Categories
Business

Cities Where Cases Have Doubled in the Last Month

About a month ago, on June 1, new daily COVID-19 infections were at their lowest level in over two months. And as state and local governments began easing restrictions, many had reason to believe the worst was over. That optimism was short-lived however, as in much of the country, June proved to be the worst month for the spread of COVID-19 so far. 

During the last week of June, the U.S. set a daily record for new cases of the novel coronavirus four times. As of July 1, newly diagnosed cases of the virus hit yet another all-time high of over 52,600. According to testimony from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, new cases could reach as high as 100,000 per day — a stark reminder that in many states, the projected peak date for the outbreak lies months in the future. Here is a look at the COVID-19 peak date in every state

In many of America’s largest cities, the surge in cases over the course of June has either matched or outweighed the total number of cases reported throughout March, April, and May combined. 

Using data compiled from state and local health departments, 24/7 Wall St. identified large cities where cumulative cases of the virus have doubled from June 1 to June 29. We only considered metro areas with populations of at least 500,000 people in our analysis. Population estimates are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey. 

The surges in infections among the metro areas on this list are driving up overall infection rates in their states. Nearly half of the 41 cities on this list are located in either Arizona, Florida, South Carolina, or Texas. It is no coincidence that each of these states also ranks among the top five states where the virus is currently surging. Here is a complete list of the states where the virus is growing the fastest right now.

Click here to see the cities where cases have doubled in the last month

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Business

A Lazy Escape to Portugal Is What We All Could Use Right Now

At the moment, many of our plans are still on hold. But that doesn’t mean we here at Bloomberg Pursuits aren’t planning the experiences we’ll rush out to enjoy when it’s safe to do so. We’re sharing our ideas with you in the hopes that they will help inspire you—and we’d love to hear what you are daydreaming about, too. Send us your ideas at [email protected], and we’ll flesh some of them out for this column.

In today’s dispatch, travel writer Chadner Navarro dreams about the perfect itinerary for continuing his long-running European love affair. 

Portugal is my second home. I’ve visited more than 20 times over the past dozen years. As the single destination that helped me realize my career in travel journalism, the country has become synonymous with my own personal and professional identity. If I’m not planning a trip for myself, I’m planning for my friends. Portugal is always on my mind.

As a local resident once told me, the country is full of amazing things: historic sights, fantastic wines, great landscapes, killer shopping. One thing it lacks, she said—a decade ago—is good marketing. That was then. Even as the country has evolved into a bona fide tourism hotspot, its residents remain humble salespeople. Their style of hospitality is warm and modest, tied more to an eagerness to share their traditions than to any capitalist desire.

In Portugal, shopkeepers and chefs rarely sing the praises of their products until you do; this might be why I can comfortably say that I don’t really care for port or pastel de nata, two of Portugal’s most famous treats. “Está bem,” they would say, handing me more arroz de tomate and red wine.

Since returning from my last trip to Lisbon on March 12, just before lockdown hit, I haven’t left the one mile-radius surrounding my home in Jersey City, N.J. My favorite place has reopened its borders—flights from Newark resumed on June 4—and Portugal has curbed the spread of Covid-19 better than many of its western European neighbors, with about 43,000 confirmed cases and 1,600 fatalities. But non-essential American travelers are still not allowed into the EU, leaving me waiting, seemingly indefinitely, for that next trip.

But I’m still daydreaming. Not just about the freedom of travel, but of Portugal’s countless iterations of rice dishes, walls covered in hand-painted ceramic tiles, and the melancholic melodies of fado. On my 22nd visit there, I’ll visit the following places that merit exploration, even by first-timers.

 

Living Like a Lisboeta

The easiest way to get into or out of Portugal is via Lisbon, a city worth revisiting frequently, given how quickly it’s been growing. There’s always something new to see or taste, but the next time I’m in town, I want to reacquaint with some recent favorites that have been stuck in my mind.

First up, a sunny lunch at BAHR, the fine-dining rooftop restaurant at the sophisticated Bairro Alto Hotel. Its chef, Nuno Mendes, is the most recent in a spate of talented Portuguese cooks making exciting homecomings after years of working in top international kitchens. (Mendes helmed London’s glossy Chiltern Firehouse.) At BAHR, he focuses on local ingredients he probably missed while abroad, such as saltwater-boiled goose barnacles—a local delicacy—that he smokes on a yakitori grill and piles onto sourdough for a twist on the traditional dish called percebes toast. Topped with a squirt of lemon and served alongside a glass of Malvarinto, a blend of native malvasia and arinto grapes made by BAHR’s sommelier, it’s a Portuguese seaside fantasy brought to life.

The best days in Lisbon can be spent aimlessly walking up and down its steep hills—ideally, in sturdy boots that help navigate the city’s slippery cobblestones. It’s a great workout. I’d explore the western side of the city center, where trendy neighborhoods São Bento and Principe Real are both walkable, with plenty of new shops to see. On my list: the minimalist cafe Hello, Kristof for espresso and indie magazines; Nannarella, for gelato laced with such local ingredients as Algarve salt or tart ginja liquer; and Embaixada, a neo-Moorish building transformed into a constantly evolving shopping emporium.

