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Amazon Union Votes Continue to Be Tallied: Live Updates

Unofficial Tally of Amazon Warehouse Unionization Votes 1,608 yes votes are needed for the union to win today. The New York Times·As of 7:19 p.m. Hundreds of ballots have been contested, which could delay either side from reaching the threshold. One ballot was marked as void. The ballots were being counted in random order in the National Labor Relations Board’s office in Birmingham, Ala., and the process was broadcast via Zoom to more than 200 journalists, lawyers and other observers.The voting was conducted by mail from early February until the end of last month. A handful of workers from the labor board called out the results of each vote “Yes” for a union or “No” for nearly four hours on Thursday.Amazon and the union had spent more than a week in closed sessions, reviewing the eligibility of each ballot cast with the labor board, the federal agency that conducts union elections. The union said several hundred ballots had been contested, largely by Amazon, and those ballots were set aside to be adjudicated and counted only if they were vital to determining an outcome. If Amazon’s large margin holds steady throughout the count, the contested ballots are likely to be moot.The incomplete tally put Amazon on the cusp of defeating the most serious organized-labor threat in the company’s history. Running a prominent campaign since the fall, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union aimed to establish the first union at an Amazon warehouse in the United States. The result will have major implications not only for Amazon but also for organized labor and its allies.

Labor organizers have tapped into dissatisfaction with working conditions in the warehouse, saying Amazon’s pursuit of efficiency and profits makes the conditions harsh for workers. The company counters that its starting wage of $15 an hour exceeds what other employers in the area pay, and it has urged workers to vote against unionizing.

Amazon has always fought against unionizing by its workers. But the vote in Alabama comes at a perilous moment for the company. Lawmakers and regulators — not competitors — are some of its greatest threats, and it has spent significant time and money trying to keep the government away from its business.

The union drive has had the retailer doing a political balancing act: staying on the good side of Washington’s Democratic leaders while squashing an organizing effort that President Biden has signaled he supported.

Labor leaders and liberal Democrats have seized on the union drive, saying it shows how Amazon is not as friendly to workers as the company says it is. Some of the company’s critics are also using its resistance to the union push to argue that Amazon should not be trusted on other issues, like climate change and the federal minimum wage.

Sophia June contributed to this report.

Revolut’s office in London in 2018. The banking start-up is offering its workers the opportunity to work abroad for up to two months a year.
Credit…Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

Before the pandemic, companies used to lure top talent with lavish perks like subsidized massages, Pilates classes and free gourmet meals. Now, the hottest enticement is permission to work not just from home, but from anywhere — even, say, from the French Alps or a Caribbean island.

Revolut, a banking start-up based in London, said Thursday that it would allow its more than 2,000 employees to work abroad for up to two months a year in response to requests to visit overseas family for longer periods.

“Our employees asked for flexibility, and that’s what we’re giving them as part of our ongoing focus on employee experience and choice,” said Jim MacDougall, Revolut’s vice president of human resources.

Georgia Pacquette-Bramble, a communications manager for Revolut, said she was planning to trade the winter in London for Spain or somewhere in the Caribbean. Other colleagues have talked about spending time with family abroad.

Revolut has been valued at $5.5 billion, making it one of Europe’s most valuable financial technology firms. It joins a number of companies that will allow more flexible working arrangements to continue after the pandemic ends. JPMorgan Chase, Salesforce, Ford Motor and Target have said they are giving up office space as they expect workers to spend less time in the office, and Spotify has told employees they can work from anywhere.

Not all companies, however, are shifting away from the office. Tech companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple, have added office space in New York over the last year. Amazon told employees it would “return to an office-centric culture as our baseline.”

Dr. Dan Wang, an associate professor at Columbia Business School, said he did not expect office-centric companies to lose top talent to companies that allow flexible working, in part because many employees prefer to work from the office.

Furthermore, when employees are not in the same space, there are fewer spontaneous interactions, and spontaneity is critical for developing ideas and collaborating, Dr. Wang said.

