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Covid-19 Live Updates: U.S. Defense Department Sends Medics to Hard-Hit El Paso


Credit…Christopher Lee for The New York Times

With a surge of coronavirus patients straining hospitals in El Paso, the Department of Defense on Friday sent three military medical teams to the Texas border city to assist with the care of patients.

Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement that he welcomed the deployment of the teams — each made up of approximately 20 Air Force personnel — and said they would be “crucial to our efforts in reducing Covid-19 hospitalizations in El Paso.”

While most other areas of Texas have seen a slower rise in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, El Paso has been experiencing a rapid spread of the virus unlike anything seen there since the start of the pandemic, reporting an average of more than 1,900 new cases a day, according to a Times database. As of Friday, more than 1,000 people were hospitalized in the city and surrounding county of 700,000, and 18 new deaths were reported. More than 650 people have died since the start of the pandemic.

The number of hospitalizations has been sharply increasing since early October, as it has throughout the hard-hit areas of the U.S. interior. The surge had already prompted the Texas Division of Emergency Management to create temporary medical facilities, including one at the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts center.

Federal military medical teams, which include doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists, have been deployed around the country to address urgent needs for medical staffing during the pandemic. Such teams were sent to cities in Texas in July, when Houston and Dallas saw huge surges in cases.

The teams were set to deploy to El Paso on Friday, a spokesman for the state emergency management division said, and would begin assisting doctors and nurses at three hospitals in the city over the weekend: the University Medical Center of El Paso, the Hospitals of Providence Transmountain Campus and the Las Palmas Del Sol Medical Center.

Also Friday, a state court in El Paso denied an effort by the Texas attorney general and local restaurateurs to undo a lockdown imposed by El Paso County officials last week.

Lawyers for the attorney general, Ken Paxton, and the restaurant owners argued that the lockdown by the top executive in El Paso County, Ricardo A. Samaniego, violated an earlier statewide executive order by Gov. Greg Abbott, which prevented local governments from pursuing pandemic restrictions that were more stringent than those set by the state.

Mr. Samaniego’s order includes a 10 p.m. curfew as well as prohibitions on indoor-dining, all but essential travel and gatherings of any size outside of a household.

Restaurant owners have been particularly hurt in the pandemic, and a small group brought the initial case seeking an injunction. But the legal wrangling quickly grew into a clash between the county and the state when Mr. Paxton intervened. “El Paso County Judge Samaniego has no authority to shut down businesses in El Paso County,” Mr. Paxton said in a statement last week.

Such a legal conflict between state and county officials over emergency powers had not been adjudicated before, said the judge in the case, William E. Moody. But while there was no legal precedent, the judge said on Friday, there was historical precedent.

Credit…Taylor Glascock for The New York Times

What does it look like when a country sets a record for coronavirus cases — and then breaks it again the next day?

The United States recorded at least 121,000 new infections on Thursday, a day after hitting 100,000 for the first time since the pandemic began, and for many Americans, fatalism was the order of the day.

“We knew it was just a matter of time,” said Matt Christensen.

Mr. Christensen was sitting in a minivan in Racine, Wis., his wife next to him and their three children in the back seat, waiting to be tested for the virus. Nearby, feverish and desperate, other people confined to their cars also waited.

On Thursday, as they waited, the coronavirus was spreading relentlessly across America, and America was speeding toward yet another record.

In a single day across America, from dawn to nightfall, it churned through homes, workplaces, hospitals, schools and laboratories.

In Cleveland, lab workers began another grinding day of processing coronavirus tests. In Minot, N.D., a hospital scrambled to find space for the crush of patients who came through the doors. And in Unionville, Conn., grieving relatives planned the funeral of a family’s 98-year-old matriarch, who died from the virus.

In the morning, governors began what is now a familiar routine: pleading in front of news cameras for Americans to do their part to stop the spread of the virus.

“This virus doesn’t care if we voted for Donald Trump, doesn’t care if we voted for Joe Biden,” Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio said two days after Americans went to the polls. “It’s coming after all of us.”

In Ohio, which set its own record Thursday, a giant fridge at the Cleveland Clinic glowed with rows and rows of coronavirus samples. Technicians shook test tubes and squinted at graphs on computer screens, trying to determine whether yet another patient had tested positive. “I work, I go home, I come back,” one lab supervisor said.

