Credit…Pool photo by Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

Both the Austrian and Belgian foreign ministers have tested positive for the coronavirus, their offices announced on Saturday, raising the possibility that they might have caught it at a meeting with European Union counterparts in Luxembourg on Monday.

Austria’s foreign minister, Alexander Schallenberg, his spokeswoman said, may have been infected at the meeting, a gathering of the Foreign Affairs Council, adding that the minister did not have symptoms and had been tested as a routine measure.

His Belgian counterpart, Sophie Wilmès, said on Saturday she had also tested positive after going into self-isolation on Friday with suspected symptoms.

But she did not put the finger on the Luxembourg meeting. “My Covid test result is positive,’’ she said on Twitter. “Contamination probably occurred within my family circle given the precautions taken outside my home.’’

Mr. Schallenberg also attended an Austrian cabinet meeting on Wednesday, but cabinet members wore face masks, his spokeswoman said. “As a precautionary measure all members of the government will be tested on Saturday,” she said.

The virus also created some havoc at a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. The European Commission president and the Finnish prime minister had to leave early because they were alerted that people they had met with had tested positive, while the Polish prime minister did not even attend, self-isolating in Warsaw after becoming exposed to the virus.

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Latino and Black Americans died in disproportionately high numbers relative to the general population from May to August this year, according to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday. Latino deaths rose by more than 10 percent over that period, the largest increase of any group.

The trendline is not new. Early numbers had shown that Black and Latino people were being harmed by the virus at higher rates.

The report notes that of the 114,411 coronavirus-related deaths reported to the C.D.C.’s National Vital Statistics System during that time frame, slightly more than half were white; about a quarter were Latino and nearly 19 percent were Black, figures that are far higher than their portion of the general population (about 18 percent for Latinos and 13 percent for Blacks).

Regardless of race and ethnicity, those aged 65 and older represented the vast majority — 78 percent — of all coronavirus deaths over those four months.

The geographic impact of coronavirus deaths shifted from May to August as well, moving from the Northeast to the South and West. And though the virus moved into parts of the country with higher numbers of Hispanic residents, the report’s data showed that alone does not entirely account for the increase in percentage of deaths among Hispanics nationwide.

“Covid-19 remains a major public health threat regardless of age or race and ethnicity,” the report states. It attributes an increased risk among racial and ethnic groups who might be more likely to live in places where the coronavirus is more easily spread, such as multigenerational and multifamily households, as well as hold jobs requiring in-person work, have more limited access to health care and who experience discrimination.

In July, federal data made available after The New York Times sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed a clearer and more complete picture of the racial inequalities of the virus: Black and Latino people have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in a widespread manner that spans the country, throughout hundreds of counties in urban, suburban and rural areas, and across all age groups.

Credit…Valeriano Di Domenico/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A cluster of coronavirus cases in a rural area of Switzerland may be linked to two yodeling concerts that attracted hundreds of unmasked spectators at the end of September.

About 600 people had attended the concerts on Sept. 24 and 25 in the German-speaking canton of Schwyz, which had seen relatively few cases of the virus — but now has the highest infection rate in the country.

Nine days after the concerts, organizers were informed that one of the yodelers had tested positive for the virus. By then, it appeared that the virus had already begun to spread in the area. On Friday, three weeks afte the concerts, the local government reported 633 active cases, not including people who had recovered. Over the last two weeks, Schwyz has recorded 474 cases per 100,000 people.

Petra Steimen-Rickenbacher, a government councilor in Schwyz, blamed the concerts for the spike, though she also noted “private parties” as a contributing problem.

Local officials announced that starting Friday, masks would be compulsory at events attended by more than 50 people. But masks only have to be worn in stores if a distance of 1.5 meters — about five feet — cannot be kept.

Switzerland has seen a rapid rise in virus cases in recent days, and on Friday recorded a new daily high of 3,105 cases. The country has recorded at least 71,317 cases since the start of the pandemic — about a sixth of them in the last week — and more than 1,800 deaths, according to a Times database.

Franziska Föllmi, director of the Schwyz Hospital, told the Swiss broadcaster SRF that 50 percent of recent virus tests were positive, and that the hospital was running out of beds. In a video posted to YouTube, hospital staff members urged residents to wear masks and refrain from gathering in large groups.

Throughout the pandemic, the nation has maintained looser restrictions than most European countries, and was one of the first to reopen nightclubs and allow large events. But that could change soon. President Simonetta Sommaruga announced on Thursday that the government was considering new virus measures, and called on the Swiss to do their part to slow the spread.

“It is just before the eleventh hour,” she said.

Credit…Sinclair Broadcast Group

In the latest episode of Eric Bolling’s show from the Sinclair Broadcast Group, “America This Week,” the conservative broadcaster perpetuated misinformation about the origin of the coronavirus pandemic and measures that help slow its spread.

In the episode, which was posted to several Sinclair station websites this week, Mr. Bolling made claims, which scientists have widely disputed, that the coronavirus was manipulated in a Chinese laboratory. He also questioned the effectiveness of face coverings and lockdowns, despite evidence that they are instrumental in limiting transmissions.

Mr. Bolling, a former Fox News host, also said that “closing down cities and economies and wearing your tube socks around your face hasn’t slowed the virus down.”

In an interview on Friday, after the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America raised concerns about the episode, Mr. Bolling said the segment was being edited to remove some of his statements before airing this weekend on dozens of Sinclair stations. Sinclair, which is known for its conservative stances, owns or operates nearly 200 television stations across the country and reaches 39 percent of American households.

Credit…Michelle Mishina-Kunz for The New York Times

Hawaii, where new coronavirus cases have steadily declined since early September, began a major reopening project this week that will allow visitors to bypass the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine process.

