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Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today

Younger people are filling hospitals.,

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This is the Coronavirus Briefing, an informed guide to the pandemic. Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox.

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Credit…The New York Times

The known global virus caseload has surpassed 200 million infections.

The W.H.O. called for a moratorium on vaccine boosters to help each country get more people vaccinated.

The F.D.A. could grant full approval to Pfizer’s vaccine by early September.

Get the latest updates here, as well as maps and a vaccine tracker.

Younger, sicker, quicker

Doctors working in Covid-19 hot spots across the nation say that the patients in their hospitals are not like the patients they saw last year: The new arrivals are younger, many in their 20s or 30s.

These patients — almost all of them unvaccinated — also seem sicker than younger patients were last year. And they are deteriorating more rapidly.

Earlier in the pandemic, patients would come into the hospital after spending a week or two at home with symptoms. Often they were treated on a regular floor before needing intubation or intensive care, but doctors report some younger patients are experiencing more severe symptoms now.

Physicians have coined a new phrase to describe them: “younger, sicker, quicker.” Some have no underlying health conditions that would make them more susceptible. The culprit, many suspect, is the Delta variant, which now makes up 80 percent of cases nationwide.

“This to us feels like an entirely different disease,” said Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

In January, adults under 50 represented 22 percent of hospitalized patients, according to the C.D.C. Now, people ages 18 to 49 account for 41 percent. Some experts think the shift in patient demographics is due to vaccination rates: Less than 50 percent of Americans ages 18 to 39 are vaccinated, compared to more than 80 percent for those ages 65 to 74.

Some experts say what appears to be greater virulence may be simply the result of the Delta variant’s greater contagiousness. As more people are infected, the sheer number of severely ill patients is bound to increase, even if the variant itself does not cause more severe disease than previous versions.

Still, studies from other countries suggest that Delta may cause more severe disease, but there’s no definitive data that shows the variant is worse for young people. Even so, some doctors think younger people are more susceptible.

“That’s what really frightens me,” said Dr. Terrence Coulter, director of critical care at CoxHealth Medical Center, in Springfield, Mo. “It’s hitting younger healthy people that you wouldn’t think would have such a bad response to the disease.”

Delta challenges China’s zero-tolerance Covid strategy

China spent months as a coronavirus success story. It eradicated the virus so quickly that it was one of the first countries to reopen last spring. When outbreaks arose, it would quickly stamp them out by testing millions of people, tracing infections and locking down entire communities.

But as the country faces its largest outbreaks since last year, that model is now looking increasingly fragile. Experts say that as the Delta variant spreads and new variants emerge, the country’s “containment-based” strategy will become too costly and time consuming.

My colleague Keith Bradsher, The Times’s Shanghai bureau chief, recently traveled to Beijing from a reporting trip in Zhengzhou — where roughly 13 million people had to stand in line for virus testing starting last weekend — and sent me an update. His experience illustrates how demanding the virus-control system from the government can be.

I came to Beijing by high-speed train on Thursday of last week. Over the weekend, Zhengzhou unexpectedly announced that it had nearly three dozen cases of the Delta variant.

Late Monday afternoon, a courteous official from Beijing called me on my mobile phone. Her records showed that my mobile number had come to Beijing from Zhengzhou, and she wanted my passport number, my hotel in Beijing, and my train number, along with my train car and seat number. She needed my details to put in a local government database. She also wanted me to get a free Covid test.

I had anticipated this and had already gone for a test late Sunday afternoon at a local hospital, with the usual overnight return of results (it was negative). The official also told me that an official from the neighborhood would also call our Beijing office manager about me.

Fortunately for me, the automatic health tracking code on my phone stayed green. That meant I had not been in the actual neighborhood of Zhengzhou with the cases. Zhengzhou did lock down a sizable area of the city, but my hotel had been about three-fifths of a mile north of this area. I would not be ordered to stay in my hotel room. I would not be required to submit to frequent temperature checks.

My colleague from the Shanghai bureau of The New York Times, who had accompanied me in Zhengzhou, was slightly less lucky. Her housing compound in Shanghai ordered that she show up for temperature checks twice a day.

Is working from home working for you?

Since the pandemic upended life last year, workdays for many of us who have been told to avoid the office have been very different. Some of it has been positive, allowing us to spend more time with our loved ones, instead of commuting. Sometimes we work from our couch, or take calls from picnic blankets in the park or log into a meeting from our parents’ house. Other times, remote work can feel isolating, and Zoom fatigue can leave us feeling depleted and unfulfilled.

With more companies delaying their return to the office, working from home will remain a reality for many of us for the foreseeable future. And at least some remote work is likely to become a regular part of our lives, even after the pandemic is behind us.

So a year and a half after many of us began working from home, we’d like to check in and hear how it’s going for you. How has your remote work experience been so far? Do you have any life hacks or tips for making working from home better? We’d love to hear your story.

We may use your response in “Our Changing Lives,” a new series in this newsletter about big lifestyle shifts during the pandemic. If you’d like to participate, you can fill out this form here.

Vaccine rollout

A study in England found that vaccination reduces the risk of getting Delta symptoms by 60 percent.

After much cajoling and even some threats, Pakistan is vaccinating a million people a day.

The governor of Illinois announced a mask mandate for schools and a vaccine mandate for some state employees, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Britain will extend vaccination to 16- and 17-year-olds.

Here’s how to show proof of vaccination in New York City.

See how the vaccine rollout is going in your county and state.

What else we’re following

With the eviction moratorium back in place, the Biden administration is racing to distribute aid.

Israel reintroduced some virus restrictions in the hope of avoiding a full lockdown.

The latest response to the Delta variant: Pfizer issues a vaccine mandate for its U.S. workers, and the New York auto show is canceled.

A survey found that unvaccinated Americans are less likely to wear masks and avoid crowds, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports.

Obama scaled back his 60th birthday party, citing the spread of the Delta variant.

The Offspring’s drummer says he was dropped from the band over being unvaccinated.

Greece’s synchronized swimming team withdraws from the Games as several members test positive for the coronavirus.