In Virginia, students in the Henry County Public Schools district were at work in their classes. But 22 staff members and students had tested positive, and hundreds more had been quarantined. So the superintendent went before the school board to recommend that the district revert to virtual learning until January. The vote was unanimous, and come Monday, the district’s schools will close.

In Minot, N.D., patients crammed an emergency room at Trinity Health, waiting to be admitted. The entire floor dedicated to coronavirus patients had no more available beds. Dr. Jeffrey Sather, the chief of staff, called other large hospitals around the state to see if he could send some patients there. But every hospital was also full.

Many on his staff were working overtime, and Dr. Sather said he was worried about all they were seeing every day. “They are witnessing people suffocate to death on a regular basis,” he said.

In Connecticut, Amanda Harper had always imagined her grandmother’s funeral as a full celebration of a life. The service for Juliette Marie Foley, 98, would have been at a church, followed by family time where loved ones would have pored over old photos and swapped stories.

But that was before the pandemic.

In October, Ms. Foley contracted the coronavirus. An avid baker and seamstress, she died on the last day of the month.

On Thursday afternoon, there were still details for the family to consider. Would the Zoom link to the funeral work? Could they keep those few attending in person safe?

“This pandemic has robbed us of the way we say goodbye,” said Ms. Harper.

By nightfall, the nation hurtled past the 100,000-case mark once again. Sixteen states set daily case records on Thursday, and three had death records. In 28 states, there have been more cases announced in the past week than in any other seven-day stretch.

More Europeans are seriously ill with the coronavirus than ever before, new hospital data for 21 countries shows, surpassing the worst days in the spring and threatening to overwhelm stretched hospitals and exhausted medical workers.

In the Czech Republic, the worst-hit nation in recent weeks, one in 1,300 people is currently hospitalized with Covid-19. And in Belgium, France, Italy and other countries in Western Europe, a new swell of patients has packed hospitals to levels last seen in March and April.

“Doctors and nurses could be forced to choose which patients to treat, who would live and who would die,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons on Monday. “I am afraid the virus is doubling faster than we could ever conceivably add capacity.”

Many politicians, including Mr. Johnson, waited to impose full lockdowns, and those delays may now be proving costly.

Countries across Europe are scrambling to find solutions. Swiss authorities approved deploying up to 2,500 military personnel to help hospitals handle rising infections in the country. In Belgium, staff shortages have led some hospitals to ask doctors and nurses who have tested positive for the virus but who don’t have symptoms to keep working.

Even if new control measures are effective in tamping down the spread of the virus, it may take weeks before they ease the burden on hospitals.

There is hope that no place will experience the level of death that New York City, Madrid and Bergamo, Italy, suffered this spring. How the virus spreads is better understood now, and treatments have improved. Testing has expanded across Europe, allowing countries to identify outbreaks earlier, when they are easier to contain.

But experts say increased Covid-19 patients mean increases in deaths, which have already started to pick up in many countries, are inevitable.

Credit…Heather Ainsworth for The New York Times

A quarter of a million coronavirus infections have been reported at colleges and universities across the United States, according to a New York Times survey, as schools across the nation struggle to keep outbreaks in check.

The bulk of the cases have occurred since students returned for the fall semester, with more than 38,000 new cases reported in the past two weeks alone.

And the numbers are almost certainly an undercount.

The Times’s survey — which includes more than 1,700 American colleges and universities, including every four-year public institution and every private college that competes in N.C.A.A. sports — is believed to be the most comprehensive tally available. But the lack of a centralized national tracking system or consistent statewide data means the full toll is hard to capture.

When The Times last tallied campus cases on Oct. 22, the figure was 214,000. Now it is more than 252,000.

More than a third of U.S. universities welcomed students back in some capacity this fall.

Some of them have appeared to keep the virus in check, primarily through extensive testing programs, even as they try to provide some semblance of a normal college experience for their students.

But others have done less well, failing to enforce social distancing and other preventive measures in an environment that normally revolves around communal living, group activities, large social gatherings and in-person learning.

Many school officials blame students when there are spikes in cases, chastising them for failing to abide by the new rules that have transformed campus life in 2020.

At Syracuse University, school had barely opened when officials issued an open letter castigating a group of students who had thrown a large party and “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.”

Syracuse has reported 257 coronavirus cases since March.

Some students say administrators should have seen it coming when they chose to reopen in person.

