Here’s what you need to know:
An anti-malaria drug promoted by the president may be harmful when taken to treat the coronavirus.
The malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine did not help coronavirus patients and may have done harm, according to a new study based on the records of nearly 15,000 patients who received the drugs and 81,000 who did not.
Hydroxychloroquine is the drug that President Trump has advocated, and that he has said he has been taking in hopes of preventing coronavirus infection.
People who received the drugs were more likely to have abnormal heart rhythms, according to the study, which was published in the The Lancet.
But the study was observational, meaning that the patients were not picked at random to receive the drug or not. This type of study cannot provide definitive evidence about drug safety and effectiveness.
Even so, the authors of the study recommended that the drugs not be used outside clinical trials, and they said carefully controlled trials were urgently needed.
The Fed chief warned of ‘a whole new level of uncertainty’ as financial pain deepens.
Parents have no idea if they will be able to send their children to school in the fall. Millions of workers do not know when, or even if, they may return to the office. Something as simple as going to the beach on this holiday weekend is a fraught decision.
“In the best of times, predicting the path of the economy with any certainty is difficult,” Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, said on Thursday. “We are now experiencing a whole new level of uncertainty, as questions only the virus can answer complicate the outlook.”
Mr. Powell said the nation’s economy was in a “downturn without modern precedent.”
The Fed chief’s comments underscored a point his colleagues have made repeatedly in recent days: The path to recovery is not obvious as the economy and job market absorb the biggest shock in generations. Against that backdrop, several said, both Fed policymakers and those in Congress and the White House should be prepared to do more if needed.
“Depending on the course the virus takes and the depth and duration of the downturn it causes, additional support from both monetary and fiscal policies may be called for,” Richard H. Clarida, the Fed’s vice chair, said during an event earlier in the day.
But key government officials, particularly Republican members of Congress and some officials in the Trump administration, have signaled varying appetites for providing further help.
“I do not believe that more government spending is going to give us a strong and durable recovery,” Mr. Kudlow said.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in unemployment funds were lost to fraud even as jobless claims soar.
A sophisticated fraud network targeting Washington State’s unemployment system claimed hundreds of millions of dollars before officials were able to identify and crack down on the attack, state officials said Thursday.
“I realize this is a jaw-dropping figure,” said Suzi LeVine, the commissioner of the state Employment Security Department. The fraudulent claims had been filed on behalf of tens of thousands of people, and many involved individuals who had not lost their jobs, she said.
“I hate to say it, but this is going to take longer and look grimmer than we thought,” said Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford University.
The stunning scale of the job losses, and the billions of dollars in benefits approved by Congress to sustain workers without incomes, has made unemployment systems ill-equipped to handle the surge of claims vulnerable to fraud.
The U.S. Secret Service said in a memo last week that it appeared that an international group of fraudsters was targeting unemployment systems, particularly in Washington State. Officials said there was also evidence of attacks in Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Wyoming.
Investigators said the impostors appeared to be working with an extensive database of personal information stolen in earlier hacking attacks that allowed them to submit claims.
Washington State had moved to make payments available quickly and deliver them to direct-deposit accounts. But the state began realizing the scope of the problem when people who had not filed for unemployment received mail saying that they had.
Ms. LeVine said the state had increased security on its systems and delayed payments to prevent further fraud. That has blocked thousands of other claims worth an additional hundreds of millions of dollars.
To address the problem, the city will increase to 1.5 million the number of meals it distributes each day by next week. A million meals will be delivered; the rest will be available for pickup at schools.
The country enters a Memorial Day weekend to remember (or forget).
Mobbed beaches. Crowded parades. Congested public ceremonies. Jam-packed backyard barbecues. Memorial Day, which has come to signal the beginning of hot weather across much of the United States, typically brings millions shoulder to shoulder, towel to towel.
But this year, these first rites of summer are taking place as the country grapples with the pandemic and cautiously emerges from months of quarantine. People are eager for social interaction and fun, yet public health officials warn that those impulses could result in an uptick in coronavirus cases.
Many traditional Memorial Day events have been canceled or replaced with socially distant formats. Elected officials and event organizers are struggling to bring back as much normalcy as possible without jeopardizing public health. The results have been hopeful, maddening and bewildering. But many Americans are pressing on, and trying to preserve what is important while letting go of what is not.
The Memorial Day ceremony in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., is on but organizers are begging the public not to come. The boardwalk in Ocean City, Md., opened this month, but signs reminded that groups of 10 or more were discouraged. And in Massachusetts, beaches will reopen for swimming on Memorial Day, but volleyball is banned and sunbathers must place their towels 12 feet apart.
Here are some general tips for planning a trip to the beach.
People are also beginning to feel the negative health effects of social isolation, which Steve Cole, a social genomics researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, argued can increase the chances of chronic disease and other types of illnesses the longer it goes on.
“We don’t want to be packed like sardines in a crowd,” he said, “but at the same time, a lone human being is a recipe for death.”
Trump, refusing to wear a mask in public on tour of Ford plant, ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff.
President Trump on Thursday called for flags at the White House, on public grounds across the country and on naval vessels to be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims of the coronavirus, a rare acknowledgment of the lives lost from an administration that typically likes to downplay the death toll and take credit for lives it claims it saved.