“There is a cost,” he said. “Yes, we can interact via email, via Slack, via Zoom — we’ve all gotten used to that. But part of it is that we’ve lowered our expectations for what social interaction actually entails.”

Revolut said it studied tax laws and regulations before introducing its policy, and that each request to work from abroad was subject to an internal review and approval process. But for some companies looking to put a similar policy in place, a hefty tax bill, or at least a complicated tax return, could be a drawback.

A screenshot of a “vax cards” page on Facebook. 

Online stores offering counterfeit or stolen vaccine cards have mushroomed in recent weeks, according to Saoud Khalifah, the founder of FakeSpot, which offers tools to detect fake listings and reviews online.

The efforts are far from hidden, with Facebook pages named “vax-cards” and eBay listings with “blank vaccine cards” openly hawking the items, Sheera Frenkel reports for The New York Times.

Last week, 45 state attorneys general banded together to call on Twitter, Shopify and eBay to stop the sale of false and stolen vaccine cards.

Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Shopify and Etsy said that the sale of fake vaccine cards violated their rules and that they were removing posts that advertised the items.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention introduced the vaccination cards in December, describing them as the “simplest” way to keep track of Covid-19 shots. By January, sales of false vaccine cards started picking up, Mr. Khalifah said. Many people found the cards were easy to forge from samples available online. Authentic cards were also stolen by pharmacists from their workplaces and put up for sale, he said.

Many people who bought the cards were opposed to the Covid-19 vaccines, Mr. Khalifah said. In some anti-vaccine groups on Facebook, people have publicly boasted about getting the cards.

Other buyers want to use the cards to trick pharmacists into giving them a vaccine, Mr. Khalifah said. Because some of the vaccines are two-shot regimens, people can enter a false date for a first inoculation on the card, which makes it appear as if they need a second dose soon. Some pharmacies and state vaccination sites have prioritized people due for their second shots.

An empty conference room in New York, which is among the cities with the lowest rate of workers returning to offices.
Credit…George Etheredge for The New York Times

In only a year, the market value of office towers in Manhattan has plummeted 25 percent, according to city projections released on Wednesday.

Across the country, the vacancy rate for office buildings in city centers has steadily climbed over the past year to reach 16.4 percent, according to Cushman & Wakefield, the highest in about a decade. That number could climb further if companies keep giving up office space because of hybrid or fully remote work, Peter Eavis and Matthew Haag report for The New York Times.

So far, landlords like Boston Properties and SL Green have not suffered huge financial losses, having survived the past year by collecting rent from tenants locked into long leases — the average contract for office space runs about seven years.

But as leases come up for renewal, property owners could be left with scores of empty floors. At the same time, many new office buildings are under construction — 124 million square feet nationwide, or enough for roughly 700,000 workers. Those changes could drive down rents, which were touching new highs before the pandemic. And rents help determine assessments that are the basis for property tax bills.

Many big employers have already given notice to the owners of some prestigious buildings that they are leaving when their leases end. JPMorgan Chase, Ford Motor, Salesforce, Target and more are giving up expensive office space and others are considering doing so.

The stock prices of the big landlords, which are often structured as real estate investment trusts that pass almost all of their profit to investors, trade well below their previous highs. Shares of Boston Properties, one of the largest office landlords, are down 29 percent from the prepandemic high. SL Green, a major New York landlord, is 26 percent lower.

A closed restaurant and pastry store in Tucson, Ariz. The Fed chair, Jerome Powell, said the economic recovery from the pandemic has been “uneven and incomplete.”
Credit…Rebecca Noble for The New York Times
  • U.S. stock futures rose on Friday along with government bond yields after the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, reiterated his intention to keep supporting the economic recovery until it is complete.

  • The rollout of vaccinations meant the United States economy could probably reopen soon, but the recovery was still “uneven and incomplete,” Mr. Powell said at the International Monetary Fund annual conference on Thursday.

  • He pointed out that the economic burden of the pandemic was falling most heavily on low-income service workers who were least able to bear it. “I really want to finish the job and get back to a great economy,” Mr. Powell said.

  • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes jumped 5 basis points, or 0.05 percentage point, to 1.67 percent. The yield on 10-year government bonds rose across Europe, too.

