Herd Immunity, Hong Kong, Twitter: Your Friday Briefing
Herd Immunity, Hong Kong, Twitter: Your Friday Briefing
The pandemic picks up its pace in a vulnerable world
The coronavirus pandemic’s pace is quickening worldwide, with nearly 700,000 new known infections reported in the last week, many in Latin America and the Gulf States.
New cases are decreasing in France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom after outbreaks that left them with a total of more than 126,000 deaths. In England, groups of up to six people — up from two currently — will be able to meet outside starting on Monday, provided they stay more than six feet apart.
Yet the vast majority of the world’s population remains vulnerable to the virus, new studies found.
The percentage of those infected is a small fraction of the threshold epidemiologists believe is needed for herd immunity, the point at which the virus can no longer spread widely. Some countries — notably Sweden and briefly Britain — have experimented with limited lockdowns in an effort to build up immunity in their populations.
“We don’t have a good way to safely build it up, to be honest, not in the short term,” a Harvard epidemiologist said.
Testing and tracing: Britain rolled out its testing and contact tracing program, a day after France’s Parliament approved a contact tracing app that has set off an intense privacy debate in the country.
Final rules to be hashed out in the coming weeks will help determine the fate of a city that has been a link between China and the West for decades. Early signals from the Chinese authorities point to a crackdown once the law takes effect, which is expected by September.
Despite worldwide pressure on China to back off, including a U.S. threat to end Hong Kong’s special trade status, Beijing did not back down. But even as Chinese officials taunted the U.S. as an imperious meddler, Premier Li Keqiang called for close trade relations between the two countries.
The order seeks to strip liability protection in certain cases for companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook, making it easier for people to sue them over their content.
Legal experts say the order is almost certain to face a court challenge. It could also backfire on Mr. Trump: Without the liability shield, social media platforms may be forced to remove posts that could be considered false or defamatory — the boundaries of which Mr. Trump often tests.
Like most Europeans, our reporter Patrick Kingsley was used to traveling freely across borders in the European Union. But as he crossed the Czech-German border recently, police officers stopped his car and searched it and his suitcase.
Here’s what else is happening
Minnesota: Gov. Tim Walz declared a state of emergency in Minneapolis and activated the National Guard to help keep the peace after protests erupted in response to a black man’s death in police custody.
Hungary: A new law, the first of its kind in Europe, forbids changing a person’s gender on official documents after birth. It was seen as a blow against transgender rights and the latest skirmish in a continuing culture war.
Netherlands: Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that in accordance with Dutch policies on the coronavirus, he had not visited his 96-year-old mother in a nursing home in the weeks before her death, a move that even critics said matches his “no frills” personality and his belief in playing by the rules.
Snapshot: Detail by detail, our critic Jason Farago dissects the painting “The Gross Clinic,” above, by a young Thomas Eakins. The 1875 masterpiece of blood and healing is a depiction of medicine that, he writes, feels particularly relevant right now.
Soccer: The English Premier League, the most-watched sports league in the world, is returning on June 17 to stadiums without fans, pending a signoff from the health authorities, after a two-month pandemic suspension. Serie A, which stopped play on March 10 in hard-hit Italy, will also return, on June 20. Germany’s Bundesliga began play last week.
Post-pandemic offices: Temperature checks, face coverings, desks six feet apart, open windows: yes. Coffee pots and snack bowls, seating in common areas, mass transit: no. These are among the U.S. health authorities’ recommendations for companies that are reopening offices. If followed, the measures would constitute a far-reaching makeover of the corporate work experience.
Missing life’s pleasures: Michael Pourfar, a New York neurologist, had a love of fine wine — until he contracted Covid-19 and his sense of smell and taste disappeared. “Losing an appreciation of wine’s flavors was for me like losing the color red from my kaleidoscope,” he said.
What we’re reading: The Poem-a-Day series. “Amid the noise and clatter of the news, it’s nice to pause and sit quietly with a poem,” Gina Lamb, a Special Sections editor, tells us.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: This flavorful grain salad gets its crunch from sliced vegetables and its tenderness from pockets of cooked chickpeas.
And now for the Back Story on …
Out of college and straight into sports reporting
Danielle Allentuck is one of 23 young journalists who spent the past year in The Times’s first fellowship group, a program aimed at developing the next generation of reporters and editors.
She worked on the Sports desk, reporting on N.F.L. draft picks, profiling Simone Biles and covering spring training. She wrote about what she learned along the way. Here’s an excerpt:
I was always the youngest person at assignments and often the only woman. I learned how to be confident and stand my ground. When I asked a fan at a Mets game if he would be willing to be interviewed, he told me he couldn’t talk to me because I was “like 12.” I promptly replied: “Geez, that’s so rude. I turned 13 last week.” I kept walking and soon found the perfect person to interview for my story.
Sometimes, other reporters tried to push me out of postgame scrums, but I learned to fight my way to the front so I could be seen and heard. Age is just a number. If you’re hired to do a job, do it.
My best stories came from observing my surroundings. At the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Kansas City, Mo., I noticed that male gymnasts carried honey around with them. I started asking around and soon discovered they did that to improve their grip.
I spent hours watching sidearm and submarine pitchers perfect their craft at a training camp in Durham, N.C. I even got to throw a bullpen session. Back in New York, as I worked on edits for the article, I got into a lively debate about arm angles and technique with my colleagues. Soon, we were standing in the middle of the newsroom demonstrating how we would each approach the pitch.