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Merkel rejected Trump’s invitation to attend the G7 in person. Then Trump postponed the summit.
President Trump told reporters on Saturday that he was postponing a Group of 7 meeting scheduled to be held in the United States next month. Earlier Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, said she would not attend in person, citing concerns about the coronavirus.
Mr. Trump also announced that he wants to invite Russia to rejoin the group.
Making the announcement while returning from the SpaceX launch in Florida, he said he also planned to invite South Korea, Australia and India to the summit, with an adviser adding that the idea was to bring together traditional allies to discuss China. He said he now wants to hold the meeting in September.
“I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries,” Mr. Trump said. But his decision to say he will unilaterally invite Russia — which was indefinitely suspended in March 2014 after the annexing of Crimea — is certain to inflame other member nations.
Holding the summit in June would have underscored Mr. Trump’s message that America can reopen and that the worst of the coronavirus crisis has passed, even as many public health experts warned that a rush to do that could lead to a new wave of infections.
But given that most international and even diplomatic travel has been on hold for months, his proposal struck many foreign policy experts as fanciful. World leader summits like the G7 typically involve hundreds of officials and support staff, as well as elaborate security.
In March, Mr. Trump had announced that the June summit would take place virtually as the coronavirus outbreak was spreading around the world and international travel was curtailed. But he changed plans this month, saying he might invite the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan to Washington, as a demonstration of a return to normalcy.
Earlier Saturday, Ms. Merkel’s spokesman said in an emailed statement that she “thanks President Trump for his invitation to the G7 summit in Washington at the end of June. As of today, considering the overall pandemic situation, she cannot agree to her personal participation, a trip to Washington.”
The U.S. Supreme Court rejects a California church’s challenge to attendance limits.
The United States Supreme Court on Friday turned away a request from a church in California to block enforcement of state restrictions on attendance at religious services.
The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four-member liberal wing to form a majority. It was the court’s first attempt to balance the public health crisis against the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom. It also it expanded the court’s engagement with the consequences of the pandemic, after rulings on voting in Wisconsin and prisons in Texas and Ohio.
“Although California’s guidelines place restrictions on places of worship, those restrictions appear consistent with the free exercise clause of the First Amendment,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote in an opinion concurring in the unsigned ruling.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh dissented.
The case was brought by the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, which said Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, had lost sight of the special status of religion in the constitutional structure.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is a national tragedy,” lawyers for the church wrote in their Supreme Court brief, “but it would be equally tragic if the federal judiciary allowed the ‘fog of war’ to act as an excuse for violating fundamental constitutional rights.”
In defiance of the court’s ruling, a contingent of California evangelical churches said they would hold services in person on Sunday morning without regard to potential violations of state limits on attendance. In Fresno, the Cornerstone Church website showed registration to be full for its Pentecost service.
And the Water of Life Community Church in Fontana, Calif., plans to hold a church service Sunday morning followed by a news conference with three pastors, the group’s attorney, and the city’s mayor, Acquanetta Warren (a Republican who is also a member of the church). Although the church’s occupancy is 3,200, it intends to limit attendance to 320 people, which exceeds the state’s guidelines allowing no more than 100 congregants.
Major U.S. cities edge closer to reopening. But as global infections near 6 million, cautionary tales abound.
Many of the most populous cities in the United States have begun moving cautiously toward reopening key businesses.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Friday that he expected New York City, where more than 20,000 people have died from the virus, would soon meet several benchmarks that would allow retail, nonessential construction and manufacturing to resume in some capacity.
Washington and Los Angeles also announced plans to continue their reopenings by allowing restaurants, hair salons and barbershops to open, with new safety guidelines.
The reopenings come as the trajectory of the virus has evolved, both in the United States and across the world. New hot spots are emerging in rural areas, and in smaller cities where regulations have been lifted in recent weeks.
Globally, as the virus caseload approaches six million, a number of countries have moved to ease restrictions, even as new outbreaks continue to flare up, including in regions where it had been contained:
In Brazil, even with new cases still trending upward and over 465,166 people infected, officials announced that São Paulo, the largest city in South America, would begin to reopen this week.
In Iraq, all travel between provinces has been stopped for a second time. Baghdad was almost completely still on Friday, and stay-at-home orders were enforced by neighborhood blockades.
In Israel, where schools reopened weeks ago, more than 100 new cases were reported on Friday, the level that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had warned would prompt the reinstatement of a strict lockdown.
In Britain, where more outdoor social gatherings will be permitted starting Monday and some schools are scheduled to reopen, at least three members of the government’s top scientific advisory panel have warned publicly against relaxing restrictions.
‘Safety concerns’ amid protests close L.A. coronavirus testing centers Saturday.
Mayor Eric M. Garcetti of Los Angeles said on Saturday that the city’s coronavirus testing centers had closed that afternoon “because of safety concerns” after protests condemning the death of George Floyd escalated.
Mr. Garcetti mentioned the 3 p.m. closures at a news briefing where he declared an 8 p.m. curfew.
