As a heat wave hits the U.S., officials struggle to balance competing health concerns.
With temperatures and virus cases rising simultaneously this week, cities in the Midwest were trying to reduce the potential for overheating without putting people at risk of catching the virus while indoors.
In Chicago, where temperatures were hovering around 90 degrees, splash pads were temporarily reopened in parks, but with employees on hand to make sure people kept their distance. In Fort Wayne, Ind., a cooling site at a botanical conservatory was limited to five people because of social distancing needs. In Detroit, recreation centers were opened for residents to cool off, but with occupancy limits lowered and temperature screenings instituted. And in nearby Washtenaw County, Mich., officials opened two centers on Monday as temperatures surged into the 90s.
“We know that Covid-19 has significantly reduced the number of public buildings available to people seeking relief from the heat this summer, “ said Gregory Dill, the county administrator in Washtenaw County, Mich. “Public libraries, churches, community centers and other places that usually address this need aren’t open to the public due to the virus.”
In Aurora, Ill., many of the usual cooling stations remain closed because of the pandemic. Officials opened a transit center — with social distancing and masks — as another option for residents to get out of the heat.
“We certainly have learned how to pivot quickly during these challenging times,” said the city’s mayor, Richard C. Irvin.
Elsewhere in the U.S.:
New Jersey’s governor said on MSNBC on Wednesday that he would sign an executive order requiring face coverings outdoors when social distancing is not possible. Since early April, masks have been required indoors at businesses. When asked if people would receive tickets for disobeying the rules on a Jersey Shore boardwalk, he said it was not likely. “If you are there by yourself or with your family, the answer is no,” he said. “But if you’re congregating with a lot of other folks and there’s no social distancing, you’re going to at least get a warning, if not something stronger.”
A 35-year-old California woman has sued her former employer, Hub International, a global insurance brokerage firm, saying that she was fired because her young children were making noise during business calls while she was working from home. She is accusing the company of gender discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.
Young people in the U.S. are more likely to pack their bags because of the pandemic than members of other age groups, according to a Pew Research Center study. Family was a major factor in people’s decisions; most of those who relocated said they had moved in with relatives. The data also highlighted racial differences in relocation trends.
Virus-tracking apps are rife with security and privacy risks. Now some governments are backtracking.
Many countries rushed out apps to trace and monitor the coronavirus this spring, only to have to scramble to address serious complaints about privacy and security threats. Now, some countries have been forced to turn off their apps.
Human rights groups and technologists warned that the design of many apps would put hundreds of millions of people at risk for stalking, fraud, identity theft or oppressive government tracking. The apps might also undermine trust in public health efforts, they warned.