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We’re covering new risks, symptoms and hot spots of the virus, the burgeoning number of unemployed Americans and labor’s challenge to Amazon in Europe.
Virus risks fail to fade, as symptoms and cases grow
Even in hard-hit countries, small fractions of the population have caught the coronavirus so far, new studies in England, Spain and France show. On the surface, that’s good news. But it’s also sobering evidence that the vast majority of people may still be susceptible to infection.
The findings support experts’ warnings that populations are still far from achieving “herd immunity,” which occurs when enough people are resistant to slow a virus’s spread.
And because so many people are susceptible, public health officials fear that relaxing social distancing rules risks causing new waves of the pandemic.
In other developments:
Doctors have reported a flurry of strokes in younger Covid-19 patients. The cases add to evidence that the coronavirus attacks not just the lungs, but also the kidneys, brain, heart and liver. In rare cases, it seems to incite a life-threatening inflammatory syndrome in children.
Russia’s medical workers are suffering astonishing levels of infection and death. In St. Petersburg, 1,465 health care workers have caught the virus, accounting for more than one in six of the city’s reported total cases. The country’s health minister said that 400 Russian hospitals had suffered outbreaks of the coronavirus.
Simply talking can generate coronavirus droplets that linger in the air up to 14 minutes. A new study shows how respiratory droplets produced during normal conversation may be just as important as coughing or sneezing in transmitting disease, especially indoors.
About 1.2 million children age 5 or younger in 118 low- and middle-income countries are at risk of dying from preventable causes — not Covid-19 — every six months because health services are overstressed or curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations said.
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U.S. jobless now exceed 36 million, despite reopenings
Scattered business reopenings around the U.S. have not halted the flood of layoffs, with the government reporting that nearly three million people filed new unemployment claims last week, bringing the two-month tally to more than 36 million.
“This is a very protracted, painful situation for the labor market,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, “and I just don’t see anything positive.”
Some of those being called back to work, like Sarah Parker, 26, of Ohio, fear exposure to the virus on the job, or face less pay than they got in unemployment insurance — or both. “I’m afraid I’m going to put myself at way more risk working harder for less pay,” she said.
Hardest hit: In 11 states, more than a quarter of those in the work force in February were now unemployed, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found. And in households making less than $40,000 a year, nearly 40 percent of those who were working in February lost their jobs in March or the beginning of April, according to the Federal Reserve.
Early warnings: Rick Bright, the whistle-blower who was ousted as the head of a federal medical research agency, told Congress that Trump administration officials failed to heed his early warnings and that Americans died as a result. President Trump dismissed Dr. Bright as a “disgruntled employee,” while the health secretary, Alex Azar, insisted officials followed through on the scientist’s ideas.
If you have 8 minutes, this is worth it
Amazon’s labor showdown in France
A case heading to the French Supreme Court tests Amazon’s ability to sidestep the demands of workers who are fulfilling the surge in orders brought on by the pandemic.
“The only way to push Amazon to action is through confrontation,” said Jean-François Bérot, above, an Amazon employee and union member south of Paris.
His union successfully sued the company last month, leading a French court to order Amazon to stop delivering “nonessential” items as part of measures to protect worker health.
In Europe, national labor laws require companies to deal with unions, even if employees aren’t members. Still, the labor activism against Amazon in France, Germany, Italy and Spain hasn’t stopped the company from dominating Europe’s online retail market.
Here’s what else is happening
Vaccine access: A government official in France said it would be unacceptable for the French drug giant Sanofi to give the U.S. early access to any Covid-19 vaccine it develops. Sanofi’s chief executive has suggested that America would be first in line because it helped finance the research.
W.T.O. chief: The head of the World Trade Organization, Roberto Azevêdo, resigned unexpectedly, adding another element of uncertainty to commerce in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and escalating trade conflicts. His views on open trade had clashed with President Trump’s preference for bilateral power politics.
U.S. chip plant: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company will build an advanced chip factory in the U.S., according to people briefed on the plans. The move, to be announced as soon as Friday, would be a win for the Trump administration, which has criticized the fragility of a tech supply chain heavily centered in China.
Snapshot: Above, jets of energy from a black hole in a distant galaxy, captured by a radio telescope in South Africa. Astronomers are trying to understand the dynamics of the jets, which resemble those in a fountain, with water going up and down and flowing in configurations.
U.F.O. reports: U.S. fighter pilots reported close encounters with unidentified aerial vehicles, including several dangerously close, in eight incidents between June 2013 and February 2019, documents released by the government show. While some of the episodes have been reported before, the documents include the pilots’ descriptions of what they saw.
Disney: The company said its stage adaptation of “Frozen” would not reopen on Broadway once the pandemic eases, making it the first musical to be felled by the crisis.
What we’re reading: This uplifting Guardian article about a group of teenage boys marooned on an island in 1965. “The author found a true-life ‘Lord of the Flies’ story,” says Maria Abi-Habib, a South Asia correspondent for The Times based in Delhi. “And the ending could not be more different than the book.”
Now, a break from the news
Listen: Meet (and hear) the voice of Walt Whitman, Ha Jin, Albert Camus and even God. (Hint: He was an actor in “The Sopranos.”) For those of us missing live music, see how some lucky airportgoers were treated to one-on-one concerts.
Cope: If you’re tired of home schooling (among parents, who isn’t?), here are some tips to make things easier.
At Home has our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.
First, soak a cup of soybeans, almonds or oats in plenty of water overnight. Soy, especially, will grow two or three times in volume, so make sure you do this in a big bowl.
In the morning, use a colander to drain the water, and rinse the soy, almonds or oats. This is especially important if you’re using oats to prevent the milk from getting slimy and glutinous.
Then put your soy, almond or oats in a blender together with three cups of water and blend for about two minutes. Thorough blending will maximize how much milk you can squeeze out.
Next, pour out the mixture into a clean cheesecloth — a dedicated “nut milk bag” makes this part really easy and prevents any spills — and squeeze out the milk. And I mean squeeze and squeeze, until you get the last drops out.
Then, if you’re using soy or almonds, gently heat the milk, but stop before it reaches a boil. That’s common practice in Japan, because people there tend not to eat raw nuts. But I wouldn’t heat the oat milk, which can easily get slimy.
You can add a little sugar or maple syrup to any of the milks, to taste. It should keep in the fridge, covered, for about five days.
That’s it for this briefing. We should be enjoying the Cannes Film Festival this week; instead, you can stream a French movie. See you next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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