granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and up, paving the way for mandates in both the public and private sectors. Such mandates are legally allowed and have been upheld in court challenges.

  • College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Almost all are in states that voted for President Biden.
  • Schools. California became the first state to issue a vaccine mandate for all educators and to announce plans to add the Covid-19 vaccine as a requirement to attend school, which could start as early as next fall. Los Angeles already has a vaccine mandate for public school students 12 and older that begins Nov. 21. New York City’s mandate for teachers and staff, which went into effect Oct. 4 after delays due to legal challenges, appears to have prompted thousands of last-minute shots.
  • Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and major health systems are requiring employees to get vaccinated. Mandates for health care workers in California and New York State appear to have compelled thousands of holdouts to receive shots.
  • Indoor activities. New York City requires workers and customers to show proof of at least one dose of the Covid-19 for indoor dining, gyms, entertainment and performances. Starting Nov. 4, Los Angeles will require most people to provide proof of full vaccination to enter a range of indoor businesses, including restaurants, gyms, museums, movie theaters and salons, in one of the nation’s strictest vaccine rules.
  • At the federal level. On Sept. 9, President Biden announced a vaccine mandate for the vast majority of federal workers. This mandate will apply to employees of the executive branch, including the White House and all federal agencies and members of the armed services.
  • In the private sector. Mr. Biden has mandated that all companies with more than 100 workers require vaccination or weekly testing, helping propel new corporate vaccination policies. Some companies, like United Airlines and Tyson Foods, had mandates in place before Mr. Biden’s announcement.
  • “I think a lot of times we are so focused on wanting to get good results that we just have tunnel vision,” she said.

    Ms. Ng lives across from a testing center. Almost daily, she watched a constant stream of people go in for tests, a strategy that many public health experts say is a waste of resources in such a highly vaccinated country.

    “Freedom Day — as our ministers have said — is not the Singapore style,” said Jeremy Lim, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore and an expert on health policy, referring to England’s reopening in the summer. But moving too cautiously over the potential disadvantages of restrictions is a “bad public health” strategy, he said.

    The government should not wait for perfect conditions to reopen, “because the world will never be perfect. It’s so frustrating that the politicians are almost like waiting for better circumstances,” Dr. Lim said.

    Sarah Chan, a deputy director at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research, said she had a fleeting taste of what normal life was like when she arrived in Italy last month to visit her husband’s family.

    No masks were required outdoors, vaccinated people could gather in groups, and Dr. Chan and her son could bop their heads to music in restaurants. In Singapore, music inside restaurants has been banned based on the notion that it could encourage the spread of the virus.

    Dr. Chan said she was so moved by her time in Italy that she cried.

    “It’s almost normal. You forget what that’s like,” she said. “I really miss that.”

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    How Asia, Once a Vaccination Laggard, Is Revving Up Inoculations

    Then came the Delta variant. Despite keeping their countries largely sealed off, the virus found its way in. And when it did, it spread quickly. In the summer, South Korea battled its worst wave of infections; hospitals in Indonesia ran out of oxygen and beds; and in Thailand, health care workers had to turn away patients.

    With cases surging, countries quickly shifted their vaccination approach.

    Sydney, Australia, announced a lockdown in June after an unvaccinated limousine driver caught the Delta variant from an American aircrew. Then, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who had previously said vaccination “was not a race,” called in July on Australians to “go for gold” in the country’s inoculation drive.

    He moved to overcome a supply shortage, compounded by the slow regulatory approval. In August, Australia bought one million Pfizer doses from Poland; this month, Mr. Morrison announced a purchase of a million Moderna shots from Europe.

    When the Delta outbreak emerged, fewer than 25 percent of Australians over the age of 16 had received a single shot. In the state of New South Wales, which includes Sydney, 86 percent of the adult population has now received a first dose, and 62 percent of adults are fully vaccinated. The country expects to fully inoculate 80 percent of its population over the age of 16 by early November.

    “There was great community leadership — there were people from across the political divide who came out to support vaccination,” said Greg Dore, an infectious-disease expert at the University of New South Wales. “It really helped us turn around a level of hesitancy that was there.”

    Many governments have used incentives to encourage inoculations.

    In South Korea, the authorities eased restrictions in August on private gatherings for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to meet in larger groups while maintaining stricter curbs for others. Singapore, which has fully vaccinated 82 percent of its population, previously announced similar measures.

    Researchers there have also analyzed the pockets of people who refuse to be inoculated and are trying to persuade them.

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    Hurricane Ida News: Storm Could Be Among the Strongest to Hit Louisiana since the 1850s, Governor Warns

    saying local officials expected “the possibility of flooding and even spinoff tornadoes in portions of Alabama.” In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves also issued a state of emergency on Saturday, allowing for the use of state resources for response and recovery.

    Research over the past decade has found that, on average, such rapid intensification of hurricanes is increasing, in part because the oceans, which provide the energy for hurricanes, are getting warmer as a result of human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases. But Ida will also strengthen quickly because the Gulf, as is usual at the end of the summer, is very warm.

    The hurricane center defines rapid intensification as at least a 35-m.p.h. increase in sustained winds over 24 hours. In the extremely active 2020 season, Hurricane Laura intensified by 45 m.p.h. in the 24 hours before making landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm in late August.

    The National Hurricane Center said Ida was likely to produce heavy rainfall late Sunday into Monday from southeast Louisiana to coastal Mississippi and Alabama. Tropical storm force winds will arrive along the coast as early as Saturday night, according to the National Weather Service, before the storm makes landfall on Sunday afternoon or evening. After moving inland, the storm could contribute to flooding in Tennessee, where flash flooding killed 20 people last weekend.

    “Based upon current track and strength of Ida, this storm will test our hurricane protection systems in a way they haven’t been tested before,” Chip Kline, executive assistant to the governor of Louisiana for coastal activities, said on Twitter. “It’s times like these that remind us of the importance of continuing to protect south Louisiana.”

    Correction: 

    Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misidentified the location of Tropical Storm Ida. It was in the Caribbean Sea early Friday, not the Gulf of Mexico.

    Bella Witherspoon, left, and Sara Marriott prepare their boat ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Ida in Ocean Springs, on the Mississippi coast.
    Credit…Hannah Ruhoff/The Sun Herald, via Associated Press

    Hurricane Ida will produce “life-threatening” weather conditions in Louisiana and batter parts of Mississippi, the National Weather Service said, urging people to evacuate inland.

    Here is a breakdown of how various parts of the region could be affected when the hurricane makes landfall on Sunday afternoon or evening , according to the Weather Service.

    Baton Rouge, La.

    River Parishes and Northshore in Louisiana

    New Orleans

    Coastal Louisiana

    Southwest Mississippi

    Coastal Mississippi

    Jawan Williams shoveled sand for a sandbag held by his son Jayden Williams, before landfall of Hurricane Ida at the Frederick Sigur Civic Center in Chalmette, La., on Saturday.
    Credit…Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    Hurricane Ida is expected to make landfall Sunday, threatening to bring dangerous wind, storm surge and rain to the Gulf Coast exactly 16 years after the arrival of Hurricane Katrina, one of the most costly natural disasters in American history, which left more than 1,800 dead and produced more than $100 billion in damages.

    The overall impact of storm surge from Ida is predicted to be less severe than during Katrina. Because that storm began as a Category 5 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico before weakening as it approached landfall, it generated enormous storm surge, which brought over 20 feet of water to parts of the Mississippi coast. Current projections put the storm surge of Ida at 10 to 15 feet.

    “Fifteen-foot sure can do a lot of damage,” said Barry Keim, a professor at Louisiana State University and Louisiana State Climatologist. “But it’s going to be nothing in comparison with Katrina’s surge.”

    Improvements to the levee system following Katrina have better prepared the New Orleans metro area for the storm surge.

