Press

While some states are offering residents incentives like savings bonds or sports tickets to encourage them to be vaccinated, a few are making a very different pitch: The sooner you get a shot, the sooner the state will fully reopen.

The latest is Oregon, where the governor said on Tuesday that the state’s remaining restrictions would stay in place until at least 70 percent of eligible residents 16 and older had had at least one shot.

“We still have some work to do to reach our 70 percent goal, but I am confident we can get there in June and return Oregon to a sense of normalcy,” said Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat.

Oregon, where 49 percent of residents have had at least one dose, is one of the few states that is explicitly tying lifting its indoor mask requirement to the adult vaccination rate. Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania also are awaiting the 70 percent threshold before moving forward with reopening plans.

In Michigan, capacity limits for businesses will lift two weeks after 65 percent of eligible residents have been vaccinated, and the gatherings and face mask orders will end two weeks after 70 percent of eligible residents have been fully vaccinated, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. Thirty-seven percent of residents there have been immunized in the state, which has shown one of the country’s steepest drops in cases over the past two weeks. The average number of new infections reported daily during that time sank 45 percent and hospitalizations were down 32 percent.

Pennsylvania is waiting for 70 percents of adults to be fully vaccinated before lifting its mask mandate. Only 37 percent have been immunized in Pennsylvania.

The mask requirement in Minnesota will be lifted once 70 percent of residents 16 and older have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but no later than July 1, Gov. Tim Walz said. Half of Minnesotans have had at least one dose.

On Wednesday, Maryland said that every business would be allowed to open, starting on Saturday, at 100 percent capacity, but that the indoor mask requirement would be in place until 70 percent of adults had received one dose. So far, only 52 percent have met that guideline.

“Those who are not vaccinated continue to slow our health and economic recovery efforts, and they also continue to be at risk for infection, hospitalization and death,” Gov. Larry Hogan said on Wednesday.

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Wednesday that he would be signing an executive order that would put into effect what he called “our most aggressive reopening play” to date. As was announced last week, on Wednesday, May 19, many restrictions on public gatherings will be dropped although social distancing measures will be in effect. In New Jersey, 42 percent of adults are fully vaccinated and 55 percent have received one shot.

And in New Mexico, the state will remove most restrictions once 60 percent of residents have been fully vaccinated. Forty-two percent of people have been inoculated there.

But these statewide vaccination targets are well below what experts now calculate the herd immunity threshold to be: at least 80 percent.

President Biden has called for 70 percent of adults to have at least one dose by July 4. Jeffrey Zients, Mr. Biden’s Covid response coordinator, said that the goal should be to achieve some sense of normality by hitting that target. Reaching 70 percent will create “a pattern of decreasing cases, hospitalizations and deaths and take us down to a sustainable low level,” he said this week.

Inmates last week at a field hospital for Covid patients set up at a prison in Bangkok.
Credit…Department of Corrections, via Associated Press

A variant of the coronavirus is sweeping through Thailand’s prisons, the country’s chief prison doctor said on Thursday, as the government acknowledged that nearly 3,000 inmates had been found to be infected.

The chief prison doctor, Weerakit Harnpariphan, deputy director general of Thailand’s Department of Corrections, did not identify the variant that had been detected. But protective measures that were effective in the prisons last year, he said, are not working well now.

“The spread this time is something very worrying,” he said. “The transmissibility of this variant, as it is known, is very quick. It spread in a short period of time.”

There are two variants of concern spreading in the region: the first, detected last fall in Britain, is now the main driver of the pandemic in countries around the world.

Health officials in Thailand said it was now widespread in the country and was partly responsible for the recent surge in cases.

But there is growing concern about the spread of a variant first reported in India, which the World Health Organization said may be even more contagious.

Scientists still don’t know much about that variant, but they are worried that it might be helping to fuel the rise in India’s coronavirus infections and could now be driving up cases in neighboring countries.

Called B.1.617, the variant has been detected in Thailand only in one family that had been quarantined after arriving from Pakistan, health officials said.

On Thursday, Thailand reported a daily record of 4,887 cases, which reflects the inclusion of 2,835 prison cases that had not been counted previously in the national total. Thailand has averaged about 2,000 new cases a day for the past three weeks.

The prison outbreak came to light on Wednesday after a leader of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, 22, was released on bail and reported in a Facebook post that she had contracted the coronavirus. She said that more than 50 women had also come down with the virus at the prison where she had been held for nearly two months.

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin said that the coronavirus was under control in the prisons but acknowledged that too few prisoners were being tested until this week.

In response to the virus, he said, the prison population has been reduced from 390,000 prisoners to less than 310,000 by granting amnesty to some and releasing others to be monitored with ankle bracelets.

Human Rights Watch called on Thailand to ensure that prisoners had adequate protective measures and health care. Nearly 20 percent of the country’s inmates are being held while they await trial, the group said, including other members of the pro-democracy movement who are accused of insulting the monarchy.

Thailand is facing its biggest surge in cases since the start of the pandemic and has imposed a partial lockdown on the hardest-hit parts of the country, including Bangkok.

The country reported only 6,884 cases and 61 deaths for all of last year. But the numbers have soared this year to a total of 93,794 cases and 518 deaths as of Thursday, with most of them coming in the past three weeks.

Enjoying the sun in Athens on Saturday. Tourism accounts for a fifth of Greece’s work force and around 20 percent of gross domestic product.
Credit…Costas Baltas/Reuters

As the vaccination campaign in Greece rapidly expands to reach hundreds of thousands of residents across dozens of islands dotting the Aegean Sea, the country planned to throw open its doors on Friday to more foreign visitors, including those have been vaccinated, have proof of previous infection or can provide a negative coronavirus test result.

With tourism accounting for a fifth of the country’s work force and around 20 percent of gross domestic product, the loosening of restrictions is an economic priority.

The move comes as the country gradually eases domestic restrictions.

Cafes and bars opened last week after a six-month shuttering, and primary and junior high schools reopened this week.

On Friday, residents will no longer have to complete a form or notify the authorities via text message to leave the house for work, shopping, visits to doctors or physical exercise, among other reasons.

Museums are scheduled to reopen, and the 11 p.m. curfew will be pushed back to 12.30 a.m.

Although the rate of daily coronavirus infections in Greece has stabilized in recent weeks, deaths and hospitalizations remain relatively high.

The U.S. State Department is currently warning against travel to Greece, and similar advice is in place in many other countries.

Greece’s vaccination drive has been slow compared with other European Union countries, but it has stepped up in recent weeks.

About 1.3 million people in the nation of 10 million have been fully vaccinated, and 2.6 million have received one of their two shots, according to the authorities.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday heralded a plan to vaccinate the permanent residents of the country’s islands by the end of June.

In a teleconference call with the mayors of several Greek islands, Mr. Mitsotakis called the campaign Operation Blue Freedom — a variation of the name of the national inoculation drive, Operation Freedom.

The residents of 32 small islands have been fully vaccinated, and a drive to inoculate those on another 36 islands with up to 10,000 residents is on course to be complete by the end of May.

The next stage aims to vaccinate more than 700,000 residents of 19 larger islands, including the popular vacation destinations of Corfu, Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini and Zakynthos, by the end of June.

That drive is to begin later this month, using the first large delivery of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Mr. Mitsotakis appealed to the mayors to encourage islanders to get the shots as part of broader efforts to build Greece’s first “mass wall of immunity.”

The Bran Castle in Romania.
Credit…Octav Ganea/Inquam Photo, via Reuters

The needles at Bran Castle in the Transylvania region of Romania won’t be drawing blood — instead, they’ll be administering a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Vaccines will be available every weekend in May without an appointment at the castle, which says it is “the only castle in all of Transylvania” that fits the description of Dracula’s castle in the novel about the vampire.

