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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Vincent Herring: Not the End of the Line The saxophonist’s life and livelihood were seriously threatened by the coronavirus, but he’s determined to carry on

Vincent Herring: Not the End of the Line

Vincent Herring
Vincent Herring (photo: Jimmy Katz)

“After months of suffering from the impact of COVID-19 on the jazz economy, things got worse for alto saxophonist Vincent Herring: He contracted the disease itself.

“It felt like the flu,” he recalled in a recent interview. “I was tired all the time, but I wasn’t coughing, and I didn’t have any respiratory problems. After less than a week, I felt totally fine.” But Herring’s health troubles were just beginning. The COVID-19 aftereffects he suffered would last far longer, rendering him barely able to play his horn and almost forcing him to cancel the sessions that produced his latest recording on Smoke Sessions, Preaching to the Choir. The experience has given him a hard-won new perspective on a phenomenally successful career.

Herring’s COVID ordeal began last August. He traveled to Las Vegas to take part in a centennial celebration for Charlie Parker, the subject of his 2019 recording Bird at 100, a collaboration with fellow top-tier altoists Gary Bartz and Bobby Watson. Herring suspects that he contracted the disease on the flight back to New York. Although the symptoms of the potentially lethal virus didn’t fell him, before long he was feeling something else: pain in his joints.

Initially, the 56-year-old saxophonist chalked up this new discomfort to the vagaries of aging. “I remembered some comedian talking about when you get to be over 50 you get aches and pains, and when you tell the doctor they’re just like, ‘Yeah, it happens,’” he said. “So I didn’t think anything of it. But then it got progressively worse. My doctor had me do a blood test and she told me I had rheumatoid arthritis. And it was a gift from COVID.” Worse still, some of the most severe pain was in his fingers.

What followed was a nightmarish succession of doctor recommendations and specialists in joint inflammation. The specialists disagreed on the dosage of a steroid. Herring’s kids got involved researching remedies too. Meanwhile, on a scale of one to 10 “where 10 [means] jumping out of a window because you’re in so much pain,” Herring said he was a nine.

Finally, after weeks of trial and error, Herring’s physicians settled on an approach. He smiled as he described it. “My pain and discomfort level is controlled, through a medication cocktail,” he said, holding up one hand as if in triumph. “That works for me, as long as I take it on time, everything’s good to go,” he added with a sheepish smile. “And of course you learn to take it, because the pain threshold goes up very quick. Right now, I’m feeling okay because I took medication and, just as important, my fingers are working well. But boy, it sure is a thin line between that and catastrophe.”

“MY LIFE AS A JAZZ ARTIST IS OVER”

Adding to the drama of the situation was that Herring was in the middle of recording Preaching to the Choir. Some of the tracks for the album—which features stellar accompaniment by pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, and drummer Johnathan Blake—were already in the can, but a second session had been planned. Suddenly, Herring was uncertain he could manage it.

In the end, he said, “we made that second date, but I didn’t record as many original compositions as I wanted. Was I in my absolute peak form for playing saxophone? No, because I couldn’t practice but a little bit, but I was overcome with joy that I could play. So that added a sense of purpose to the recording—you know, I’m grateful to be able to do it.”

Before hitting the studio, he got dire news from his physician. “My doctor told me there’s no cure. No cure.” During our interview, he grimly shook his head when repeating those words for the second time. “So I’m sitting there thinking, well, my life as a jazz artist is over.” 

Herring thought of the great pianist Donald Brown, his friend for many years, whose performing career was cut short by rheumatoid arthritis and rotator cuff surgeries. “I never really got it until I was confronted with the same thing. I don’t want to say I was super-depressed; it was just another turn in your life, you know?” But he felt the existential threat, and he began thinking about alternatives: “I felt like, ‘Man, I’m gonna have to do something else in life, what else can I do?’”

Over the last couple of years, Herring had enjoyed some success trading stocks, so he figured he could sustain himself that way. “Nevertheless, it was still really jarring to think that your life’s going to change that much. It was bad enough that I was going through a divorce and just getting over that.” He paused for a second and smiled. “It’s funny—my ex and I, we don’t really speak. But when the kids told her about this, she actually reached out to me!”

He is reflective about the experience. “It centers your purpose on music. I don’t want to say it makes it urgent, but it definitely puts another level on it, you know, both as a player and performer. And then you have the depression, of not being able to play and perform. As many goals as I’ve fulfilled, there’s still things that I want to do. And I still have goals that I can reach. I feel like I’ve been given a second chance.”