What you’re doing

My baby girl is quite the pandemic baby. At five months old, we went into lockdown. She learned to say the word “mask” far before “bye bye” because no one ever went bye bye. As we approach my daughter’s second birthday, I certainly thought the concept of masks would be long forgotten. She has been under the age recommended for mask wearing. But tonight she excitedly opened her very own bag of masks, started playing with them, and tried wearing them while proclaiming “my mask like mama’s!” While I acknowledged my deep sadness for my daughter and her generation, I did what many pandemic mamas do — I smiled and showed her how to put on a mask.

— Dana Siperstein, East Greenwich, R.I.

Let us know how you’re dealing with the pandemic. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.

Sign up here to get the briefing by email.

Email your thoughts to briefing@nytimes.com.

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Col. Dave Severance, Commander at Iwo Jima, Dies at 102

He sent Marines to the top of Mount Suribachi to plant the flag. Captured in a photograph, the scene remains an enduring image of American men at war.,

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Col. Dave Severance, the commander of the Marine company that raised a huge American flag over the Japanese island of Iwo Jima in World War II, inspiring the photograph that thrilled the American home front and became an enduring image of men at war, died on Monday in the La Jolla section of San Diego. He was 102.

His death was announced by his daughter Nina Cohen.

The flag-raising atop Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945, captured by an Associated Press photographer, Joe Rosenthal, was taken when the battle for Iwo Jima was far from over. In the days that followed, Colonel Severance earned the Silver Star, the Marines’ third-highest decoration for valor after the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. The citation stated that in a firefight for a heavily defended ridge, he “skillfully directed the assault on this strong enemy position despite stubborn resistance.”

Colonel Severance, a captain at the time, commanded Easy Company of the 28th Marine Regiment, Fifth Marine Division — part of the 70,000-man Marine force that sought to seize Iwo Jima, 7.5 square miles of black volcanic sand about 660 miles south of Tokyo. The island, defended by 21,000 Japanese troops, held airstrips that were needed as bases for American fighter planes and as havens for crippled bombers returning to the Mariana Islands from missions over Japan.

Amid heavy casualties, the Marines by the fifth day of combat on Iwo Jima had silenced most opposition from Japanese soldiers dug into caves on Mount Suribachi, an extinct volcano 546 feet high at Iwo Jima’s southern tip.

In midmorning, a group of Marines from Easy Company raised a flag at the summit, a ceremony photographed by Sgt. Louis Lowery of the Marine magazine Leatherneck. When James Forrestal, the secretary of the Navy, who was on the beach below, saw the flag, he requested that it be kept as a memento. After it was returned to the beach, Colonel Severance sent another group of his Marines to bring a larger flag to the mountaintop.

It was the raising of the second flag that was portrayed in Mr. Rosenthal’s dramatic photograph.

Both flags are now at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va. Frayed by strong winds, the second flag flew above Mount Suribachi for the remainder of the Iwo Jima campaign. The Joe Rosenthal photograph is in the National Archives. And the scene he photographed was replicated on a monumental scale as a statue at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va., across the Potomac from the National Mall in Washington. It is dedicated to “the Marine dead of all wars and their comrades of other services who fell fighting beside them.”

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Colonel Severance in 1944, when he was a captain in the Marines. When he turned 100, the commandant of the Marines told him in a letter, “You played a crucial role in shaping the warrior ethos of our Corps.” Credit…National WWII Museum

Dave Elliott Severance was born on Feb. 4, 1919, in Milwaukee. His family moved to Greely, Colo., when he was a child. He attended the University of Washington for a year, then joined the Marines in 1938.

He was commissioned as a lieutenant and first saw combat as a platoon commander in the 1943 battle for the Pacific island of Bougainville. His platoon was ambushed and cut off by Japanese troops about a mile behind enemy lines, but fought its way out of an encirclement and wiped out the enemy with the loss of only one Marine, according to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

Early in 1944, he was promoted to captain. He had six officers and 240 enlisted men under his command when the Marines landed on Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945.

After World War II, Colonel Severance completed flight training and flew fighter aircraft during the Korean War. He completed 69 missions and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was promoted to colonel in 1962. At his retirement, in May 1968, he was assistant director of personnel at Marine headquarters.

In addition to his daughter Nina, his survivors include two sons, David and Mike; another daughter, Lynn Severance; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His marriage to his first wife, Margaret, ended in divorce. His second wife, Barbara, died in 2017. He lived in La Jolla, according to Coffee or Die, a magazine devoted to military history.

Colonel Severance was portrayed by Neil McDonough as a Marine captain and by Harve Presnell as an older man in “Flags of Our Fathers” (2006), Clint Eastwood’s film about the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima. Colonel Severance was a consultant for the movie.

In a February 2021 interview with Coffee or Die, Colonel Severance said that from the perspective of the battlefield, he had not realized what an emotional chord the second flag-raising would strike back home. It took Hollywood and John Wayne to do that for him.

“It wasn’t until 1949, when the ‘The Sands of Iwo Jima’ came out — I realized the impact that moment and battle had on the nation,” he said.

When Colonel Severance celebrated his 100th birthday, the Marine Corps commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, sent him a letter stating, “You played a crucial role in shaping the warrior ethos of our Corps.”

On that occasion, Colonel Severance took a wry look back on his career in an interview with the newspaper La Jolla Light.

Asked how he would like to be remembered, he said, “I never thought about it,” then added, “Just that I was a Marine for 30 years and I never ended up in jail.”

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California Will Curtail Water to Farmers Amid Drought

Thousands of farms could have their right to draw water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers reduced or suspended.,

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Wracked by drought, California will cut water for many farmers.

Kim Gallagher, a rice farmer, had to fallow land and rely on her crop of sunflowers, which require little to no water, because of the drought in the Sacramento Valley this summer.Credit…Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

Aug. 4, 2021, 3:16 p.m. ET

Facing an acute and growing drought, California will reduce the amount of water that farmers in the state’s agricultural heartland are allowed to draw from its largest rivers, officials announced this week. It is the most severe measure taken by the state since a drought emergency was declared for most of California in May.