People who get vaccines there will get “free access to the exhibition with medieval torture tools,” the castle said on its Facebook page. But venturing to the castle for the shots and scares wouldn’t be wise for international travelers, as the vaccines are available at the castle only to residents of Romania, Bran Castle’s marketing manager, Alexandru Priscu, told The Associated Press.

Amid concerns in Romania that demand for vaccines is slowing, Mr. Priscu said, “we wanted to show people a different way to get the needle.”

More than 19 percent of people in Romania have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. New daily coronavirus cases there have dropped significantly — around 1,200 each day on average — since spikes in November and March.

The castle joins the many weird and occasionally beautiful places around the world that are doubling as vaccine spots, some for convenience and some hoping to entice people by the location. They include Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey, the American Museum of Natural History, on the sand in Miami Beach and a ski resort in Colorado.

A coworking space in London last month run by WeWork. Sandeep Mathrani, the company’s chief executive drew Twitter fire when he said on Wednesday that employees who work from home are the “least engaged.” 
Credit…Tolga Akmen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

If you’ve enjoyed working from home during the pandemic — no commute, cooking lunch in your own kitchen or being around family more often — the chief executive of WeWork has some thoughts about you.

“Those who are least engaged are very comfortable working from home,” Sandeep Mathrani, the C.E.O. of WeWork said at a Wall Street Journal event on Wednesday. “Those who are überly engaged with the company want to go to the office two-thirds of the time, at least.”

“People are happier when they come to work,” he added. The company is betting on people wanting to — or being required to — work outside of their homes once it is safe to do so widely.

His comments were not received well by many online as many companies and employees consider the post-Covid-19 workplace after more than a year of doing their jobs from home.

“I wonder why the C.E.O. of a company that rents office space would say this,” wrote one Twitter user.

Others noted that working from home has benefited parents and has improved some workers’ mental health.

Ann Johnson, a corporate vice president at Microsoft, wrote: “If the only way you can keep your employees engaged is by being in the office with them, you have a leadership issue — not an employee engagement issue.”

Google said this month that it would relax its remote work protocols and that it expected 20 percent of its employees to work remotely after its offices reopen. The tech giant had previously been one of the industry’s holdouts on flexible remote work, and Insider reported that some employees had threatened to quit if they couldn’t keep working from home.

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U.S. Vaccine Rollout Begins for Children ages 12 to 15

Eduardo Torres, 53, was up early in Chicago on Thursday morning when he heard the news on the television: Younger adolescents, including his 14-year-old daughter, Raquel, were now eligible for the coronavirus vaccine.

“I told my wife, ‘I’ve got to take her to get vaccinated — immediately,’” he said.

The world’s first mass coronavirus inoculation campaign for children kicked off in earnest in the United States on Thursday after the federal government recommended making the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available to those aged 12 to 15. Vaccinations of adolescents had already begun this week in a few states, like Maine.

By 9:30 a.m., Raquel was among the first wave of children in her age group to be vaccinated at a site near Wrigley Field and was excitedly listing the things she could do once she is fully vaccinated. Go to her high school in person again. See her friends without worrying. Return to playing volleyball and bowling.

“It’s just a beautiful thing that this is available,” Mr. Torres said.

The start of shots for younger people marks a pivotal phase of the race to vaccinate as many Americans as possible, opening up the vaccine to millions of adolescents far earlier than many experts had predicted. There are about 17 million children between the ages of 12 and 15 in the United States, representing about 5 percent of the population. The changes — which mean that people ages 12 and up are now eligible — also opened the possibility that many more children may soon return to a semblance of normalcy, attending camps this summer and returning to in-person school by fall.

mental health emergencies among children during the pandemic.

“This is your ticket out of that problem,” he said.

Still, many parents remain hesitant to put their children on the frontline of a vaccine that they view as experimental. And unlike in previous phases of the vaccine rollout, there were few reports of crowds and long lines during the first hours of eligibility on Thursday, when many children were in school.

In New York City, Julian Boyce, 14, was among a scattering of teenagers who showed up to be vaccinated first thing Thursday morning at Harlem Hospital Center. His family has known as many as 20 people who have died of Covid-19, his father said, and Julian has spent much of the last year indoors, keeping up with school work and playing video games.

Julian, an eighth grader at The Cathedral School, asked a nurse to administer his shot in his left arm, so any soreness wouldn’t affect his writing. Then he turned his attention to his cell phone.

“I just got my vaccine,” he texted his friends.

Mayor Bill de Blasio encouraged parents to have their children vaccinated to protect their families. “Parents, let’s get our zoomers off of Zoom and back to life as normal,” he said Thursday morning.

Amanda Rosa contributed reporting.

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China will partition Mount Everest’s summit to reduce coronavirus risk.

variant of concern. Scientists still don’t know much about the variant yet, but they are worried that it may be helping to fuel the rise in the nation’s coronavirus infections, which experts say are likely undercounted.

“There is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies” of the variant, said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead of the W.H.O.’s coronavirus response.

Dr. Van Kerkhove also said that a study of a limited number of patients, which had not yet been peer reviewed, suggested that antibodies from vaccines or infections with other variants might not be quite as effective against B.1.617. However, the agency said that vaccines will likely remain potent enough to provide protection against B.1.617.

More details will be released in a report on Tuesday, Dr. Van Kerkhove said.

The variant was first detected in India at the end of 2020 but became more common in the country starting in March. It has since been found in 32 countries including the United States and the United Kingdom. The W.H.O.’s announcement comes as growing numbers of medical experts are adding their voices to a chorus of condemnation of the Indian government’s response and calling for nationwide restrictions to try to limit the horrifying death toll.

Although the official figures are already staggering — more than 350,000 new infections daily this month and nearly 250,000 total deaths — some experts say that the numbers are a vast undercount and estimate that India is on pace to suffer more than one million deaths by August.

Initially, the W.H.O. classified B.1.617 as a “variant of interest,” because it had certain mutations that have been linked to higher transmission and the potential to evade vaccines. At a news conference on Monday, agency officials announced they were elevated it to a higher level.

Other variants of concern include B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, and P.1., which was originally detected in Brazil.

But experts caution that it’s not yet clear just how much of a factor B.1.617 has played in the catastrophic rise in cases in India. They point to a perfect storm of public health blunders, such as permitting massive political rallies and religious festivals in recent months.

“I am concerned about 617 — I think we have to keep a very close eye on it,” said Kristian Andersen, a virologist at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. But he cautioned that relatively few variant samples are being analyzed in India, making it hard to know just how dangerous B.1.617 is. “We really, really need better data out of India,” he said.

Over the weekend, the Indian Medical Association said in a statement it was time for a “complete, well-planned, pre-announced” lockdown to replace the scattershot regional restrictions currently in place across the nation of 1.4 billion.

The association said it was “astonished to see the extreme lethargy and inappropriate actions from the Ministry of Health in combating the agonizing crisis born out of the devastating second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Much of the criticism has been directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, which allowed hundreds of thousands to gather at a large religious festival and held campaign rallies even as the virus surged.

An editorial published on Saturday in The Lancet, a medical journal, said that Mr. Modi “seemed more intent on removing criticism” on social media than “trying to control the pandemic.”

“India squandered its early successes in controlling Covid-19,” the editorial said.

The medical journal also cited an estimate by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that projected that India would witness a total of more than a million coronavirus deaths by August — far higher than government figures would suggest.