I understood the message. Seven years ago, I’d faced down similar fears. Journalism, my bread and butter for three decades, had all but vanished from my personal economy, and the food business, my preferred means of alternative income, had grown dicey; in addition to that, the rigors of being on my feet all the time—a necessity in the food biz—felt far different than it had in my thirties. The gigs that used to help me make ends meet instead seemed to be killing me. By 2014, I was walking with a cane most of the time, wondering how I would work next week, much less next month or year. I made it through in part by recalling the energy from happier days, and Herring’s music recalls those days too. Much of his new album bristles with the same kind of energy that I loved in my early New York City jazz experiences, attending free shows in the late ’70s and early ’80s sponsored by Jazzmobile, where players preached, if not to the choir, then with impassioned aim to convert newcomers.“

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Beyond the pandemic, Asian American leaders fear U.S. conflict with China will fan racist backlash. This is happened before. Anti-Asian racism let to the Chinese exclusion act of 1882 which was used to ban all East Americans. Even today most Americans are not sophisticated enough to be able to distinguish between a Chinese, a Korean and a Japanese etc. Lack of exposure and ignorance are as American as apple pie. They don’t all look alike. “ Beyond the pandemic, Asian American leaders fear U.S. conflict with China will fan racist backlash David Nakamura Carol Narasaki listens to speakers during a protest organized by the Asian American Pacific Islanders Organizing Coalition Against Hate and Bias in Seattle. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters) President Biden has sought to blunt a reported surge in anti-Asian bias incidents by ordering the federal government not to use xenophobic language to describe the coronavirus and by calling “vicious hate crimes” during the pandemic “un-American.” But Asian American leaders are warning that a deepening geopolitical confrontation between the United States and China is contributing to the heightened suspicion, prejudice and violence against their communities in ways that could continue to intensify even after the pandemic begins to subside. Advocates called Biden’s rhetorical efforts a welcome corrective to President Donald Trump, who railed against the “China virus” and “kung flu.” Yet the broadening conflict among the world’s two largest economies — on trade, defense, 5G networks, cybersecurity, the environment, health security and human rights — has contributed to a growing number of Americans calling ­China the “greatest enemy” of the United States, according to a Gallup poll this week. In the survey, 45 percent of respondents named China as the top threat, more than twice as many as a year earlier, when the country was ranked on par with Russia. Democrats and Republicans have voiced bipartisan support for a tougher U.S. policy, including economic sanctions on Beijing over cyber-intrusions, ­human rights violations and crackdowns on democracy in Hong Kong. “When America China-bashes, then Chinese get bashed, and so do those who look Chinese. American foreign policy in Asia is American domestic policy for Asians,” said Russell Jeung, a history professor at San Francisco State University who last year helped found Stop AAPI Hate (AAPI stands for Asian American and Pacific Islanders). The advocacy group has tallied more than 3,000 incidents of bias and hate during the pandemic. “The U.S.-China cold war — and especially the Republican strategy of scapegoating and attacking China for the virus — incited racism and hatred toward Asian Americans,” Jeung said. Politicians reacted on March 17 to the shootings at three Atlanta-area spas that left eight people dead, including six Asian women. (Joy Yi/The Washington Post) Anti-Asian attacks rise along with online vitriol A number of violent assaults on Asian Americans over the past two months, including some that went viral after being caught on video, have drawn political and media attention to escalating fears over public safety. The slaying of eight people, including six women of Asian descent, at three Georgia spas on Tuesday sparked demands for an urgent response from authorities. Police arrested Robert Aaron Long, a White man, in connection with the killings and cited as a potential motive Long’s interest in eliminating “sexual temptation.” Suspect charged with killing 8 in Atlanta-area shootings that targeted Asian-run spas Not all of the cases appear to have a link to anger over the pandemic or were necessarily motivated by racial resentment. But advocates said they have collected enough anecdotal evidence through self-reporting portals set up last year by community groups to illustrate that attacks are spiking. And they are fearful that the intensifying competition between Washington and Beijing is contributing to scapegoating of Asian Americans in echoes of earlier periods of widespread hostility during geopolitical tumult and heightened nationalism in the United States. They pointed to the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 that banned the immigration of Chinese laborers amid national economic anxiety, the internment of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, and attacks on mosques and Muslim Americans in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. “For as long as Asians have been in America, we’ve been scapegoated, treated as outsiders and seen as untrustworthy. Too often, these prejudices are exploited for political gain,” said Christopher Lu, who served as White House Cabinet secretary and deputy labor secretary in the Obama administration. “As troubling as our current situation is, I am concerned that things are going to get much worse as U.S.