“It’s very difficult to say whether, you know, it’s really on students for throwing these honestly reckless parties, or whether they’re just simply acting how college students are going to act in these kind of situations,” Dylan Brooks, a senior at Arizona State University told his school newspaper. “Of course, if you’re bringing A.S.U. college students back to A.S.U., this is how they’re going to act.”

The school, which has 44,000 students, has reported 2,518 cases.

The coronavirus has been responsible for at least 80 deaths on college campuses this year. While most of those deaths were reported in the spring and involved school employees, several students have died in recent weeks as a result of the virus.

As case numbers skyrocket across the nation, that number is expected to rise.

Credit…Stephanie Keith for The New York Times

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York announced on Friday that lockdowns in some areas of New York City would be eased — and that students at State University of New York colleges and universities would not be able to return to campus after Thanksgiving break.

Mr. Cuomo said his approach to fighting the virus — a welter of sometimes confusing benchmarks and tiers — was “working and working well” and that a microcluster in Far Rockaway, Queens, had been extinguished. Areas designated for lockdown in Brooklyn would be shrunk by half, the governor said.

“Downstate is now doing better than upstate New York,” Mr. Cuomo said, “which is a total reversal from the first phase of Covid.”

In contrast, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned of the threat of a second wave for the city, pointing to a rise in the city’s seven-day average rate of positive virus test results in a call with WNYC. The rate is now 1.96, which is far below the 5 percent health authorities see as problematic, but the upward trend was “a problem,” Mr. de Blasio warned.

In announcing his decision on SUNY campuses, Governor Cuomo argued that bringing students at the 64 colleges and universities back after Thanksgiving would needlessly increase the health risks.

“To send children home for Thanksgiving to then bring them back basically for a couple of weeks from across the country and then end the semester — literally two, three weeks later — doesn’t make a lot of sense,” the governor said. “The SUNY policy does make sense. I’d like to hear what the private colleges are thinking.”

Most SUNY institutions had already planned to shift to online classes after Thanksgiving anyway, a spokeswoman said on Friday. Mr. Cuomo urged private colleges to consider similar moves.

Statewide and across the country, many private universities, including Cornell, Ithaca College and Syracuse University, have already planned transitions to online learning post-Thanksgiving. Others, such as New York University, have notified students who are planning to travel to hot spot areas of the need to quarantine upon return to campus.

At SUNY schools, most students will be required to test negative for the virus before leaving campus for Thanksgiving. Those who do not abide by state public health rules or SUNY policies may face suspension, Ms. Liapis said.

Statewide and across the country, many private universities, including Cornell, Ithaca College and Syracuse University, have already planned transitions to online learning post-Thanksgiving. Others, such as New York University, have notified students who are planning to travel to hot spot areas of the need to quarantine upon return to campus.

Credit…Ritzau Scanpix Denmark, via Reuters

Officials in Denmark defended their decision to slaughter millions of farmed mink on Friday, stressing that they were acting cautiously out of concern that a mutation in the virus that had infected the animals could compromise the effectiveness of a vaccine for humans.

“We would rather go a step too far than take a step too little to combat Covid-19,” said Jeppe Kofod, the minister for foreign affairs.

Denmark is one of the world’s major exporters of mink pelts, with more than 15 million mink on more than 1,000 farms. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Wednesday that the armed forces would be involved in the culling of mink.

The country has also effectively locked down the northern part of the country, where the infections have spread from mink, with restrictions on movement, transportation closings, shutting down bars and restaurants and other rules. Britain has also instituted new restrictions requiring people coming from Denmark to quarantine for 14 days.

The coronavirus spreads easily in mink farms, and the virus is mutating in mink, which is to be expected. What concerns authorities is that five mutated versions of the virus that were found in infected mink have spread to a total of 214 people in the northern part of the country — and one of the variants might pose a problem for human vaccine effectiveness.

The World Health Organization said on Friday that it was taking a wait and see approach on the mutations in mink, because the evidence so far did not show the mutations would affect vaccine effectiveness.

There are many variants of the coronavirus worldwide, and there is no evidence yet that the variant would interfere with vaccines, but it shows several mutations on a part of the virus, the spike protein, that many vaccines target and that has been found in humans.