By early evening, I’ll join the crowd of locals and foreigners that buzz around MAAT, a multidisciplinary riverside museum that opened in 2016. Its outdoor spaces are a people-watching haven, filled with done-for-the-day cyclists or friends clinking beers. For dinner, it’s O Frade in Belem, a modest, counter-seating-only eatery that’s possibly my favorite restaurant in town. I keep returning for its addictive, razor-thin, lemon zest-topped slices of pork lard and the bowls of chickpeas tossed with chopped squid, garlicky broth, and tons of cilantro.

 

Slowing down in Alentejo

“Everything and everyone moves slowly in the Alentejo,” my friend Diana told me the first time I went there. Portugal’s largest region—12,182 square miles of land bounded by Lisbon and the Algarve—has since become my favorite, probably thanks to those languid vibes. Tall buildings seem to have been outlawed here. Meandering roads are endlessly lined with half-naked cork oaks, ancient olive trees, and rolling vineyards of green and gold. Along coastal routes, the Atlantic Ocean pounds away at the cliff sides. Sure, the Alentejo lifestyle might allow you to catch your breath, but the landscapes will take it away.

So will the hotels, which are among the best in the country. Though it’s barely two-years-old, the standard-setter may be Da Licença, formerly a hilltop farm in a forgotten corner of Estremoz, a historic city known for its marble. Now a quiet, eight-room refuge, Da Licença is filled with arts and crafts furniture and decor amassed by owners Vitor Borges and Franck Laigneau. 

Closer to the coast, there’s Craveiral, a collection of cozy farmstead casas outfitted with blonde wood furniture, cork headboards, and macrame wall accents. As the country was beginning to peek out of its lockdown, the hotel announced a culinary partnership with Alexandre Silva, one of Lisbon’s best chefs. His new restaurant there puts the spotlight on ingredients grown onsite, many of them grilled or cooked in a wood-fire oven. 

From either spot, it’s easy to rent a car and drive among the Alentejo’s quaint villages. The medieval hilltop hamlet of Monsaraz, nestled up against the Spanish border, tops my list for the still-active bullring adjacent to its stone-walled castle. I would also stop into Mizette, a shop owned by a textile artist who produces colorful blankets and rugs on a traditional loom—one of few remaining in Europe. I might snap up a fringed scarf; Alentejano evenings can get quite chilly.

Then, it’s dinner at Mercearia Gadanha, which first opened in Estremoz as a gourmet grocery shop in 2009 before chef Michele Marques added a dining room in 2013. It’s a quirky space with mismatched chairs and exposed wood beams, serving whimsical platings of rustic dishes such as pig trotter terrine. 

The Alentejo’s roads are well-maintained and mostly bare, making it easy to get around. But if wineries are your priority—there are so many worth visiting—Uncovr plans excellent weeklong explorations of the area, complete with a driver. Its group trips include such lazy, yet jaw-dropping experiences as hot-air balloon rides, stargazing in a dark sky reserve, and horseback riding, from $5,050 per person.

Uncovr’s founder Jason Wertz was the person who introduced me to a character I need to meet again on my next trip: Jorge Rodrigues, the artisan winemaker behind Herdade Outeiros Altos, an incredibly hard-to-find winery just outside Estremoz. His secret is to use massive clay vessels (called talha) to make vinhos, honoring a local winemaking tradition that started 2,000 years ago.

When I visited last year, Rodrigues and his wife greeted me with a beautiful outdoor lunch of hearty salads and slices of chouriço paired with their wines. It’s as emblematic an experience as I can conjure of Alentejo, where time seems to slow down in the presence of great company, great food, and great wine.

Until trips are possible, consider a donation to two organizations keeping hospitality alive: ROAR (Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants) provides New York’s service workers with monetary grants, and Porter & Sail sells discounted hotel credits for future vacations. The credits are valid for up to two years and help keep travel businesses afloat; each purchase also supports Saira Hospitality, a nonprofit that helps locals in burgeoning tourism destinations jump-start careers in hospitality.

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World News

U.S. Cities Tighten Rules; Cases in Americas Jump: Virus Update

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The spread of the virus accelerated in the Americas with U.S. cases jumping the most in almost eight weeks, Brazil reporting its second-highest daily number and Mexico logging a record rise in new infections.

Texas ordered residents to wear masks, reversing course as it reported its second-most daily infections, while Florida’s largest county, Miami-Dade, imposed an overnight curfew. The Centers for Disease Control said fatalities in the U.S. could reach 160,000 by late July. Peru became the 10th nation to report 10,000 deaths.

North Korea, which has never reported any cases, said it has halted the spread of the virus.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases near 11 million; Deaths top 519,500
  • Life, liberty and face masks: a virus preys on America
  • Rights of American workers could change after virus
  • An unfestive July 4th as states call off the celebrations
  • Dining out means plexiglass, planters, hand-washing stations
  • Understanding the virus and its unanswered questions
  • Covid-19 isn’t killing cash. People are hoarding more of it
  • The post-pandemic hotel looks a lot like a cruise ship

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus.