-China tensions grow.” Asian American leaders acknowledged the need for the United States to develop a tougher strategy to counter the Chinese Communist Party’s influence campaign across the globe. The question, activists said, is how the federal government and elected officials speak publicly about the challenge and how far they go to counter it. Trump sought to blame Beijing for the outbreak of the pandemic, employing xenophobic language that was echoed by his supporters and other Republican officials and condemned by Democrats. But in April, weeks after the onset of the pandemic, Biden also drew heat from Democratic Congress members and community groups for a campaign advertisement that accused the 45th president of having “rolled over for the Chinese” in managing the coronavirus and cast China as a looming threat. Biden’s campaign apologized for the language and aired a revised version of the ad. But the episode illustrated the intensifying effort of both parties to appear tougher on Beijing. “It is clearly a difficult line to walk. However, I do believe there is a way of disagreeing with China’s policies without denigrating the Chinese people themselves,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), chair of the House Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Attacks on Asian Americans during pandemic renew criticism that U.S. undercounts hate crimes Chu praised Biden for issuing an executive action in January aimed at barring federal agencies from blaming China for the pandemic and instructing the Justice Department to improve data collection on hate crimes. In a prime-time address to the nation last week about his administration’s coronavirus response, Biden decried attacks and harassment against Asian Americans who have been “forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets.” “It must stop,” Biden said. White House aides, including domestic policy adviser Susan Rice and senior adviser Cedric L. Richmond, met virtually with Asian American advocacy groups two weeks ago to hear their concerns. They pledged to use the power of the administration to combat violence but offered few specifics, according to activists who participated, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private conversation. Chu and others have pushed Biden to elevate more Asian Americans to high-level jobs in his administration, noting there is only one Cabinet-level official of East Asian descent, Katherine Tai, who was confirmed Wednesday as U.S. trade representative. Attorney General Merrick Garland met with advocates on a video call Wednesday that lasted about 45 minutes, telling them he recognized that regardless of whether the Georgia killings were racially motivated, he understood the larger context in which the crime took place and the sense of alarm within the community, according to a person who participated. Asian American leaders have raised questions about the Justice Department’s “China Initiative” — launched by the Trump administration in 2018 — to amplify ongoing U.S. government efforts to counter the Chinese government’s attempts to steal billions of dollars a year in U.S. intellectual property. Advocates have said the program has led to unfair racial profiling of scientists and academics of Chinese descent. They pointed to the case of University of Kansas researcher Franklin Tao, a permanent U.S. resident who was indicted in 2019 and accused of failing to disclose an alleged teaching contract with a Chinese university while conducting federally funded research. His lawyers have denied the charges. “Publicly available information suggests at least 60 cases that have been filed had a reference to the China Initiative. Only a quarter of them have actually involved charges of espionage,” said John C. Yang, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, which has advocated on behalf of Tao, whose case is pending. Yang’s organization has asked the Biden administration to put a moratorium on the program and conduct a review of it. “This goes to the perpetual foreigner stereotype we always talk about,” Yang said, “where in various points in history, we are targeted unfairly.” Justice Department officials met with Asian American advocates two weeks ago, but they declined to comment on the future of that program. They have pledged to develop new grant programs for local police agencies to report on hate crime data and efforts to translate federal hate crime reporting portals into Chinese and other Asian languages. At her confirmation hearing last week, Lisa Monaco, Biden’s nominee for deputy attorney general, offered credit to the Trump administration for focusing on cyberthreats from China and said she expects to “double down” on the strategy. “This is an area I think we have a great deal more to do,” she told senators. On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced economic sanctions against two dozen Chinese and Hong Kong officials. The move came in advance of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s first meeting with Chinese counterparts in Alaska later this week. Last week, during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) asked Blinken about concerns among some advocacy groups that restrictions on assignments for U.S. diplomats has disproportionately blocked Asian American Foreign Service officers from work in Asian countries. “It sends a false message that people who look like me would be more disloyal,” Lieu told Blinken, who said he shared the concerns about inequities in the system. “As you manage the relationship with China, I want to remain vigilant that fear of a foreign country does not negatively impact the Asian Americ

Beyond the pandemic, Asian American leaders fear U.S. conflict with China will fan racist backlash


This is happened before. Anti-Asian racism let to the Chinese exclusion act of 1882 which was used to ban all East Americans. Even today most Americans are not sophisticated enough to be able to distinguish between a Chinese, a Korean and a Japanese etc. Lack of exposure and ignorance are as American as apple pie. They don’t all look alike.


