Shutdowns, warnings and scoldings follow gatherings on college campuses.
As tensions grew over the practicality of bringing students back to college campuses for the fall semester, officials at North Carolina State on Thursday announced that classes would be moved online after an increase in coronavirus cases and the number of students sent to quarantine or isolation.
On the same day, Syracuse University and Vanderbilt University warned newly arrived students who seemed intent on having an ordinary campus experience in a year that is anything but ordinary.
“The good news is that campus has been safe,” N.C. State’s chancellor, Randy Woodson, said at a news conference. “But we’ve seen behaviors off campus that, frankly, are inconsistent with our community standards and have had an impact on our ability to go forward.”
The caution at Syracuse came after a campus gathering alarmed officials.
“Last night,” one Syracuse official said in a letter, “a large group of first-year students selfishly jeopardized the very thing that so many of you claim to want from Syracuse University — that is, a chance at a residential college experience. I say this because the students who gathered on the Quad last night may have done damage enough to shut down campus, including residence halls and in-person learning, before the academic semester even begins.”
The university said that the students now face discipline.
Vanderbilt, trying to prevent a similar episode, sent out a series of tweets imploring everyone to behave on the Nashville campus and reminding students that disregard for safety rules “will not be tolerated.”
The shift at N.C. State and the warnings at Syracuse and Vanderbilt came just days after the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shut down its campus and moved to remote learning in response to an outbreak in the first week of its reopening. The university has said most students must leave their on-campus housing, a decision that N.C. State, for now, has not matched. N.C. State will begin its online-only learning on Monday.
The Vanderbilt messages, signed by the chancellor and the provost, who is also the vice chancellor for academic affairs, included a reminder that “we write this not to scare you but to be perfectly plain: The situation happening at other universities can be avoided at Vanderbilt, but only if you anchor down, step up and do your part.”
The Syracuse letter said that the students who gathered on the Quad had “knowingly ignored New York State public health law and the provisions of the university’s “Stay Safe Pledge” and called their actions selfish because they might “prevent our seniors from claiming their final year of college on our residential campus.”
Also on Thursday, Purdue University in Indiana suspended 36 students who attended a party the night before, the Lafayette Journal & Courier reported. Students will be able to appeal, the newspaper said. The university said the students had violated the Protect Purdue Pledge.
Also on Thursday, Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi banned all game day “social gatherings outside college and university stadiums,” including tailgates and picnics. Mr. Reeves said he would allow games to be held, but he barred “bowl seating” at stadiums from being more than 25 percent full.
The decision followed a series of rulings from schools across the South about how they would handle tailgating festivities, a rite of autumn Saturdays in the region’s college towns. The University of Alabama and Auburn University forbade tailgating on their campuses, but Florida State University said on Thursday that it would allow it, at least for now.
Mr. Biden said it was unacceptable that the U.S. caseload and death toll were the world’s highest, and that Black, Latino, Asian-American and Native American communities were “bearing the brunt” of the impacts.
“And after all this time the president still does not have a plan,” he added. “Well, I do.”
Speaking on the convention’s fourth night, Mr. Biden said that if he were elected, he would swiftly implement a national strategy for dealing with the virus that includes rapid testing with immediate results, more domestic manufacturing of medical supplies and a national mask mandate. He said the mandate would not be a “burden,” but rather a “patriotic duty to protect one another.”
Mr. Biden also pledged to provide enough resources to schools to make them “open, safe and effective,” and to “take the muzzle off” health experts to allow for “unvarnished truth” about the virus.
“In short, we’ll do what we should have done from the very beginning,” he continued. “Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to the nation. He’s failed to protect us. He’s failed to protect America. And my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable.”
More than 300 doctors in Nairobi went on strike on Friday over what they say are delayed salaries and substandard personal protective equipment, precipitating a health crisis in the Kenyan city that is hardest hit by the pandemic.
Besides persistent delays in the payment of salaries, doctors say they have been supplied with poor-quality protective gear that has led many of them to become infected in the course of caring for the sick. Many say they have gone weeks without medical insurance since a national fund stopped paying for the expense at the end of June, leaving doctors to foot the bill for their own care. Those who become infected are not given access to isolation facilities, they say.
The doctors, who work in Nairobi’s public health system, have now joined thousands of other medical workers nationwide who have gone on strike in recent weeks over what they say are dangerous and exhausting working conditions.
Across Kenya, more than 700 health workers have tested positive for the coronavirus and at least 10 have died, according to the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union.
New cases of the virus have surged in recent weeks as the country has lifted a ban on international flights and slowly reopened the economy. As of Friday morning, Kenya had recorded at least 31,000 cases and 516 deaths, according to a New York Times database, with the area around Nairobi counting for more than half of the cases.
The strike began on Friday after talks between the authorities in Nairobi and the doctors collapsed the day before.
“Doctors are not martyrs,” said Thuranira Kaugiria, the secretary general of the Nairobi branch of the doctor’s union. “Doctors are not children of a lesser God.”
Dr. Kaugiria said that he had been threatened for calling for the strike and had moved his children out of his home as a precaution.
“We deserve to be treated better, and we deserve to be given what is rightfully ours,” he said.
Postal cost-cutting has slowed the delivery of medicine, exacerbating pandemic limitations for the chronically ill.