Mexico Cases Rise by Record (8:10 a.m. HK)

Mexico reported a record daily rise of 6,741 confirmed cases, bringing the total to 238,511, according to the Health Ministry. Deaths rose 679 to 29,189. The increase in cases comes a day after Mexico overtook Spain to become the country with the world’s sixth-deadliest virus outbreak.

Earlier, deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez Gatell told The Washington Post that Mexico’s capital registered about three times as many deaths as it normally does from March through May, bolstering concerns that the nation’s official statistics on the virus don’t accurately reflect the full scale of the health crisis.

The city registered an average of 18,533 deaths from March to May in the 2016 to 2018 period, according to researchers at Nexos magazine.

Miami-Dade Orders Overnight Curfew (7:05 a.m. HK)

Miami-Dade, Florida’s largest county, is implementing a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and rolling back the reopening of movie theaters, arcades, casinos and bowling alleys, among other places of entertainment, Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in a statement.

The curfew order exempts essential workers including first responders and hospital workers.

Gimenez said hospitals are observing an “uptick in patients, and our medical professionals are seeing a rise in 18-to 34-year-olds who are getting extremely sick,” according to the statement.

Chicago Targets 15 States for Quarantine (6:30 a.m. HK)

Chicago ordered travelers entering or returning to the city from states with surging cases to quarantine for 14 days, starting July 6, Allison Arwady, public health commissioner, said in a statement Thursday. The order applies to states with a rate greater than 15 cases per 100,000 residents per day, over a 7-day average.

The states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. New cases and death rates in Chicago and Illinois dropped from their peaks and both entered Phase 4 of the state’s five-part reopening plan on June 26.

Twitter Joins Mask Debate With Edit-Button Tease (6:17 a.m. HK)

Twitter waded into the mask debate with a post that promised users a button that would allow users to edit tweets after publication – a feature the company has said it would probably never introduce — but only if “everyone wears a mask” to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

CDC: U.S. Deaths at 140,000-160,000 by July 25 (6:05 a.m. HK)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecast as many as 160,000 deaths by July 25, with 11 states expected to register more deaths in the next four weeks than the previous four.

New deaths in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wyoming will likely exceed the number of the past month, according to state-level ensemble forecasts. For other states, new death total are expected to be similar to the previous four weeks or to decrease slightly.

Kim Says North Korea Halted Virus (6 a.m. HK)

North Korea “thoroughly prevented” the spread of a disease that caused “the worldwide health crisis” but must guard against complacency, the state news agency KCNA reported, citing leader Kim Jong Un at a party meeting. The report doesn’t specifically mention Covid-19 but refers to “the malignant contagious disease.”

Kim offered “sharp criticism” of inattention by officials in the “protracted” fight against the disease, according to the report. “He repeatedly warned that hasty relief of anti-epidemic measures will result in unimaginable and irretrievable crisis,” KCNA reported.

While North Korea hasn’t confirmed any cases of the disease, the announcement from Kim and a plea during the meeting to speed up construction of a hospital in the capital are the latest indications that the country has not avoided contamination.

Brazil Cases Rise 3.3% (5:50 p.m. NY)

Brazil registered 48,105 new cases, the second-most for a single day and a 3.3% rise from a day earlier, pushing the national total to 1,496,858, according to Health Ministry data. Deaths increased by 1,252 for a toll of 61,884.

The country’s biggest jump in cases was 54,771 on June 19.

U.S. Businesses Push for Mask Requirements (5:30 p.m. NY)

Top U.S. trade groups urged President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and governors to issue guidelines on wearing masks, citing the economic risk from Covid-19’s accelerating spread.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation, the Business Roundtable and others sent a letter Thursday, a day after Trump offered limited praise for masks but suggested they needn’t be required. The president has put little emphasis on masks despite evidence they help combat the spread.

“Absent stronger measures to prevent transmission, communities across America risk another round of shutdowns, broad restrictions on non-essential activities, and irreparable economic harm,” said the organizations, which generally view federal regulation skeptically.

Peru Tops 10,000 Deaths (5:25 p.m. NY)

Peru’s death toll exceeded 10,000 on Thursday — the 10th nation to reach the milestone — as the government pressed ahead with a plan to reopen the economy. The country reported 185 fatalities in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 10,045, less than 16 weeks after reporting its first virus death. In all, 292,002 have been infected in the nation of 32 million, according to the Health Ministry.

In Latin America, the current epicenter of the pandemic, only Brazil and Mexico have reported more deaths.

Texas Cases Rise Tops 7-Day Average (5 p.m. NY)

Texas recorded its second-worst day of the pandemic with 7,915 new cases, according to state health department data on Thursday. The 4.7% growth rate surpassed the seven-day average of 4.2%. That followed Wednesday’s record tally of 8,076 new diagnoses.

