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Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today - Press "Enter" to skip to content

Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today


Figures from several American states and cities show a disturbing trend: The coronavirus is disproportionately infecting and killing black people.

In Louisiana, about 70 percent of the people who have died are African-American, though only one-third of the state’s population is black. Around Milwaukee, where 27 percent of residents are black, African-Americans who test positive outnumber whites two to one. Chicago is a bit less than one-third African-American, but black people account for 72 percent of the virus-linked deaths.

There’s no reason to think the virus discriminates. Rather, the racial disparities in who is getting sick and dying reflect entrenched inequalities in American society.

African-Americans are less likely to be insured, more likely to have existing health conditions and more likely to be denied testing and treatment than people of other races, public health experts say. Black Americans are more likely to use public transportation, live in rented housing and hold jobs that can’t be done from home — all pointing to more frequent contact with strangers, and therefore more risk of infection.

Americans are understandably anxious to get back to normal as soon as possible. But any “reopening” in the foreseeable future may not look the way we imagine.

Instead of a swift return to our pre-coronavirus lives, we’re more likely to see a gradual easing of some restrictions while many others remain in place. It may be less about putting the pandemic behind us and more about learning to live with it, perhaps for a long time.

That is what’s happening in several countries that are farther down the road than the U.S.

A few European nations that were quick to enact strict policies are cautiously relaxing them now: Austria will let some shops reopen next week, and Denmark is reopening day care centers and primary schools on April 15. Both said they would clamp down again if they spotted any signs of a second wave of infections.

In a symbolically important move, China lifted the lockdown of Wuhan on Tuesday. The city of 11 million people had been shut down and sealed off for 10 weeks.

Shops have reopened, but many have set up counters by the street so customers can make purchases while remaining outside. Residents can now leave the city, but only after the authorities review their travel and medical histories. Buses and subway trains are running again, but officials are still telling everyone to stay home as much as possible, and schools remain closed.

Life is creeping back in Wuhan, according to our colleagues Raymond Zhong and Vivian Wang, but the trauma from the epidemic “could linger for decades,” and true normalcy is nowhere in sight.

The pandemic has forced a vast majority of college students in the U.S. off campus and into challenging new realities that are cleaving largely along socioeconomic lines.

As video chats replace classroom teaching, some liberal arts colleges are finding they are no longer the “great equalizer” they aspire to be.

For a political science course at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, one student logs in from a vacation home in Maine, while another in Florida arrives late because she was looking for meat for her mother’s Puerto Rican food truck. A student from Russia was still in her dorm, because her mother couldn’t afford her airfare home.

“This crisis is exposing that a lot of people don’t have anywhere to go,” she said.

With nearly all flights to and from China canceled, more than a million Chinese students studying abroad have been stranded, including about 400,000 in the U.S. The Chinese government worries that their return could set off another outbreak.

Because of the hardships brought on by the epidemic, many students are pushing their schools to abolish grades for the term. Colleges are responding by instituting pass/fail grading on a scale not seen since antiwar protests disrupted classes in the 1960s.

It took more than a month for the United States to reach 5,000 deaths. Five days later, the toll had surpassed 10,000. Here’s a look at how quickly the totals have climbed across the country, and which cities are being hit the hardest in proportion to their population.

  • After hints of a slowdown, New York State recorded 731 deaths on Tuesday, the most in one day since the crisis began.

  • France had its highest daily death toll yet on Monday, with 613 fatalities reported in hospitals.

  • Japan declared a state of emergency after months of resisting stringent measures. Medical experts wondered whether it was too little, too late.

  • After a sharp uptick in infections, Turkey, which has more than 30,000 cases, said it would begin delivering free masks to families.

Make your own disinfectant: The C.D.C. has said 4 teaspoons of bleach in a quart of water is effective against the coronavirus. Just allow the solution to sit on a surface for 10 minutes before wiping it away, and make enough only for a day or two at a time — bleach loses potency fairly quickly outside the original container.

Wear an effective D.I.Y. mask: HEPA furnace filters, vacuum bags, 600-count pillowcases and flannel pajamas are among the best household items to use, researchers say.

No sewing machine? The C.D.C. posted instructions for making easy face coverings using a T-shirt or a bandanna and coffee filter.

Don’t stress about screen time: Evidence directly linking children’s screen time to cognitive or social harm seems to be thin, a professor and an author write in The Times’s opinion section.

  • Here are answers to common questions for small businesses and nonprofits navigating the $2 trillion stimulus plan.

  • Coronavirus patients in areas that had high levels of air pollution before the pandemic are more likely to die than those in less polluted areas, according to a new study.

  • After an ambulance in New York took their grandmother away, members of the Correa family couldn’t locate her. A week later, they were told that she had been in the hospital morgue for days.

  • A member of the crew of the U.S.N.S. Comfort, the hospital ship docked in New York City, has tested positive for the coronavirus.

  • To avoid the usual big gatherings on opening day of Pennsylvania’s trout fishing season, the state abruptly started the season two weeks early.

  • Finally, some privacy: After 10 years, the giant pandas Ying Ying and Le Le successfully mated in a now-quiet Hong Kong zoo.

I’m an American living in Spain, where I’ve raised my family. Precisely this year, all four of my daughters are living, working and/or studying abroad: Seattle, Seoul, Montreal and Quebec. A family WhatsApp group is helping us stay close and connected over four different time zones. We share food, fun and photos every day.

— Brenda Padilla Ericksen, Málaga, Spain

Lara Takenaga and Jonathan Wolfe helped write today’s newsletter.


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