  • The S&P 500 index was set to open 0.1 percent higher and has risen 0.4 percent so far this week.

  • The relatively quiet week in the stock market has sent the VIX index, a measure of volatility, to its lowest level since February 2020. The index was at 17 points on Friday. In mid-March, as the pandemic shut down huge parts of the global economy, it spiked above 80.

  • European stock indexes were mixed on Friday, though the Stoxx Europe 600 was heading for its sixth straight week of gains. The DAX index in Germany rose 0.1 percent after data showed an unexpected drop in industrial production.

  • Oil prices rose slightly with futures of West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, 0.2 percent higher to $59.70 a barrel.

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Company Will Offer Refunds to Buyers of ‘Satan Shoes’ to Settle Lawsuit by Nike

A Brooklyn company that was sued by Nike over the unauthorized sale of Satan Shoes — an aftermarket sneaker that contains a drop of blood and was promoted by the rapper Lil Nas X — agreed on Thursday to accept returns of the footwear as part of a settlement.

The company, MSCHF, will offer refunds to people who want to return the sneakers under the terms of the settlement, according to Nike, which said in a statement that the purpose of the “voluntary recall” was to remove the shoes from circulation.

The settlement came a week after a U.S. District Court judge in Brooklyn granted Nike a temporary restraining order against MSCHF (pronounced mischief) after it sued the company last month.

A total of 666 pairs of the Satan Shoes were produced by MSCHF, which incorporated drops of its employees’ blood and ink into an air bubble in the Nike Air Max 97 sneakers. Each pair cost $1,018. They sold out in less than a minute last month.

“Luke 10:18” — a reference to the biblical passage that says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” — is printed on them.

A previous line of unauthorized Nike sneakers that MSCHF sold, which was named the Jesus Shoe and contained holy water, can also be returned for a refund, Nike said.

“In both cases, MSCHF altered these shoes without Nike’s authorization,” Nike said in a statement on Thursday. “Nike had nothing to do with the Satan Shoes or the Jesus Shoes.”

A lawyer for MSCHF did not dispute that the company had agreed to the voluntary buyback, but said on Thursday that he could not disclose the terms of the settlement.

music video for his song “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” in which he gyrates on Satan’s lap.

In the song, Lil Nas X, who was born Montero Lamar Hill, “cheerfully rejoices in lust as a gay man,” wrote Jon Pareles, the chief music critic for The New York Times.

Lil Nas X came out in 2019. The song’s title is an apparent reference to “Call Me by Your Name,” a novel about a clandestine summer romance between two men that was adapted into a film.

Mr. Bernstein said all but one pair of the Satan Shoes had been shipped to buyers before the temporary restraining order had been issued on April 1.

He described the sneakers, which are individually numbered, as works of art that represent the ideals of equality and inclusion. Mr. Bernstein said MSCHF had looked forward to arguing that its activities were covered under the First Amendment right of artistic expression.

“However, having already achieved its artistic purpose, MSCHF recognized that settlement was the best way to allow it to put this lawsuit behind it so that it could dedicate its time to new artistic and expressive projects,” he said.

Nike said it would not be responsible for any issues with sneakers that people decide to keep.

“Purchasers who choose not to return their shoes and later encounter a product issue, defect, or health concern should contact MSCHF, not Nike,” the company said.

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Afghan War Casualty Report: April 2021

The following report compiles all significant security incidents confirmed by New York Times reporters throughout Afghanistan for the month. It is necessarily incomplete as many local officials refuse to confirm casualty information. The report includes government claims of insurgent casualty figures, but in most cases these cannot be independently verified by The Times. Similarly, the reports do not include Taliban claims for their attacks on the government unless they can be verified. Both sides routinely inflate casualty totals for their opponents.