Much of the criticism over the recent cost-cutting actions taken by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has focused on whether the measures could jeopardize mail-in voting for the upcoming election. But there is increasing recognition of the effect the cutbacks could have on consumers who receive their medicine via mail.
Doctors and pharmacists have also expressed apprehension about patients not getting their prescriptions in a timely manner, especially when many have been advised to stay at home during the pandemic.
“Any disruption in the U.S. mail is of concern,” said Dr. Jacqueline Fincher, the president of the American College of Physicians, which represents internists. “Patients are being put at risk for no good reason, it would seem,” she said.
Missed doses could cause adverse health issues.
“If they go without for several days, the concern is always ‘Are you going to have a bad outcome?’” said Dr. Fincher, who has warned that patients might need to go to the hospital if their conditions significantly worsened. “This is not the time you want to be in the hospital for one of your chronic conditions that is out of whack.”
Nearly one in five Americans said they received medications through the mail last week, according to an Axios-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those, a quarter said they experienced some delay or lack of delivery.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is scheduled to testify on Friday before the Senate Homeland Security Committee. He is expected to tell lawmakers that long-planned changes to make the agency more efficient are not meant to complicate mail-in voting in the 2020 election.
Papua New Guinea bars Chinese workers who received an unproven vaccine.
Four dozen Chinese workers who received an experimental vaccine last week were barred from flying to Papua New Guinea over concerns that they could pose a risk to residents of the remote Pacific island nation.
David Manning, who heads Papua New Guinea’s pandemic response, said that no human vaccine trials had been approved and that the planeload of workers headed for a Chinese-run mine, Ramu Nickel, would not be allowed into the country, the local news media reported.
China began giving the unproven vaccine to select groups of workers last month even though human trials have not been completed to determine whether it is safe or effective.
China notified Papua New Guinea this week that it was sending 48 workers who had been given the unproven vaccine on Aug. 10, and that they might test positive for the coronavirus on arrival even though they did not have Covid-19.
China has offered the experimental vaccine to workers traveling abroad, but the Papua New Guinea deployment appears to be the first time China has acknowledged sending workers abroad after they received it.
A nation of nine million people, Papua New Guinea has largely been untouched by the pandemic. As of Friday, it had reported 361 cases, including four deaths.
Mr. Manning, the pandemic response official, said in a statement on Friday that any vaccines imported into Papua New Guinea “must go through vigorous vaccine trials, protocols and procedures.”
In other developments around the world:
The Colombian government said that, beginning on Friday, the authorities in Venezuela would suspend re-entry for citizens attempting to return via the Simón Bolívar Bridge, a major crossing point along the two countries’ porous border. Venezuelans who have streamed home in recent months after losing jobs in Colombia and elsewhere have been held by their government in makeshift containment centers, as part of President Nicolás Maduro’s effort to deploy his repressive security apparatus against the virus.
Ireland’s agriculture minister, Dara Calleary, resigned on Friday after he broke public health guidelines by attending a gathering of more of 80 people earlier this week. Ireland has limited indoor gatherings to no more than 50 people since June, and the government on Tuesday announced even tighter restrictions on gatherings in response to new clusters of coronavirus cases and an increasing rate of infection.
Ukraine sees a large increase in cases tied to church services and weddings.
Ukraine, which had done a good job controlling the coronavirus compared with neighboring countries, reported a sharp rise in cases this week, attributed in part to church attendance and weddings.
On Thursday, the country reported its highest single-day case count, according to Maksym Stepanov, the minister of health. The ministry reported 2,134 cases in the past 24 hours, surpassing the record of 1,967 cases reported the day before.
“Almost every day we have a new anti-record,” he told journalists in an online briefing. He reiterated requirements for wearing masks in public spaces and social distancing. “We live in a new reality that requires sticking to the certain rules,” he said. As of Friday, Ukraine had reported at least 100,000 cases and 2,200 deaths.
Lax adherence to the rules, rather than premature lifting of restrictions, was mostly to blame, Ukrainian medical experts said. Weddings and religious ceremonies in the western part of the country were the main cause of the recent increase in cases, the prime minister, Denys Shmygal, said on Monday. In response, he said, the police are stepping up enforcement of quarantine measures.
Partly, the increase in reported cases followed an increase in testing, Svitlana Fedorova, the director of the Mykolaiv Center, a scientific body studying infectious diseases, said in a post on Facebook. About 20,000 people are now tested daily in Ukraine, authorities have said.
But the more rapid spread in Ukraine is not wholly the result of rising rates of testing, Kateryna Bulavinova, of the United Nations Children’s Fund in Ukraine, said in an interview. “People don’t stick to the safety measures, do not keep social distance,” she said. Hospitals have not separated coronavirus and non-coronavirus patients, she said, making the health care system itself a source of infection. Because of this, she said, “the risk of getting infected is obviously higher.”
Ukraine, however, still has far fewer cases per capita than neighboring Russia and Belarus. In Belarus, President Aleksandr Lukashenko for months denied the virus posed a threat and never fully locked down the country to slow its spread. Participants in antigovernment street protests in Belarus say the failed virus response is one reason for their disaffection.
Reporting was contributed by Reed Abelson, Alan Blinder, Alexander Burns, Abdi Latif Dahir, Katie Glueck, Mike Ives, Gwen Knapp, Richard C. Paddock, Anna Schaverien, Matt Stevens and Marina Varenikova.