On May 2, for example, the institute said that total deaths were actually about 642,000, about three times higher than the government’s own number for that date, just over 217,000.

Referring to the possibility that there may actually be a million victims by August, the Lancet editorial said, “If that outcome were to happen, Modi’s government would be responsible for presiding over a self-inflicted national catastrophe.”

On Monday, India recorded more than 365,000 new cases and 3,754 deaths, according to data from the Health Ministry.

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, wrote in a tweet on Sunday that it was likely that between two to five million people were being infected every day and that India’s “true” coronavirus death toll was “closer to 25,000 deaths” each day.

He based his own calculations, he wrote, on the number of cremations taking place in the country.

Commuters exited the West 4 St. subway station in New York, in February.
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

Officials in New York are trying to boost a flagging vaccination campaign by setting up temporary walk-in vaccination sites at eight subway and train stations this week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Monday.

From May 12 to May 16, the walk-in sites will be open at various times at subway stations including the ones at 179th Street in Jamaica, Queens, and at Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, Brooklyn, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sites at the Long Island Rail Road station in Hempstead and a Metro-North Railroad station in Ossining will be open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A site will be open at Penn Station in Manhattan from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and at Grand Central Terminal from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

People vaccinated at the rail and subway locations can get a free seven-day MetroCard or two free one-way tickets for the Long Island Rail Road or Metro-North. Officials will use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the stations, Mr. Cuomo said. The program is a pilot and may be extended, he said.

“You are walking into the subway station anyway, you are walking past the vaccination site, it’s a one-shot vaccination, stop, take a few minutes, get the vaccine,” he said.

The pop-up sites at the stations — and the free tickets — are part of a broader, nationwide push to offer creative incentives to get people vaccinated. New Jersey, for example, is offering a “shot and a beer” for residents who get their first vaccine dose in May and visit participating breweries in the state.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday a plan to give free tickets to events and attractions like the New York Aquarium, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or professional soccer games to people who get vaccinated.

Vaccinations so far have helped drive down positivity rates and hospitalizations across New York State, Mr. Cuomo said. He said on Monday that the number of hospitalizations statewide was 2,016, the lowest since Nov. 15. The statewide seven-day average rate of positive test results announced by the state on Sunday — 1.45 percent — was the lowest since Oct. 28.

Still, Mr. Cuomo said the pace of vaccinations was tapering off, both in New York and nationwide, potentially allowing the coronavirus to linger. Younger people and people who question the vaccine’s safety and doubt the trustworthiness of the government in particular were not getting vaccines, he said.

Mr. Cuomo also said on Monday that the State University of New York and the City University of New York planned to require that students returning for in-person instruction in the fall be fully vaccinated. He said the requirement would be contingent on the federal government granting full approval to the Covid-19 vaccines being used now. The three in use are only authorized for emergency use.

Pfizer and the German company BioNTech said on Friday that the companies had applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for full approval of their vaccine for use in people 16 and older, but the process could take months. Moderna plans to apply for full approval for its Covid-19 vaccine this month, the company said last week.

Mr. Cuomo said that half the seats at home games for the New York Islanders during the National Hockey League playoffs, which begin this month, will be reserved for people who are vaccinated. They will have to stay three feet apart, he said. The other half will be available to unvaccinated people who must remain six feet apart, he said. Everyone will be required to wear a mask.

In New York City, officials said they were making plans to provide the Pfizer vaccine to children ages 12 to 15, once it is authorized as is expected this week.

“We want to immediately get to work vaccinating young people,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference on Monday.

The health commissioner, Dr. Dave Chokshi, said the city would begin administering the vaccine to those adolescents at its existing network of vaccination sites. The city has also been working with pediatricians to prepare them to answer questions about the vaccine and eventually administer it in their offices, and it would distribute information about vaccination at city schools to try and reach a broad audience of eligible teenagers.

Michael Gold contributed reporting.

Health care workers administered coronavirus tests in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Tuesday.
Credit…Ishara S. Kodikara/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Early in the pandemic, there was hope that the world would one day achieve herd immunity, the point when the coronavirus lacks enough hosts to spread easily. But over a year later, the virus is crushing India with a fearsome second wave and surging in countries from Asia to Latin America.

Experts now say it is changing too quickly, new more contagious variants are spreading too easily and vaccinations are happening too slowly for herd immunity to be within reach anytime soon.

That means if the virus continues to run rampant through much of the world, it is well on its way to becoming endemic, an ever-present threat.

Virus variants are tearing through places where people gather in large numbers with few or no pandemic protocols, like wearing masks and distancing, according to Dr. David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

While the outbreak in India is capturing the most attention, Dr. Heymann said the pervasive reach of the virus means that the likelihood is growing that it will persist in most parts of the world.

As more people contract the virus, developing some level of immunity, and the pace of vaccinations accelerates, future outbreaks won’t be on the scale of those devastating India and Brazil, Dr. Heymann said. Smaller outbreaks that are less deadly but a constant threat should be expected, Dr. Heymann said.

“This is the natural progression of many infections we have in humans, whether it is tuberculosis or H.I.V.,” said Dr. Heymann, a former member of the Epidemiology Intelligence Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a former senior official at the World Health Organization. “They have become endemic and we have learned to live with them and we learn how to do risk assessments and how to protect those we want to protect.”

Vaccines that are highly effective against Covid were developed rapidly, but global distribution has been plodding and unequal. As rich countries hoard vaccine doses, poorer countries face big logistical challenges to distributing the doses they manage to get and vaccine hesitancy is an issue everywhere. And experts warn the world is getting vaccinated too slowly for there to be much hope of ever eliminating the virus.

Only two countries have fully vaccinated more than half of their populations, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. They are Israel and the East African nation of the Seychelles, an archipelago with a population of fewer than 100,000. And just a handful of other countries have at least partially vaccinated nearly 50 percent or more, including Britain, tiny Bhutan, and the United States.

Less than 10 percent of India’s vast population is at least partly vaccinated, offering little check to its onslaught of infections.

In Africa, the figure is slightly more than 1 percent.

Still, public health experts say a relatively small number of countries, mostly island nations, have largely kept the virus under control and could continue keeping it at bay after vaccinating enough people.

New Zealand, through stringent lockdowns and border closures, has all but eliminated the virus. Dr. Michael Baker, an epidemiologist at the University of Otago who helped devise the country’s coronavirus response, said New Zealand would likely achieve herd immunity by immunizing its population, but it has a long way to go with only about 4.4 percent of New Zealanders at least partially vaccinated.

“All of the surveys show there is a degree of vaccine hesitancy in New Zealand, but also a lot of people are very enthusiastic,” Dr. Baker said. “So I think we will probably get there in the end.”

While new daily cases have remained at near-world record levels, the number of deaths has dropped from a peak in February, going against the normal pattern of high cases followed eventually by high deaths. If that trendline continues, it could offer a glimmer of hope for a future scenario that scientists are rooting for: Even as the virus spreads and seems to be hurtling toward becoming endemic, it could become a less lethal threat that can be managed with vaccines that are updated periodically to protect against variants.

“It may be endemic, but not in a life-threatening way,” Dr. Michael Merson, a professor of global health at Duke University and New York University, and a former director of the World Health Organization’s Global Program on AIDS, said. “It may be more like what we see with young kids, a common cold like disease.”

Madeleine Ngo contributed reporting.

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England Eases More Coronavirus Restrictions

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that England would move into its next reopening phase May 17, loosening limits on businesses and gatherings, and allowing people to make their own decisions about close contact, like hugging.