The unanimous vote by the State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday will come into force in about two weeks, when thousands of farmers in the watershed of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers — the lifeblood of the agricultural Central Valley — would be subject to drawing restrictions. Depending on a farmer’s rights and status, the amount of water that can be drawn could be reduced or cut altogether.

A separate curtailment order was passed for the Russian River north of San Francisco.

It is the fourth time in recent decades that California has curtailed water rights for farmers, and experts say climate change is likely to make similar restrictions more regular.

California, by far the largest agricultural producer in the United States, may see declines this year in lower-value crops like corn or alfalfa because of the drought, said Jay Lund, an expert on California’s water system at the University of California, Davis. But many farmers will still be able to draw on ground water and other stored water for their needs, he said.

“For the high-value crops like almonds and wine and most of the fruits and vegetables, I don’t expect to see a large drop in production,” Professor Lund said.

The most recent rainy season, running from October to March, was the third-driest on record.

The largest reservoirs in Northern California, where this year’s drought is most severe, are at about one-third of their capacity. In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom called on Californians to voluntarily cut their water usage by 15 percent.

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Black Man Who Says He Was Threatened With Noose Now Faces Charges Himself

“There’s nothing more American than charging a Black man in his own attempted lynching,” Vauhxx Booker of Indiana said of the charges against him, which he sees as retaliation from the special prosecutor.,

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Last summer, a video of a white man pinning a Black man to a tree near a lake in Indiana on July 4 — as bystanders urge the white man and his friends to let the man go — generated national outrage.

The man pinned to the tree, a community activist named Vauhxx Booker, said that he had heard the men use racial slurs and threaten to “get a noose.” Later that month, after an extensive investigation of the confrontation by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, a prosecutor charged two of the white men with felony battery, criminal confinement and intimidation. Their cases have yet to go to trial.

Now, a special prosecutor has charged Mr. Booker with felony assault and misdemeanor trespassing for his role in the confrontation. At a news conference on Monday, Mr. Booker and several representatives from the Monroe County chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. said that the prosecutor was retaliating against him for refusing to agree to mediation with Sean Purdy and Jerry Cox II, the two men arrested in the attack.

“There’s nothing more American than charging a Black man in his own attempted lynching,” Mr. Booker said on Monday. He added that the land he was supposedly “trespassing” on was public property.

Mr. Booker and representatives from the local N.A.A.C.P. chapter are calling for the special prosecutor, Sonia Leerkamp, to resign.

Guy Loftman, chair of the branch’s Legal Redress Committee, said that Mr. Booker was the victim of a “vicious hate crime” that Fourth of July — a day Mr. Booker was planning to spend watching a lunar eclipse with friends at Lake Monroe, about 60 miles south of Indianapolis.

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Footage of the confrontation on July 4, 2020, during which Mr. Booker can be seen being pinned against a tree. Two white men, Sean Purdy and Jerry Cox II, were arrested in connection with the attack.Credit…Video obtained by Reuters

“Since then, the criminal justice system itself has joined in the attack on him,” Mr. Loftman said at the Monday news conference. “He faces up to three and a half years in prison and $15,000 in fines for being subjected to a racist assault. This miscarried justice cannot be tolerated.”

Ms. Leerkamp, who is the special prosecutor in the separate felony cases against Mr. Booker, Mr. Purdy and Mr. Cox — declined to comment on why she had charged Mr. Booker more than a year after the confrontation.

“Mr. Booker is presumed innocent of any charges that have been filed,” she wrote in an email. “That being said, unlike Mr. Booker, I am ethically restrained from commenting upon the evidence prior to its presentation at trial. I am doing my best to apply the law to the facts and follow the principle that we are a nation of laws, not men.”

Court documents requesting an “impartial” special prosecutor that were filed last year by David R. Hennessy, a lawyer representing Mr. Purdy, cast Mr. Hennessy’s client as a “victim of battery” and Mr. Booker as the perpetrator.

“Mr. Booker has agitated others with the hope of being a victim and is seeking fame and fortune at the expense of people he victimized,” Mr. Hennessy wrote.

In an email on Wednesday, Mr. Hennessy declined to comment on the new charges against Mr. Booker, but implied that Mr. Booker should have been arrested instead of merely issued a summons.

At a news conference about a week after the confrontation, Mr. Hennessy said that what happened in the moments that preceded the incendiary video differed considerably from Mr. Booker’s account. He said that the conflict began when Mr. Booker and his friends trespassed on private property. His clients were nice to Mr. Booker and even gave him a beer, he said. Later, Mr. Booker returned and falsely identified himself as a county commissioner, threatened to fine the group and intimidated Mr. Purdy’s girlfriend by pointing a finger in her face. Mr. Purdy was “afraid for her,” leading him to restrain Mr. Booker, who he said also hit him three times, Mr. Hennessy said.

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David R. Hennessy, a lawyer representing Mr. Purdy, has denied several portions of Mr. Booker’s description of the attack.Credit…Kelly Wilkinson/The Indianapolis Star, via Associated Press

No one denies that Mr. Purdy was wearing a cowboy hat with a Confederate symbol that day, but his lawyer insists that some of the most shocking parts of Mr. Booker’s account were invented.

“No talk of a noose,” Mr. Hennessy said. “No talk of a rope. No talk of a lynching. No ‘white power.’ You don’t have all the video. Mr. Booker said he survived this near lynching, yet he stays to videotape people as he race-baits them.”

At the news conference, Mr. Booker, the representatives from the local N.A.A.C.P. chapter and his lawyer all reiterated that the other side had been making the same bogus claims since last July about what happened. They are not aware of anything new the special prosecutor has uncovered. The only concrete development, they said, is that Ms. Leerkamp has been pressuring Mr. Booker to engage in a mediated resolution with the two men facing felony charges in the attack.

As The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, Mr. Booker has said that he is not interested in mediation because he would have to sign a confidentiality agreement and publicly forgive the men, whose charges would be dropped.

Mr. Booker’s lawyer, Katharine Liell, who says she has been practicing criminal defense in Indiana for 30 years, called the development “unprecedented.”