At least 64 pro-government forces and 17 civilians were killed in Afghanistan the past week. The deadliest attack took place in Helmand Province, where the Taliban attacked a military base called Waziromanda near Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, killing 10 soldiers and taking 12 others prisoner. Insurgents captured the base and seized all weapons and equipment. In another incident in Helmand, a car bomb targeted a police outpost in Nawa District, killing eight soldiers and wounding 12 others. In Baghlan Province, a military convoy was attacked by the Taliban in the Hajda Kotal area of Dahana-e-Ghori District, killing five soldiers and wounding four others.

[Read the Afghan War Casualty Report from previous weeks.]

April 8 Herat Province: one civilian killed

One civilian was killed and another was wounded in an attack by unknown gunmen in the Second Police District of Herat city, the provincial capital.

April 7 Herat Province: one police officer killed

A police officer was shot and killed by unknown gunmen in the center of Karokh District.

April 7 Baghlan Province: four police officers killed

The Taliban attacked a security outpost in Pul-i-Khumri city, the provincial capital, killing four police officers and wounding three others.

April 7 Badghis Province: one police officer killed

The Taliban shot and killed a police officer in the village of Pir-e-Ghaibi of Qadis District.

April 7 Herat Province: three security forces killed

Three members of a pro-government militia were killed and another went missing after a Taliban attack on a security outpost in the center of Pashtun Zarghun District. An additional five militia members were taken prisoner by insurgents.

April 7 Baghlan Province: five soldiers killed

The Taliban attacked a military convoy in the Hajda Kotal area of Dahan-e-Ghori District, killing five soldiers and wounding four others.

April 7 Baghlan Province: one police officer killed

The Taliban attacked a military base in Eshkamish District, killing one police officer and wounding four others.

April 7 Takhar Province: five police officers killed

Five police officers, including a company commander, were killed and eight others were wounded during a Taliban attack in the Khwaja Band Kashan village in Ishkamish District.

April 7 Kabul Province: one civilian killed

The head of the service department in the National Statistics and Information Authority was shot and killed by unknown gunmen in Qala-e-Wazir area of Paghman District. Police have launched an investigation.

April 7 Nangarhar Province: two civilians killed

A roadside bomb exploded near a police vehicle in the Second Police District of Jalalabad, the provincial capital, killing two civilians and wounding three police officers and 15 civilians.

April 6 Kunduz Province: four police officers killed

Four police officers were killed and three others were taken prisoner in a Taliban attack in the Fifth Police District of Kunduz city, the provincial capital.

April 6 Kunduz Province: one commando killed

One Afghan commando was killed and three others were wounded in the Ostaming village of Imam Sahib District during a military operation.

April 6 Badghis Province: one civilian killed

The Taliban shot and killed a former police officer in the village of Kanaqol in Aab Kamari District.

April 6 Badghis Province: one soldier killed

One soldier was shot and killed by the Taliban in the village of Shotor Gardan in Qala-e-Naw, the provincial capital.

April 6 Kabul Province: one police officer killed

Unknown gunmen shot and killed a police officer in Baghlan District. The attackers managed to escape from the area.

April 6 Kandahar Province: one civilian killed

A motorcycle was hit by a roadside bomb in the center of Panjwai District, killing one civilian.

April 6 Kandahar Province: four civilians killed

A passenger bus was hit by a roadside bomb in Maiwand District, on the highway connecting Kandahar to Kabul, killing four civilians and wounding 13 others.

April 6 Nangarhar Province: four police officers killed

The Taliban attacked a security outpost in Ghazi Baba area of Surkh Rod District, killing four police officers and seizing their weapons. Local authorities claimed that nine Taliban fighters were also killed in the clashes.

April 5 Ghor Province: one soldier killed

The Taliban attacked a military convoy in the village of Kharistan in Firoz Koh, the provincial capital. One soldier was killed in the clashes. Local authorities claimed that two Taliban fighters were also killed.

April 5 Helmand Province: 10 soldiers killed

The Taliban attacked a military base called Waziromanda near Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, killing 10 soldiers and taking 12 others prisoner. Insurgents captured the base and seized all weapons and equipment.

April 5 Helmand Province: eight police officers killed

A car bomb targeted a police outpost in Nawa District, killing eight soldiers and wounding 12 others.