    However, the areas likely to receive the most severe surge from Ida may be less equipped to handle it than the area hit by Katrina, said Dr. Keim.

    Ida is expected to make landfall to the west of where Katrina struck, bringing the most severe storm surge impacts to the Louisiana coast west of the Mississippi River rather than east of the river along coastal Mississippi, as Katrina did.

    “We are testing a different part of the flood protection in and around southeast Louisiana than we did in Katrina,” said Dr. Keim. “Some of the weak links in this area maybe haven’t been quite as exposed.”

    While the impacts of Ida’s storm surge are expected to be less severe than Katrina’s, Ida’s winds and rain are predicted to exceed those that pummeled the Gulf Coast in 2005.

    Ida is expected to make landfall on the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm with peak winds of 130 mph, while Katrina made landfall as a Category 3 with peak winds of 125 mph.

    “It could be quite devastating — especially some of those high rise buildings are just not rated to sustain that wind load,” said Jamie Rhome, acting deputy director of the National Hurricane Center.

    The severe damage from Hurricane Laura, which struck southwest Louisiana last year as a Category 4 storm, was caused primarily by high winds peaking at 150 mph. The storm caused 42 deaths and damage costing more than $19 billion.

    Ida’s rainfall also threatens to exceed Katrina’s highs.

    The National Hurricane Center estimates that Ida will drench the Gulf Coast with 8 to 16 inches of rain and perhaps as much as 20 inches in some places. Katrina brought 5-10 inches of rain with more than 12 inches in the most impacted areas.

    “That is a lot of rainfall,” said Mr. Rhome. “Absolutely the flash flood potential in this case is high, very high.” Especially combined with storm surge, he said, such intense levels of rainfall could have a “huge and devastating impact to those local communities.”

    A wedding party marches by boarded-up buildings in the French Quarter in New Orleans on Saturday.
    Credit…Dan Anderson/EPA, via Shutterstock

    NEW ORLEANS — When a hurricane comes roaring toward New Orleans out of the Gulf of Mexico, there is a discernible mood shift on Bourbon Street, the city’s famed strip of iniquity and conspicuous alcohol consumption.

    It goes from tawdry to tawdry with a hint of apocalypse. On Friday afternoon, the street was half alive. Daiquiri bars were open and daiquiri bars were boarded up. The doors to Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club were locked. Nearby, a man lay on his back on the sidewalk, a plastic bag at his side, yelling the name “Laura.” Or maybe “Lord.”

    Six happy women from New York ambled toward Canal Street in matching black T-shirts that said, “Birthday, beignets and booze.” The birthday girl declined to give her name. They went past the club called The Famous Door, where a listless bar band played “Fat Bottomed Girls.”

    The riffs poured out into the street. A member of the birthday team raised a glass of something alcoholic and sugary and shouted out the chorus.

    Another of the New York women, Jessika Edouard of Long Island, said that most of her group had been trying to get out of town before the storm’s arrival, to no avail. It was all cancellations and unresponsive airline customer service. “The flights are terrible,” she said.

    What choice did they have but to keep the party going? Ms Edouard thought she and some of the others might be able to leave on Monday, after Ida hit.

    In the meantime, she said, they had bought a ton of booze in the French Quarter. In the morning they had beignets. They had just met a crew from the Weather Channel. They seemed more excited than scared.

    Ms. Edouard even had words for the storm, which she delivered like a threat from one pro wrestler to another.

    “If Hurricane Ida thinks she is going to ruin my friend’s 30th birthday, then Ida has another thing coming,” she said.

    New Orleans residents prepared to leave after the mayor asked for voluntary evacuations in anticipation of Hurricane Ida.
    Credit…Max Becherer/NOLA.com, via The Advocate, via Associated Press

    NEW ORLEANS — With Hurricane Ida likely to bring powerful winds and heavy rain to their city, residents of New Orleans faced a familiar choice: flee or hunker down for the duration.

    The storm was expected to make landfall by Sunday afternoon or evening and officials urged people who intended to evacuate to do so by Saturday. Residents came to a variety of decisions on the matter.

    Lacy Duhe, 39, and Jeremy Housely, 42, opted to hunker down in their second-story apartment on Deslonde Street in New Orlean’s Lower Ninth Ward. If they evacuated and ended up in a shelter, they said, they worried about the risk of their unvaccinated children contracting Covid-19. They also had just paid their monthly bills and could not afford to go anywhere.

    “It feels serious,” said the couple’s 11-year-old daughter, Ja-nyi. “I wasn’t born during Katrina time. But I know it knocked down a lot of places.”

    Mary Picot, 71, walked out the door on Saturday afternoon carrying bags of snacks and medicine. She wasn’t worried about flooding and believed the levees would hold. It was the threat of power outages that convinced her to leave.

    “My husband is diabetic,” she said. “We have to keep his medicine cold.”

    Donald Lyons, 38, was packing up a silver Nissan sedan Saturday afternoon under a cloud-filled sky in Hollygrove, one of the traditionally Black working class neighborhoods that flooded badly when Katrina hit. The car, carrying his wife, three children and mother-in-law, was full of bags and bedding. They were heading to Sugar Land, Texas, 27 miles southwest of Houston, where they had family that had left after Katrina, 16 years ago, and never come back.

    “I’m just trying to get somewhere safe,” Mr. Lyons said.

    Down the block, Barbara Butler, 65, a housekeeper, said she thought the city was safer now with all of the new flood protection. She intended to ride out the storm at home.

    “It gave us some relief,” she said. “It’s better than no relief.”

    She was sitting on the porch with her husband, Curtis Duck, 63, and her brother, Ray Thomas, in a house that Ms. Butler said was flooded with eight feet of water after Katrina.

    Mr. Duck said he was sick of evacuating time and again.

    “We listen to the news,” he said. “People telling us to go, go, go.”

    Victor Pizarro, a health advocate, and his husband decided to ride out the storm in their home in the Gentilly Terrace neighborhood, although they said they would leave town if they lost power for an extended period.

    “It’s definitely triggering to even have to think about this and make these decisions,” Mr. Pizarro said in a telephone interview while he drove across town in search of a spare part for his generator. “It’s exhausting to be a New Orleanian and a Louisianian at this point.”

    Andy Horowitz and his family decided to vacate their home in the Algiers Point neighborhood, which sits directly across the Mississippi River from the French Quarter. Mr. Horowitz is the author of “Katrina: A History, 1915-2015,” and he is among those scholars and Louisiana residents who fear that the city’s new flood protection system, as massive as it is, may prove to be inadequate for a sinking city in the likely path of more frequent and powerful storms in the age of climate change.

    “Every summer, New Orleans plays a game of Russian roulette, and every summer we pull the trigger,” Mr. Horowitz said.

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    New Orleans Mayor Urges Evacuations Ahead of Hurricane Ida

    Hurricane Ida is expected to make landfall as a Category 4 storm on Sunday, which is also the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Mayor LaToya Cantrell warned residents to either evacuate immediately or bunker down in a safe place ahead of the hurricane.

    What we know is today, right now, everyone has to make a decision to leave voluntarily, which I’m recommending, do that, prepare yourselves. If you’re going to leave, you need to do that now. We need to make sure that you are in a safe place, everyone, whether you’re going to leave voluntarily or stay onsite, hunkered down. Wherever that is, hopefully that’s your home, in our city, but in a safe space. Prepare for damaging wind, power outages, heavy rain, tornadoes. What I am told is that this storm in no way will be weakening. There will be and there are no signs, again, that this storm will weaken, and there’s always an opportunity for the storm to strengthen. This continues to remain a very fluid situation. And we know, again, that time is not on our side. It’s just, it’s rapidly, it’s growing, it’s intensifying.