“I have never seen a special prosecutor open a new case and file it against somebody a year later,” she said.

The report by the Department of Natural Resources highlights discrepancies in both what various parties said occurred and in their views of what is racist. Mr. Cox, for example, denied that his or any of his friends’ actions against Mr. Booker were “racially motivated.” But he admitted to using a vile phrase mocking Black people’s hair, which the N.A.A.C.P. referred to as a “racist taunt” in a statement last week.

In the report, the men accused of attacking Mr. Booker and their friends deny saying or hearing anything about a noose. In contrast, Mr. Booker and other witnesses recalled hearing a man saying “go get a noose” several times. It was the noose remarks, one witness said, that signaled to them that they should start recording video.

Some of the dispute also focuses on whether Mr. Booker was defending himself on public property or trespassing on private property owned by the McCord family, friends of his attackers. According to the report, the boundaries in that area are confusing. Land owned by the Hoosier National Forest, the McCord family and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers touch in some parts without clear delineation. But after a review, a conservation officer with the Department of Natural Resources concluded that the tree Mr. Booker was pinned to grows on land owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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Defense Dept. Identifies Officer Killed in Pentagon Attack

Police Officer George Gonzalez, a Brooklyn native, had previously served with the U.S. Army in Iraq.,

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Defense Department identifies the officer killed in the Pentagon attack.

Pentagon Police Officer George Gonzalez was killed in an attack at the complex’s Metro bus platform on Tuesday.Credit…Pentagon Force Protection Agency, via Associated Press

Aug. 4, 2021, 1:01 p.m. ET

The Department of Defense identified George Gonzalez as the police officer killed in Tuesday’s attack at the Pentagon’s Metro bus platform. According to a statement released Wednesday morning, Mr. Gonzalez, 37, was a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and had been a Pentagon police officer since 2018.

“Officer Gonzalez embodied our values of integrity and service to others,” the statement said. “As we mourn the loss of Officer Gonzalez, our commitment to serve and protect is stronger.”

The Pentagon has not released a detailed account of the attack, which killed Mr. Gonzalez and one other person. Chief Woodrow G. Kusse of the Pentagon police force said Tuesday afternoon that during the attack, “gunfire was exchanged, and there were several casualties.”

The attack at the Pentagon’s Metro bus platform, just outside of one of the Pentagon’s major entrances, happened at approximately 10:37 a.m. Eastern and resulted in the building being locked down for more than an hour.

Neither the F.B.I., which is leading the investigation into the attack, nor the Department of Defense has released any details on the assailant, and the identity of the second person who died in the incident is unknown.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, offered condolences to Mr. Gonzalez’s family during a televised briefing Wednesday afternoon.

“His life was one of service,” Ms. Psaki said. “He lost his life protecting those who protect the nation.”

According to a statement from the Army, Mr. Gonzalez served in field artillery on active duty from 2003 to 2005, including an 11-month deployment to Iraq. He remained in the Army Reserve until 2011, and his rank was sergeant at the time he left service, the statement said.

Secretary of the Army Christine E. Wormuth offered condolences on behalf of the service on Wednesday.

Since joining the force, Mr. Gonzalez had been promoted twice and held the rank of senior officer at the time of his death, according to the Defense Department.

Mr. Gonzalez previously served with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Transportation Security Administration, and the U.S. Army. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for service in Iraq, the statement said.

Mr. Gonzalez was a graduate of New York City’s Canarsie High School.

The Pentagon declined to release information about his surviving family members, and a message sent to the F.B.I. requesting additional information was not immediately returned Wednesday morning.

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Cori Bush Galvanized a Revolt Over Evictions

Refusing to move from the Capitol steps, the first-term congresswoman from St. Louis intensified pressure on the Biden administration and showed her tactics could yield results.,

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WASHINGTON — Representative Cori Bush of Missouri was 20 the first time she was evicted, tossed out by a landlord after a violent fight with her boyfriend.

The next time, she was 29 and had quit a low-wage job to attend nursing school, and could no longer afford her rent.

It happened a third time in 2015, as Ms. Bush threw herself into the protest movement in Ferguson, Mo., after a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, a Black teenager. The eviction notice was waiting on her door one night — prompted, she said, by neighbors who feared she would bring the unrest home with her.

So when it became clear on Friday night that neither Congress nor the White House was going to act to stop a pandemic-era federal eviction moratorium from expiring, leaving hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans at risk of losing their homes, Ms. Bush — now 45 and a first-term Democratic congresswoman from St. Louis — felt a familiar flood of anxiety and a flash of purpose.

As her colleagues boarded planes home for a seven-week summer recess, she took a page from her years as an activist and did the only thing she could think of: She got an orange sleeping bag, grabbed a lawn chair and began what turned into a round-the-clock sit-in on the steps of the United States Capitol that galvanized a full-on progressive revolt.

She stayed put — in rain, cold and brutal summer heat — until Tuesday, when President Biden, under growing pressure from Ms. Bush’s group and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, abruptly relented and announced a new, 60-day federal eviction moratorium covering areas overrun with the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Even as Mr. Biden reiterated his administration’s fears that the ban would run afoul of the courts, it was a striking reversal for his team, designed to give state and local governments time to distribute billions of dollars in federal rental assistance that has yet to go out the door.

“My brain could not understand how we were supposed to just leave,” Ms. Bush said in an interview on Wednesday, recounting the months she spent 20 years ago living out of a 1996 Ford Explorer. “I felt like I did sitting in that car — like, ‘Who speaks for me? Is this because I deserve it?’ “

Furious that the White House had tried to punt the political mess to Congress, Ms. Pelosi had been forcefully waging a battle of her own, quietly working the levers of power available to influential political operators in Washington. She spoke to Mr. Biden directly and issued uncompromising statements urging him to use executive authority to extend the moratorium unilaterally, despite the risk of an adverse court ruling. Congress, she said, simply did not have the votes to solve the problem.

But it was Ms. Bush, using the tactics of a street organizer — alongside fellow progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, who joined her encampment — who thrust the issue into the national consciousness and refused to let it go. They marshaled huge social media followings, the attention of a news media eager to cover intraparty conflict and direct confrontations with party leaders to all but shame them into finding a solution.

