Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today
The E.U. divide.,
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Covax, a program to distribute Covid vaccines, cut its 2021 forecast for available doses by roughly a quarter.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned of a possible October default of U.S. debt, swollen by the pandemic.
A surge in cases threatens South Korea’s reopening plans.
The widening E.U. divide
Several E.U. member nations — including Bulgaria, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden — have imposed new restrictions after the bloc removed the United States from a list of safe countries.
Italy now requires U.S. travelers to take a test before arrival. Sweden is barring all nonessential U.S. visitors, while the Netherlands says vaccinated travelers must quarantine and unvaccinated people should stay away. Most E.U. countries, including France, Spain and Germany, continue to welcome U.S. travelers without much hassle.
The patchwork restrictions reflect a reality that has only been aggravated by the pandemic. As much as the E.U. strives to present a unifying front on many issues, its 27 member countries have diverging interests, and each is facing a unique virus situation.
Case in point: While 70 percent of the E.U.’s adult population has been fully vaccinated (compared with 64 percent in the U.S.), that average masks a large variance.
Only 32 percent of adults in Romania have been fully vaccinated; in Bulgaria, it’s about 20 percent. It’s a similar story across Eastern and Central Europe, which, our colleagues Elian Peltier, Boryana Dzhambazova and Monika Pronczuk report, is exposing the entire bloc to new waves of infection.
In Romania, people in many small towns have refused doses, with some people wrongly believing that vaccines are more dangerous than the virus. The anti-vaccine sentiment in the region goes hand-in-hand with a deep mistrust of state institutions, which has made it more difficult to mandate vaccines than in some Western European countries.
The E.U. says it’s helping governments fight misinformation, but officials have limited leverage because — as with virus restrictions for travelers — member countries are in charge of their own vaccination campaigns.
“The European Commission has done all it could do,” said Vessela Tcherneva, the deputy director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “It can help countries buy vaccines, which it has done, it can make sure that all E.U. citizens have access to them, but it cannot enforce or push governments on how to administer them.”
Aid kept hunger at bay
Despite the sudden loss of 20 million jobs at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, food insecurity among Americans remained unchanged in 2020, the government reported Wednesday.
“There was no scenario in March of 2020 where I thought food insecurity would stay flat for the year,” said Elaine Waxman, who researches hunger at the Urban Institute in Washington. “The fact that it did is extraordinary.”
Bipartisan legislation signed by President Donald Trump offered billions in emergency aid during the pandemic. But the number of people dealing with food insecurity remains shockingly high.
Overall, the government found that 10.5 percent of American households experienced food insecurity last year, meaning they had difficulty providing enough food to all members of the home because of a lack of money.
And some groups struggled more than others, especially households with children, households in the South and Black Americans.
Black households, for example, suffered disproportionately from pandemic-era job loss and already had fewer assets with which to buffer a crisis. In 2020, 21.7 percent of Black households experienced food insecurity, compared with 7.1 percent of white households.
What else we’re following
Spain authorized an extra shot of a Covid-19 vaccine for people with weakened immune systems.
The Palestinian Authority banned weddings, mourning tents and other gatherings amid a growing outbreak.
Parents in Mexico are asking for court orders to have their young children vaccinated.
The pandemic has severely set back the fight against other global scourges like H.I.V., tuberculosis and malaria, according to a sobering new report.
Novax has begun an early-stage trial to test a vaccine that treats both flu and Covid-19, Reuters reports.
In a Times Opinion article, two doctors argue that Australia’s “Covid Zero” approach made the country “a sitting duck for Delta’s arrival.”
MIT is offering free access to its class on Covid and the pandemic, which features guest lecturers like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the C.D.C.
Dr. Fauci will join also Times reporters for a vital Q. and A. for parents, educators and students at 1 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow, Sept. 9. R.S.V.P. here if you’re a Times subscriber.
What you’re doing
I am a school nurse and I am struggling to do the job I love. My family is vaccinated but my students are not. Today was day one of what will be a very long year. How do you stay resilient, pliable, patient, kind and supportive when you are emptied of the contents of your spirit daily?
— Wendy, Ridgefield Park, N.J.
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