April 5 Herat Province: four soldiers killed

The Taliban attacked a security outpost in the village of Jou-e-Qazi of Shindand District, where fighting continued for several hours. Four soldiers were killed and three others were wounded in the battle. An additional six soldiers were taken prisoner by the Taliban.

April 5 Kabul Province: one security force killed

A military truck was hit by a roadside bomb in Sabz Sang area of Qarabagh District, killing one member of the territorial army and wounding four others.

April 4 Kabul Province: three security forces killed

The Taliban targeted a military convoy with a car bomb in Panja Chenar area of Paghman District, killing three security force members and wounding 12 others.

April 4 Herat Province: one police officer killed

The Taliban attacked a security outpost in the village of Rood-e-Gaz in Adraskan District, killing one police officer and taking three others prisoner.

April 4 Kabul Province: one soldier killed

An army truck was hit by a roadside bomb in Qargha area of Paghman District, killing one soldier and wounding three others.

April 3 Takhar Province: one civilian killed

Unknown gunmen shot and killed the son of Juma Khan, a member of the provincial council in the Pole-e-shahrawan area of Taloqan, the provincial capital. The attacker was able to flee from the area.

April 3 Kunar Province: four soldiers killed

The Taliban attacked two security outposts in the Gulsalk area of Chapa Dara District, killing four soldiers and taking four others prisoner. Two soldiers are missing. The Taliban captured one of the security outposts and burned it down. A Humvee was also blown up by a bomb.

April 2 Helmand Province: six civilians killed

A vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Sarkar area of Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, killing six civilians.

Reporting was contributed by Najim Rahim and Fatima Faizi from Kabul, Zabihullah Ghazi from Jalalabad, Farooq Jan Mangal from Khost, Taimoor Shah from Kandahar and Asadullah Timoory from Herat.

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Tesla complains that German bureaucracy may delay its new plant.

A year after starting construction on its first European auto assembly plant on the outskirts of Berlin, Tesla is complaining that German regulations are too slow and inflexible, risking a delay in the opening of the facility.

“Obstacles in German law governing permits are slowing down the necessary industrial transformation and thus the transformation of transport and energy,” Tesla said in a 10-page letter, which was seen by The New York Times.

Tesla wants to open its “gigafactory” as soon as June, and is hiring up to 12,000 workers to build as many as 500,000 electric vehicles a year. But the Office of Environment in Brandenburg, the federal state that encircles Berlin, has yet to say the factory can open.

Tesla sent the letter to the top administrative court in the region in support of a lawsuit filed by Environmental Action Germany that charges the federal government with not doing enough to keep to the targets of the Paris Climate Accord. The letter is similar to a “friend of the court” brief, which are not common in German courts, and it was unclear whether the German judges would even consider it.

Elon Musk, the chief executive, clashed with officials last year over his efforts to keep the plant running during the pandemic.

Government authorities insist they have done everything in their power to speed up the regulatory process for Tesla, including securing logging and building permits, completing a process that normally takes 11 months in just four weeks. Along the way, the Tesla plant has faced protests by environmentalists and extensive public hearings. Many of the complaints center on the amount of water the plant will consume.

In the letter, Tesla charges that any delay in opening the plant would hinder European emission goals by keeping fossil-fuel burning vehicles on the road.

Tesla cars are popular in Germany, but not everyone is applauding its move.

“It’s surprising that Tesla feels badly treated at all,” wrote the conservative-leaning Welt, a daily newspaper, noting that the future factory — sometimes known as Germany’s fastest construction project — was given every advantage on state and federal level.

The Tesla letter said that the permit process was too slow and not flexible enough in dealing with changes to the original application.

“This discourages necessary investment in clean energy projects and infrastructure and makes it virtually impossible for Germany to meet its climate targets,” it read.

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Puerto Rico Adults to Be Eligible for Covid Vaccine on Monday

Puerto Rico said this week that residents 16 or older will become eligible for Covid-19 vaccination on Monday. And after a recent increase in new coronavirus cases, the island will put in place a longer overnight curfew starting Friday.