Their success has sent a bolt of energy through the progressive movement that Ms. Bush and others now hope will signal the start of a new, more assertive phase in Washington. It comes as liberals are reeling from the latest in a string of electoral defeats after Nina Turner, a progressive insurgent, lost a special-election primary in Cleveland on Tuesday to an establishment-backed candidate, Shontel Brown.

Though Democrats’ spare majorities in the House and Senate give the bloc the power to make or break legislation, they have so far mostly hesitated to use it, watching instead with frustration as Mr. Biden’s drive to strike a bipartisan infrastructure deal with moderates has pushed their priorities — from voting rights to climate change — to the back burner.

“I hope people see right now that I mean what I say,” Ms. Bush said. “Hopefully, this has shown not only leadership, the caucus, but our progressive family that when we say we are not going to back down, we don’t back down. And when we say our communities need this particular thing, we can stand together to work together to get it.”

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Ms. Bush held a round-the-clock sit-in on the steps of the United States Capitol that galvanized a full-on progressive revolt.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The victory could be fleeting; even Mr. Biden conceded that most constitutional scholars believed his administration’s latest eviction freeze lacked a legal basis.

But for now, the episode has offered a welcome taste of vindication for Ms. Bush, who has faced doubts and criticisms from some in her party ever since she unexpectedly upset a moderate 10-term Democratic incumbent in a primary one year ago this week in a campaign promising to bring her zeal for activism to Congress.

Her opponent then, Wiliam Lacy Clay Jr., tried to weaponize Ms. Bush’s patchy work history and financial woes, reminding voters of her evictions and that she had struggled to hold down a job. His message was clear: She lacked the kind of experience needed to make a difference in Congress and could not be trusted with public office.

Her critics on the left and right similarly scoffed in recent days at her protest, calling it naive. Conservative Twitter delighted in making jokes about the unruly sleepover scene on the Capitol’s marble steps. One commentator, Ben Shapiro, called it “unbelievably off-putting and stupid.”

Even fellow liberals who shared her goal questioned Ms. Bush’s hard-nosed tactics, which they privately groused were inappropriate and ineffective for a member of Congress. The liberal editorial board of her hometown newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, wrote on Tuesday that Ms. Bush “clearly misunderstands the complicated process required to restore the moratorium.”

But many of Ms. Bush’s colleagues, including some high-profile Democrats, saw a political moment in the making.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was there on Monday, grinning with his arms around Ms. Bush and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. Representative Joyce Beatty of Ohio, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus who has been critical of progressives like Ms. Bush challenging Black incumbents like Mr. Clay, flew back from Ohio to pay a visit after Ms. Bush called to invite her personally. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader who is angling to fend off a progressive challenger as he seeks re-election next year, came by twice.

When an aide to Ms. Bush learned from Capitol Police that Vice President Kamala Harris would be in the Senate on Monday, Ms. Bush took off running from the House steps in pursuit.

“I wanted to look her in her eyes,” Ms. Bush said. “I wanted her to look me in mine and see down to my soul everything that was happening on the inside of me — to see St. Louis, to see the pain of regular people.”

Kayla Reed, a St. Louis organizer who met Ms. Bush around the demonstrations in Ferguson, said she could draw a direct line from those early protests to the congresswoman’s impatient, insurgent style of politics Ms. Bush, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and others are now using to test the mettle of their party.

“What she did was not allow the conversation to end at ‘Congress wasn’t able to extend it and there was no other way forward,’ ” said Ms. Reed, who now leads a group, Action St. Louis, that has been working with renters facing evictions. “She applied pressure.”

She added, “This absolutely wouldn’t have been the case with her predecessor.”

Some of Ms. Bush’s colleagues in Washington reached the same conclusion.

On Tuesday evening, before Ms. Bush could go live for a round of valedictory television hits and eventually collapse for a decent night’s sleep in her own bed, Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat and progressive standard-bearer, ran up and wrapped her arms around the congresswoman.

“You know when I came here, I used to ask myself a question: ‘Does it matter that I’m here instead of someone else?'” Ms. Warren, who spent much of her career in academia, told Ms. Bush. “And you’ve now answered that question. It matters that you’re here — not someone else.”

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$5,800 Whiskey Bottle, a Gift From Japan to Pompeo, Is Missing, U.S. Says

The State Department is investigating what happened to it.,

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The State Department is investigating the whereabouts of a $5,800 bottle of whiskey the Japanese government gave to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2019, according to two people briefed on the inquiry and a document made public on Wednesday.

It was unclear whether Mr. Pompeo ever received the gift, as he was traveling in Saudi Arabia on June 24, 2019, the day that Japanese officials gave it to the State Department, according to a department filing on Wednesday in the Federal Register documenting gifts that senior American officials received in 2019. Such officials are often insulated by staff members who receive gifts and messages for them.

American officials can keep gifts that are less than $390. But if the officials want to keep gifts that are over that price, they must purchase them. According to the filing, the State Department said the bottle was appraised at $5,800.

The department also took the unusual step of noting that the whereabouts of the whiskey is unknown. Similar filings over the past two decades make no mention of any similar investigations.

“The department is looking into the matter and has an ongoing inquiry,” the filing said.

Mr. Pompeo, through his lawyer William A. Burck, said he had no recollection of receiving the bottle of whiskey, and did not have any knowledge of what happened to it or that there was a department inquiry into its whereabouts.

“He has no idea what the disposition was of this bottle of whiskey,” Mr. Burck said.

Under the Constitution, it is illegal for an American official to accept a gift from a foreign government, and gifts are considered property of the U.S. government. The founders included the measure to stop foreign governments from gaining undue influence over American officials. Any officials caught accepting such gifts can face civil penalties, or impeachment if they are still in office.

The State Department provided no other details about the bottle or the investigation. According to two people briefed on the matter, the U.S. government was never paid for the bottle and the department has asked its inspector general to determine what happened to it.

Trump administration officials routinely flouted guidelines about day-to-day government issues like record-keeping and ethics, and paperwork filed for gifts was often incomplete.