Dr. Tyra Grove Krause, head of the Danish Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, said that in laboratory tests, this variant of the virus was less strongly affected by antibodies, which might or might not mean that vaccines would be less effective against it. She noted that there was no evidence to suggest that the virus with the mutations was more harmful or more transmissible than any other.

Dr. Krause said that more studies were needed to see if the concern was warranted, and that they were being conducted by Danish scientists, but that such studies could take a long time. She emphasized that it was important to act now on the mink populations, “even though we don’t have complete evidence at this time.” The genetic sequences of the mutations in the coronavirus have been uploaded to scientific databases for other scientists to review.

Transmission of the virus from animals to people has only been documented with mink, apart from the initial spillover event from some unknown species. Humans seem to pass the virus fairly easily to household pets like cats and dogs, but the pets show little negative effects. So far there are no known cases of pets passing the virus back to humans.

Credit…Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Scientists in Britain have started a clinical trial of a cheap, commonly used drug — aspirin — to see whether the anti-inflammatory agent can improve the care of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 by reducing the formation of life-threatening blood clots.

The study of aspirin is part of the same large trial that in June discovered the life-saving benefits of the steroid dexamethasone, another inexpensive and widely available drug that was found to significantly reduce deaths in severely ill Covid patients who were on ventilators or supplemental oxygen.

Patients with Covid are at risk of developing blood clots that can block blood flow to organs and cause heart attacks, strokes and other complications. Over the course of the pandemic, doctors have learned to closely monitor hospitalized patients for signs of the clots, often putting them on blood thinners early on to reduce the risks.

The new study in Britain is part of the Randomized Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy or Recovery trial, the world’s largest clinical trial of treatments for hospitalized Covid patients.

Researchers will randomly assign some 2,000 patients or more in 176 hospital sites to receive 150 milligrams of aspirin a day along with standard treatment, comparing them with a similar number of patients who receive standard care treatment and no aspirin. The study will look at length of hospital stay, the need for mechanical ventilation and deaths after 28 days.

A recent University of Maryland study of hospitalized Covid patients found that those who were given aspirin had a significantly lower risk of developing Covid complications than those who were not on aspirin. The observational study, published in the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia, looked at the outcomes of 412 patients from four hospitals and found they were less likely to need intensive care or mechanical ventilation, and were more likely to survive.

Dr. Martin Landray, who is a co-leader of the Recovery trial, said such studies must be tested in a randomized clinical trial. Preliminary results might be available as soon as January.

“We are not telling people to try it at home,” Dr. Landray said, noting that taking aspirin can cause excessive bleeding. “We’re saying there’s good science to believe clots are a problem in Covid, and there’s good science to believe that aspirin’s effect on platelets — the sticky bits of blood — can improve that.”

Credit…Carlo Allegri/Reuters

A study of grocery store employees in Boston found an alarmingly high rate of asymptomatic infection among workers, suggesting that grocery workers should be regularly tested and scrutinized more closely for the public health implications of their role.

In a study of 104 workers from one unnamed store, all of whom were required to be tested after one co-worker was infected, 20 percent of the staff tested positive. Of those, three-quarters had no symptoms, according to the study, which was published last week in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

The study was conducted in May, at a time when around 1 percent of the surrounding community was infected. Massachusetts did not have a mask mandate at the time.

The earliest wave of studies of essential workers focused heavily on health care workers, in part because medical centers regularly test for employee health and provide the information to researchers. The authors of the new study say their work makes it clear that other essential workers should also be a focus.

The large number of workers who were infected but asymptomatic was troubling, said one of the report’s co-authors, Justin Yang, an assistant professor at the Boston University School of Medicine and a researcher at Harvard’s T.C. Chan School of Public Health.

“That shows us that when someone is positive in that kind of environment, it spreads like wildfire,” Dr. Yang said. “If we had not tested them, they would have spread it to all the other employees and customers.”

The virus also appeared to spread far more widely among employees who had regular contact with customers. Customer-facing employees were five times more likely to be infected than colleagues who did not interact with customers.

Since the study’s publication last week, the authors have received appreciative emails from grocery store workers, “who thanked us because they have felt their voice was not being heard by the corporates through this pandemic,” Dr. Yang said.

The large corporations that own grocery chains would “not want this kind of data to be released,” he said.

Credit…Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune, via Associated Press

The University of Notre Dame’s faculty on Thursday rejected a proposed vote of no confidence in its president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, voting instead to “express its disappointment” with him for appearing at a White House reception in the midst of a pandemic without a face mask.