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    Hurricane Ida is expected to make landfall as a Category 4 storm on Sunday, which is also the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Mayor LaToya Cantrell warned residents to either evacuate immediately or bunker down in a safe place ahead of the hurricane.CreditCredit…Matthew Hinton, via Associated Press

    NEW ORLEANS — With tracking maps for Hurricane Ida consistently showing an expected pathway toward southeast Louisiana, Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans issued a stern warning on Saturday that city residents who intend to leave should do so immediately.

    “In no way will this storm be weakening, and there’s always an opportunity for the storm to strengthen,” Ms. Cantrell said at a news briefing. “Time is not on our side. It’s rapidly growing, it’s intensifying.”

    City officials are asking that residents who plan to stay in the city prepare for extended power outages, limited emergency services and several days of high temperatures after the storm passes.

    “The first 72 is on you,” said Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. “The first three days of this will be difficult for responders to get to you.”

    Forecasters are predicting that Hurricane Ida will be a Category 4 storm upon landfall on Sunday, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which left more than 1,800 dead.

    “What we learned during Hurricane Katrina is we are all first-responders,” Ms. Cantrell said. “It’s about taking care of one another.”

    Delery Street in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans was flooded after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
    Credit…Nicole Bengiveno/ New York Times

    NEW ORLEANS — On Saturday afternoon, the Rev. Willie L. Calhoun Jr., a 71-year-old resident of the Lower Ninth Ward, was in his Lincoln Continental on the brink of getting out of town. He was not quite sure where. Somewhere in Alabama, he figured.

    Rev. Calhoun remembers his father smashing a hole in the roof of his family’s home in the Lower Ninth in 1965, when Hurricane Betsy put 10 feet of water in his house. When Katrina came, he and his family made sure to get out of the neighborhood before the storm destroyed their homes — unlike many of his neighbors, some of whom perished when the levees failed.

    The pain from Katrina was now an indelible fact of life in the neighborhood. He had hoped to take part in a 16th anniversary commemoration on Sunday, with a high school marching band and a theme, he said, of “healing, unifying and strengthening our communities.”

    “The trauma, and the hurt that’s there,” he said. “I have one friend who lost his mother and his granddaughter in Katrina. For that trauma to be revisited every year is a tough thing.”

    But his perspective on the neighborhood 16 years on was somewhat nuanced. He felt confident that the improvements to the city’s storm protection system — with its mammoth flood walls and new gates and levees — would keep the Ninth Ward safe. His worry, he said, was the damage from the wind that comes with a Category 4 hurricane.

    And yet it was difficult not to be disappointed. The jobs for Black men seemed to have dried up in the city. A revamped post-Katrina educational system, heavily reliant on charter schools, did not seem, in Rev. Calhoun’s opinion, to have done much good. The neighborhood was in need of economic stimulus. Still full of empty lots, and ghostly foundations of homes, many of them owned by Black families, long washed away.

    After $20 billion in infrastructure improvements, it felt, at best, like partial progress, and like survival with an asterisk.

    Credit…Adrees Latif/Reuters

    LAKE CHARLES, La. — Not again. That was the widespread sentiment among residents of Lake Charles, a city of about 76,000 residents some 200 miles from New Orleans, on Saturday.

    A year after Hurricane Laura left many here without power — and some without homes — for long periods of time, residents were preparing for perhaps yet another weather catastrophe.

    When Laura, a powerful Category 4 storm, barreled through Lake Charles last August, it shattered the windows of the home that Juan Jose Galdames, 55, a construction worker, shared with his five children. On Saturday, he was at Home Depot, buying plywood to protect the windows and other vulnerable parts of his house ahead of the storm.

    “Yes, I am a little afraid,” Mr. Galdames said. “I don’t want a repeat of that day. It was scary. I want my children to feel safe. I’m trying to get everything ready before nightfall.”

    Water and bread were in short supply at an area Target store, and traffic stretched for miles as residents sought safety elsewhere.

    Tracy Guillory, 57, a carpenter, tried to prepare by stocking up on supplies and staying on top of weather reports. She said she and her family were weary after a long year of weather crises that included Hurricane Delta and a winter storm that caused pipes to burst and knocked out water systems throughout the region.

    Ms. Guillory said her neighborhood was still recovering from flooding in May, which left her SUV beyond repair. She plans to hunker down with her 83-year-old father and 21-year-old daughter.

    Josue Espinal, 34, who also works in construction, was trying to reassure his 4-year-old son, Anderson, that everything would be all right. The boy sat on top of a generator box as his father loaded a cart with bottles of water at a Home Depot. Truth was, Mr. Espinal admitted, he too was worried. He and his family live in a mobile home near a lake, and he was looking for a better option to spend the next two nights.

    A medical worker monitored a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital in Louisiana earlier this month.
    Credit…Mario Tama/Getty Images

    In Louisiana, where daily deaths from Covid reached their highest levels this week, stretched hospitals are having to modify the intense preparations they would normally make ahead of an expected strike from Hurricane Ida.

    Louisiana’s medical director, Dr. Joseph Kanter, asked residents on Friday to avoid unnecessary emergency room visits to preserve the state’s hospital capacity, which has been vastly diminished by its most severe Covid surge of the pandemic.

    And while plans exist to transfer patients away from coastal areas to inland hospitals ahead of a hurricane, this time “evacuations are just not possible,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a news conference.

    “The hospitals don’t have room,” he said. “We don’t have any place to bring those patients — not in state, not out of state.”

    The governor said officials had asked hospitals to check generators and stockpile more water, oxygen and personal protective supplies than usual for a storm. The implications of a strike from a Category 4 hurricane while hospitals were full were “beyond what our normal plans are,” he added.

    Mr. Edwards said he had told President Biden and Deanne Criswell, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to expect Covid-related emergency requests, including oxygen.

    The state’s recent wave of Covid hospitalizations has exceeded its previous three peaks, and staffing shortages have necessitated support from federal and military medical teams. On Friday, 2,684 Covid patients were hospitalized in the state. This week Louisiana reported its highest ever single-day death toll from Covid — 139 people.

    Oschner Health, one of the largest local medical systems, informed the state that it had limited capacity to accept storm-related transfers, especially from nursing homes, the group’s chief executive, Warner L. Thomas, said. Many of Oschner’s hospitals, which were caring for 836 Covid patients on Friday, had invested in backup power and water systems to reduce the need to evacuate, he said.

    The pandemic also complicated efforts to discharge more patients than usual before the storm hits. For many Covid patients who require oxygen, “going home isn’t really an option,” said Stephanie Manson, chief operating officer of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, which had 190 Covid inpatients on Friday, 79 of them in intensive care units.

    The governor said he feared that the movement of tens or hundreds of thousands of evacuees in the state could cause it to lose gains made in recent days as the number of new coronavirus cases began to drop. Dr. Kanter urged residents who were on the move to wear masks and observe social distancing. Many of the state’s testing and vaccination sites were slated to close temporarily.

    The Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier was constructed after Hurricane Katrina to prevent tidal surges from hurricanes from reaching New Orleans.
    Credit…Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    NEW ORLEANS — As Hurricane Ida heads toward a possible Sunday landfall on Louisiana’s coastline, the National Weather Service’s storm surge forecast has local officials warning about the potential for water to overtop some of the levees that protect parts of New Orleans.

    Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans noted at a news briefing on Friday evening that water overtopping the levees “is as it was structured to do.” That reflects the updates to the local system of earthen and reinforced levees that protects much of southeast Louisiana in the years after Hurricane Katrina stretched it to a breaking point.

    The system, officials said, was rebuilt to defend against a so-called “100-year-storm,” or a storm that has a 1 percent chance in happening every year, but to remain reinforced up to a 500-year-event. It includes armoring, splash pads — concrete areas designed to keep the ground behind an overtopped wall from being washed away — and pumps with backup generators, officials said.