The disclosure about the missing bottle of whiskey is the latest issue to arise about how the State Department operated under Mr. Pompeo, who has discussed with aides the possibility of running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

At Mr. Pompeo’s urging, President Donald J. Trump fired an inspector general who was investigating whether Mr. Pompeo and his wife misused government resources. The State Department’s new inspector general released a report in April saying Mr. Pompeo had violated ethics rules when he and his wife asked staff members to do personal tasks like taking care of their dog.

Stanley M. Brand, a criminal defense lawyer, ethics expert and former top lawyer for the House of Representatives, said that in his four decades working in Washington, he could not recall an instance in which legitimate questions had arisen about whether an official improperly took a gift from a foreign country.

“Like a lot of what occurred in the Trump era, this arises from a mix of rules and regulations that were previously obscure and rarely invoked,” Mr. Brand said. “I have been doing ethics stuff for 40 years and this has never been on the top of the list or on the list of problems.”

It was unclear what kind of whiskey the Japanese gave to Mr. Pompeo.

Most Japanese whiskeys taste similar to those made in Ireland, Scotland or the United States. But prices for aged Japanese whiskeys have risen drastically in recent years into the thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.

The increase has been attributed to demand for Japanese whiskeys, said Stefan van Eycken, the author of the 2017 book “Whisky Rising” about Japanese whiskey. Demand fell off significantly in the 1980s, prompting a decrease in production, but picked up again around 2008, increasing the value of Japanese whiskey, particularly decades-old varieties.

“There is enormous demand from well-heeled collectors (especially in Asia) who will gladly pay the equivalent of a nice sports car for a single bottle of really old Japanese whiskey,” he wrote in an email.

Matthew Cullen, Susan C. Beachy and Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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U.S News

With Eviction Moratorium Back, Officials Race to Distribute Aid

The new evictions ban signed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scheduled to expire on Oct. 3.,

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With the eviction moratorium back in place, the Biden administration is racing to distribute aid.

A law enforcement official spoke with a tenant after serving an eviction order last year in Phoenix, Ariz. Thousands of evictions continued despite the moratorium in place during the pandemic.Credit…John Moore/Getty Images

Aug. 4, 2021, 2:44 p.m. ET

The reinstatement of the federal eviction moratorium on Tuesday came as a relief for progressives, but for White House officials it was just the starting gun of a 60-day sprint to distribute billions in rental aid, in a nerve-rattling race that could be stopped by the courts at any moment.

President Biden’s decision to implement a new freeze to replace the moratorium that expired on Saturday was a risky strategy intended to reset the legal clock by creating a new initiative that has not yet been subject to a court challenge from landlords.

But while most key administration players signed off on the tactic after legislative efforts to extend the freeze failed, some in the administration believed such an effort might jeopardize the administration’s authority to taken action during future health emergencies.

On Wednesday, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, acknowledged the legal fragility of the new extension, which came after a June Supreme Court ruling in which Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh issued an explicit warning to the administration not to extend the moratorium beyond July 31 without congressional approval.

“We don’t control the courts, we don’t know what they will do,” Ms. Psaki told reporters at the White House.

But the decision, she added, was necessary — and represented Mr. Biden’s message to tenants “that he shares their concern” and “wants renters to be able to stay in their homes.”

The new evictions ban signed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scheduled to expire on Oct. 3, and is more narrowly targeted than the first, limited to areas facing significant threats from the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

But it will still cover about 90 percent of renters nationwide. And one of its main aims is to buy more time to stand up the troubled Emergency Rental Assistance program — which has thus far allocated just $3 billion of $47 billion slated by Congress to pay for back rent accrued during the pandemic.

But the effectiveness of the massive program, which is intended to keep millions of tenants from being evicted, ultimately rests on the efforts of local officials and the removal of bureaucratic impediments that often come down to details, like making sure state aid applications are easy to fill out.

On Wednesday, the Treasury Department posted a series of sample application forms, based on streamlined paperwork used in Virginia and other states, intended to quicken the pace of payments.

Landlords and conservatives opposed the decision to extend the ban, arguing that it violated constitutional property rights and denied owners access to their main mechanism for dealing with tenants who will not pay rent or follow the rules.

“The sad reality for many smaller landlords whose obligations continued throughout the pandemic as rents went uncollected is that they may never collect the overdue amounts from judgment-proof tenants,” Joel Zinberg, a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank, said in an email.

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NOAA Hurricane Forecast Update Predicts Busy Season

We’re on top of the latest extreme weather in the U.S. and around the world. Follow here for news on heat waves, wildfires, floods and more.,

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The latest hurricane forecast still predicts an ‘above normal’ season.

A resident in Kings Bay, Ga., surveyed damage after Tropical Storm Elsa. Credit…Mass Communication 3Rd Class Aaron Xavier Saldana/U.S. Navy, via Associated Press

Aug. 4, 2021, 4:56 a.m. ET

Conditions in and above the Atlantic Ocean continue to suggest that this year’s hurricane season will be an above average one, a government scientist said Wednesday.

Matthew Rosencrans, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said that an updated forecast suggested that there would be 15 to 21 named storms, including 7 to 10 hurricanes, by the end of the season on Nov. 30. Three to five of the hurricanes could be major ones of Category 3 or higher, with sustained winds above 110 miles an hour.

The updated numbers are only slightly changed from NOAA’s preseason forecast in May.

“There’s now a 65 percent chance for an above-average season,” Mr. Rosencrans said. An average year has 14 named storms, seven of which are hurricanes, including three major ones.

Mr. Rosencrans said one reason for the slightly changed forecast, and for the continued prediction of above-average activity, is that NOAA forecasters now say the climate pattern called La Nina may develop later this year.

In a La Nina, sea surface temperatures drop in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, and that can affect weather elsewhere. In the Atlantic, that often means less wind shear, changes in wind speed and direction that can affect the structure of storms. Less wind shear means storms are more likely to form and be stronger.

Hurricane season begins on June 1, although every year since 2015, storms have developed before June. This year, Tropical Storm Ana formed in late May.