The project, lauded by Gov. David Ige as a potential boon to Hawaii’s struggling restaurant and tourism industries, allows travelers to bypass the quarantine if they produce a negative coronavirus test taken no more than 72 hours before their departure from the mainland.

Some county leaders have criticized the reopening, citing concern that increased travel could put their residents at risk. The changes come amid a resurgence of the virus in the United States, where the number of new cases is climbing toward a third peak.

On Thursday, Hawaii welcomed about 8,000 travelers on the first day of its reopening. Coupled with the resurgence of tourism, officials also started a $75 million program that will give some residents prepaid cards to spend at local restaurants.

“The restaurant and service industry has suffered so much during this pandemic,” Monica Toguchi, the owner of Highway Inn in Waipahu, said during a news conference on Wednesday. “Restaurants have not received any federal relief since the spring, and are struggling to pay their expenses.”

The two programs could bring much-needed revenue to restaurants, farmers, food distributors and other businesses that rely on Hawaii’s status as a premier vacation destination.

According to the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, the state’s leisure and hospitality industries were gutted by the pandemic, with a decline in employment from 128,000 jobs in January to 61,000 in August.

The Hawaii Restaurant Association has estimated that more than 55 percent of restaurants may permanently close within the next six months under current conditions.

Alyssa Lee, the co-owner and operator of Da Farm, a quarter-acre farm in Waimanalo, said the resurgence of travelers could be a lifeline for the thousands of businesses that rely on tourism. But she added that she hoped officials would closely monitor coronavirus case counts and make adjustments if numbers begin to rise.

“I feel like we need to do something to help the economy,” Ms. Lee said. “I think adding more people to the mix won’t necessarily be the best thing, but I almost feel like we can’t just sit back and let the economy fall apart.”

Credit…Al Bello/Getty Images

As the weeks of coronavirus quarantine stretched into months, hugs are among the many things isolated people found themselves aching for. Hugs are good for humans — perhaps more valuable than many of us realized, until we found ourselves missing them.

Research has shown that hugs can lower our cortisol levels during stressful situations, and can raise oxytocin levels and maybe even lower our blood pressure. A 2015 paper published in Psychological Science even found that study subjects who got more hugs were less likely to get sick when exposed to a cold virus than those who weren’t hugged as often.

So when hugging is deemed safe again, will we remember how navigate when you should and shouldn’t hug someone — and how not to hold on too long?

The first rule of Hug Club: You don’t have to hug anyone you don’t want to, and it’s best to ask before going in for a squeeze — especially if it’s someone you don’t know well.

Once you’ve established that your hugging partner wants a hug, you’ll probably pick up on cues as to how long it should last, like pats on the back.

And don’t worry too much about hugging too tightly. The HuggieBot 1.0, a hugging robot, had three pressure settings: light, medium and extra squeeze. Alexis Block, the inventor of the squeeze machine, said that in her research, study participants most often rated the tightest hugs as their favorites.

Credit…David Rowland/AAP Image, via Reuters

Her face has graced magazine covers all over the world. Her leadership style has been studied by Harvard scholars. Her science-and-solidarity approach to the coronavirus has drawn legions of fans in other countries who write to say, “I wish you were here.”

The global left (along with a chunk of the center) has fallen hard for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, giving her a prodigious presence for a leader who manages a smaller population than many mayors do. Now her country’s voters have come around as well.

On Saturday, Ms. Ardern, 40, was well on her way to a second term. With most of the votes counted, her Labour Party was projected to win a clear majority in Parliament, with around 64 of 120 seats and 49 percent of the vote — its strongest showing by far since New Zealand overhauled its electoral system in the mid-1990s.

Three years ago, Ms. Ardern was a last-minute choice to lead the Labour Party, and in her first term she often struggled to fulfill her progressive promises like making housing more affordable, eliminating child poverty and attacking climate change.

But after managing the responses to the Christchurch terrorist attacks, the White Island volcano eruption and a pandemic — not to mention the birth of her first child — she has become a global standard-bearer for a progressive politics that defines itself as compassionate and competent in crisis.

Riding a wave of support for her “go hard, go early” response to the coronavirus, which has effectively been stamped out in the country, Ms. Ardern has now cemented her position as New Zealand’s most popular prime minister in generations, if not ever.

“We will govern as we campaigned — positively,” Ms. Ardern said in her acceptance speech in Auckland Saturday night, adding: “We will build back better from the Covid crisis. This is our opportunity.”

Credit…Hannah Mckay/Reuters

Britain’s space agency has backed an innovative medical drone delivery service that aims to carry coronavirus test samples, testing kits and personal equipment to hospitals and other sites of the country’s National Health Service, authorities said on Saturday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed this year to set up a “world beating” system for virus testing and contact tracing in the country, which has been hit hardest by the pandemic in Europe. His program, however, has been dogged by technical glitches, poorly trained contact tracers and overburdened laboratories, leaving many scrambling for tests.

The delivery service, known as Apian, aims to make logistical tasks more automated while minimizing physical contact, according to its creators, Hammad Jeilani and Christopher Law, two trainee doctors at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The U.K. Space Agency has awarded their company £1.3 million, or $1.7 million, to develop the project.

“We are confident that by setting up a medical drone delivery service, we’ll be able to fly samples to labs more regularly, reliably and quickly, improving patient health outcomes,” Mr. Law said.

Apian’s drones have the rotors of a typical drone and the wings of a plane. They can carry a maximum weight of 2 kilograms (about 4.4 pounds) and fly about 60 miles. The company’s founders say they plan to coordinate with the space agency and emergency services to develop secure air corridors for the drones to fly between hospitals.

The first drones are planned to fly between two hospitals and a laboratory in eastern England, according to British news reports, all located less than 20 miles from each other.

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