    Heath Jones, an emergency operation manager with the Army Corps of Engineers, said that some levees protecting New Orleans on the western side of the Mississippi River were at risk of overtopping in line with the Weather Service’s forecast calling for between 10 and 15 feet of storm surge. A federal levee database shows sections of levee there as low as 10 feet.

    Levees in this part of the state have rarely been challenged since they were shored up in the years after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

    “The previous big tests were (hurricanes) Isaac and Gustav,” said Matt Roe, a public affairs specialist with the Army Corps of Engineers, which occurred in 2012 and 2008, “but it’s important to note that each storm is different.”

    Ida’s strength, according to Chip Cline, chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, “will test our hurricane protection system in a way they haven’t been tested before.”

    Homes in Lake Charles, La., were covered with blue tarps after being hit by Hurricane Laura. Then Hurricane Delta swept through, knocking down trees and scattering debris from the previous storm.
    Credit…William Widmer for The New York Times

    Hurricane Ida threatens to be the first major storm to strike the Gulf Coast during the 2021 season, hitting a region in many ways still grappling with the physical and emotional toll of a punishing run of hurricanes last year.

    The Atlantic hurricane season of 2020 was the busiest on record, with 30 named storms, 13 of which reached hurricane strength. There were so many storms that forecasters ran through the alphabet and had to take the rare step of calling storms by Greek letters.

    Louisiana was dealt the harshest blow, barraged repeatedly by storms, including Hurricane Laura, which was one of the most powerful to hit the state, trailed six weeks later by Delta, which was weaker than Laura but followed a nearly identical path, inflicting considerable pain on communities still gripped by the devastation from the earlier storm.

    The state is still struggling to claw its way back. Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana said the state had $3 billion in unmet recovery needs. In Lake Charles, which was ravaged by direct hits from both hurricanes followed by a deadly winter storm and flooding in May, local officials recently renewed a plea for federal aid as the city has failed to regain its footing; much of it has yet to recover and many residents, unable to find adequate or affordable housing, have fled.

    The looming impact of Ida underscores the persisting danger imperiling coastal communities as a changing climate stands to intensify the destructive force of the storms that have always been a seasonal part of life.

    President Biden cited the growing danger in May when he announced a significant increase in funding to build and bolster infrastructure in communities most likely to face the wrath of extreme weather.

    A fallen tree and electricity pole were cleared as Hurricane Nora approaches Manzanillo, Mexico, on Sunday.
    Credit…Reuters

    Hurricane Nora formed in the eastern Pacific on Saturday morning, threatening much of Mexico’s western coastline as the storm strengthens and barrels its way toward Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco and the tip of the Baja California Peninsula, forecasters said.

    As of 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nora was about 425 miles from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and had maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour as it moved north, according to the National Hurricane Center.

    A hurricane warning was in effect for parts of western Mexico.

    Forecasters said the storm was expected to cause flooding, mudslides and perilous surf along much of Mexico’s central and northern Pacific Coast.

    The remnants of the storm are expected to produce heavy rainfall in parts of the southwestern U.S. and central Rockies toward the middle of next week, forecasters said.

    A forecast track from the National Hurricane Center showed Nora skirting close to Mexico’s coastline by Sunday morning before moving toward the Gulf of California a day later.

    “Some additional strengthening is forecast through tonight if Nora’s center does not make landfall,” the National Hurricane Center said in an update. “Some gradual weakening is expected to begin by Sunday night or Monday, but Nora is forecast to remain as a hurricane through Tuesday.”

    Nora is expected to produce rainfall totals of up to 12 inches this weekend along Mexico’s western coast.

    It has been a dizzying few weeks for meteorologists who are monitoring Hurricane Ida this weekend after having monitored three named storms that formed in quick succession in the Atlantic, bringing stormy weather, flooding and damaging winds to different parts of the United States and the Caribbean.

    The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming more apparent. A warming planet can expect to see stronger hurricanes over time, and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms — though the overall number of storms could drop because factors like stronger wind shear could keep weaker storms from forming.

    Hurricanes are also becoming wetter because of more water vapor in the warmer atmosphere; scientists have suggested that storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced far more rain than they would have without the human effects on climate. Also, rising sea levels are contributing to higher storm surges — the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.

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    Covid Vaccines Produced in Africa Are Being Exported to Europe

    Johnson & Johnson’s Covid vaccine was supposed to be one of Africa’s most important weapons against the coronavirus.

    The New Jersey-based company agreed to sell enough of its inexpensive single-shot vaccine to eventually inoculate a third of the continent’s residents. And the vaccine would be produced in part by a South African manufacturer, raising hopes that those doses would quickly go to Africans.

    That has not happened.

    South Africa is still waiting to receive the overwhelming majority of the 31 million vaccine doses it ordered from Johnson & Johnson. It has administered only about two million Johnson & Johnson shots. That is a key reason that fewer than 7 percent of South Africans are fully vaccinated — and that the country was devastated by the Delta variant.

    At the same time, Johnson & Johnson has been exporting millions of doses that were bottled and packaged in South Africa for distribution in Europe, according to executives at Johnson & Johnson and the South African manufacturer, Aspen Pharmacare, as well as South African government export records reviewed by The New York Times.

    donated by the United States. But about four million of the country’s 60 million residents are fully vaccinated.

    That left the population vulnerable when a third wave of cases crested over the country. At times in recent months, scores of Covid-19 patients at Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg were waiting in the emergency department for a bed, and the hospital’s infrastructure struggled to sustain the huge volumes of oxygen being piped into patients’ lungs, said Dr. Jeremy Nel, an infectious-disease doctor there.

    “The third wave, in terms of the amount of death we saw, was the most heartbreaking, because it was the most avoidable,” Dr. Nel said. “You see people by the dozens dying, all of whom are eligible for a vaccine and would’ve been among the first to get it.”

    a United Nations-backed clearinghouse for vaccines that has fallen behind on deliveries. South Africa was slow to enter negotiations with manufacturers for its own doses. In January, a group of vaccine experts warned that the government’s “lack of foresight” could cause “the greatest man-made failure to protect the population since the AIDS pandemic.”

    announced in November. Aspen’s facility in Gqeberha, on South Africa’s southern coast, was the first site in Africa to produce Covid vaccines. (Other companies subsequently announced plans to produce vaccines on the continent.)

    South African officials hailed Aspen’s involvement as indispensable.

    Aspen “belongs to us as South Africans, and it is making lifesaving vaccines,” South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said during a visit to Aspen’s plant in March. He said he had pushed Johnson & Johnson to prioritize the doses made there for Africans.

    “I want them now,” Mr. Ramaphosa added. “I’ve come to fetch our vaccines.”

    results of a clinical trial suggested that the vaccine from AstraZeneca offered little protection from mild or moderate infections caused by the Beta variant that was circulating in South Africa.

    Weeks later, Johnson & Johnson and the government signed a contract for 11 million doses. South Africa ordered another 20 million doses in April. That would be enough to vaccinate about half the country.

    South Africa agreed to pay $10 per dose for the 11 million shots, according to the contract. That was the same price that the United Statespaid and slightly more than the $8.50 that the European Commission agreed to pay. The South African contract prohibited the government from banning exports of the vaccine, citing the need for doses to “move freely across national borders.”

    introduced export controls this year to conserve scarce supplies. India halted exports produced by the Serum Institute, which was supposed to be a major vaccine supplier to poor countries. In the United States, officials said they didn’t ban exports, but they didn’t need to. The combination of the extensive vaccine production on American soil and the high prices the U.S. government was willing to pay meant that companies made the delivery of shots for Americans a priority.

    Other benefits for Johnson & Johnson were embedded in the South African contract.