The lesser sanction, passed in a three-hour meeting, marked a quiet coda to the outrage that swept the campus last month after photos circulated of a maskless Father Jenkins at the Sept. 26 Supreme Court nomination ceremony for Justice Amy Coney Barrett. The justice is a former member of the Notre Dame faculty, and Father Jenkins had traveled to Washington with other Notre Dame faculty to celebrate her nomination.

School pride swiftly curdled into anger after reports that numerous attendees at the largely mask-free event later tested positive for the coronavirus, including Father Jenkins. A spokesman for Notre Dame said Father Jenkins believes he was infected by a Notre Dame colleague who was not at the White House. Other Notre Dame faculty who attended the event said no one else in their group tested positive for the virus.

At that time, students petitioned for his resignation, reported him to a coronavirus hotline for violating his own mask mandate, and called the affair “embarrassing” in the campus newspaper. The faculty senate stopped one vote short of considering a vote of no confidence in his leadership, deciding instead to postpone the decision.

Father Jenkins issued a statement of apology, went into isolation until he had cleared the infection and then apologized again on Oct. 15, telling students and faculty in a video that he had “failed to lead by example, at a time when I’ve asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so.”

After an automobile accident claimed the lives of two first-year students late last month, the faculty senate postponed a second vote on potential sanctions until Thursday, when they voted 29-13 to issue the expression of disappointment and accept the president’s apology.

Following this week’s faculty vote, the university board of trustees issued a statement affirming “unwavering confidence in Fr. John Jenkins’ presidency” and “gratitude to him for his strong and courageous leadership throughout the last 15 years, and in particular, during these unprecedented times in our country, our world, and at Notre Dame.”

Global Roundup

Credit…Greg Baker/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

China’s foreign ministry issued a strong warning on Friday about the danger of imported coronavirus cases, while imposing further stringent limits on almost any arrivals of international travelers.

Wang Wenbin, the foreign ministry spokesman, said that despite a requirement of a negative nucleic acid test for coronavirus infections before travelers can board a flight to China, more and more people have been showing up with the virus. The number of imported cases grew 45 percent in October to 515 cases, compared with September, he said.

“The epidemic situation abroad has deteriorated lately, and the risk of imported epidemics facing China continues to increase,” Mr. Wang said at his daily news briefing.

On Friday, Chinese embassies in countries including Ethiopia, France, Italy and Russia prohibited almost all travel to China, except for Chinese nationals. That followed similar prohibitions imposed on Thursday on travel from Bangladesh, Belgium, Britain, India and the Philippines.

Since late spring, China has barred foreign tourists and business travelers, and has said that foreign residents of China could only return with special permission from a Chinese consulate or embassy. The rules this week have been aimed at blocking the return of foreign residents who have recently obtained the necessary special permission but have not yet arrived in the country.

China has also introduced a rule this week that Chinese nationals and any foreign residents still eligible to return to the country must take two tests in the 48 hours before flying and obtain approval of the results from a Chinese Embassy or consulate. These travelers must have negative results not only on a nucleic acid virus test, but also a blood test for antibodies, which measures whether someone has previously been infected or seriously exposed to the virus.

Responding to international criticism that requiring an antibody test is excessive, Mr. Wang said that nucleic acid testing by itself was not accurate enough.

He also defended another new rule this week, that the nucleic acid and antibody tests must be passed at each transit stop on a passenger’s trip to China. Mr. Wang said that nearly half of the imported cases in China involved people who got sick after passing a nucleic acid test shortly before traveling. Introducing another round of testing could catch some of these travelers before they reach China.

In other developments around the world:

  • Italy is locking down six regions in the country’s deeply infected north and highly vulnerable, and poorer, south. The measures, which start Friday, are the most drastic since a nationwide lockdown in March.

  • The Australian state of Victoria on Friday reported its seventh consecutive day of no locally transmitted virus cases, suggesting a three-month lockdown in the state’s capital of Melbourne had successfully contained a second wave outbreak. Victoria’s premier, Daniel Andrews, said the state remained on track to ease travel restrictions between Melbourne and other parts of the state on Sunday, but he urged people to remain vigilant.

Credit…Taylor Glascock for The New York Times

The top health official in Wisconsin is stepping down from her position, the latest in a long line of state health officials who have resigned during the coronavirus pandemic.

