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Good morning. A drug company halted its vaccine trial. The Justice Department will defend Trump in a defamation trial. And colleges are sending sick students back to their communities.
The problem with college during the coronavirus pandemic is not just what’s happening on campuses and in college towns. It’s also that colleges may end up spreading the virus to dozens of other communities.
In recent weeks, as students have returned to campus, thousands have become infected. And some colleges have responded by sending students home, including those known to have the virus.
Last week, after hundreds of students came down with the virus, the State University of New York at Oneonta ended in-person classes and sent students home. Colorado College, North Carolina State, James Madison (in Virginia) and Chico State (in California) have taken similar steps.
At Illinois State, Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia, administrators have encouraged some students who have tested positive to leave campus, so they don’t infect other students, and return home.
These decisions to scatter students — rather than quarantine them on campus — have led to widespread criticism. “It’s the worst thing you could do,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s leading infectious-disease expert, said on NBC. “When you send them home, particularly when you’re dealing with a university where people come from multiple different locations, you could be seeding the different places with infection.”
Zach Morin, a University of Georgia student, told WXIA, a local television station, “Once it is open and people are there and spreading it, it doesn’t make sense to send it across the nation.”
Susan Dynarski, a University of Michigan economist, wrote on Twitter that “unloading students onto home communities” was “deeply unethical.”
There are no easy answers for colleges, because creating on-campus quarantines brings its own challenges. At the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, one student who tested positive — Brianna Hayes — said that no employee checked on her during her week in isolation. “Feverish and exhausted from the virus, she made four trips up and down staircases to move her bedding and other belongings to her isolation room,” The Times’s Natasha Singer writes, in a story about campus quarantines.
Still, many experts say that the colleges that chose to reopen their campuses despite the risks, often for financial reasons, have a moral responsibility to do better. “Universities are not taking responsibility for the risks they are creating,” Sarah Cobey, an epidemiologist at the University of Chicago, said.
Last spring, the meatpacking industry became a vector for spreading the disease, when it quickly reopened and caused hundreds of new infections. This fall, higher education may end up being a similar vector.
In other virus developments:
FOUR MORE BIG STORIES
1. The Justice Department steps in
In a highly unusual legal move, the Justice Department will replace President Trump’s personal lawyers and represent him against a defamation lawsuit by the author E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of raping her in the 1990s. The department said the move was justified because the alleged defamation occurred in 2019, when Trump was president and he denied her accusation.
Many legal experts and former Justice Department officials from both parties have previously criticized William Barr, the attorney general, for politicizing the department.
2. Record wildfires in California
More than 2.2 million acres have burned in California this year — which is already a record even though the time of the year that’s traditionally most dangerous for fire weather is only now beginning.
3. Tech stocks keep falling
The stocks of Apple, Microsoft and other big technology companies fell again yesterday, and the S&P 500 is now down almost 7 percent in the last six days. Why? Some market analysts say investors have become fearful that tech stocks, seen as safe investments during a pandemic, had risen too rapidly this summer.
But it’s also worth keeping in mind the advice of Paul Krugman — a Nobel Prize-winning economist and Times columnist — about single-day stock movements: “Anyone who tells you they know why thereby proves that they have no idea what they’re talking about.”
4. Myanmar soldiers admit crimes
Two soldiers from Myanmar have publicly confessed to rape, executions and mass burials as part of what U.N. officials call the country’s genocidal campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority. Their testimony is the first time members of the military have admitted to the mass killings and erasures of entire villages.
One of the men, Pvt. Zaw Naing Tun, said he was told by a superior: “Kill all you see, whether children or adults.” The two men were transported to The Hague, where the International Criminal Court is investigating the violence against the Rohingya.
Here’s what else is happening
Tensions along the India-China border heightened on Tuesday after both countries accused each other’s soldiers of firing warning shots for the first time in years.
Georgia officials are investigating hundreds of cases of double voting in the state’s primaries this year. The attorney general said the state would prosecute people for doing so and also noted that double voting hadn’t changed the outcome of any races.
Navid Afkari, a 27-year-old wrestler, faces execution in Iran, where he was charged with murder after taking part in anti-government protests. Many think the charges are false, motivated by a government seeking to make an example of him.
Lives Lived: Lou Brock, a Hall of Fame outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, had a career spanning two decades. He became the greatest base-stealer the major leagues had ever known when he eclipsed the single-season and career records for steals. He died at 81.
IDEA OF THE DAY: Wash your mask
Masks have become a mandatory item of clothing whenever you leave the house, inspiring debates about which brand is best and offering a new tableau for fashion statements.
But there is still some confusion about a core question: How often should you wash your mask?
Our colleagues at Wirecutter have done the research and produced an answer: Frequently.
As Ben Frumin, Wirecutter’s editor in chief, told me: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend washing masks ‘regularly.’ Experts we spoke to were more specific: Wash a used mask at the end of each day, especially if the mask is dirty or wet. But there’s no need to wash masks separately from your regular laundry.”
A more detailed version of this mask advice will be part of a new weekly Wirecutter newsletter called “Clean Everything,” offering step-by-step instructions for tasks like removing rust from a cast-iron skillet or washing a dishwasher. The newsletter debuts tonight, and you can sign up here. In the meantime, I confess I’ll need to start washing my masks a lot more often.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, READ
Make an eggy tart
Brighten up your week with this colorful tart loaded with zucchini and eggs. Store-bought puff pastry keeps the recipe unfussy, and be sure to top it with fresh herbs like parsley, tarragon or dill.
Related: Kim Severson rounded up seven ways grocery shopping habits have changed since the pandemic began. Among the shifts: Sales of oranges have skyrocketed, because of their immunity benefits, and more people are turning to locally sourced food.
Instagram and your sock drawer
It’s a trend that has been apparent in celebrity culture for a while: aspirational organization. Think rows of pristine white shelves filled to no more than 75 percent capacity, pantries with artfully arranged paper towels and items organized in order of the colors of the rainbow.
Leading the way is the Home Edit, a Nashville-based company that has fans including Khloé Kardashian and Reese Witherspoon. The Times spoke to the owners of Home Edit about making spaces social media-ready. Their pitch? “If we can figure out how to organize a pantry, we promise any of you can.”
The end of a run: The reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” will end next year after its 20th season.
PEN America, the literary and human rights organization, announced yesterday that its next president would be Ayad Akhtar, a Pulitzer-winning playwright and novelist. Akhtar is also the author of a highly anticipated novel that will be released next week, “Homeland Elegies.” In an interview, Akhtar explained how he would lead the organization, given the ongoing debates about free speech and cancel culture.
Boom times for political books: From White House memoirs to journalistic exposés, books about politics — and specifically Trump — have been selling extraordinarily well ever since he entered office. “The strong feelings around the Trump administration have pushed book sales in a way we’ve never seen before in the political arena,” one expert said.
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Surprisingly, it’s an actual unit of time, equal to .01 seconds (five letters).
You can find all of our puzzles here.
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David
P.S. The Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman is hosting a conversation today about the fashion industry with Gwyneth Paltrow, Virgil Abloh and more. It begins at 10 a.m. Eastern; R.S.V.P. here.
You can see today’s print front page here.
Today’s episode of “The Daily” is the first of a two-part series about Breonna Taylor, who died during a police raid on her apartment in Louisville, Ky.
Sanam Yar, Melina Delkic and Amelia Nierenberg contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at [email protected].