The start of the curfew, which will run until May 9, will move up to 10 p.m., from midnight, and will continue to end at 5 a.m., Gov. Pedro R. Pierluisi said in a statement on Wednesday.

Restaurants and businesses can continue to operate at 50 percent capacity, while bars and clubs remain closed, he said.

“We are seeing a dangerous spike in Covid cases that has led to a jump in hospitalizations and deaths,” Mr. Pierluisi said. “I have been very prudent when it comes to reopening and have always been willing to make the necessary adjustments to prevent cases from rising.”

according to a New York Times database.

Already struggling because of a debt crisis and the aftermath of hurricanes that have ravaged the island in recent years, Puerto Rico has only seen 23 percent of its total population receive at least one vaccine dose so far, ranking it near the bottom among U.S. states and territories.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday that nationwide, about 110 million people, or roughly one-third of the U.S. population, have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Earlier this week Hawaii became the last of the 50 states to accelerate its timeline for making all adults eligible for vaccination, heeding President Biden’s calls for states, territories and tribes to do so.

While the pace of vaccinations across the country has reached an average of about three million doses a day, outbreaks of the virus in the Midwest and Northeast have federal health officials worried.

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For 10 Years, Photographer Follows Up on Destroyed Village

Times Insider explains who we are and what we do, and delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.

On March 11, 2011, an earthquake and a tsunami struck coastal Japan, killing 200 residents of Kesen, a centuries-old village. Only two of the 550 homes were not destroyed, and most of the survivors moved away. But 15 residents vowed to stay and rebuild the village, and Hiroko Masuike, a New York Times photographer and Japanese native, traveled twice a year from New York over the past decade to chronicle their efforts.

Last month, a photo essay and article told the story of their determination during the past 10 years. In an interview, Ms. Masuike discussed the evolution of her project.

Many cities and villages were devastated by the earthquake and tsunami. Why did you decide to focus on Kesen?

When the tsunami happened, I had to be there because my home country was going through a major disaster. Rikuzentakata, the city where Kesen is, was one of the hardest hit. I had a vacation planned, but 12 days after the tsunami, I landed at the nearest airport. I started to photograph the debris and people at an evacuation center in Rikuzentakata, but I was still numb.

One day, I was driving in Kesen and saw a small temple on higher ground. Ten people were living there, and across the town, there were other people living among the debris. They were very different from any other people living in evacuation centers — they were so energetic. The second day when I visited the people in the temple, they told me, “If you want to stay with us, you can.” I started photographing how they lived: They built a small shack where we ate; they made a bonfire every day; they would try to clean up the place. They were hoping to reunite their community.

How did this go from photographing the aftermath of a major disaster to a long-term project?

When I first went there, everyone opened up to me and put their trust in me. I didn’t want to be someone who goes to a disaster zone and then, when the news fades, leaves and never returns. So I just kept going back, photographing everybody each time and catching up on how they were doing. During the 10 years, I was able to spend plenty of time with survivors and capture the right moment. I tried to be a good listener — I think they wanted to tell someone their stories, feelings and frustrations. So they opened to me even more when I kept returning.

What were you hoping to capture at the outset of the piece?

I was hoping this community was going to rebuild. My first trip back was in October 2011, and the government had started building prefabricated houses, so people were living there — except this guy, Naoshi, who lost his son, a volunteer firefighter, to the quake. He thought that because his son’s spirit might come back, he had to be at the same location, so he rebuilt his house in August 2012. And I was hoping to capture when the temple would be rebuilt, because it had been the center of the community for centuries.

Were there any challenges you faced with this project over the past decade?

Most of the time when I went back, there were no changes in the community. The temple was rebuilt in 2017, but Rikuzentakata told survivors that they couldn’t rebuild their homes where their houses once stood. Authorities worked on raising the level of the land for residential use. But construction took a lot longer than they thought, and many people couldn’t wait that long and moved elsewhere, and the land remained empty. When I went back this year for the 10th anniversary, the construction was complete, and seeing the vacant area was stunning: The village was once full of people and houses, but 10 years later, there was nothing.

Will you continue to photograph Kesen?