Virus-related hospitalizations expanded by 6.9% to 7,382, the data showed, as medical facilities in Houston and elsewhere showing increasing signs of strain. Fatalities rose by 1.8% to 2,525.

Texas Issues Mask Order (4:30 p.m. NY)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered residents to wear face coverings amid a spike in cases in the second-most populous U.S. state.

In a reversal of his months-long opposition to such a mandate, Abbott, an ally of President Donald Trump, on Thursday said the order applies to all counties with 20 or more virus cases. He also barred people from gathering in groups larger than 10.

The Republican governor has been under growing pressure from Democratic mayors and county leaders to crack down or at least grant them authority to mandate masks and other restrictions.

U.S. Cases Rise the Most Since May 9 (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose by 56,800 from a day earlier to 2.72 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The 2.1% increase was higher than the average daily increase of 1.7% over the past week and the biggest jump since May 9. Deaths rose 0.6% to 128,439.

  • Florida reported 169,106 cases, up 6.4% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 5.6% in the previous seven days.
  • Arizona reported 3,333 new cases, an increase of 4% to 87,425. Deaths increased by 37, to a total of 1,757.
  • California cases rose 1.7% to 240,195 while deaths rose 1.2% to 6,163, according to the state’s website.

N.J. Doubles Outdoor Gathering Limit (4 p.m. NY)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy doubled the state’s outdoor gathering limit, to 500, starting Friday morning. Outdoor religious services and political activities, such as demonstrations, have no cap. Indoors, the crowd maximum remains 25% of a space’s capacity, with 100 people at most.

Murphy this week indefinitely delayed lifting a ban on indoor dining, which was to restart on Thursday, citing “knucklehead” non-distancing behavior at New Jersey outdoor establishments and spiking cases nationally. New Jersey reported 13,251 dead who tested positive for the novel coronavirus and another 1,854 fatalities with a probable but untested link.

Djokovic, Wife Test Negative (3:15 p.m. NY)

Novak Djokovic and his wife tested negative for the coronavirus, his media team said Thursday, 10 days after announcing they had contracted the disease, the Associated Press said.

The top-ranked player tested positive after playing in an exhibition series he organized in Serbia and Croatia. No social distancing was observed at the matches in Belgrade and Zadar, Croatia. Both were in self-isolation in the Serbian capital since testing positive, the statement said.

Other players to come down with the virus after participating in the matches in Belgrade and Zadar were Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki.

Covid-19 Mutation May Enable Spread (2:10 p.nm. NY)

The novel coronavirus is showing some signs of mutating in a way that may make it easier to spread, according to Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Research currently underway suggests a single mutation is emerging that lets the virus replicate better and create a higher viral load, measures that could make it easier to transmit, Fauci said at an online event Thursday hosted by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

There is some dispute about the findings and it’s not clear whether people who become infected with a newer variation of the pathogen fare worse than those with the original strain, he said. “It just seems that the virus replicates better and may be more transmissible,” he said. “This is still at the stage of trying to confirm that.”

Moderna Sets Human Trial for Vaccine (1:40 p.m. NY)

Drug-maker Moderna Inc. said a 30,000-patient trial of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate will start late this month, although a Stats News article earlier Thursday said the work had been expected to begin next week. Shares fell as much as 9.4% after the report. Company spokesman Ray Jordan confirmed to Bloomberg the trial should start in or by late July, which he said is consistent with the window previously communicated. The company is “working through finalizing of sites,” he said.

Stats earlier said Moderna is making changes to the trial, which delayed the start date, and investigators told the news site that changes are common.

Houston May Tap Surge ICU Beds (12:40 p.m. NY)

Houston posted a 4.3% increase in Covid-19 patients in intensive care, and at the current rate of expansion the city’s hospitals will have to tap a second tranche of so-called surge beds on July 14, according to the Texas Medical Center.

In the first phase of surge capacity, 5.4% of the 373 beds already are occupied after the normal ICU space was overwhelmed earlier this week, the medical center said on its website on Thursday. The second phase has 504 beds available. To be sure, 62% of the city’s ICU capacity is occupied by non-virus patients.

Trump: Three Vaccine Candidates ‘Really Good’ (12:10 p.m. NY)

Three vaccine candidates are “looking really, really good” in trials, President Donald Trump said Thursday at a White House event showcasing small businesses. Trump said three more vaccines will begin trials “shortly,” without elaborating.

The military is standing by, ready to distribute the vaccines, Trump said. A vaccine will be out “soon,” the president said.

GOP Lawmaker Urges End of Task Force (12:35 p.m. NY)

An influential U.S. House Republican from Arizona, which is enduring one of the worst Covid-19 spikes, urged President Donald Trump to disband the White House coronavirus task force because he said it’s hindering the economic recovery.

Scientists are causing an unnecessary “panic,” Representative Andy Biggs, who represents the suburbs east of Phoenix, said in a statement. “Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx continue to contradict many of President Trump’s stated goals and actions for returning to normalcy as we know more about the Covid-19 outbreak,” said Biggs, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservatives whom Trump often consults.