Ana was the first of five named storms so far. The fifth, and first hurricane, Elsa, formed on July 1, making 2021 the fastest to reach five storms, ahead of 2020.

As a Category 1 hurricane, with top wind speeds of about 85 miles an hour, Elsa caused flooding and other damage in parts of the Caribbean before briefly entering the Gulf of Mexico, crossing northern Florida and traveling up the East Coast. Downgraded to a tropical storm, Elsa contributed to flooding in and around New York City on July 8.

Since Elsa, the season has been quiet. But mid-August through October tends to be the most active period, in part because the ocean has warmed through the summer, providing more energy for the rise of large rotating, or cyclonic, storm systems. During those months wind shear also tends to be reduced, even without a La Nina.

The National Hurricane Center is currently tracking three areas of low-pressure air in the Atlantic Ocean, two off West Africa and one closer to the east coast of South America. These kinds of atmospheric disturbances in the tropical Atlantic can lead to tropical storms or hurricanes. But the hurricane center said the likelihood of these becoming storms was currently low.

Researchers have documented that global warming has affected cyclonic storms, although there is debate about some of the ways they may be linked.

Climate change is producing stronger storms, and they produce more rainfall, in part because there is more moisture in warmer air, and in part because they tend to slow down. Rising seas and slower-moving storms can make for more destructive storm surges.

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Big Island Brush Fire: Why Hawaii Is More Vulnerable to Wildfires

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Extreme Weather and Climate Updates

Aug. 4, 2021Updated Aug. 4, 2021, 12:57 p.m. ETAug. 4, 2021, 12:57 p.m. ET

We’re on top of the latest extreme weather in the U.S. and around the world. Follow here for news on heat waves, wildfires, floods and more.

Hawaii is fighting the Big Island’s largest-ever blaze. Here’s why wildfire is a growing threat to one of the wettest places on earth.Here is where wildfires are burning across the West.What role does climate change play in the West’s tinderbox conditions? Let us explain.A wildfire in Greece burned dozens of homes amid a searing heat wave.

breaking

A resident in Kings Bay, Ga., surveyed damage after Tropical Storm Elsa. Credit…Mass Communication 3Rd Class Aaron Xavier Saldana/U.S. Navy, via Associated Press

Conditions in and above the Atlantic Ocean continue to suggest that this year’s hurricane season will be an above average one, a government scientist said Wednesday.

Matthew Rosencrans, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said that an updated forecast suggested that there would be 15 to 21 named storms, including 7 to 10 hurricanes, by the end of the season on Nov. 30. Three to five of the hurricanes could be major ones of Category 3 or higher, with sustained winds above 110 miles an hour.

The updated numbers are only slightly changed from NOAA’s preseason forecast in May.

“There’s now a 65 percent chance for an above-average season,” Mr. Rosencrans said. An average year has 14 named storms, seven of which are hurricanes, including three major ones.

Mr. Rosencrans said one reason for the slightly changed forecast, and for the continued prediction of above-average activity, is that NOAA forecasters now say the climate pattern called La Nina may develop later this year.

In a La Nina, sea surface temperatures drop in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, and that can affect weather elsewhere. In the Atlantic, that often means less wind shear, changes in wind speed and direction that can affect the structure of storms. Less wind shear means storms are more likely to form and be stronger.

Hurricane season begins on June 1, although every year since 2015, storms have developed before June. This year, Tropical Storm Ana formed in late May.

Ana was the first of five named storms so far. The fifth, and first hurricane, Elsa, formed on July 1, making 2021 the fastest to reach five storms, ahead of 2020.

As a Category 1 hurricane, with top wind speeds of about 85 miles an hour, Elsa caused flooding and other damage in parts of the Caribbean before briefly entering the Gulf of Mexico, crossing northern Florida and traveling up the East Coast. Downgraded to a tropical storm, Elsa contributed to flooding in and around New York City on July 8.

Since Elsa, the season has been quiet. But mid-August through October tends to be the most active period, in part because the ocean has warmed through the summer, providing more energy for the rise of large rotating, or cyclonic, storm systems. During those months wind shear also tends to be reduced, even without a La Nina.

The National Hurricane Center is currently tracking three areas of low-pressure air in the Atlantic Ocean, two off West Africa and one closer to the east coast of South America. These kinds of atmospheric disturbances in the tropical Atlantic can lead to tropical storms or hurricanes. But the hurricane center said the likelihood of these becoming storms was currently low.

Researchers have documented that global warming has affected cyclonic storms, although there is debate about some of the ways they may be linked.

Climate change is producing stronger storms, and they produce more rainfall, in part because there is more moisture in warmer air, and in part because they tend to slow down. Rising seas and slower-moving storms can make for more destructive storm surges.

Video

A brush fire burned more than 40,000 acres on the Big Island of Hawaii prompting mandatory evacuations over the weekend. While many residents have now returned home, the fire is not yet under control and mandatory evacuations could be put in place in the coming days.CreditCredit…25th Infantry Division

A fast-moving brush fire that has burned more than 40,000 acres on Hawaii’s Big Island prompted mandatory evacuations over the weekend as it grew to be the largest brush fire on record there.

Hawaii may be graced with tropical forests, making parts of the islands some of the wettest places on the planet, but the state is also increasingly vulnerable to wildfires, as heavy rains encourage unfettered growth of invasive species, like guinea grass, and dry, hot summers make them highly flammable.

Similar to the American West, where fire seasons have grown worse over the years because of extreme weather patterns and climate change, about two-thirds of Hawaii faces unusually dry conditions this summer. Since 2018 through last year, at least 75,107 acres across the islands have been lost to wildfires, by far the most devastating stretch in a decade and a half.

While the fires showcase several challenges that Hawaii shares with states in the West, including the spread of highly flammable invasive grasses, the authorities in Hawaii also cite other factors that make Hawaii unique. Those include big shifts in rainfall patterns over the archipelago and tourism’s eclipse of large-scale farming in Hawaii’s economy, allowing nonnative plants to overtake idled sugar cane and pineapple plantations.

