Is the virus going to Disney World?
Despite Florida’s sharp rise in cases over the past month, Walt Disney World in Orlando is preparing to welcome guests starting this weekend.
Several Disney parks will reopen on Saturday for a limited number of visitors. The company has installed 4,000 hand-sanitizing stations and announced a strict set of rules: Masks are required for all employees and visitors; parades, fireworks and indoor shows have been suspended; and hugging the costumed Mickey Mouse is no longer allowed.
But some Disney World employees still don’t feel safe going back to work. About 750 performers have refused to return, in part because the company will not pay to test its workers. And an online petition by employees, which asks the company to keep its parks closed until infections subside, has gathered more than 19,000 signatures.
Life in the bubble. One notable group has already begun to arrive in Orlando: N.B.A. players. The Times’s Marc Stein looked at how the league is trying to keep the virus out as it prepares to finish its season isolated inside the resort.
What it’s like to fly these days
Some airlines, notably Delta and Southwest, are intentionally keeping their planes partly empty. Others, like United and American, have returned to filling every seat they can. On one recent American flight, passengers were even prohibited from moving into empty exit rows because they had not paid extra for them.
It’s safe to say that flying on a U.S. airline these days is just as fraught and confusing as every other activity that was commonplace before the coronavirus pandemic.
“Airlines are between a rock and a hard place,” said Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation expert and professor at DePaul University in Chicago. “They can’t cover their costs unless their planes are at least three-quarters full, but for many passengers, the prospect of flying elbow-to-elbow with strangers is a forbidding prospect. There is no obvious way to reconcile this contradiction.”
The photographer Moris Moreno documented one recent cross-country flight — from an airport full of social-distancing floor decals but short on open shops and restaurants, to a plane carrying masked, anxious passengers. But depending on the airline and route you fly, and the luck of the draw, your mileage may vary.
The danger in churches
Throughout the pandemic, one of the most politically charged issues has been the status of religious institutions. Some conservative leaders pushed back at stay-at-home restrictions, and President Trump threatened to overrule states that refused to open churches in May, declaring them “essential.”
But now that many houses of worship have resumed in-person services, some have emerged as hot spots. Churches may be particularly vulnerable to the virus, with many people in an enclosed space, talking and singing for an extended period. “It’s an ideal setting for transmission,” one infectious disease expert said.
Across the U.S., more than 650 cases have been linked to nearly 40 churches, religious events and Christian youth camps — many from the last month. With infection rates soaring in the South and West, some churches that fought to reopen in those regions are being forced to close again.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan signed an order requiring residents to wear masks in indoor public spaces and in crowded outdoor areas. Violators may be punished by a $500 fine.
In a rollback of reopening plans, Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada said that beginning this weekend, the state will close bars in some counties and limit indoor and outdoor dining to parties of up to six people.
In South Carolina, selling alcoholic drinks in restaurants and bars will be banned beginning Saturday night over concerns about the virus’s spread among young people.
Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky announced that masks will be mandatory in many public settings starting today.
Hong Kong, facing a third wave of the virus driven by locally transmitted infections, shut down its school system today.
What else we’re following
The German company BioNTech said it was confident it would be ready to seek approval for a vaccine developed with Pfizer by December, and could make several hundred million doses before then, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Facing pressure from the Trump administration, ICE detained and deported people who were sick, helping the virus spread in the U.S. and abroad, an investigation by The New York Times and The Marshall Project found.
In Cape Town, travel restrictions have upended a deeply important burial ritual for many Black residents.
Gilead, the maker of remdesivir, said trial data indicated that the antiviral lowered the risk of death in severely ill Covid-19 patients, Bloomberg reports.
The Trump administration is pressing the Food and Drug Administration to reverse course and grant a second emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine, saying a controversial new study shows its effectiveness, The Washington Post reports.
The measured response to the virus in Scotland, led by Nicola Sturgeon, stands in stark contrast to the English approach under Prime Minister Boris Johnson — and it appears to be working.
The Los Angeles teachers union called on the Los Angeles Unified School District today to keep campuses closed when school resumes in August.
What you’re doing
My friends and I have stayed connected by forming a “Covid Horror Squad.” A few times a week we virtually watch a horror movie together and joke throughout using video chat. This has been a great form of escapism from some of the real-life horror happening during this pandemic.
— Juliann Schroeder, Oakland, Calif.
Let us know how you’re dealing with the outbreak. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.
Adam Pasick and Tom Wright-Piersanti contributed to today’s newsletter.