Arizona Cases Climb 4% (11:50 a.m. NY)

Arizona reported 3,333 new cases Thursday, an increase of 4% to 87,425. The number of deaths increased by 37, to a total of 1,757, the Department of Health Services said.

The state registered a record-high 4,878 daily infections and 88 new deaths Wednesday. Vice President Mike Pence visited Arizona the same day but didn’t mention the record figures. He said he was optimistic as the number of “fatalities are declining across the country.”

Nashville Reverses on Reopening (10:45 a.m. NY)

Tennessee’s Davidson County, which includes Nashville, reversed course after reporting a one-day record for new cases and will close socially driven businesses such as event and entertainment venues, Mayor John Cooper said in a statement.

Restaurants can remain open but must cut capacity to 50% from 75%, he said, noting the rate of new cases fell while bars and eating places were at half capacity. The city — a popular U.S. tourist attraction — will operate under the rules for several weeks, he said.

— With assistance by Steve Geimann, Joe Carroll, Jordan Fabian, Elise Young, and Shruti Singh

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Business

Vegas Is Big Jobs Loser, RV Hub Holds On in New Tourism Economy

The American cities most dependent on tourism are suffering some of the worst labor markets in the coronavirus recession, with almost one-third of workers unemployed in vacation destinations from Hawaii to the east coast.

The jobless rate in Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina in Hawaii and Atlantic City-Hammonton in New Jersey surpassed 30% in May, the highest in any U.S. metropolitan areas, according to data released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise in Nevada was close behind.

Meanwhile, Elkhart, Indiana — known as the recreational vehicle capital of the world — saw one of the biggest labor-market recoveries in May, as its jobless rate fell back to 11.9% from almost 30%. RV plants have reopened to cater for surging demand, as vacation-seeking Americans shun crowded planes and hotels in favor of a more socially distanced kind of tourism.

“We have seen an incredible rebound and retail demand and dealer demand,” said Michael J. Happe, chief executive of RV-maker Winnebago, in an earnings call last week. Thor Industries, an Elkhart-based RV builder, has seen its stock surge more than 200% from March lows.

44,766 in U.S.Most new cases today

-8% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​058 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-2.​3% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), May


In general, tourist economies that rely on visitors flying in have been hit harder than those where more people come by car, said Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wells Fargo & Co. While there are signs of revival in some beach resorts and areas near national parks, “the recent surge in infections may put this rebound at risk,” he said.

Nationwide, unemployment eased to 13.3% in May and is forecast to extend the drop to 12.5% in the June jobs report, due out on Thursday. The BLS said the actual rate was somewhat higher after adjustment for data-collection discrepancies.

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Business

Want to See London the Socially Distant Way? Try Kayaking the Canals

It was around week five of lockdown, and I was perched on our London apartment’s canal-side balcony as a youngish couple, sun-kissed and laughing, floated past in what looked like an inflatable dinghy.

I pleaded with my wife.

All right, she said.

A few weeks and some $140 later, we were off in our very own two-person inflatable kayak, heading south on the River Lea toward the Thames. We had beer, crackers, and no real experience of paddling.

Our plan was to follow the river south from our neighborhood, Tottenham Hale (two stops from the northern end of the Victoria underground line) down to Hackney Wick, aka the heart of East London cool, a distance of some four miles. It was a warm, cloudy morning; after a momentary spell of clashing oars—and subsequently clashing opinions—we settled into the equivalent of a leisurely stroll.

The kayak itself was an Intex Challenger K2, chosen for its glowing reviews on Amazon, at which we obtained it with two clicks. Using any type of boat—even an inflatable kayak—on U.K. waterways requires a license, which we bought online through British Canoeing for about $55. (Lesson to the wise: Check your local policies before heading on the water, especially if a Covid-19 lockdown is in place.)

Kayaking on a little-known urban river isn’t what you might expect. First, there are the birds, including, in rough, ascending order of size: swifts, moorhens, coots, pigeons, mallards, seagulls, cormorants, Canada and Egyptian geese, swans (and their signets), and even herons.

Second, amid the city sprawl, there’s still a lot of green. The riverbank is lined with the likes of weeping willows and silver birches, and there are parks and marshlands in the distance.

We quickly leave Tottenham Hale’s boxy council flats behind and enter what feels like a much older section of the river; large stone slabs have appeared under the towpath and form part of a bridge, and there’s an 18th century waterworks on our left. Trees loom on either side, and the river’s surface is strewn with white blossoms.While it’s nowhere we haven’t been before, our new waterborne perspective somehow makes it seem a different place.

The Floating World

If trying to ogle apartments from sidewalks is a common pastime of city living, ogling other boats from our kayak quickly became our floating equivalent. The variety of vessels moored on the banks was like shoe section at Harrods, ranging widely in colors and styles and eccentricity.

One particularly striking specimen is decorated with luminous tires, psychedelic artwork, mannequins, and a Hellraiser-style mask on the back. Another’s roof features a jumbled row of plants, an upside-down wheelbarrow with a bright yellow wheel, and a little Buddha statue, complete with a beanie.