“Our nation mourns for every life lost to the coronavirus pandemic, and we share in the suffering of all those who endured pain and illness from the outbreak,” read the proclamation that was signed by Mr. Trump.
He ordered American flags to be flown at half-staff through Sunday.
On Memorial Day, the president said, the flags at half-staff would be honoring the nation’s war dead. The announcement came several hours after Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, had written to Mr. Trump asking him to fly flags at half-staff when the country reaches 100,000 Covid-19 deaths, which is expected in the coming days.
In their letter to Mr. Trump, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer called for “a national expression of grief.”
Almost 95,000 people have now died in the United States, according to a tally by The New York Times, and an average of more than 1,000 deaths a day are still being recorded.
Mr. Trump has not led any observance of national mourning since the pandemic began claiming American lives by the thousands. In his recent public comments, he has steered clear of talking about the deaths, focusing instead on the need to reopen the country — a process he describes as a “transition to greatness” — and defending his own handling of the crisis.
Touring a Ford plant in Michigan earlier on Thursday, Mr. Trump declined to wear a mask in front of the cameras, despite the plant’s guidelines that required anyone on the site to have a face covering to protect from the spread of the coronavirus.
The president said he wore one when he was alone with Ford executives, but took it off for the public portion of his tour.
“I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” he said.
A church that defied coronavirus restrictions was burned to the ground, and arson is expected.
A church in northern Mississippi burned to the ground this week in what the police believe was arson because of a spray-painted message at the scene that seemed to criticize the church’s defiance of coronavirus restrictions.
First Pentecostal Church had sued Holly Springs, Miss., which is about an hour southeast of Memphis, arguing that the city’s stay-at-home order had violated the church’s right to free speech and interfered with its members’ abilities to worship.
After firefighters put out the blaze early on Wednesday morning, the police found the message “Bet you stay home now you hypokrits” spray-painted on the ground near the church’s doors, according to Maj. Kelly McMillen of the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department.
The church also filed a lawsuit against the city, which has about 8,000 residents, in April. A lawyer for the church said in the lawsuit that the police had cited Mr. Waldrop on Easter for holding a service in violation of the city’s order, and had later shut down a Bible study.
What happened to the great American logistics machine?
It started with silence, or something close to silence, or perhaps it was simply the absence of a low-level hum that nobody knew was humming until it stopped. In the quiet we realized that, until the pandemic arrived, we had lived in a vast, elaborate, whirring contraption that delivered culture and commerce at spectacular speeds, with astonishing efficiency.
Logistics — the science of making Thing A and delivering it to Point B — had become a national art form, the corporate answer to jazz, stand-up comedy and end-zone dances. America was like an operating system that upgraded itself so regularly that its design and endless enhancements were taken for granted.
Now, the heart of the great American logistics machine is beating slowly and erratically, and in some places it has gone into full-on cardiac arrest. Inevitably, one of our many reactions is pure bewilderment.
Rationing meat. Scrambling for masks. Running low on crucial drugs. The early shortages for the pandemic — swabs, toilet paper, ventilators — were a foreshadowing, not an aberration. We still don’t have enough good tests. Our national pantry, long bursting, lacks essentials. Come to think of it, it’s also missing some nonessentials. Just try to buy a bicycle.
Let us acknowledge the obvious: The country is flunking a curriculum that it basically wrote. Which is baffling. American supremacy in logistics has been a calling card for decades, even among people unfamiliar with the L-word.
Watch what it was like inside one New York hospital during the peak of the city’s outbreak.
“Before, you didn’t really have time to think about it — you just had to get it done,” said one worker at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital. “Now, you get time to sit back and look at what you’ve been doing, and start processing your feelings. That could be one of my family members. That could be me.”
This is how to fix your work-from-home tech.
The last thing you need right now is a spotty Wi-Fi signal interrupting your workday. Good news! There are some simple steps you can take to improve that. And, while you’re at it, take a look at the rest of your computer setup and see what may be slowing you down. A little tweak can make working from home less miserable.
Global updates: China abandons growth target for the year and more from our international correspondents.
Parting with years of precedent, China on Friday abandoned an annual growth target for 2020, in an acknowledgment that restarting its economy after the outbreak will be a slow and difficult process.
In his annual report to lawmakers meeting in Beijing, Premier Li Keqiang said that the country had made major achievements in its response to the epidemic and that economic development was a top priority. But while he set goals to limit inflation and unemployment, he did not announce a target for economic growth for the year.
Coronavirus cases in China have slowed to a small fraction of what they were in January, but the pandemic was weighing heavily on the country’s politics and economy as top officials began a tightly choreographed legislative pageant.
In one sense, the National People’s Congress is a chance for China’s leaders, who won broad public support for curbing the spread of the outbreak, to push back against growing international criticism over their early missteps in Wuhan. President Xi Jinping has described his government’s containment efforts as a “people’s war” against the virus.
Reporting was contributed by Denise Grady, Alan Blinder, Eileen Sullivan, Mike Baker, Karen Barrow, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Kassie Bracken, Keith Bradsher, Chris Buckley, Annie Karni, Corey Kilgannon, Alan Rappeport, Emily Rhyne, Biance Giaever, Marc Santora, Jeanna Smialek and Farah Stockman.
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