Image without a caption

President Biden has sought to blunt a reported surge in anti-Asian bias incidents by ordering the federal government not to use xenophobic language to describe the coronavirus and by calling “vicious hate crimes” during the pandemic “un-American.”

But Asian American leaders are warning that a deepening geopolitical confrontation between the United States and China is contributing to the heightened suspicion, prejudice and violence against their communities in ways that could continue to intensify even after the pandemic begins to subside.

Advocates called Biden’s rhetorical efforts a welcome corrective to President Donald Trump, who railed against the “China virus” and “kung flu.” Yet the broadening conflict among the world’s two largest economies — on trade, defense, 5G networks, cybersecurity, the environment, health security and human rights — has contributed to a growing number of Americans calling ­China the “greatest enemy” of the United States, according to a Gallup poll this week.

In the survey, 45 percent of respondents named China as the top threat, more than twice as many as a year earlier, when the country was ranked on par with Russia. Democrats and Republicans have voiced bipartisan support for a tougher U.S. policy, including economic sanctions on Beijing over cyber-intrusions, ­human rights violations and crackdowns on democracy in Hong Kong.

“When America China-bashes, then Chinese get bashed, and so do those who look Chinese. American foreign policy in Asia is American domestic policy for Asians,” said Russell Jeung, a history professor at San Francisco State University who last year helped found Stop AAPI Hate (AAPI stands for Asian American and Pacific Islanders). The advocacy group has tallied more than 3,000 incidents of bias and hate during the pandemic.

“The U.S.-China cold war — and especially the Republican strategy of scapegoating and attacking China for the virus — incited racism and hatred toward Asian Americans,” Jeung said.

Politicians reacted on March 17 to the shootings at three Atlanta-area spas that left eight people dead, including six Asian women. (Joy Yi/The Washington Post)

A number of violent assaults on Asian Americans over the past two months, including some that went viral after being caught on video, have drawn political and media attention to escalating fears over public safety. The slaying of eight people, including six women of Asian descent, at three Georgia spas on Tuesday sparked demands for an urgent response from authorities. Police arrested Robert Aaron Long, a White man, in connection with the killings and cited as a potential motive Long’s interest in eliminating “sexual temptation.”

Not all of the cases appear to have a link to anger over the pandemic or were necessarily motivated by racial resentment. But advocates said they have collected enough anecdotal evidence through self-reporting portals set up last year by community groups to illustrate that attacks are spiking.

And they are fearful that the intensifying competition between Washington and Beijing is contributing to scapegoating of Asian Americans in echoes of earlier periods of widespread hostility during geopolitical tumult and heightened nationalism in the United States.

They pointed to the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 that banned the immigration of Chinese laborers amid national economic anxiety, the internment of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, and attacks on mosques and Muslim Americans in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

“For as long as Asians have been in America, we’ve been scapegoated, treated as outsiders and seen as untrustworthy. Too often, these prejudices are exploited for political gain,” said Christopher Lu, who served as White House Cabinet secretary and deputy labor secretary in the Obama administration. “As troubling as our current situation is, I am concerned that things are going to get much worse as U.S.-China tensions grow.”

Asian American leaders acknowledged the need for the United States to develop a tougher strategy to counter the Chinese Communist Party’s influence campaign across the globe. The question, activists said, is how the federal government and elected officials speak publicly about the challenge and how far they go to counter it.

Trump sought to blame Beijing for the outbreak of the pandemic, employing xenophobic language that was echoed by his supporters and other Republican officials and condemned by Democrats.

But in April, weeks after the onset of the pandemic, Biden also drew heat from Democratic Congress members and community groups for a campaign advertisement that accused the 45th president of having “rolled over for the Chinese” in managing the coronavirus and cast China as a looming threat.

Biden’s campaign apologized for the language and aired a revised version of the ad. But the episode illustrated the intensifying effort of both parties to appear tougher on Beijing.