Stephanie Smiley, the interim administrator of the Division of Public Health in the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said she had decided to leave to focus on her own health and her family. Coronavirus has spread uncontrollably through Wisconsin in recent weeks, and on Thursday, the state reported more than 6,275 new daily infections.

In a letter to local health departments, Ms. Smiley noted that the enormous pressure on those working in public health. “You have repeatedly needed to deliver bad news that has sparked fear, frustration, anxiety and criticism,” she wrote, applauding their “courage and character.”

State and local health officials have been barraged by death threats and harassment by right-wing groups who object to restrictions on businesses and mask mandates.

Credit…Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The N.F.L. has fined the Las Vegas Raiders $500,000 and their head coach, Jon Gruden, an additional $150,000 and has taken away a late-round draft pick next year because of repeated violations of the league’s coronavirus protocols, according to a league employee who was not authorized to discuss the penalties publicly.

The team, which had already been fined for violations earlier in the season, is likely to appeal the latest penalties, the employee said.

Thursday’s fines and the loss of a draft pick were by far the strongest punishment yet against an N.F.L. team, as the league has tried to push through a season while the coronavirus continues to rage in many areas of the United States.

The N.F.L. has increased the restrictions on where and how players, coaches and staff members can move around in and outside team facilities, and it warned teams last month that violations would result in increasingly stiffer penalties, including the loss of draft picks and potentially the forfeiting of games.

The Tennessee Titans have had the worst outbreak in the league, with at least two dozen players, coaches and staff members testing positive in a period that forced the postponement of two games and required a half-dozen other teams to juggle their schedules. The league fined the Titans $350,000 for their handling of the outbreak. But it did not take away any draft picks.

Last month, Gruden was fined $100,000 and the team was fined $250,000 because the coach had not worn his face covering properly on the sideline during a game. The team was also fined $50,000 for allowing an unauthorized visitor in the locker room.

Credit…Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press

The coronavirus continued its deadly march in Eastern Europe on Friday.

Poland, where the daily average of new cases is above 21,000, saw its highest daily death count of the pandemic — 445 — and admitted the first patient to its new field hospital at a stadium in Warsaw.

Romania, which passed 10,000 daily cases for the first time, announced that it would close schools and implement an overnight curfew.

Hungary declared a “state of danger” this week, giving its prime minister the power to rule by decree to combat the virus, though restaurants and stores are still open.

Ukraine, one of Europe’s poorest countries, has also seen cases soar, and announced a national mask mandate in public buildings and on public transportation on Friday. The Parliament voted to impose fines of up to 255 hryvnia, or $9, for failing to wear a mask.

In Romania, new measures are set to go into effect Monday, including closing shops with the exception of pharmacies by 9 p.m. and requiring masks in all public spaces. Fairs and indoor markets will be closed until early December, and employees are being encouraged to work from home. Schools will move entirely online and Romanians will be required to fill out forms if they leave their homes after the nighttime curfew comes into effect.

“The measures that have been taken so far are no longer enough,” President Klaus Iohannis said on Thursday in announcing the new restrictions.

Romania, which has recorded at least 287,000 cases of the virus and 7,663 related deaths, has one of the least developed health care systems in the European Union, and there are concerns over whether the country can handle the rising caseload.

In Poland, where demonstrators have been protesting a newly passed near-total ban on abortion, the prime minister blamed protesters for the coronavirus situation. The country announced new regulations this week. Starting Saturday, all cultural institutions, such as museums, theaters and cinemas, as well as nonessential shops in commercial centers will be closed. There will be limits on the numbers of customers in other shops, and hotels will be allowed to accept only customers traveling on business. All schooling will be online.

The country has a seven-day average above 21,000 cases, and the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has said a new national quarantine is possible.

In Hungary, an official with the Hungarian Chamber of Doctors warned that without stricter measures to limit the virus, the situation in the country may in weeks resemble that of Italy earlier this year, according to an interview published Friday. Hungary’s daily death toll is averaging more than 70, but topped 100 on Friday.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday that the government expected to need some 2,240 intensive care beds by Nov. 21 and 4,480 by Dec. 10, adding that this number represents the maximum capacity of the health care system. On Thursday, Hungary’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto, who recently tested positive for the virus, announced that the country would start importing a coronavirus vaccine from Russia for final testing and licensing in December.

Claire Fu contributed research.

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