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

Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today


  • President Trump encouraged right-wing protests against social-distancing measures in several states.

  • Governors in Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin and Idaho began announcing plans to ease restrictions, despite persistent testing shortfalls.

  • China’s economy shrank for the first time in nearly half a century.

  • Get the latest updates here, plus maps and full coverage.

Since the outbreak began in the United States, there have been few deadlier places than the inside of a nursing home.

In New Jersey, coronavirus infections have broken out in 394 long-term facilities and more than 1,500 residents have died — including 17 whose bodies were piled up in a single nursing home morgue.

In New York, 72 facilities have had five or more deaths, including one in Brooklyn where 55 people have died, and another in Queens with 29 likely deaths.

Since the first outbreak at a nursing home in Washington in February, the virus has ripped through more than 4,000 nursing and long-term care facilities across the country, killing at least 7,000 people connected to them. About one in five deaths from the coronavirus in the United States has occurred in one of these facilities, according to a New York Times tally.

“They’re death pits,” Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York, told The Times. “They’re crowded and they’re understaffed. One Covid-positive patient in a nursing home produces carnage.”

The vulnerabilities are hard to escape: Nursing homes concentrate an aging population into small, confined spaces and are staffed by workers who move freely between rooms. But specific failures and oversights have made the crisis worse.

Virus tests and protective gear are often in short supply. Employees — many of whom have gone to heroic efforts to care for their residents — are often poorly paid, undertrained, work multiple jobs and live in at-risk communities.

The crisis has left families of the elderly scrambling. Many cannot bring older family members home because they cannot provide the extensive medical care they need, or they are afraid they may inadvertently infect them. At a time when families are already stretched for resources and personal space, it can often feel like there are no good options.

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Some European nations are starting to ease restrictions, but the rules for kids vary wildly.

In Denmark, elementary schools reopened this week, in a first for Western countries on lockdown. To prevent infection, pupils have returned to smaller classes, desks are spaced six feet apart and hourly hand-washing is mandatory.

Meanwhile, in Spain, children are not allowed to leave their homes, let alone return to their schools, which will remain shut for the rest of the academic year. Parents have reported behavioral changes in their children, and experts have warned against mental health issues that confinement may cause.

A dire global warning: Even though children seem to be largely unaffected by the coronavirus, the pandemic could indirectly lead to hundreds of thousands of children dying and millions becoming impoverished, according to a new report from the United Nations. As schools stay closed, parents lose work, food becomes insecure and health needs are put off, putting the young — especially those in already difficult situations —at “potentially catastrophic” risk.

In the United States, children are predicted to be among the hardest hit by rising poverty levels.

China has adjusted the official death toll from the outbreak in Wuhan, and, sadly, it was not a minor tweak. Counting deaths at home and those initially incorrectly categorized in hospitals, the number of dead in the city where the pandemic began rose by 1,290, for a new total of 3,869 lives lost.

China is facing sharp criticism, including from President Trump, about the accuracy of its numbers and calls are mounting for Beijing to answer for the global health crisis.

But such revisions are not unusual. Many countries are probably underreporting their tallies, in part because of problems with testing and the speed with which the virus has overwhelmed public health care systems.

New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, added 3,700 people to its death toll this week to include people who probably died of the virus, based on symptoms and medical history, but were never tested.

Spain has begun combing through records to verify its death toll, which now stands at close to 20,000, the highest in the world after the U.S.’s toll of more than 31,000.

  • Britain has extended its lockdown by at least three weeks, until the second week of May. It reported 861 new deaths on Thursday, 100 more than the previous day.

  • In France, which has 109,252 cases and 18,681 deaths, the government is considering asking people to install a contact-tracing app, but privacy protections may limit its effectiveness.

  • More than a thousand sailors from the French aircraft carrier group Charles de Gaulle have tested positive for the virus.

  • Americans and Europeans in India have been evicted from hotels and apartments and aggressively questioned on the streets amid what appears to be a rise in xenophobic incidents.

Know thy enemy. Is the virus on my clothes, my shoes, my hair? We asked the experts about all the places coronavirus lurks — or doesn’t. (You’ll feel better after reading this.)

Cut your hair. Our writer employed a hairdresser — virtually — to guide her as she cut her bangs and gave her husband a trim. If that goes horribly wrong, you can always shave it off: Here’s our guide to a self-administered buzz cut.

Roommate getting on your nerves? We’ve got advice about what to do before a dispute, when tension is building, and when you’re about to snap. Also, advice on making up.

Make an effective mask: Fabric with a higher thread count offers the best protection. Use at least two layers, and consider sewing a pocket to hold a coffee filter or paper towel.

I’m sewing my own graduation dress out of broken white bedsheets! I am supposed to graduate high school early June. Our ceremony at school is canceled, but I still need something nice to wear for our virtual family celebration!

— Lucia Wilkinson, Stockholm

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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