“It is clearly a difficult line to walk. However, I do believe there is a way of disagreeing with China’s policies without denigrating the Chinese people themselves,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), chair of the House Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

Chu praised Biden for issuing an executive action in January aimed at barring federal agencies from blaming China for the pandemic and instructing the Justice Department to improve data collection on hate crimes. In a prime-time address to the nation last week about his administration’s coronavirus response, Biden decried attacks and harassment against Asian Americans who have been “forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets.”

“It must stop,” Biden said.

White House aides, including domestic policy adviser Susan Rice and senior adviser Cedric L. Richmond, met virtually with Asian American advocacy groups two weeks ago to hear their concerns. They pledged to use the power of the administration to combat violence but offered few specifics, according to activists who participated, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private conversation.

Chu and others have pushed Biden to elevate more Asian Americans to high-level jobs in his administration, noting there is only one Cabinet-level official of East Asian descent, Katherine Tai, who was confirmed Wednesday as U.S. trade representative.

Attorney General Merrick Garland met with advocates on a video call Wednesday that lasted about 45 minutes, telling them he recognized that regardless of whether the Georgia killings were racially motivated, he understood the larger context in which the crime took place and the sense of alarm within the community, according to a person who participated.

Asian American leaders have raised questions about the Justice Department’s “China Initiative” — launched by the Trump administration in 2018 — to amplify ongoing U.S. government efforts to counter the Chinese government’s attempts to steal billions of dollars a year in U.S. intellectual property.

Advocates have said the program has led to unfair racial profiling of scientists and academics of Chinese descent. They pointed to the case of University of Kansas researcher Franklin Tao, a permanent U.S. resident who was indicted in 2019 and accused of failing to disclose an alleged teaching contract with a Chinese university while conducting federally funded research. His lawyers have denied the charges.

“Publicly available information suggests at least 60 cases that have been filed had a reference to the China Initiative. Only a quarter of them have actually involved charges of espionage,” said John C. Yang, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, which has advocated on behalf of Tao, whose case is pending. Yang’s organization has asked the Biden administration to put a moratorium on the program and conduct a review of it.

“This goes to the perpetual foreigner stereotype we always talk about,” Yang said, “where in various points in history, we are targeted unfairly.”

Justice Department officials met with Asian American advocates two weeks ago, but they declined to comment on the future of that program. They have pledged to develop new grant programs for local police agencies to report on hate crime data and efforts to translate federal hate crime reporting portals into Chinese and other Asian languages.

At her confirmation hearing last week, Lisa Monaco, Biden’s nominee for deputy attorney general, offered credit to the Trump administration for focusing on cyberthreats from China and said she expects to “double down” on the strategy. “This is an area I think we have a great deal more to do,” she told senators.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced economic sanctions against two dozen Chinese and Hong Kong officials. The move came in advance of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s first meeting with Chinese counterparts in Alaska later this week.

Last week, during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) asked Blinken about concerns among some advocacy groups that restrictions on assignments for U.S. diplomats has disproportionately blocked Asian American Foreign Service officers from work in Asian countries.

“It sends a false message that people who look like me would be more disloyal,” Lieu told Blinken, who said he shared the concerns about inequities in the system. “As you manage the relationship with China, I want to remain vigilant that fear of a foreign country does not negatively impact the Asian American community.”

John Magufuli, Tanzania Leader Who Played Down Covid, Dies at 61 “Vaccines don’t work,” he told a maskless crowd. First elected in 2015, he pushed his East African nation deeper into authoritarianism.

John Magufuli, Tanzania Leader Who Played Down Covid, Dies at 61

“Vaccines don’t work,” he told a maskless crowd. First elected in 2015, he pushed his East African nation deeper into authoritarianism.

President John Magufuli of Tanzania, second from left, visiting Zimbabwe in 2019.
Aaron Ufumeli/EPA, via Shutterstock

NAIROBI, Kenya — President John Magufuli of Tanzania, a populist leader who played down the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic and steered his country away from democratic ideals, died on Wednesday in the port city of Dar es Salaam. He was 61.

Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan said in a brief televised address that Mr. Magufuli had died of heart complications while being treated at Mzena Hospital. The announcement followed more than a week of intense speculation that Mr. Magufuli was critically ill with Covid-19 — reports that senior government officials had repeatedly denied.

Ms. Hassan did not specify Mr. Magufuli’s underlying illness but said that he had suffered from chronic atrial fibrillation for more than a decade. She announced 14 days of national mourning and said that flags would fly at half-staff nationwide.