The data now support moving to Step 3 in England from next Monday, the 17th of May. This means the Rule of 6 for two households that is applied outdoors will now apply indoors, and the limit for outdoor meetings will increase to 30 from next Monday. You’ll be able to sit inside a pub and inside a restaurant. You’ll be able to go to the cinema and children will be able to use indoor play areas. We’re reopening hostels, hotels, B&Bs; we’ll reopen the doors to our theaters, concert halls and business conference centers. We’ll, unlock the turnstiles of our sports stadia, subject to capacity limits, and from next week, everyone will be able to travel within Britain and stay overnight. We’re updating the guidance on close contact between friends and family, setting out the risks for everyone to make their own choices. This doesn’t mean, we can suddenly throw caution to the winds. In fact, more than a year into this pandemic, we all know that close contact, such as hugging, is a direct way of transmitting this disease. So I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones, whether they’ve had a vaccine, one or two doses, and whether there has been time for that vaccine to take effect. Remember, outdoors is always safer than indoors, and if you’re meeting indoors, remember to open a window and let in the fresh air.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that England would move into its next reopening phase May 17, loosening limits on businesses and gatherings, and allowing people to make their own decisions about close contact, like hugging.CreditCredit…Dylan Martinez/Reuters

One-armed, two-armed, side-armed: once an unceremonious greeting, hugging became a far from casual move during the deadly coronavirus pandemic — replaced by waves, nods and the fist or elbow bump.

But in England, hugging friends and family will be government-approved starting next Monday as the government loosens more restrictions, part of a gradual reopening of society and the economy that began this spring after months of national restrictions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the changes Monday evening.

Mr. Johnson said that England was taking “the single biggest step” on its road out of lockdown, adding that the public should “protect these gains” by being cautious and using common sense. On Monday, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland reported zero coronavirus deaths in a 24-hour period. There were four deaths in Wales.

In this new stage, outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people will be allowed and indoor gatherings will be allowed for up to six people or two households. Indoor dining, movie theaters and museums will also be able to resume operations, among other places. Hostels, hotels and bed and breakfasts will reopen. Mr. Johnson said people would be allowed to make their own decisions about close contact — such as hugs — with family and friends, though he urged social distancing in places like offices, pubs, restaurants and other settings.

After a year where many people abstained from physical contact for fear of infecting themselves or others, news the embrace would be legal was welcomed, though with some mirth. Some joked that they had forgotten entirely how to execute the move. Others took issue with the fact that the government had tried to stop people from hugging at all, or worried that it was too soon to allow such close contact.

“I’m a hugger ,” said the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to reporters on Monday, adding that many Londoners were looking forward to relaxation of the ban. “I enjoy people’s company and I know people are ready for me to be hugging again. The first person I’m going to hug is my mum.”

And there were hints that hugs, among other types of physical touch, had already made a comeback.

Still, some experts warned that those wanting to hug their friends with wild abandon should save those arms for their favorite friends.

“It would worry me if we were advocating we can hug all of our friends every time we meet them again,” said Catherine Noakes, a professor from the University of Leeds and member of a government advisory body, to the BBC. Hugging should not be “too frequently,” she advised. “Keep it short, try and avoid being face to face, so perhaps turn your face away slightly, and even wearing a mask could help.”

Mr. Johnson seemed to agree, saying, “I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones.”

That impulse control may be too much for writer and actor Stephen Fry, who joked on Twitter that while he had largely abided by the rules this past year, he may have a hard time showing restraint. “If you see me in the street — run for it,” he wrote.

GLOBAL ROUNDUP

Saying evening prayers around the Kaaba in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday.
Credit…Abdulghani Essa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that it would hold the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that in normal times draws millions of Muslims to the kingdom, but did not say how many pilgrims would be allowed to come, which countries would be allowed to send them or what coronavirus precautions they would have to take.

The hajj, the ritual all Muslims are supposed to complete at least once, was also held last summer, but under tightly controlled conditions. Only about 1,000 Muslims from Saudi Arabia, including Saudis and foreign nationals living in the kingdom, were able to take part, down from about 2.5 million pilgrims in 2019; the rituals were performed at social distance, with masks, and the pilgrims were not allowed to kiss the Kaaba, the holy shrine at the center of Mecca that pilgrims are supposed to circle as they complete the hajj.

For the first time in living memory — the hajj had not been canceled since Saudi Arabia’s founding in 1932, though it has been restricted at various points in history during plagues, wars and political disputes — the holiest mosque in Islam was nearly empty, with a few carefully spaced circles of pilgrims dressed in white rather than the throngs who normally crowd the Grand Mosque.

The near-cancellation came as a spiritual and emotional blow to Muslims who had been hoping (and saving up) to participate, in many cases for years. Because of the demand, it is normally difficult to secure a hajj visa even in normal times.

It is unclear whether Saudi Arabia, which is balancing the much-needed tourism revenue it stands to gain from the hajj with the public health requirements of the coronavirus pandemic, will again restrict the hajj so tightly.

Fahad Nazer, a spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, said only that details would “be announced at a later date,” though he noted on Twitter that there would be “preventative & precautionary measures that ensure the health & safety of pilgrims.”

In other news from around the world:

  • Doctors in India are concerned about an increasing number of potentially fatal fungal infections affecting either people who have Covid-19 or those who have recently recovered from the disease. The condition, known as mucormycosis, has a high mortality rate and was present in India before the pandemic.

  • European soccer’s governing body is holding talks with Britain’s government on Monday to discuss moving this month’s Champions League final to London or another city because of travel restrictions. Those rules have made it almost impossible for English fans of the finalists — the Premier League rivals Manchester City and Chelsea — to attend the match, set for May 29 in Istanbul. A decision will most likely be announced within 48 hours.

  • China said on Sunday that it had taken steps to prevent coronavirus cases from entering the country — over the top of the world’s tallest mountain — including the installation of a dividing line on the summit to prevent climbers from the Chinese side and the Nepal side from coming into contact.

  • President Biden’s chief medical adviser for the pandemic said on Sunday that he was open to relaxing indoor masking rules in the United States as more Americans are vaccinated against the virus. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said that as vaccinations climb, “we do need to start being more liberal” in terms of rules for wearing masks indoors.

Mujib Mashal, Abby Goodnough, Austin Ramzy and Tariq Panja contributed reporting.

A helicopter over the Khumbu glacier, en route to the Everest base camps this month.
Credit…Prakash Mathema/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

China said on Sunday that it had taken steps to prevent coronavirus cases from entering the country — over the top of the world’s tallest mountain.

Nyima Tsering, head of the Tibet Sports Bureau, told the state-run Xinhua News Agency that control measures would be put in place on Mount Everest, including the installation of a dividing line on the summit to prevent climbers from the Chinese side and the Nepal side from coming into contact.

Last week, a team of Sherpa guides affixed a rope to the summit of Mount Everest from the Nepal side, allowing expeditions to resume for the first time since the pandemic forced a cancellation of attempts last year.

Nepal has this year approved a record 408 permits to climb Everest, even as coronavirus cases have surged in the country and several climbers have been flown from base camp with symptoms of Covid-19.

China, which has approved just 21 permits to climb the mountain from its side this year, has expressed concern about the risk of coronavirus transmission on the mountain. Since the coronavirus first emerged in China in 2019, the country has carried out strict measures to prevent its spread internally and reintroduction from abroad.

The border between Nepal and China crosses the peak of Everest, a small area where a handful of climbers can stand after making a successful ascent. At the summit, 29,031.7 feet above sea level, most climbers already wear masks to supply oxygen and protect themselves from the cold. But China will implement additional steps to reduce the risk of transmission.