    While such contracts typically protect companies from lawsuits brought by individuals, this one shielded Johnson & Johnson from suits by a wider range of parties, including the government. It also imposed an unusually high burden on potential litigants to show that any injuries caused by the vaccine were the direct result of company representatives engaging in deliberate misconduct or failing to follow manufacturing best practices.

    “The upshot is that you have moved almost all of the risk of something being wrong with the vaccine to the government,” said Sam Halabi, a health law expert at Georgetown University who reviewed sections of the South African contract at the request of The Times.

    Mr. Halabi said the contract’s terms appeared more favorable to the pharmaceutical company than other Covid vaccine contracts he had seen. South African officials have said Pfizer, too, sought aggressive legal protections.

    The contract said Johnson & Johnson would aim to deliver 2.8 million doses to South Africa by the end of June, another 4.1 million doses by the end of September and another 4.1 million doses by the end of December. (The government expects the 20 million additional doses to be delivered by the end of this year, Mr. Maja said.)

    The company has so far fallen far short of those goals. As of the end of June, South Africa had received only about 1.5 million of the doses from its order. The small number of doses that have been delivered to the African Union were on schedule.

    The difficulties in procuring doses have revealed the limits of fill-and-finish sites, which leave countries dependent on vaccines from places like the European Union or the United States, said Dr. Salim Abdool Karim, who until March was co-chairman of South Africa’s ministerial advisory committee on Covid.

    “Ultimately,” he said, “the solution to our problem has to be in making our own vaccines.”

    Lynsey Chutel and Choe Sang-Hun contributed reporting.

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    Why Tunisia’s Promise of Democracy Struggles to Bear Fruit

    GAZIANTEP, Turkey — In the 10 years since its popular uprising set off the Arab Spring, Tunisia has often been praised as the one success story to emerge from that era of turbulence. It rejected extremism and open warfare, it averted a counterrevolution, and its civic leaders even won a Nobel Peace Prize for consensus building.

    Yet for all the praise, Tunisia, a small North African country of 11 million, never fixed the serious economic problems that led to the uprising in the first place.

    It also never received the full-throated support of Western backers, something that might have helped it make a real transition from the inequity of dictatorship to prosperous democracy, analysts and activists say. Instead, at critical points in Tunisia’s efforts to remake itself, many of its needs were overlooked by the West, for which the fight against Islamist terrorism overshadowed all other priorities.

    Now, as Tunisians grapple with their latest upheaval, which began when President Kais Saied dismissed the prime minister and suspended Parliament over the weekend, many seem divided on whether to condemn his actions — or embrace them.

    terrorism and the pandemic, Mr. Kaboub said.

    overthrew the country’s authoritarian president of 23 years, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

    But Western officials were obsessively focused on the Islamists — namely the Ennahda, or Renaissance, party that swept early elections — and where they were going and what they represented.

    “In conversations, those sorts of questions ate up almost all the oxygen in the room,” Ms. Marks said. “It was almost impossible to get anybody to ask another question.”

    awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015 — to the point that it became a “fetish,” she said.

    After the 2011 revolution, Al Qaeda and other extremists were quick to mobilize networks of recruits.

    Terrorism burst into the open in 2012 when the U.S. Embassy in Tunis came under attack from a mob. Over the years that followed, extremist cells carried out a string of political assassinations and suicide attacks that shattered Tunisians’ optimism and nearly derailed the democratic transition.

    training and assisting Tunisian security forces, and supplying them with military equipment, but so discreetly that the American forces themselves were virtually invisible.

    By 2019, some 150 Americans were training and advising their Tunisian counterparts in one of the largest missions of its kind on the African continent, according to American officials. The value of American military supplies delivered to the country increased to $119 million in 2017 from $12 million in 2012, government data show.

    The assistance helped Tunisia defeat the broader threat of terrorism, but government ministers noted that the cost of combating terrorism, while unavoidable, burned a larger hole in the national budget.

    But it is the structure of the economy that remains the root of the problem, Mr. Kaboub said. All of Tunisia’s political parties have identical economic plans, based on World Bank and International Monetary Fund guidelines. It was the same development platform used by the ousted president, Mr. Ben Ali, Mr. Kaboub said.

    “Right now,” he said, “everybody in Tunisia is begging for an I.M.F. loan, and it is going to be seen as the solution to the crisis. But it is really a trap. It’s a Band-Aid — the infection is still there.”

    Lilia Blaise contributed reporting from Tunis.

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    More Power Lines or Rooftop Solar Panels: The Fight Over Energy’s Future

    The nation is facing once in a generation choices about how energy ought to be delivered to homes, businesses and electric cars — decisions that could shape the course of climate change and determine how the United States copes with wildfires, heat waves and other extreme weather linked to global warming.

    On one side, large electric utilities and President Biden want to build thousands of miles of power lines to move electricity created by distant wind turbines and solar farms to cities and suburbs. On the other, some environmental organizations and community groups are pushing for greater investment in rooftop solar panels, batteries and local wind turbines.

    There is an intense policy struggle taking place in Washington and state capitals about the choices that lawmakers, energy businesses and individuals make in the next few years, which could lock in an energy system that lasts for decades. The divide between those who want more power lines and those calling for a more decentralized energy system has split the renewable energy industry and the environmental movement. And it has created partnerships of convenience between fossil fuel companies and local groups fighting power lines.

    At issue is how quickly the country can move to cleaner energy and how much electricity rates will increase.

    senators from both parties agreed to in June. That deal includes the creation of a Grid Development Authority to speed up approvals for transmission lines.

    Most energy experts agree that the United States must improve its aging electric grids, especially after millions of Texans spent days freezing this winter when the state’s electricity system faltered.

    “The choices we make today will set us on a path that, if history is a barometer, could last for 50 to 100 years,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, managing director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tufts University. “At stake is literally the health and economic well-being of every American.”

    The option supported by Mr. Biden and some large energy companies would replace coal and natural gas power plants with large wind and solar farms hundreds of miles from cities, requiring lots of new power lines. Such integration would strengthen the control that the utility industry and Wall Street have over the grid.

    batteries installed at homes, businesses and municipal buildings.

    Those batteries kicked in up to 6 percent of the state grid’s power supply during the crisis, helping to make up for idled natural gas and nuclear power plants. Rooftop solar panels generated an additional 4 percent of the state’s electricity.

    become more common in recent years.

    Some environmentalists argue that greater use of rooftop solar and batteries is becoming more essential because of climate change.

    After its gear ignited several large wildfires, Pacific Gas & Electric began shutting off power on hot and windy days to prevent fires. The company emerged from bankruptcy last year after amassing $30 billion in liabilities for wildfires caused by its equipment, including transmission lines.

    Elizabeth Ellenburg, an 87-year-old cancer survivor in Napa, Calif., bought solar panels and a battery from Sunrun in 2019 to keep her refrigerator, oxygen equipment and appliances running during PG&E’s power shut-offs, a plan that she said has worked well.

    “Usually, when PG&E goes out it’s not 24 hours — it’s days,” said Ms. Ellenburg, a retired nurse. “I need to have the ability to use medical equipment. To live in my own home, I needed power other than the power company.”

    working to improve its equipment. “Our focus is to make both our distribution and transmission system more resilient and fireproof,” said Sumeet Singh, PG&E’s chief risk officer.

    But spending on fire prevention by California utilities has raised electricity rates, and consumer groups say building more power lines will drive them even higher.

    Average residential electricity rates nationally have increased by about 14 percent over the last decade even though average household energy use rose just over 1 percent.

    2019 report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a research arm of the Energy Department, found that greater use of rooftop solar can reduce the need for new transmission lines, displace expensive power plants and save the energy that is lost when electricity is moved long distances. The study also found that rooftop systems can put pressure on utilities to improve or expand neighborhood wires and equipment.