Others sport various chairs, dining tables, bikes, mini-gardens, solar panels, chopped wood, a clotheshorse—all the day-to-day of people’s private lives put out for the world to see. Painted on their sides are names that range from the cinematic Die Hard to the literary Dorian Gray  to the eerie Isn’t This Pleasant to the jarringly normal James. An entire world easily glossed over from any other vantage, whether towpath or balcony.

And that’s just the narrow boats. There are also motorboats and a mini-ship with sails and a wheel for steering that look like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean. Every now and again, we encounter windowless, orange blob-like things that look as if the Martians have just landed and taken up residence. (It turns out these are old lifeboats from oil rigs).

London is certainly not the only city with a thriving water culture, and kayaking is not the only way to scratch the surface. In cities from Paris to New York and Amsterdam, it’s possible to rent houseboats on Airbnb—though, having contacted some of the owners, it’s not necessarily possible to sail them.

In some areas, it’s possible to rent canal boats or take them out on guided tours. In upstate New York, for instance, socially distanced ride-alongs on one of the last remaining U.S. Mail boats can be booked via Mid-Lakes Navigation, while the urban company Manhattan Kayaks has Covid-19-friendly policies for rentals and day trips.

The company French Waterways offers all sorts of petite cruisers for explorations through Paris and its surroundings, including Burgundy, Aquitaine, or Brittany. To float surrounded by tulips just outside the Netherlands’ capital, there are options from Norfolk Broads.

In our kayak, the cityscape is changing again, this time into industrial Hackney. Vast, factory-like buildings rear up on either side, and part of London’s Olympic stadium appears further in the distance. The graffiti seems to have changed, too: It’s high up on buildings now, as well as on the walls and bridges. Giant artworks burst with color reflected on the river’s barely rippling surface.

Being so close to the surface changes your perspective. The river becomes its own landscape, rather than just one feature of some bigger view. Geese and swans are at eye-level; you’re very much in their world.

This, I think, was the best thing about our lockdown trip. Because when we got home, even though we’d traveled only a few miles from our front door, it felt as if we’d really been somewhere.

What You’ll Need to Be a Boater

The Kayak: The writer’s Intex Challenger K2 kayak is an affordable, approachable choice for beginners that’s easy to store in a city apartment ($130). For something more lavish, there’s this $2,500 transparent two-seater from Hammacher Schlemmer.

The Apps to Download: British boaters shouldn’t leave home without Open Canal UK. This handy navigation tool, free for both iPhone and Android, points out fuel sellers, bridges, towpaths, and other useful info; it also helps identify the route with the fewest locks. With staycations allowed in England starting on July 4, the Canal River Trust’s website is also helpful for planning weekend-long explorations.

A Clutch Accessory: A waterproof pouch is essential for keeping phones (and wallets) dry. This PVC pouch by Travelon is functional and utilitarian, and comes in your choice of five colors. ($15)

Shoes to Match: If meandering down a quiet river sounds like luxury, dress the part with an impeccably constructed, non-slip boat shoe from John Lobb. The classic details and contrast stitching are as sophisticated as one can get. ($1420)

—With assistance by Calah Singleton.

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“I Can’t Survive Until October”: NYC Restaurants Fear Delay to Indoor Dining

Editor’s Note: No city is more important to America’s economy than New York, and none has been hit harder by the coronavirus. “NYC Reopens” examines life in the capital of capitalism as the city takes its first halting steps toward a new normal.

It looks as if New Yorkers might have to wait a little longer to book a table inside their favorite restaurant.

As states across the U.S. experience an alarming surge of Covid-19 cases after reopening their bars and restaurants, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that officials are now considering slowing down the restart of indoor dining in New York City.

“Around the country, a number of cities and states have been moving in the wrong direction,” de Blasio said. “We all love indoor dining, but we see problems with indoor dining.”

A delay would be another blow to the city’s beleaguered restaurant industry, which has been gearing up for weeks to reopen on July 6. Its roughly 27,000 establishments have struggled to survive on takeout food and drink orders and, starting last week, limited outdoor seating since the pandemic began.

Here’s what restaurateurs across the city had to say about the news.

Emil Stefanov, general manager at Boucherie in the West Village:

“Yes, all the restaurants will be be suffering, but safety and health comes first. You’ll have no business if you have no people to have business with. Everything else goes after that. So if they tell us they’re postponing the resumption of indoor dining, I won’t think how bad it is for my business, I’ll think about how bad the situation is getting. In New York, I feel safe with the leadership. If they feel that it’s not safe to go to Phase Three, then who am I to say no? Businesses will come back eventually. Safety of people comes first.”

Ivy Mix, co-owner of Leyenda in Cobble Hill:

“We weren’t planning to open up in indoor dining even if approval went through, so we strongly agree. We don’t think NYC is ready just yet for indoor dining. We fortunately have front and back patios at our small bar, Leyenda, and have been making that work and offering to-go cocktails. It’s not great, but we’re surviving.