In addition to restrictions on the summit, a checkpoint has been installed outside the Chinese base camp. People returning from the Chinese side will have to undergo disinfection, temperature checks and potentially isolation, Xinhua reported.

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N.Y.C. Indoor Dining to Go to 75% Capacity, Governor Says

Restaurants in New York City can broaden indoor dining to 75 percent capacity beginning on May 7, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday, an expansion already available to restaurants in the rest of the state.

The governor also said the city’s gyms and fitness centers will expand to 50 percent capacity beginning May 15. Hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services can move to to 75 percent capacity on May 7, he said.

The announcement comes a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio declared that New York City would fully reopen on July 1, after a more than a year of virus-related restrictions imposed by the governor.

After months of persistently high case numbers during a second virus wave, the city has started to turn a corner, particularly as the weather has warmed and drawn residents outside. Public health officials and epidemiologists expect vaccinations to continue to drive down new cases over the next two months.

who has moved recently to roll back restrictions, said that he too was hopeful that a wider reopening was within sight, possibly sooner than Mr. de Blasio’s goal.

“I think that if we do what we have to do, we can be reopened earlier,” Mr. Cuomo said.

Michael Gold contributed reporting.

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Warren Buffett Fights Proposals on Climate and Diversity

Tomorrow is Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting, the gathering known as “Woodstock for capitalists.” Like last year, the company is bowing to the times by holding the meeting virtually. But another aspect of the discussion may show that Warren Buffett is increasingly out of step with the times, DealBook’s Michael de la Merced reports.

Investors are pressing Berkshire to disclose more about climate change and work-force diversity. Shareholders, including the Calpers public pension fund, argue that Buffett’s conglomerate isn’t doing enough to disclose its portfolio companies’ progress in addressing those issues. Buffett opposed these initiatives ahead of the meeting, arguing that they cut against Berkshire’s philosophy of letting its subsidiaries operate largely independently. “I don’t believe in imposing my political opinions on the activities of our businesses,” he said at Berkshire’s 2018 annual meeting.

Buffett is expected to get his way, for now. He controls over a third of Berkshire’s voting power and holds sway over faithful retail investors, virtually guaranteeing that the proposals will fail to pass.

  • Simiso Nzima, the head of corporate governance at Calpers, points out that the S.E.C. appears inclined to force more disclosure on climate change risks anyway.

The big question is whether this will tarnish Berkshire’s golden reputation. Corporate America is increasingly heeding investor demands — including from BlackRock, a major Berkshire shareholder — to do more to fight climate change and racial inequity. Berkshire does not dispute the importance of climate change and diversity, but Buffett’s pushback here risks denting his standing as perhaps the world’s most admired investor. “I don’t think at the moment there’s been a slip in the gold standard,” said Lawrence Cunningham, a professor at George Washington University and a Berkshire shareholder, “but if it’s not tended to, there might be.”

Big Tech finishes earnings season on a strong note. Amazon’s first-quarter earnings more than tripled — yes, tripled — to $8 billion, surpassing expectations. As our colleague Shira Ovide writes, the quarter showed that tech giants are “unquestioned winners of the pandemic economy.”

announced today that an E.U. investigation found that the iPhone maker abused its control over its App Store to charge its music-streaming rival more in fees.

A big day in New York City: July 1. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would fully reopen by that day. But officials concede that tourism won’t fully return to prepandemic levels for years, and employers have been largely targeting the fall for bringing workers back to offices.

The head of the Credit Suisse board’s risk committee steps down. Andreas Gottschling won’t stand for re-election. He is the latest official at the Swiss bank to exit following scandals at Greensill and Archegos.

Good and bad news for AstraZeneca. The drug maker beat expectations for earnings and sales growth, but it is struggling to compile the data requested by U.S. officials to have its Covid-19 vaccine approved by the F.D.A., The Wall Street Journal reported.

given the Tesla chief’s history with the S.E.C.

“No.”


— Whitley Collins of CBRE on how the pandemic has upended the commercial real estate market, reversing the trend of “more and more dense” office spaces.


Marty Walsh, the labor secretary, said yesterday that “in a lot of cases” gig workers in the U.S. should be classified as employees, not independent contractors. “In some cases they are treated respectfully and in some cases they are not, and I think it has to be consistent across the board,” he told Reuters. Shares of Uber, Lyft, Fiverr and DoorDash fell on the news.

But how much control does Walsh have over how companies classify their employees?

There’s no single law that makes workers employees or contractors. The Labor Department can enforce the Fair Labor Standards Act, which establishes the federal minimum wage and overtime pay. This only applies to employees, and who should fall into that category has been the subject of a long-running debate.

New guidance wouldn’t change the law. But it could change how the Labor Department decides whether to bring lawsuits against gig economy companies. “It’s implicitly a sign to employers that you should comply with this interpretation or there’s a risk of enforcement,” Brian Chen, a staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project, told DealBook. The guidance is nonbinding, but Benjamin Sachs, a professor at Harvard Law School, said courts “tend to give it deference” when making decisions. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw specific action coming from the department sometime this year,” said William Gould, a Stanford law professor and the former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board.


In Her Words newsletter, explains why promising G.D.P. numbers aren’t the end of the story.

“A boom-like year” is how one economist described what the U.S. economy might look like in 2021. The latest data, published yesterday, showed that G.D.P. grew at a robust 6.4 percent annualized rate in the first quarter.

While the headline numbers may at first glance suggest that America’s economic health is on track for a full recovery, a closer look reveals an economy that is “profoundly unequal across sectors, unbalanced in ways that have enormous long-term implications,” as The Times’s Neil Irwin put it.

Growth has been fueled by consumer spending on goods, while the services sector has yet to recover. Services account for more than 95 percent of the jobs held by women, according to Michael Madowitz, an economist at the Center for American Progress.

“I’m a little worried we’re too confident the service job losses are just going to spring back to life,” Madowitz said. “If nobody closed a business that might be fine, but that seems unlikely.”

Roughly two million women have left the work force since last February. G.D.P. does not account for their lost productivity and earnings, nor for the hours of work at home that women shouldered in the past year, uncompensated.


from a sinking ship to a success proves that putting purpose first is good for profits. Joly spoke to DealBook about “The Heart of Business,” which is out next week.

Why did you write a book?

So much of what I learned in business school is either wrong, dated or incomplete. We urgently need a new philosophy of business and capitalism, a refoundation around purpose and humanity. There’s no going back after the pandemic. We’ve seen each others’ homes and vulnerability. We need to make a declaration of interdependence.

Isn’t pursuing profits the point?

Milton Friedman is on my “most wanted” list. People who oppose stakeholder capitalism are mistaken. We can create better economic outcomes by connecting with employees, customers, communities and the planet. People should refuse zero-sum games. The book is a practical guide for leaders who are eager to abandon the old way.

And it’s also spiritual?

Yes. Because work is fundamental. We should ask ourselves why we work, what drives us. At Best Buy, before the holiday season, we’d gather — even though it’s a very busy time — to talk about what gives people energy, what matters. Magic happens when work is connected to meaning and individual genius, to the thing that’s good or beautiful in each of us.

How does this “magic” manifest itself?

Two Best Buy employees performed pretend “surgery” on a broken dinosaur toy behind the counter and gave a boy back a new item, saying his baby dino recovered. That had to come from the heart. They could have just sent his mother to the shelf. Leaders need to use their heads and hearts and see and hear employees and give people the freedom to make work meaningful.

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We’d like your feedback! Please email thoughts and suggestions to dealbook@nytimes.com.