I probably don’t need to go back twice a year. But the people I’ve been photographing are making some progress. One person is going to open a dog-friendly cafe this summer. So I would like to keep visiting and photographing their lives. I’ve been seeing them for 10 years. It’s hard to stop.

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Hawaii Becomes 50th State to Expand Vaccine Eligibility

Every Hawaiian adult will become eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine by April 19, as Hawaii becomes the 50th state to heed President Biden’s calls to accelerate vaccinations, a health official there said Wednesday.

The news came with a note of caution.

“This does not mean everyone will be able to get vaccinated on April 19, and people must continue to be patient,” Brooks Baehr, a health department spokesman, said in a statement. “Supply still does not meet the tremendous demand.”

In March, Mr. Biden announced that he would direct states to make all adults eligible for the vaccine by May 1. Then on Tuesday, with more states ramping up their vaccination efforts and expanding eligibility, he moved the target date to April 19.

Even before the president’s announcement on Tuesday, residents in Hawaii County, Kauai County and Maui County had opened up their eligibility to adults 16 years and older. That took place on Monday. Honolulu County has not yet expanded its eligibility.

a New York Times database.

Over the past two weeks, Hawaii has reported a 33 percent increase in coronavirus cases, most recently averaging 113 cases a day.

In the United States over all, about three million vaccine doses are being administered a day, on average. Mr. Biden has said he hopes for 200 million doses to be administered by his 100th day in office.

As vaccination becomes more common and some states relax restrictions, scenes resembling prepandemic life have begun re-emerging in the U.S., including in Hawaii, where throngs of tourists have returned.

The state has reopened to travelers, with visitors needing only a negative coronavirus test from the past 72 hours in most places to skip the state’s mandated quarantine order. Last Saturday, almost 29,000 visitors — a number comparable to prepandemic levels — arrived in the state, according to state travel data.

John Yoon contributed reporting.

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More Contagious Covid Variant Is Now Dominant in U.S., C.D.C. Says

WASHINGTON — A highly infectious variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in Britain has become the most common source of new infections in the United States, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday. The worrisome development comes as officials and scientists warn of a possible fourth surge of infections.

Federal health officials said in January that the B.1.1.7 variant, which began surging in Britain in December and has since slammed Europe, could become the dominant source of coronavirus infections in the United States, leading to a huge increase in cases and deaths.

At that point, new cases, hospitalizations and deaths were at an all-time high. From that peak, the numbers all declined until late February, according to a New York Times database. After several weeks at a plateau, new cases and hospitalizations are increasing again. The average number of new cases in the country has reached nearly 65,000 a day as of Tuesday, concentrated mostly in metro areas in Michigan as well as in the New York City region. That is an increase of 19 percent compared with the figure two weeks ago.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, who warned last week that she felt a recurring sense of “impending doom,” said on Wednesday that 52 of the agency’s 64 jurisdictions — which include states, some major cities and territories — are now reporting cases of these so-called “variants of concern,” including B.1.1.7.

60 percent more contagious and 67 percent more deadly than the original form of the coronavirus, according to the most recent estimates. The C.D.C. has also been tracking the spread of other variants, such as B.1.351, first found in South Africa, and P.1, which was first identified in Brazil.

The percentage of cases caused by variants is clearly increasing. Helix, a lab testing company, has tracked the relentless increase of B.1.1.7 since the beginning of the year. As of April 3, it estimated that the variant made up 58.9 percent of all new tests.

That variant has been found to be most prevalent in Michigan, Florida, Colorado, California, Minnesota and Massachusetts, according to the C.D.C. Until recently, the variant’s rise was somewhat camouflaged by falling infection rates over all, leading some political leaders to relax restrictions on indoor dining, social distancing and other measures.

against the warnings of some scientists.

Federal health officials are tracking reports of increasing cases associated with day care centers and youth sports, and hospitals are seeing more younger adults — people in their 30s and 40s who are admitted with “severe disease,” Dr. Walensky said.

It is difficult for scientists to say exactly how much of the current patterns of infection are because of the growing frequency of B.1.1.7.