    Texas was paralyzed for more than four days by a deep freeze that shut down power plants and disabled natural gas pipelines. People used cars and grills and even burned furniture to keep warm; at least 150 died.

    One reason for the failure was that the state has kept the grid managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas largely disconnected from the rest of the country to avoid federal oversight. That prevented the state from importing power and makes Texas a case for the interconnected power system that Mr. Biden wants.

    Consider Marfa, an artsy town in the Chihuahuan Desert. Residents struggled to stay warm as the ground was blanketed with snow and freezing rain. Yet 75 miles to the west, the lights were on in Van Horn, Texas. That town is served by El Paso Electric, a utility attached to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, a grid that ties together 14 states, two Canadian provinces and a Mexican state.

    $1.4 million, compared with about $1 million to Donald J. Trump, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    In Washington, developers of large solar and wind projects are pushing for a more connected grid while utilities want more federal funding for new transmission lines. Advocates for rooftop solar panels and batteries are lobbying Congress for more federal incentives.

    Separately, there are pitched battles going on in state capitals over how much utilities must pay homeowners for the electricity generated by rooftop solar panels. Utilities in California, Florida and elsewhere want lawmakers to reduce those rates. Homeowners with solar panels and renewable energy groups are fighting those efforts.

    Despite Mr. Biden’s support, the utility industry could struggle to add power lines.

    Many Americans resist transmission lines for aesthetic and environmental reasons. Powerful economic interests are also at play. In Maine, for instance, a campaign is underway to stop a 145-mile line that will bring hydroelectric power from Quebec to Massachusetts.

    New England has phased out coal but still uses natural gas. Lawmakers are hoping to change that with the help of the $1 billion line, called the New England Clean Energy Connect.

    This spring, workmen cleared trees and installed steel poles in the forests of western Maine. First proposed a decade ago, the project was supposed to cut through New Hampshire until the state rejected it. Federal and state regulators have signed off on the Maine route, which is sponsored by Central Maine Power and HydroQuebec.

    But the project is mired in lawsuits, and Maine residents could block it through a November ballot measure.

    set a record in May, and some scientists believe recent heat waves were made worse by climate change.

    “Transmission projects take upward of 10 years from conception to completion,” said Douglas D. Giuffre, a power expert at IHS Markit. “So if we’re looking at decarbonization of the power sector by 2035, then this all needs to happen very rapidly.”

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    Coronavirus Surges in Kisumu, Kenya

    KISUMU, Kenya — Before Kenya’s president and other leaders arrived in late May to mark a major public holiday, health officials in Kisumu on Lake Victoria saw disaster brewing. Coronavirus infections were spiking, hospital isolation units were filling up and the highly contagious Delta variant had been found in Kenya for the first time — in Kisumu County.

    Dr. Boaz Otieno Nyunya, the county executive for health and sanitation, said he and other health specialists argued and pleaded for the politicians to hold a virtual celebration and skip the mass, in-person events that can supercharge an outbreak. Just weeks earlier, huge political rallies had helped fuel the catastrophic Covid-19 wave in India, where the Delta variant first emerged and became dominant.

    Their objections were waved away, the health officials said. President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, the former prime minister Raila Odinga and others descended on Kisumu, drawing large and mostly unmasked crowds who thronged the streets to watch their slow-moving motorcades through the city and gathered to hear them at marketplaces and parking lots.

    turning away patients for lack of beds or oxygen, health officials say they fear a wave like the one that ripped through India in April and May could be looming over Kisumu.

    “The India example is not lost to us,” Dr. Nyunya said.

    Though data on infections and deaths is spotty, more than 23 percent of the people tested for the virus in Kisumu last week were positive — more than double the national rate. Kenya’s overall positivity rate is similar to that of the United States when the pandemic peaked there in January. But the Delta variant was still rare then, the American health system is far more robust than Kenya’s and the U.S. government was ramping up vaccination on a grand scale.

    All of Africa is vulnerable, as the latest wave of the pandemic sweeps the continent, driven in part by more transmissible variants. Fewer than 1 percent of Africa’s people have been even partially vaccinated, by far the lowest rate for any continent.

    “I think the greatest risk in Africa is to look at what happened in Italy earlier on and what happened in India and start thinking we are safe — to say it’s very far away from us and that we may not go the same way,” said Dr. Mark Nanyingi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Liverpool in Britain. He called the surge in western Kenya a “storm on the horizon.”

    said. But experts say the true scale of the pandemic far exceeds reported figures in Africa, where testing and tracing remain a challenge for many countries, and many nations do not collect mortality data.

    To forestall the ongoing crisis, Kenya’s Ministry of Health last week imposed a restriction on gatherings and extended a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Kisumu and more than a dozen surrounding counties. But the measures were too late for Dr. Nyunya, who said that thinking back on the deliberations — which involved the county governor Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, a former national health minister — over the celebrations last month, “It makes you feel impotent.”

    record cases and deaths, President Yoweri Museveni has imposed a strict 42-day lockdown. Just weeks ago, Rwanda hosted the Basketball Africa League and other big sporting events, raising the possibility for a full reopening. But after a spike in cases, the government introduced new lockdown measures on Monday.

    The Democratic Republic of Congo — where the virus has claimed the lives of more than 5 percent of lawmakers ­— is grappling with a third wave as it falters in rolling out vaccines. South Africa, the continent’s worst-hit nation, has reported new infections doubling in just two weeks’ time, with the sharpest increases in major urban centers. Tunisia, where hospitals are full and oxygen supplies are low, is enduring a fourth wave.

    “New, higher transmitting variants create a precarious situation in many countries that have weak health systems,” said Dr. Ngozi Erondu, a senior health scholar at the O’Neill Institute at Georgetown University.

    The W.H.O. attributes the surge in Africa to lack of vaccination, insufficient adherence to precautionary measures like mask wearing and social distancing and the Delta and other variants.

    lament a lack of protective gear and health insurance.

    “We are buying our own gloves and masks,” said Dr. Onyango Ndong’a, chairman of the local chapter of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union. “We are covering for government inadequacies. We are tired now. We are stretched.”

    For now, families who have lost loved ones are adjusting to a new reality.

    Edward Onditi, 33, lost both his brother and his mother to Covid-19 this month. He said he left Nairobi to come and assist his family after his brother, Herbert, whom he regarded as a best friend and mentor, fell ill.

    For weeks, the family transported Herbert, 43, between three hospitals in two counties — a distance of 70 miles in total — so that he could get high-flow oxygen. On the day before Herbert died, Edward had fish, his brother’s favorite meal, delivered to his isolation ward and promised to take him on a holiday once he was out.

    “I’m so touched,” his brother said in a text message sent on June 2.

    Barely 12 hours later, he was gone.

    A few days later, their mother, Naomi, who had been ailing, succumbed to complications from Covid-19, too.

    “It’s one of the toughest moments of my life,” Mr. Onditi said on a recent afternoon, his eyes welling with tears. “Things are just not working. They are not adding up.”

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    Soviets Once Denied a Deadly Anthrax Lab Leak. U.S. Scientists Backed the Story.

    YEKATERINBURG, Russia — Patients with unexplained pneumonias started showing up at hospitals; within days, dozens were dead. The secret police seized doctors’ records and ordered them to keep silent. American spies picked up clues about a lab leak, but the local authorities had a more mundane explanation: contaminated meat.

    It took more than a decade for the truth to come out.

    In April and May 1979, at least 66 people died after airborne anthrax bacteria emerged from a military lab in the Soviet Union. But leading American scientists voiced confidence in the Soviets’ claim that the pathogen had jumped from animals to humans. Only after a full-fledged investigation in the 1990s did one of those scientists confirm the earlier suspicions: The accident in what is now the Russian Urals city of Yekaterinburg was a lab leak, one of the deadliest ever documented.