According to the Tanzanian Constitution, Ms. Hassan will be sworn in as president to serve the remainder of the five-year term that Mr. Magufuli began when he won re-election last October. The move will make her Tanzania’s first female leader.

Mr. Magufuli, a trained chemist, was first elected in October 2015 on an anticorruption platform. He was initially lauded for his efforts to bolster the economy, stem wasteful spending and upgrade Tanzania’s infrastructure.

But the leader, popularly known as “the Bulldozer,” was soon accused of muzzling dissent, rolling back freedom of expression and association, and pushing through laws that shored up his Party of the Revolution’s grip on power.

That marked a sharp departure from policies of his two immediate predecessors, who had promoted their East African nation as a peaceful, business-friendly democracy.

During his first term, Mr. Magufuli’s government banned opposition rallies, revoked the licenses of nongovernmental organizations and introduced laws that critics said repressed independent reporting. He also said that pregnant girls should not be allowed in school.

Mr. Magufuli at a campaign rally on the eve of the presidential election, in Dodoma, Tanzania in October.
Associated Press

Rights groups accused his government of failing to carry out credible investigations into the killings, abductions and persecution of journalists who were critical of the government and opposition figures.

As Mr. Magufuli sought a second term last fall, the authorities made it harder for opposition parties to campaign, froze the bank accounts of civil society groups, denied accreditation to election observers and journalists, and refused to let opposition representatives into polling stations.

On voting day, at least 10 people were killed when violence broke out in the semiautonomous archipelago of Zanzibar after citizens said they had seen soldiers delivering marked ballots.

Mr. Magufuli won that election with 84 percent of the vote amid accusations of widespread fraud and irregularities. Tundu Lissu, the main opposition candidate running against him, was accused of trying to overthrow the government and had to leave the country. He remains in exile in Belgium.

Over the past year, Mr. Magufuli came under intense criticism at home and abroad for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He railed against masks and social distancing, promoted unproven remedies as cures and said that God had helped the country eliminate the virus.

Tanzania has not shared data on the coronavirus with the World Health Organization since April, and it has reported just 509 cases and 21 deaths, figures that have been widely viewed with skepticism.

As vaccine rollouts began worldwide, Mr. Magufuli discouraged the Health Ministry from securing doses for Tanzania.

Associated Press

“Vaccines don’t work,” he claimed in a speech to a maskless crowd in late January. “If the white man was able to come up with vaccinations, then vaccines for AIDS would have been brought. Vaccines for tuberculosis would have made it a thing of the past. Vaccines for malaria would have been found. Vaccines for cancer would have been found.”

Such statements drew condemnation from the World Health Organization as well as the Roman Catholic Church in Tanzania. Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the W.H.O. regional director for Africa, urged the Tanzanian government to prepare the infrastructure to distribute the doses, writing on Twitter, “Science shows that #VaccinesWork.”

In February, the United States Embassy in Tanzania warned of “a significant increase in the number of Covid-19 cases” and said that “limited hospital capacity throughout Tanzania could result in life-threatening delays for emergency medical care.”

Mr. Magufuli’s death came just days after speculation that he was sick with the virus. The rumors started swirling after Mr. Lissu, the opposition figure in exile, said that the president had Covid-19 and was being treated in a hospital in neighboring Kenya. 

Mr. Lissu urged the authorities to disclose the whereabouts of the president, who had not been seen in public for almost two weeks. Mr. Magufuli did not attend a virtual summit for leaders of the East African regional bloc on Feb. 27.

Tanzanian officials had dismissed the speculation and said that Mr. Magufuli was working as usual.

After Mr. Magufuli’s death was announced on Wednesday, the leader of opposition party Act Wazalendo called on Tanzanians to show “patience and understanding” as the country undergoes a critical transitional period.

“This is an unprecedented moment,” the opposition party leader, Zitto Kabwe, said in a statement, “one that will undoubtedly move us all in very personal ways.”

John Pombe Joseph Magufuli was born on Oct. 29, 1959, in the district of Chato in northwestern Tanzania. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Dar es Salaam and, in 2009, a doctorate in chemistry from the same university, according to the presidential office’s website.

Before becoming president, he was a member of Tanzania’s Parliament and held a number of cabinet posts. He developed a reputation for fighting corruption while working in cabinet positions, including as the minister of lands, fisheries and public works.

Mr. Magufuli is survived by his wife, Janet, a primary-school teacher; and two children.“