Firefighters also have to operate across exceptionally diverse climate zones, extinguishing blazes everywhere from thick tropical forests to semiarid scrublands to chilly elevations where frost can be seen on trees along the slopes of the Mauna Kea volcano.

Firefighters lit a backburn to help battle the Pa’auilo wildfire in June.Credit…Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources

More than 60 percent of land across Hawaii is currently considered “abnormally dry,” according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. Even so, greater rainfall during the state’s winter, or wet season, may be just as responsible for Hawaii’s growing wildfires.

A lot of rain helps grass species such as guinea and kikuyu thrive. Both were introduced to the state decades ago, as both forage for livestock and to curb erosion. Some grow up to six inches in a day and provide fuel for fires to quickly leap out of control. Before this year brought dry conditions across much of the state, last winter figured among the wettest in three decades.

“The biomass out there is off the charts,” said Clay Trauernicht, a tropical fire specialist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “When you have a huge wet winter, that will influence fire risk to a greater degree than actual drought conditions.”

Dozens of wildfires are actively burning across the Western United States, charring large swaths of land in recent days, according to a New York Times analysis of government and satellite data. Some are threatening thousands of people who live and work just a few miles away.

As the fire season gets underway, The Times built an interactive map to track the latest wildfires as they spread across Western states. Check back regularly for updates.

Video

Firefighters have been working for weeks through heavy ash and dust to help contain the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon. Eliminating the fire has been difficult due to heat and wind.CreditCredit…Maranie Staab/Reuters

Most of the 50 small wildfires that were reportedly sparked by lightning in southern Oregon over the weekend have been extinguished, but fire officials did not have to look far to appreciate the precarious nature of every new blaze.

Nearly a month after it was ignited by lightning, nearly 1,900 firefighters are still battling the Bootleg Fire, which has obliterated homes in southern Oregon while burning more than 400,000 acres. Cloudy and rainy weather helped those firefighters make considerable progress in recent days — the nation’s largest wildfire was 84 percent contained on Tuesday morning — but the Bootleg Fire is not projected to be fully contained until October.

Fire officials are also wary of a forecast that could temper some of the recent gains. The Klamath Falls area, where Bootleg is burning, may see temperatures in the mid-90s on Tuesday and Wednesday, with wind gusts of up to 20 miles per hour on Wednesday.

“We are dependent on weather conditions to aid our success,” said Al Nash, a spokesman working with fire officials. He added, “There remains a vulnerability because we expect hot, dry and windy weather.”

The Oregon Department of Forestry said it received reports of about 50 fires sparked by lightning during thunderstorms on Sunday. Of the 35 fires that were confirmed as active, the agency said, 20 were promptly extinguished and the ones that remain do not threaten any homes.

On Tuesday morning, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Gov. Kate Brown are scheduled to visit a farm in Salem — in the northwestern part of Oregon — that has been affected by the region’s lengthy drought. That extended dry spell has also provided more fuel for wildfires sparked by lightning or human behavior.

— The New York Times

Remnants of the Bootleg Fire near Klamath Falls, Oregon, on Saturday.Credit…U.S. Forest Service, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As large swaths of the West dry out and burn, scientists say climate change is playing an increasing role in the earlier fire seasons, the deadly heat waves and the lack of water.

The record-high temperatures that assaulted the Pacific Northwest in late June and early July, for instance, would have been all but impossible without climate change, according to a team of researchers who studied the deadly heat wave.

Heat, drought and fire are connected, and because human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases have raised baseline temperatures nearly two degrees Fahrenheit on average since 1900, heat waves, including those in the West, are becoming hotter and more frequent.

“The Southwest is getting hammered by climate change harder than almost any other part of the country, apart from perhaps coastal cities,” Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist at the University of Michigan, recently told The New York Times. “And as bad as it might seem today, this is about as good as it’s going to get if we don’t get global warming under control.”

Around the world

ATHENS — Greek firefighters on Wednesday were working to put out a blaze that broke out on Tuesday on forestland north of Athens, burning dozens of homes and turning large swaths of land to ash, with similar efforts underway to douse wildfires in the southern Peloponnese peninsula and other parts of the country.

Thousands of people were forced to flee their homes on Tuesday after a large wildfire tore through the area north of Athens, spreading to several settlements. Many more people were rescued by firefighters after becoming trapped in their homes. Residents fled on cars, on motorcycles, even by foot, while dozens of horses were released from a riding club in the area and were seen wandering through local streets.

?he government said it would provide hotel accommodation for local residents unable to return to their homes for as long as necessary.

The fire was fueled by days of drought as temperatures reached 45 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) amid a searing heat wave that officials described as the worst since 1987, when more than 1,000 people died.

Televised footage of the affected areas north of Athens on Wednesday morning showed the charred hulks of homes and cars amid blackened trees as a heavy smog hung over the capital and flecks of ash fluttered through the air.

With the country in the midst of a record heat wave, the National Observatory of Athens on Wednesday appealed to people to remain in their homes with the windows closed if possible, warning that the fire had significantly worsened the capital’s atmospheric pollution.

The fire north of Athens was the worst of scores that broke out around the country on Tuesday.

Referring to an “extremely difficult night” of firefighting, Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said only one of that fire’s four fronts remained active on Wednesday morning. Speaking outside the fire service’s control center in Athens, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the authorities would remain on alert to minimize damage over the coming days as sweltering temperatures continue, with winds forecast to pick up on Friday.

“Thank God we have had no loss of life until now,” Mr. Mitsotakis said.

?e added, however, “There are still difficulties ahead, we have days of heat wave and wind to come.”

Firefighters also battled blazes on the island of Evia, north of Athens, and in the Messinia area of the Peloponnese peninsula where dozens of homes were also burned. Mr. Hardalias said on Wednesday that a new fire had broken out close to the ancient archaelogical site of Olympia, in the southern Peloponnese peninsula.

Greece has asked for support from the European Union for its firefighting efforts. Cyprus has provided 40 firefighters and was to send two water-dropping aircraft on Wednesday, Mr. Hardalias said. Sweden is to send another two aircraft, he said.

— Niki Kitsantonis

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