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N.Y.C.’s Mayor Wants City to ‘Fully Reopen’ on July 1

New York City aims to fully reopen on July 1 and allow businesses including restaurants, shops and stadiums to operate at full capacity, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday, offering a tantalizing glimpse of normalcy even as his authority to actually lift restrictions on businesses was somewhat limited.

Mr. de Blasio, who made the remarks on MSNBC, said that gyms, hair salons, arenas, some theaters and museums should all expect to be open fully with no capacity limits. Broadway, he said, was on track to open in September.

“Our plan is to fully reopen New York City on July 1,” he said. “We are ready for stores to open, for businesses to open, offices, theaters — full strength.”

But so far in the pandemic, Mr. de Blasio has not had the authority to impose or lift capacity limits on such businesses. Those restrictions have been set by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the state, and on Thursday, a spokesman for the governor maintained that Mr. Cuomo had the power to make those decisions.

drive down new coronavirus cases over the next two months. From a second-wave peak of nearly 8,000 cases in a single day in January, New York City was averaging about 2,000 virus cases per day as of last week. Public health officials say that by July, if the city stays on its current trajectory, that number could drop to below 600 cases a day, perhaps lower.

“We now have the confidence we can pull all these pieces together, and get life back together,” Mr. de Blasio said. “This is going to be the summer of New York City.”

The city and the state have not always agreed on the best path forward.

A spokesman for Mr. de Blasio, Bill Neidhardt, called the full reopening of the city on July 1 a “goal that we know New York City can achieve.”

“We laid out a plan, we will back it up with skyrocketing vaccination numbers and declining cases. If someone wants to deny that, let’s have that discussion in public,” Mr. Neidhardt said. “We feel strongly we’d win that debate.”

The state announced the roll back of several restrictions this week. The New York State Legislature on Wednesday suspended an unpopular pandemic directive issued by Mr. Cuomo that required customers to order food when purchasing alcohol at bars and restaurants. And Mr. Cuomo announced that a curfew that forced bars and restaurants to close early would end statewide on May 17 for outdoor dining areas and May 31 for indoor dining.

maximum capacity for indoor dining at restaurants in New York City to 50 percent, up from 35 percent. Restaurants in the remainder of the state are allowed to serve customers at 75 percent occupancy.

Luis Ferré-Sadurní contributed reporting.

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Chipotle Sued by N.Y.C. Over Workers’ Scheduling

New York City on Wednesday sued the fast-food giant Chipotle Mexican Grill over what it says are hundreds of thousands of violations of a fair scheduling law at several dozen stores.

Workers are owed over $150 million in relief for the violations, according to the complaint, and financial penalties could far exceed that amount, making it the largest action the city has brought under the law.

The suit cites violations of the so-called Fair Workweek Law that include changing employees’ schedules without sufficient notice or extra pay; requiring employees to work consecutive shifts without sufficient time off or extra pay; and failure to offer workers additional shifts before hiring new employees to fill them.

The allegations cover the period from November 2017, when the law took effect, to September 2019, when the city filed an initial suit involving a handful of Chipotle stores. The new complaint, filed by the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, said that Chipotle had made some attempt to comply with the law since 2019, but that violations were continuing.

can exact a large physical and emotional toll on workers and their children.

Under the law, fast-food employers must provide workers with their schedules at least 14 days in advance — or, if not, obtain written consent for them and pay them a premium for the shifts.

Employers must also provide workers with at least 11 hours between shifts on consecutive days or obtain written consent and pay them $100. The hope is to discourage the practice of forcing workers to work late into the evening and then help open a store in the morning, known as “clopening.”

The provision requiring employers to offer workers additional shifts before hiring new workers was intended to make it easier for workers to earn enough income to sustain themselves.

Employers in fast-food and retail operations often hire more workers at fewer hours to add scheduling flexibility, said Saravanan Kesavan, an expert in retail operations at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Kesavan has conducted research showing that financial performance can actually improve when employers provide more stable and predictable schedules.

The complaint also accuses the company of violating the city’s paid sick leave law, which was enacted in 2014 and mandated up to 40 hours of paid leave per year. (The ceiling grew to 56 hours beginning this January for larger employers.) The city contends that Chipotle illegally denied requests for time off, required workers to find their own replacements or did not pay workers for time they took.

According to the complaint, all of the estimated 6,500 Chipotle employees in New York City from November 2017 to September 2019 were affected by violations involving scheduling and sick leave, and on average they experienced more than three scheduling violations a week.

became sick after eating at Chipotle restaurants in 2015 and 2016, some from E. coli bacteria, leading to a sharp decline in the company’s stock price and threatening the image it had cultivated as a purveyor of “food with integrity.”

Last year, Chipotle was fined nearly $1.4 million over accusations that it regularly violated Massachusetts child labor laws from 2015 to 2019. The company settled the case without admitting violations.

But the company has posted solid sales growth during the pandemic, with revenue of $6 billion last year, and its stock price has soared.

According to the New York City complaint, Chipotle frequently violated the law by either destroying or failing to maintain or produce records attesting to its scheduling policies.

“Chipotle failed to produce certain categories of scheduling information the department requested, in part because it had destroyed paper schedule records,” the complaint states. “However, the evidence Chipotle did produce, as well as evidence that employees provided, shows that Chipotle did not begin to implement key elements of the Fair Workweek Law in any of its New York City locations until approximately September 2019.”

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New York Will Allow Walk-Ins at State Vaccine Sites

All state-run mass vaccination sites in New York will allow anyone 16 or older to walk in without an appointment and get their first dose, beginning on Thursday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Tuesday.

Walk-in vaccinations will be available at state-run sites in New York City, like the Javits Center in Manhattan and Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, as well as on Long Island and in upstate cities like Albany and Syracuse, the governor said.

Second doses will still be given by appointment, which will be scheduled after the first dose is administered.

“Just show up, and roll up your sleeve, and the mass vaccination sites have the capacity to handle it,” Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference on Tuesday.

60 and over could walk in for vaccination at 16 state-run sites. And Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City announced last week that city-run vaccination sites would let anyone eligible walk in for a shot.

Allowing walk-ins simplifies a process that bedeviled many New Yorkers earlier in the pandemic, when obtaining a vaccine appointment often took hours of online searching and some luck as well. The new policy may also draw out people who are still hesitant to get vaccinated, Mr. Cuomo said.

“This is our way of saying, if you were intimidated by the process of trying to make an appointment, that’s gone,” the governor said.

He said it was feasible to allow more walk-ins because fewer vaccinations were being administered across the state now — about 115,000 doses a day — than a few weeks ago, when the state peaked at about 175,000 doses a day.

45 percent of New York residents, or just over 8.9 million people, had received at least one dose of the vaccine by Tuesday morning.

Mr. Cuomo also announced at the news conference that New York would adopt the new C.D.C. guidance that fully vaccinated people can safely engage in most outdoor activities without masks.

Reports of new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have declined in the state, according to a New York Times database, but the risk of infection still remains very high in New York City, where some troublesome variants of the virus appear to be on the rise.

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Covid-19 Live Updates: U.S. to Reveal New Guidance on Outdoor Mask-Wearing

have already dropped mask mandates and fully reopened indoor and outdoor venues, even for large sporting events. New York still has mask requirements.

On Tuesday morning, the health and human services secretary Xavier Becerra said on “CBS This Morning” that he hoped the new guidelines would incentivize people to get vaccinated.

“The message is clear: You’re vaccinated, guess what, you get to return to a more normal lifestyle,” he said. “If you’re not vaccinated, you’re still a danger, and you’re still in danger as well, so get vaccinated.”