“Having folks pass through masked to get to the back patio or use the restrooms is one thing, but the thought of friends gathered at a table without masks seems like a risk we would not feel comfortable taking right now.”

Dan Kluger, chef-owner of Loring Place in Greenwich Village:

“I wouldn’t say I was psyched about this news. We just started to hire people back. Now we’re pissing them off because we’ve made offers to people who didn’t want to get off unemployment, where they’re making more money. But they said yes. I hired another manager, I hired back a sous chef to help us be ready for indoor dining. Made offers to cooks and porters and servers.

“I have no problem with the government saying we can’t reopen, but they can’t change the message the week before. I’m taking on more payroll than I need to. I can’t survive until October. I understand the reasons why, but no one is communicating properly. I’ll be lucky if I make $1,000 off of outdoor dining this week. That’s how discouraging it is.”

Hakan Swahn, owner of Aquavit, a two-star Michelin restaurant in midtown:

“Obviously, it’s a blow to us; we had been excited about the prospect of reopening and did a lot of planning. It’s been tough to survive and do the right thing. This would have been a huge help, not just for us, but for all restaurants in New York. We’re very unhappy about not being able to, at least in a little way, reopen. I hope it doesn’t go into effect. We had made offers to people to come back. To go back and say, ‘Sorry guys, it won’t happen,’ … Of course, we care about everyone’s health. But it’s a blow.”

Nate Adler, co-owner of Gertie in Williamsburg:

“The most important consideration right now is a potential second surge of infections coming to NYC, which would push many restaurants to a point of no return. With that in mind, I have always been of the opinion that a slower, more gradual reopening is the better way. Let’s stay the course, while the weather is warm enough to dine outside and until the virus is better contained. Opening restaurants indoors at 50% capacity has the potential to do more damage than good.”

George Vavilis, owner of Morning Star Cafe in midtown Manhattan:

“How much am I counting on Phase Three reopening and inside dining? Zero. I told all my employees, if it happens on July 6, that’s great, but chances are equally high it’s not going to happen then. How can I control that? There’s no way. So I need to count on what I can control. Up to last week, it was takeout and delivery that I could control. Then, it was putting the barriers in place last week, and making sure every guest is safe. When they tell me that Phase Three is happening, then I’ll start counting that in.

Read more: After Cuomo’s Threat, a St. Mark’s Bar Owner Responds

“Don’t get me wrong, that would be ideal, I want it to happen, but I don’t keep my hopes up. We have 60 seats inside, but even if we could use a quarter of that, that would be better than nothing. But safety comes first. I don’t want to get sick, and I don’t want to get any of my guests sick.”

Amanda Cohen, chef-owner of Dirt Candy on the Lower East Side and Lekka Burger in Tribeca:

“As a restaurant owner, I am incredibly uncomfortable with opening up my dining room, and I can’t, in good faith, put any of my employees at risk just so that I can bring in a few dollars. New York has done a good job with its long game in dealing with the virus, which will have been for nothing if we start to play the short game.”

Jeffrey Banks, who owns restaurants including Carmine’s and Virgil’s Real Barbecue in Times Square:

“The government shut down business for the safety of everyone. I respect that. Then, they declare that restaurants should open for takeout and delivery. But there were no rules for wearing masks, for keeping my staff out of dangerous conditions. And this was when people were scared and running their Amazon boxes through the dishwasher.

“Whatever we’re asked, we do. But how am I supposed to support the 1,300 people that got laid off? How can I get them back to work? I’m worried about people who work for me who are going to run out of unemployment.”

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Bankers in India Are More Productive Working From Home

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Work from home may remain part of the norm for many in India’s financial industry beyond the end of the world’s biggest lockdown. The reason: elimination of lengthy commutes in the past three months has boosted employee productivity.

Take Jefferies’ India team for example. On average, its 60 members have managed to save over an hour every day on commute and 70% of them have seen higher productivity, according to a note from the brokerage, drawing on a survey of its staff.

As banks and asset managers around the world try to figure out how they’ll manage their offices after the coronavirus pandemic, many in Mumbai — India’s finance hub — see the opportunity for permanent change in how they work. The average commute time on the city’s major routes is over an hour, more than twice the averages of Singapore, Hong Kong and New York, according to a study by the IDFC Institute, a public policy think-tank.

Neil Parikh, chief executive officer of Parag Parikh Financial Advisory Services, like many others is finding the experience better than expected — so much so that he’s reconsidering plans of adding to the money manager’s offices in India’s top cities. He plans to equip new hires with laptops and high-speed Internet connections instead.

“Now there’s no stigma around working from home,” he said. “I can see some from my research team being much more productive. Working from home saves almost 3-to-4 hours everyday in travel time for some people.”

Reliance Securities Ltd. has shelved plans to shift to a new premise. The firm, one of India’s leading retail broking houses, will have half its staff continue to work from home as it implements a rotational program to comply with social distancing norms, according to Chief Human Resource Officer Meenaa Sharma.

“Many of our employees are saying that their productivity has gone up, and feedback from clients on research reports is good,” she said.