    Nowadays, some of the victims’ graves appear abandoned, their names worn off their metal plates in the back of a cemetery on the outskirts of town, where they were buried in coffins with an agricultural disinfectant. But the story of the accident that took their lives, and the cover-up that hid it, has renewed relevance as scientists search for the origins of Covid-19.

    Joshua Lederberg, the Nobel-winning American biologist, wrote in a memo after a fact-finding trip to Moscow in 1986. “The current Soviet account is very likely to be true.”

    Many scientists believe that the virus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic evolved in animals and jumped at some point to humans. But scientists are also calling for deeper investigation of the possibility of an accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

    There is also widespread concern that the Chinese government — which, like the Soviet government decades before it, dismisses the possibility of a lab leak — is not providing international investigators with access and data that could shed light on the pandemic’s origins.

    “We all have a common interest in finding out if it was due to a laboratory accident,” Matthew Meselson, a Harvard biologist, said in an interview this month from Cambridge, Mass., referring to the coronavirus pandemic. “Maybe it was a kind of accident that our present guidelines don’t protect against adequately.”

    could have been linked to a military facility nearby. Six years later, he wrote that the Soviet explanation of the epidemic’s natural origins was “plausible.” The evidence the Soviets provided was consistent, he said, with the theory that people had been stricken by intestinal anthrax that originated in contaminated bone meal used as animal feed.

    Then, in 1992, after the Soviet Union collapsed, President Boris N. Yeltsin of Russia acknowledged “our military development was the cause” of the anthrax outbreak.

    Dr. Meselson and his wife, the medical anthropologist Jeanne Guillemin, came to Yekaterinburg with other American experts for a painstaking study. They documented how a northeasterly wind on April 2, 1979, must have scattered as little as a few milligrams of anthrax spores accidentally released from the factory across a narrow zone extending at least 30 miles downwind.

    “You can concoct a completely crazy story and make it plausible by the way you design it,” Dr. Meselson said, explaining why the Soviets had succeeded in dispelling suspicions about a lab leak.

    In Sverdlovsk, as Yekaterinburg was known in Soviet times, those suspicions appeared as soon as people started falling mysteriously ill, according to interviews this month with residents who remember those days.

    Raisa Smirnova, then a 32-year-old worker at a ceramics factory nearby, says she had friends at the mysterious compound who used their special privileges to help her procure otherwise hard-to-find oranges and canned meat. She also heard that there was some sort of secret work on germs being done there, and local rumors would attribute occasional disease outbreaks to the lab.

    symptoms of low blood oxygen levels.

    She was rushed to the hospital with a high fever and, she says, spent a week there unconscious. By May, some 18 of her co-workers had died. Before she was allowed to go home, K.G.B. agents took her a document to sign, prohibiting her from talking about the events for 25 years.

    At Sverdlovsk’s epidemiological service, the epidemiologist Viktor Romanenko was a foot soldier in the cover-up. He says he knew immediately that the disease outbreak striking the city could not be intestinal, food-borne anthrax as the senior health authorities claimed. The pattern and timing of the cases’ distribution showed that the source was airborne and a one-time event.

    “We all understood that this was utter nonsense,” said Dr. Romanenko, who went on to become a senior regional health official in post-Soviet times.

    But in a Communist state, he had no choice but to go along with the charade, and he and his colleagues spent months seizing and testing meat. K.G.B. agents descended on his office and took away medical records. The Soviet Union had signed a treaty banning biological weapons, and national interests were at stake.

    “There was an understanding that we had to get as far away as possible from the biological-weapons theory,” Dr. Romanenko recalled. “The task was to defend the honor of the country.”

    There were even jitters at the Evening Sverdlovsk, a local newspaper. A correspondent from The New York Times called the newsroom as the outbreak unfolded, recalls a journalist there at the time, Aleksandr Pashkov. The editor in chief told the staff to stop answering long-distance calls, lest anyone go off-message if the correspondent called again.

    “He who can keep a secret comes out on top,” Mr. Pashkov said.

    As the Soviet Union crumbled, so did its ability to keep secrets. For a 1992 documentary, Mr. Pashkov tracked down a retired counterintelligence officer in Ukraine — now a different country — who had worked in Sverdlovsk at the time. Telephone intercepts at the military lab, the officer said, revealed that a technician had forgotten to replace a safety filter.

    Soon, Mr. Yeltsin — who himself was part of the cover-up as the top Communist official in the region in 1979 — admitted that the military was to blame.

    “You need to understand one simple thing,” Mr. Pashkov said. “Why did all this become known? The collapse of the Union.”

    The husband-and-wife team of Dr. Meselson and Dr. Guillemin visited Yekaterinburg several times in the 1990s to document the leak. Interviewing survivors, they plotted the victims’ whereabouts and investigated weather records, finding that Dr. Meselson and others had been wrong to give credence to the Soviet narrative.

    Dr. Meselson said that when he contacted a Russian official in the early 1990s about reinvestigating the outbreak, the response was, “Why take skeletons out of the closet?”

    But he said that determining the origins of epidemics becomes more critical when geopolitics are involved. Had he and his colleagues not proved the cause of the outbreak back then, he said, the matter might still be an irritant in the relationship between Russia and the West.

    The same goes for the investigation into the source of Covid-19, Dr. Meselson said. As long as the pandemic’s source remains a matter of suspicion, he said, the question will continue to raise tensions with China, more so than if the truth were known.

    “There’s a huge difference between people who are still trying to prove a point against emotional opposition and people who can look back and say, ‘Yeah, yeah, I was right,’” Dr. Meselson said. “One of them fuels wars. The other is history. We need to get all these things solved. We need history, we don’t need all this emotion.”

    Unlike Covid-19, anthrax does not easily pass from human to human, which is why the Sverdlovsk lab leak did not cause a broader epidemic. Even the Sverdlovsk case, however, has not been fully solved. It remains unclear whether the secret activity at the factory was illegal biological weapons development — which the Soviet Union is known to have performed — or vaccine research.

    Under President Vladimir V. Putin, revealing Russian historical shortcomings has increasingly been deemed unpatriotic. With the government mum on what exactly happened, a different theory has gained currency: Perhaps it was Western agents who deliberately released anthrax spores to undermine the Communist regime.

    “The concept of truth, in fact, is very complicated,” said Lev Grinberg, a Yekaterinburg pathologist who secretly preserved evidence of the true nature of the outbreak in 1979. “Those who don’t want to accept the truth will always find ways not to accept it.”

    Oleg Matsnev contributed research.

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    Indian Police Visit Twitter Offices as Modi Goes on Pandemic Offense

    The officers from India’s elite antiterrorism police unit descended after dusk on the New Delhi offices of Twitter, with television news cameras in tow. Their mission: Start an argument over fake news.

    The offices sat empty, closed amid India’s devastating coronavirus outbreak. And the police acknowledged that they were there to deliver nothing more legally binding than a notice disputing a warning label that Twitter had assigned to some tweets.

    But symbolically, the visit by the police on Monday night sent a clear message that India’s powerful ruling party is becoming increasingly upset with Twitter because of the perception that the company has sided with critics of the government. As anger has risen across the country over India’s stumbling response to the pandemic, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party have struggled to control the narrative.

    As a result, top Indian political leaders have applied increasing pressure on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms that people are using to air their complaints. In doing so, they are following the path of some other countries trying to control how and where messages can spread on social media. In March, for example, the Russian government said it would slow access to Twitter, one of the few places where Russians openly criticize the government.

    forged.

    blocked the accounts of 500 people accused of making inflammatory remarks about Mr. Modi.

    India banned TikTok, WeChat and dozens of other Chinese apps, citing national security concerns.

    Though Mr. Modi’s government controls the Delhi police, it was not clear on Tuesday that the failed mission at the Twitter office had happened at its behest.