A growing body of research indicates that the risk of spreading the virus is far lower outdoors than indoors. Viral particles disperse quickly outdoors, experts say, meaning brief encounters with a passing walker or jogger pose very little risk of transmission.

“That biker who whizzes by without a mask poses no danger to us, at least from a respiratory virus perspective,” Dr. Paul Sax, an infectious disease specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, wrote in a blog post for The New England Journal of Medicine.

A recent systematic review of studies that examined the transmission of the coronavirus and other respiratory viruses among unvaccinated individuals concluded that fewer than 10 percent of infections occurred outdoors and that the odds for indoor transmission were 18.7 times higher than outdoors. (The odds of superspreading events were 33 times higher indoors.)

But the paper’s author said that the low odds of transmission outdoors could simply reflect the fact that people had spent little time outside. In cases where transmission occurred outdoors, there was often also prolonged or frequent contact with another individual or a group of people, or an indoor component to an outdoor gathering, said Dr. Nooshin Razani, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.

“It does happen: You can get infected outdoors,” she said. “It usually has to do with how long you’re with someone and how often you see them, and if you’re wearing a mask and if you’re close to each other.”

The C.D.C. currently recommends that vaccinated people should wear masks and maintain six feet of distance from others in public, including while taking public transportation such as buses, trains or planes and while in transportation hubs. It also recommends they continue to avoid crowds, large gatherings and poorly ventilated spaces.

Kevin Draper contributed reporting.

United States › United StatesOn Apr. 26 14-day change
New cases 47,430* –20%
New deaths 479 –2%

*New Jersey removed many cases

World › WorldOn Apr. 26 14-day change
New cases 357,449 +13%
New deaths 7,523 +3%
U.S. vaccinations › Where states are reporting vaccines givenFully vaccinated At least one dose

Other trackers:

Coronavirus patients in New Delhi waited on the street on Sunday to receive oxygen from a Sikh house of worship.
Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

As a second wave of the pandemic rages in India, which logged more than 300,000 new coronavirus cases for the sixth consecutive day on Tuesday, countries around the world are trying to help. But their efforts to send oxygen and other critical aid are unlikely to plug enough holes in India’s sinking health care system to end its deadly catastrophe.

The Indian health ministry reported more than 320,000 new cases and 2,771 deaths on Tuesday. Both figures represented slight declines from the previous day’s record highs, but experts said this was not a sign that the outbreak was easing. With enormous funeral pyres spilling into parking lots and city parks, there are signs that India’s reported overall toll of nearly 198,000 deaths could be a vast undercount.

Australia and the Philippines said on Tuesday they would pause commercial flights from India, joining Britain, Canada, Singapore and several other nations that have restricted travel from the country. Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, said his government would donate ventilators and protective equipment to help India contain the outbreak.

The emergency in India, where a worrying virus variant is spreading rapidly, is driving a new global surge in the pandemic. It also carries implications for countries relying on India for the AstraZeneca vaccine, millions of doses of which are manufactured there.

“It’s a desperate situation out there,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, the founder and director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, adding that donations would be welcome but might make only a “dent on the problem.”

Scientists fear that part of the problem is the emergence of a virus variant known as the “double mutant,” B.1.617, because it contains genetic mutations found in two other difficult-to-control versions of the coronavirus. One of the mutations is present in the highly contagious variant that ripped through California earlier this year. The other is similar to one found in the variant dominant in South Africa and is believed to make the virus more resistant to vaccines.

Still, scientists caution that it is too early to know with certainty how pernicious the variant emerging in India is.

Earlier this year, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi acted as if the coronavirus battle had been won, holding huge campaign rallies and permitting thousands to gather for a Hindu religious festival.

Now, Mr. Modi is striking a far more sober tone. He said in a nationwide radio address on Sunday that India has been “shaken” by a “storm.” And countries, companies and powerful members of the diaspora have pledged to pitch in.

Patients are suffocating in the capital, New Delhi, and other cities because hospitals’ oxygen supplies have run out. Frantic relatives have appealed on social media for leads on intensive-care-unit beds and experimental drugs. The government has extended New Delhi’s lockdown by another week.

India’s Supreme Court last week ordered the government to come up with a “national plan” for distributing oxygen supplies.

Mr. Modi appears to be looking to the rest of the world to help India quell the wave. Britain, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have promised oxygen generators or ventilators. The United States has pledged raw material for coronavirus vaccines and intends to share up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with other nations, so long as the doses clear a safety review conducted by the Food and Drug Administration, officials said Monday. Indian-American businessmen have pledged millions in cash from the companies they lead.

At a news conference on Monday, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, called the situation in India “beyond heartbreaking.” He said the organization had deployed 2,600 staff members to India to provide vaccination help.

The world’s seven-day average of new cases has remained well above 750,000 for the past week, according to a New York Times database, higher than the peak average during the last global surge in January. Despite more than one billion shots having been administered globally, far too small a percentage of the world’s nearly eight billion people has been vaccinated to slow the virus’s spread.

A Sputnik V vaccine production line in Saint Petersburg, Russia in February.
Credit…Emile Ducke for The New York Times

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s health authority said late Monday that it would not recommend importing Sputnik V, the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Russia.

The need for vaccines is urgent in Brazil: The country has been battered by one of the world’s worst outbreaks, driven by the highly contagious P. 1 virus variant.

But the health authority, Anvisa, said that questions remained about the Russian vaccine’s development, safety and manufacturing. All five of Anvisa’s directors voted against importing the vaccine.

Data about Sputnik V’s efficacy was “uncertain,” Gustavo Mendes Lima Santos, Anvisa’s manager of medicine and biological products, said in a lengthy late-night presentation. He noted that “crucial questions” had gone unanswered, including those about potential adverse events.

Russia is using Sputnik V in its own mass vaccination campaign, and the vaccine has been approved for emergency use in dozens of countries. A peer-reviewed study published in The Lancet in February said the vaccine had an efficacy rate of 91.6 percent.

Brazil’s decision prompted a response at the highest level of the Russian government, which has been energetically promoting Sputnik V in Latin America at a time when the United States has limited its vaccine exports to reserve doses for its own citizens.

The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said on Tuesday that the Russian government would try to win over the Brazilian regulators’ minds about the vaccine’s safety. “Contacts will continue,” Mr. Peskov said on a conference call with journalists. “If data is missing, it will be provided. There should be no doubt in this.”

The official Sputnik V Twitter account have also pushed back, with a post in Portuguese on Monday saying that the vaccine’s developers had shared “all the necessary information and documentation” with Anvisa. In another tweet, it said Anvisa’s decision “was of a political nature” and had “nothing to do with access to information or science.” It alleged that the United States had persuaded Brazil to deny approval.

Anvisa officials were under immense pressure to deliver a decision on Sputnik V, because Brazilian states had contracts to buy almost 30 million doses. The Supreme Court ordered Anvisa to make a decision.

“The days of yes to the vaccine and to treatments are celebrated,” Alex Machado, an Anvisa director, said. “There will inevitably be days of no.”

Gov. Camilo Santana of Ceará, one of the states with a Sputnik V contract, said on Twitter that he respected Anvisa’s decision but found it strange, given that Sputnik V is being used in other countries. “I will keep fighting for this authorization, in a safe manner, following all the rules,” he said.

The Gamaleya Research Institute, part of Russia’s Ministry of Health, developed the vaccine, also known as Gam-Covid-Vac. The shot has been entangled in politics and propaganda, with President Vladimir V. Putin announcing its approval even before late-stage trials had begun.

Ana Carolina Moreira Marino Araújo, the general manager of the Anvisa department that inspects vaccine development, said at the meeting that Brazilian officials could not perform a full inspection of the Russian facilities.