Second Wave

While the daily number of virus cases in Mumbai, India’s worst-hit city, has been stable in recent days, concerns over a second wave means businesses have little choice but to operate remotely. With economy set for its first full-year contraction in 40 years, India has begun reopening from the lockdown imposed on March 24 even as the country has the fourth-highest number of infections in the world.

Yet, not everyone in the world of finance is in a position to work remotely on a long-term basis. While banks and stock depositories had been open through the lockdown, designated as “essential services,” dealers who execute trades may have to return to office in greater numbers once regulatory relaxations are rolled back.

“Businesses like ours where there’s sensitivity of information, at least some part of staff like dealers have to be in the office” said Jinesh Gopani, head of equities at Axis Asset Management Co. “Those parts were allowed at home because it was a crisis. But it is not ideal from the regulator’s point of view in the long term.”

For now, only a fraction of the staff in the financial-services industry is back in office. The unexpected benefits of working remotely mean it’s likely to be a favored option well into the future.

“Productivity has improved dramatically because of removing unproductive travel time,” said Gopani. Working from home one or two days a week may become “the new normal.”

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Australian Virus Hot Spot Victoria Reports Spike in New Cases

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The Australian state of Victoria reported another spike in new coronavirus infections Saturday, raising concerns that the outbreak may be getting out of control.

The Victoria state government said 41 new cases had been detected, the biggest daily increase since early April, and 15 involved community transmission. It’s the eleventh consecutive day of double-digit numbers of infections in the state, home to the city of Melbourne.

“We’re very concerned,” Victoria Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese van Diemen told a news conference. “That is why we have ramped up these efforts to really, really find every possible case that we can.”

46,860 in BrazilMost new cases today

-10% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​091 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-2.​3% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), May


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Australia has been one of the stand-out performers globally in limiting the spread of the virus and has begun to ease restrictions, but the flare-up in Victoria could force a rethink and potentially delay the reopening of some state borders. Plans to open a travel “bubble” with neighboring New Zealand have already taken a knock as both countries grapple with incidents around virus management.

The Victorian government has increased testing and tracing and tightened some rules, reducing the number of visitors people can have in their homes to five and limiting outside gatherings to 10.

“These moves are important to keep our community safe and to ensure Covid-19 does not get away from us,” Victoria Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said in a statement. “We do not want Victoria to suffer like many major cities around the world who have been devastated by the severe impacts of Covid-19.”

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Virus Surges Across U.S., Throwing Reopenings Into Disarray

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Newly diagnosed cases of Covid-19 and other indicators of the pandemic’s spread soared in hot spots across the U.S., driving city and state officials to consider slowing or reversing reopening plans.

Cases are surging in Texas, Florida, Arizona and in California, which on Tuesday broke its record for new cases for the fourth day in the past week. Even in New Jersey, where numbers have been falling, Governor Phil Murphy warned that the transmission rate is “beginning to creep up.”

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased by 35,695 from the same time Monday to 2.33 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The 1.6% gain was higher than the average daily increase of 1.3% the past seven days. Deaths rose 0.7% to 120,913.

California reported 5,019 new cases, its biggest daily jump, for a total of more than 183,000, according to state data. The state also hit a record 3,700 hospitalizations.

Arizona also broke its daily case record, adding nearly 3,600, according to tallies released Tuesday, bringing the total to 58,179. The state also reported 42 deaths, raising the toll to 1,384.

In Florida, local leaders hurried to react to daunting statistics. Palm Beach County — where President Donald Trump makes his official residence — became the latest jurisdiction to mandate masks to fend off the surge, with county commissioners voting unanimously to approve the measure Tuesday.

The state’s 103,506 cases were up 3.3% from a day earlier, compared with an average 3.8% in the previous seven days. Seen on a rolling seven-day basis, Florida’s new cases reached 23,397, the highest ever. Deaths reached 3,237, an increase of 2%, the most on a percentage basis since June 5.

Cumulative hospitalizations of Floridians rose by 199, or 1.5%, to 13,318. On a rolling seven day-basis, they reached 1,112, the highest level since May 25. The new rate of people testing positive for the first time climbed to 10.9% for Monday, from 7.7% on Sunday.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott signaled this week that he may halt or reverse the state’s reopening, as the contagion continues to rage.

In Harris County — home to Houston and the nation’s third-most-populous county — intensive-case capacity will be exhausted in 11 days, based on the two-week average expansion rates. Surge beds will be full in 38 days, according to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s office.

There are 1,488 Covid-19 patients in ICU beds across the county, leaving only 134 intensive-case beds available and another 326 surge beds in reserve.

Covid-19 transmission is also ticking up in New Jersey, Murphy said Tuesday, just as the state begins to open after months on lockdown.

The transmission rate — which measures how many people a carrier infects — was at .75 on June 18 and has now hit .81, state data show. Murphy said intensive-care cases and ventilator use were also on the rise.

The increases were for a single day, he said, but we “cannot have a one-day increase turn into a trend.”

— With assistance by Elise Young, and Joe Carroll

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