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Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today


  • Governors on both coasts said they would coordinate with nearby states on when and how to ease restrictions.

  • The Census Bureau said it would ask Congress for a four-month delay in delivering population data.

  • The White House said President Trump had no intention of firing Dr. Anthony Fauci, despite the president’s retweet of a message that said, “Time to #FireFauci.”

  • Read the latest news on the virus: World | U.S. | New York | Business

Everyone is aching for all of this to be over — the sickness and the loss and the grief, of course, but also the hardships and the restrictions of life in limbo. And there are some hopeful signs that the coronavirus pandemic is leveling off in some areas — including in New York, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Monday that “the worst is over.”

Policymakers now face the challenge of threading the needle between two major dangers: Reopen too slowly, and you risk deepening economic, social and political wounds; reopen too soon, and you risk giving the virus a new lease on death.

President Trump has insisted that the decision is his and that he will soon issue a federal plan, but governors aren’t waiting. Groups of states on both coasts said on Monday that they would work together to reopen their regions gradually as it becomes safe to do so.

The East Coast group comprises New York and New Jersey, the two hardest-hit states, and Pennsylvania, Delaware, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The West Coast group is made up of the states that first reported coronavirus cases — Washington and California — along with Oregon.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said he was working with the White House on a staggered approach for his state, letting businesses with the least potential to spread the coronavirus open first. He promised details later in the week.

Tentative steps in Europe: The crisis seems to be subsiding in some countries, giving officials an opening to begin easing restrictions, though many argue that such moves are premature.

Italy, the center of the pandemic last month, will allow some businesses to reopen on Tuesday, though broader restrictions will remain in effect until at least May 3. Spain is letting some construction workers and others in certain provinces return to work this week.

In France, however, President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that strict limits would stay in place until at least May 11. “The epidemic is not yet under control,” he said in a televised address.

Cautionary tale: In Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands, officials acted early, declaring an emergency and calling for social distancing on Feb. 28, and by mid-March the strategy seemed to be working to halt the outbreak. So they lifted the emergency and began to gradually reopen. It was too soon: A second wave of infections swiftly erupted, and, on Sunday, Hokkaido reimposed the emergency order.

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The U.S. now has its first large wave of people who have recovered from the coronavirus — and thus may be immune to reinfection, at least for a while. That has freed them to go back to doing things that most of the nation must still avoid.

Their freedom takes different forms, like socializing with friends who have also had the virus and flying to a distant state to visit parents. Recovered health care workers are able to fill in for colleagues who are still at risk of infection or have fallen ill. Many recovered patients are eager to donate blood to aid research on antibody treatments.

But it’s still not clear how safe they are. There’s no reliable test for immunity, and if coronavirus patients do have some, no one knows yet how long it lasts. Testing shortages are preventing some recovered patients from confirming that they are virus-free.

Recovery is a long process, and more complicated than most people realize, Fiona Lowenstein, who was hospitalized with the virus and has since created an online support group, writes in an Op-Ed.

Besides physical symptoms that can cycle on and off, she said, many patients have experienced severe anxiety, depression and other problems.

Dr. Ryan Padgett, a 45-year-old emergency-room doctor in Seattle, is recovering after the coronavirus nearly killed him last month. His case was so severe that he was put into a medically induced coma. It took teams of doctors at two hospitals to pull him back from the brink.

Though he is improving, he faces two to three months of physical and occupational therapy, and he is worried about whether he will fully regain cognitive function.

States have scrambled to ramp up coronavirus testing, but in New Jersey, the backlog of testing has been getting worse, not better.

Sick residents are parking their cars overnight in mile-long lines outside some testing sites in hopes of being tested before the day’s supplies run out. And then they wait days for the results.

To understand the holdup, Rukmini Callimachi, a Times correspondent, followed a nasal swab’s bottleneck-plagued journey from the nose of a New Jersey patient to a private laboratory.

“It’s a system overload at every point,” she said. “There’s not enough testing kits. There’s not enough personnel to administer the nasal swab. There’s not enough capacity inside the labs to test in a timely manner. And there’s not enough chemicals for labs to do more than a certain number of tests per day.”

Being next door to New York is a factor: The region’s labs are swamped with high-priority tests from hospitals. Tests are critical to measuring the spread of the virus and a requirement for certain forms of treatment, Rukmini said, but they continue to be hard to get, and many people are discouraged from trying.

“I’ve covered wars all over,” she added. “These are conditions that I’m used to seeing in the developing world, not in America.”

  • China has seen its largest uptick in new cases in over a month, fueled by Chinese citizens who returned from Russia.

  • In Britain, which has 84,279 cases and 10,612 deaths, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was released from the hospital on Sunday after being treated for the virus.

  • A Navy sailor assigned to the virus-stricken aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt has died. At least 585 people from the ship have been infected.

  • In Russia, where the case count has climbed to 18,328, President Vladimir Putin has helped promote misinformation about the virus — part of his long war against American science, a Times investigation found.

Take care of your mask. Here’s our definitive guide to making, wearing and caring for your new face mask.

Improve your work-from-home space. Upgrade to a great office chair or a convertible standing desk, or try these other inexpensive hacks to make working from home more comfortable.

Take a yoga class at home. It’s a proven method to help reduce stress, and you can do it in as little as five minutes. Here’s a guide to getting started.

Get your money back. The pandemic has scuttled many travel plans. Here’s some advice on getting travel refunds.

I wish I could tell you that I’m going through my mother-in-law‘s recipe box, a task I’ve wanted to concentrate on for the past 10 years, but I am an occupational epidemiologist and I’ve never worked harder to keep people healthy and safe at work. As the weeks of this stressful time march on, I make sure that before I talk any science with my colleagues, we pause and pay real attention to the vastly under appreciated question: “How are you doing?”

— Shannon Magari, Syracuse, N.Y.

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

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


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