She said officials who were in Russia last week were denied access to the Gamaleya Institute and inspected only two factories, finding problems in one of them. She also said Russian officials had tried to cancel the agency’s visit.

“At this moment, the inherent risk in manufacturing couldn’t be overcome,” Ms. Araújo concluded.

Thailand’s prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha arriving at the Government House in Bangkok last month.
Credit…Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

With Thailand struggling to bring its worst coronavirus outbreak under control, Bangkok made it compulsory for residents to wear masks in public beginning on Monday. One of the first to break the new rule?

The country’s prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, who was seen maskless at a government meeting in a photo published on his official Facebook page.

As a first-time offender, he agreed to pay a fine of about $190. Bangkok’s governor, Aswin Kwanmuang, came around with top police officials on Monday to help collect it.

“I informed the prime minister this was a violation of the rules,” the governor wrote on Facebook. The photograph was removed from the prime minister’s Facebook page.

For Mr. Prayuth, the gaffe is the least of his pandemic problems. His government has struggled to curb transmissions and been slow to obtain vaccines. As infections ticked upward earlier this month, he decided to let Thais continue to travel widely during a major holiday.

“Whatever will be will be,” he said then. “The government will have to try to cope with that later.”

Now, his government is scrambling to procure vaccines from a stretched global supply and rushing to set up field hospitals at sports stadiums and other locations as many hospitals report being near capacity. Only 0.3 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times database.

On Tuesday, the government reported 15 deaths, its highest daily total since the pandemic began, and more than 2,000 new cases for the fifth day in a row. That brings Thailand’s total for the pandemic to nearly 60,000 cases and 163 deaths, according to the government.

The numbers are low by global standards; Thailand was among the world’s leaders in containing the virus last year. Nearly 90 percent of its cases have come since Jan. 1.

Many provinces have imposed their own restrictions, including Bangkok, which has ordered the closure of more than 30 types of businesses, such as fitness centers, cinemas, bars and massage parlors. Restaurants, malls and department stores can continue operating but with restrictions.

Nearly two-thirds of Thailand’s provinces have imposed fines for failing to wear a mask in public. The maximum penalty is about $635.

Global Roundup

Walking near the Acropolis in Athens last month.
Credit…Byron Smith for The New York Times

Greece lifted quarantine requirements on Monday for arrivals from seven more countries, including Russia and Australia, continuing an easing of rules for foreign visitors before a formal reopening to tourists on May 15.

Last week, Greece ended quarantine restrictions for visitors from European Union member states as well as the United States, Britain, Serbia and the United Arab Emirates. The steps were similar to those put in place in March for arrivals from Israel, which has been far ahead of most of the world in vaccinations.

Greece is also stopping restrictions this week for visitors from New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, Rwanda and Singapore.

Greece had previously required arrivals to quarantine themselves for seven days. It is waiving that rule for passengers from the listed countries as long as they produce a vaccination certificate or the results of a negative PCR test conducted within 72 hours of their arrival.

After heavy economic losses in 2020, the Greek authorities are determined to save this year’s summer tourist season despite experiencing a severe third wave of coronavirus infections. Health officials have said the infection rate is stabilizing, though slowly. Greek health officials have reported more than 334,000 infections and more than 10,000 deaths from the virus, according to a New York Times database.

A new concern is the appearance of the coronavirus variant that is believed to be fueling the worsening outbreak in India. On Sunday, health officials recorded the second case of that variant in Greece, found in a 33-year-old foreign woman who had traveled to Dubai in early April.

Greece’s high infection rate remains a worry for some governments. The U.S. State Department has advised against travel to Greece, citing a “very high level” of coronavirus cases. Greek health officials have expanded testing in recent weeks as they gradually lift lockdown restrictions, with bars and restaurants scheduled to reopen on May 3 after a six-month hiatus.

In other updates from around the world:

The entrance of the Hilton Times Square. A new proposal would give the City Council the ability to approve all new hotel development in New York City.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

New York City leaders, led by Mayor Bill de Blasio, are closing in on a plan to drastically restrict hotel development, a move that the mayor’s own experts fear could endanger the city’s post-pandemic recovery.

It came days after the mayor announced a $30 million advertising campaign to draw tourists to the city again.

Before the pandemic, in 2019, 67 million tourists flocked to the city. About 23 million visited last year, and much of the city’s recovery hinges on bringing those visitors back.

But building hotels would become more challenging under the special approval process envisioned by Mr. de Blasio, said Moses Gates, vice president of housing and neighborhood planning at the Regional Plan Association, an influential nonprofit planning group.

Before the pandemic decimated the hotel sector, there were nearly 128,000 hotel rooms in New York City, and hotels had annual occupancy rates that averaged between 85 and 90 percent, which the city says “were among the highest of any urban market in the United States.”

Now, roughly 30 percent of those rooms have closed. New York City’s occupancy rate this month stood at 53 percent, excluding the closed hotels, according to STR, which tracks the hospitality industry.

Having a drink or two after the shot will not make any of the vaccines less effective.
Credit…Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

After a long year and a lot of anticipation, getting the vaccine can be cause for celebration, which for some might mean pouring a drink and toasting to their new immunity. But can alcohol interfere with your immune response?

The short answer is that it depends on how much you drink.

There is no evidence that having a drink or two can render any of the current Covid vaccines less effective. Some studies have even found that over the longer term, small or moderate amounts of alcohol might actually benefit the immune system by reducing inflammation.

Heavy alcohol consumption, on the other hand, particularly over the long term, can suppress the immune system and potentially interfere with your vaccine response, experts say. Since it can take weeks after a Covid shot for the body to generate protective levels of antibodies against the novel coronavirus, anything that interferes with the immune response would be cause for concern.

Health care workers prepared doses of a Covid-19 vaccine in Buffalo, W.Va., last month. Gov. Jim Justice announced a plan to give savings bonds to young people who get vaccinated.
Credit…Stephen Zenner/Getty Images

West Virginia will give $100 savings bonds to 16- to 35-year-olds who get a Covid-19 vaccine, Gov. Jim Justice said on Monday.

There are roughly 380,000 West Virginians in that age group, many of whom have already gotten at least one shot, but Mr. Justice said he hoped the money would motivate the rest to get inoculated, as “they’re not taking the vaccines as fast as we’d like them to take them.”

The state will use federal funds from the CARES Act to pay for the bonds, Mr. Justice, a Republican, said at a news conference, adding that he had “vetted this every way that we possibly can” to ensure that the unconventional use of the funds was allowed.

The bonds will be also be available to anyone in that age group who has already been vaccinated, Mr. Justice said.

West Virginia has the 16th highest rate of new coronavirus cases per person among U.S. states and ranks 12th in hospitalizations, according to a New York Times database.

Mr. Justice said the state needed to stop the virus “dead in its tracks,” and that if it did, “these masks go away, the hospitalizations go away, the death toll and the body bags start to absolutely become minimal.”

Earlier this year, at the start of the country’s vaccination effort, West Virginia had stood out for its success in vaccinating its residents. At one point, it had administered second doses to more of its population than any other state; it was also behind only Alaska for the percent of its residents that had received a first dose.

But now West Virginia is fallen behind, ahead of only nine states for the portion of its residents that have had a first dose, according to a New York Times database tracking vaccines.

Mr. Justice said that young West Virginians could “always stand an extra dose of patriotism.” He urged them to “accept that wonderful savings bond” — which will allow the recipient to retrieve the $100, plus interest, at a later date — adding, “I hope that you keep it for a long, long, long time.”

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