    A B.J.P. spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Twitter spokeswoman asked for questions in an email, which went unanswered.

    On May 18, a B.J.P. spokesman, Sambit Patra, tweeted the picture of a document he described as plans by the Indian National Congress, the main opposition party, for making the government look bad.

    Mr. Patra’s message was retweeted more than 5,000 times, including by ministers in Mr. Modi’s government and party leaders.

    Harsh Vardhan, India’s health minister, used the hashtag #CongressToolkitExposed to rip into the opposition party.

    “It’s deplorable on their part to attempt to spread misinformation during this global catastrophe just to swell their dwindling political fortunes at the expense of people’s suffering,” Dr. Vardhan tweeted.

    India’s decision to export vaccines abroad.

    The posters were made by the ruling party in Delhi, another party in opposition to the B.J.P., according to a party member, Durgesh Pathak.

    “In a democracy, to ask a question is not wrong,” Mr. Pathak said. “I am not abusing anybody. I am not instigating anybody for violence. I am not asking anybody to do any wrong thing. I am asking a question to the prime minister of my country.”

    Hari Kumar contributed reporting.

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    What It’s Like to Be in India’s Covid-19 Crisis

    Infections are soaring. So are deaths. Whole cities are under lockdown. And the government seems powerless to help.

    India is in the grip of a coronavirus crisis. Experts agree that the spread is probably even worse than the official statistics suggest. In many parts of the country, hospital beds, supplemental oxygen and other vital supplies are running short.

    As Western countries roll out mass vaccination campaigns, only about 3 percent of India’s population is fully inoculated. Though conditions are slowly improving in New Delhi and Mumbai, the virus appears to be spreading largely unchecked through the rest of the country.

    The New York Times asked readers in India to describe their lives in the midst of the pandemic with words and photos. They wrote about fear and loss, anxiety and boredom. Some wrote about their anger at the stumbling response by India’s government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But they also wrote about family and friends who have helped them cope, and efforts they have made to help neighbors and strangers alike.

    “A lot of people my age have been helping people find resources like hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, medication, etc., through social media by verifying whatever leads are floating around on the internet and sending them to whoever needs them. I’ve been working with one such group. I realize that it is a necessary job in these times, but it’s also incredibly draining. It is the sign of a completely broken system that teenagers have to band together and work themselves to exhaustion trying to answer all these desperate pleas all over Twitter. And it’s getting harder to do by the day as things worsen because resources get exhausted very quickly. Most of the time we just end up calling a lot of numbers and get no response, and when we do it’s usually people saying there’s nothing they can do for us. It’s heartbreaking when people around are just suffering and dying and there’s so little you can do to help. We’re all terrified and burnt out and this is a very unsustainable system of getting people access to health care. You can’t leave it to the citizens to bear the brunt of a health care system that’s crumbling.” — Arunima Tiwari, New Delhi

    “I miss spontaneity. I hate that I now have to plan everything out and even when I do, the plans feel like they can just disappear. I’m trying not to focus on what could have been. Instead, I’m determined to stay focused on what I can do. I have reactivated my long-dormant social media accounts to amplify what I can, and I now volunteer at a response center that offers assistance to Covid-positive patients. I don’t have a choice but to help because elected authorities have made it loud and clear that they aren’t going to.” — Anindita Nayak, Bangalore

    “Life in Delhi at the moment feels like you’re having an out-of-body experience. It’s hard to imagine this is actually real and happening. Every social media feed, every WhatsApp group is full of requests from people looking for oxygen, hospital beds, critical lifesaving medicines. The worst part: There’s almost nothing you can do to help anyone immediately. It takes hours of verifying, calling, begging for help to actually find some solutions, if that even happens. By that time, you feel almost too scared to call back and find out if help is still needed for fear of hearing the inevitable — that the person has died without getting adequate care. Indians are dying not because of Covid but because they’re not receiving treatment and care.” — Shweta Bahri, Delhi

    “Both my parents got Covid. I lost my mother yesterday. Father is on ventilator support. The reason I lost my mother is because she didn’t get treatment. I live in Bangalore, and there is no way you can get a bed in any hospital. The help line numbers never work. If they do, then they just take details or transfer your call with no help. Being completely helpless, I took my mother to a hospital that I’m not sure is even legitimate. They just wanted money from me. They did not have trained staff. Oxygen was always in short supply. I felt helpless that I could not take her anywhere. I knew that if I kept her there she would not survive. I had to bring my father there, and his condition deteriorated due to lack of oxygen. I managed to take him to a different hospital, but it was too late. Now he is on a ventilator.” — Paresh Patil, Bangalore

    Rahul Patil died on May 17, Paresh Patil said, after this submission was received.

    “It has been challenging, but I maintain a mood log throughout the day and encourage my family to do the same. I also post a mood meter on social media so people can reply with how they are feeling using an emoji and we can talk about it. I also help my parents with their medicines, food, oximeter and temperature readings. Since both have different sets of medications, it’s really important we keep a record of the medicines along with a chart of the vitals. My extended family has been very helpful during this time. They remain connected through calls and texts and remind us not to lose faith.” — Rachita Ramya, Delhi

    “Since I have been going to work every day, I have not really experienced the lockdown in terms of staying inside. But it has been a very stressful year when it comes to working. When the lockdown lifted last year, people immediately rushed into the bank where I work. It has been very difficult and almost impossible here, in a rural part of India, to make people understand the importance of masks and social distancing.”

    “The government has done little to make people aware of the situation. Also, the lockdowns initially were more of a television ratings stunt rather than a precautionary measure. A lot of workers in banks have died on duty, and some have been denied leave even when they were sick. The precautionary measures on paper are nowhere close to reality. In the past few months, we played dumb to something which we clearly saw coming.” — Shweta Beniwal, Kolar

    “As I type this out, four doors lay ajar or wide open in my home. Three of us have now developed Covid symptoms. My old dad has been taking care of cooking, cleaning, medicating and sanitizing all day. My dad sleeps in fits through the day and night, interrupted by calls for food, tea, hoarse coughing, and groans of pain and frustration. How do I cope? Each night, as a 21-year-old, lying wide-awake — the weather is unbearably hot, and my fever rarely subsides — I make up positive scenarios in my mind. Getting a job and earning enough to secure my family’s well-being in this cruel dog-eat-dog world. Being more bold, less hesitant, in fighting people who didn’t see the warning signs of a corrupt, inept distribution of resources. Slapping each of those complacent idiots who voted into power a ruthless demagogue who wins elections by stoking fear and resentment but is a dud when it comes to long-term policymaking, tough decision-making and leadership.” — Harmandeep Khera, Chandigarh

    Since sending his submission, Mr. Khera said, he and his family have recovered.

    “Many friends have been infected, and we call each other every day to share a joke and to stay positive and make plans to meet in the future. Still frightening, but we are coping. I also try to help people overcome disinformation and keep telling people that most of us who are infected will recover. I ask people to avoid panic buying and seeking unvalidated cures. Since last year I have exercised regularly and continue to do so even while infected and isolated. I am also a pistol shooter for my state of Maharashtra, so mental conditioning has been an important part of my training. I meditate for 10 minutes each day to stay positive.” — Raj Khalid, Mumbai

    “It is very frightening. Half of the people I know have been tested positive or have been previously infected. We haven’t stepped out of the house for the past two weeks, and it has taken a greater toll on our physical and mental health. The only rule is to avoid contact. If you want to keep your close ones safe, then you need to keep them away for a while. My mother is an essential worker, and I have seen her doing grocery shopping for many needy people who are quarantined. It’s something I’m proud of. In times like these, we need to hold on to humanity and have faith in whatever you believe in. Being an atheist, I have faith in science and myself.” — Akash Helia, Mumbai

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