“It’s muddled by the reopening that’s going on and changes in behavior,” said Dr. Adam Lauring, a virologist at the University of Michigan.

But he noted that people were becoming less cautious at a time when they should be raising their guard against a more contagious variant. “It’s worrisome,” he said.

At the same time, the United States is currently vaccinating an average of about three million people a day, and states have rushed to make all adults eligible. The C.D.C. reported on Tuesday that about 108.3 million people had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including about 64.4 million people who have been fully vaccinated. New Mexico, South Dakota, Rhode Island and Alaska are leading the states, with about 25 percent of their total populations fully vaccinated.

Scientists hope that vaccination will blunt any potential fourth surge.

On Tuesday, President Biden moved up his vaccination timetable by two weeks, calling states to make every American adult eligible by April 19. All states have already met or expect to beat this goal after he initially asked that they do so by May 1.

hundreds of genomes predicted that this variant could become predominant in the country in a month. At that time, the C.D.C. was struggling to sequence the new variants, which made it difficult to track them.

But those efforts have substantially improved in recent weeks and will continue to grow, in large part because of $1.75 billion in funds for genomic sequencing in the stimulus package that Mr. Biden signed into law last month. By contrast, Britain, which has a more centralized health care system, began a highly promoted sequencing program last year that allowed it to track the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant.

“We knew this was going to happen: This variant is a lot more transmissible, much more infectious than the parent strain, and that obviously has implications,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, a professor of medicine and an infectious disease expert at Emory University. In addition to spreading more efficiently, he said, the B.1.1.7 strain appears to cause more severe disease, “so that gives you a double whammy.”

Perhaps even more troubling is the emergence of the virulent P.1 variant in North America. First identified in Brazil, it has become the dominant variant in that country, helping to drive its hospitals to the breaking point. In Canada, the P.1 variant emerged as a cluster in Ontario, then shut down the Whistler ski resort in British Columbia. On Wednesday, the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks said at least 21 players and four staff members had been infected with the coronavirus.

“This is a stark reminder of how quickly the virus can spread and its serious impact, even among healthy, young athletes,” the team’s doctor, Jim Bovard, said in a statement.

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FEMA Will Provide More Money for Covid Funeral Expenses

People who paid for the funeral and burial expenses of someone who died from Covid-19 will be offered expanded federal financial support starting on Monday, according to an announcement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 556,000 Americans, according to a New York Times database. Under the expanded assistance program, their survivors can apply for up to $9,000 in reimbursement for the purchase of a plot, burial, a headstone, clergy services, the transfer of remains, cremation or other services associated with a funeral.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many families,” the agency said in a statement announcing the expanded benefits. “At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters. We are dedicated to helping ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the virus.”

Congress approved billions of dollars in funding for funeral benefits in two Covid relief measures, the one signed by former President Donald J. Trump in December and the one known as the American Rescue Plan that President Biden signed last month.

Both measures include added funds for funeral services in an attempt to cushion the financial blow to families, many of whom are already struggling because of the loss of income in the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

To qualify for reimbursement, an applicant must be a United States citizen or legal permanent resident who has documentation that they paid funeral expenses for someone whose death “‘may have been caused by’ or ‘was likely a result of’ Covid-19 or ‘Covid-19 like symptoms,’” or whose records include “similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of Covid-19,” according to FEMA. The person who died need not have been a United States citizen or resident, the agency said.

FEMA will reimburse funeral costs for multiple people in the same family, up to a maximum of $35,000, according to the agency. But the amount of federal assistance will be reduced if applicants also received support from other sources, including insurance policies specifically designed to pay for funeral expenses.

The effort to soften the financial burden of the pandemic is one of the largest such efforts ever undertaken by the agency. It also offers an opportunity for fraud, as the agency acknowledges in bright red type on its website.

“Fraud Alert: We have received reports of scammers reaching out to people offering to register them for funeral assistance,” the alert says. “FEMA has not sent any such notifications and we do not contact people prior to them registering for assistance.”

The agency will begin taking applications on Monday. Applicants can call a hotline at (844) 684-6333.

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