“Go home,” Mr. Garcetti said. “Let us put the fires out. Let us learn the lessons. Let us re-humanize each other.”
The death of Mr. Floyd, 46, after being pinned down by a Minneapolis police offer, and the unrest it has provoked has tugged at painful memories in Los Angeles of the beating of Rodney King in 1991 and the riots that occurred the following year after the acquittal of the four police officers involved in the case.
Mr. Garcetti said he would not be calling for the deployment of the National Guard, which patrolled the streets of Los Angeles during those riots. “This is not 1992,” he said.
The curfew is needed to clean up debris and restore order, Mr. Garcetti said.
Before the riots started in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon, several hundred people reflecting the diversity of the city — white, black, Latino, Asian-American — had protested peacefully.
After the W.H.O. loses U.S. support, the E.U. doubles down.
The European Union said on Saturday that it would continue to back the World Health Organization after President Trump announced on Friday that he was pulling the United States’ support, and the bloc urged him to reconsider his decision.
“The W.H.O. needs to continue being able to lead the international response to pandemics, current and future,” the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said in a joint statement. “Actions that weaken international results must be avoided,” they added. “We urge the U.S. to reconsider its announced decision.”
Jens Spahn, the health minister of Germany, said on Twitter that the U.S. decision was “disappointing” and urged overhaul of the W.H.O.
Mr. Trump has said the health organization helped China cover up the emergence of the coronavirus and was deliberately slow to react in the early stages of its spread out of deference to or fear of Beijing. He has repeatedly said that the spread of the virus around the world, and the ensuing death toll, is ultimately the fault of China and the W.H.O., taking no responsibility for the more than 100,000 deaths it has inflicted in the United States.
The E.U., which is a major funder of the organization, said it wanted “at the earliest appropriate moment, an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation to review lessons learned from the international health response to the coronavirus.”
American public health officials have also reacted with alarm to Mr. Trump’s decision.
“We helped create the W.H.O.,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has worked with the organization since its creation in 1948. “Turning our back on the W.H.O. makes us and the world less safe,” he added.
Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate health committee, said in a statement on Friday that he disagreed with the president’s decision to withdraw from the W.H.O.
“Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need,” he said.
He added that withdrawing could also “make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States.”
The organization itself had no immediate response on Saturday.
Romania’s prime minister pays a fine after breaking his own coronavirus rules.
The Romanian prime minister, Ludovic Orban, paid a fine on Saturday for breaking his own coronavirus restrictions, after a photo widely shared on social media showed him with other Cabinet members smoking in his office and not wearing a mask.
Mr. Orban paid 3,000 lei ($690) for the breach, Reuters reported, citing the state news agency Agerpres. None of the officials in the image wore masks, which were thrown on the table, according to Reuters.
In a statement, Mr. Orban admitted to breaking the lockdown rules on May 25, his 57th birthday, when some Cabinet members gathered at his office after work.
His fine comes the same week that Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his closest aide, Dominic Cummings, for breaching Britain’s lockdown rules by driving across the country to visit relatives, even when he was falling ill with the coronavirus.
In April, Mr. Cummings drove to visit his parents in Durham, in the north of England. He said there was no other way to get care for his young child after he and his wife began showing symptoms of the virus.
“He followed the instincts of every father and every parent, and I do not mark him down for that,” Mr. Johnson said at a news briefing. “I believe that in every respect, he has acted responsibly, and legally, and with integrity.”
But that account came under question after The Observer and the Sunday Mirror reported that Mr. Cummings and his family had been spotted elsewhere on Easter Sunday.
Mass transit systems face an uncertain future in plans to get people back to their workplaces.
As states have moved to cautiously lift restrictions on workplaces, critical questions are emerging about the role of public transit in helping employees return.
Federal and state leaders have laid out guidelines under which businesses can safely begin operating again, but in many places the transportation systems that get workers and customers to the businesses are still viewed as risky.
Advice the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued this week urged employees against using mass transit, instead recommending options like individual car-based commuting, which previously was widely discouraged as environmentally unsustainable.
The economic viability of many transit systems is also uncertain, as riders have avoided already-strained systems in recent months, and states and cities are facing daunting budget shortfalls.
In New York City, ridership is down more than 90 percent, and the subway system was already on the brink of a financial crisis in April, poised to lose $8.5 billion even after service cuts and a $3.8 billion federal bailout. This week, Amtrak announced it would need close to $1.5 billion in federal funds to maintain “minimum service levels.”
As part of the CARES act, Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced $25 billion in grant funding last month aimed at propping up struggling transit systems nationwide.
Many city officials have framed the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to rethink urban design and move away from transit models built around car traffic. Cities like Boston, Minneapolis, and Oakland, Calif., have closed off some streets to drivers, encouraging pedestrian and bike traffic.
A partygoer in the Memorial Day weekend crowds at Lake of the Ozarks tests positive.
Health officials in Missouri are scrambling to contact “mass numbers of unknown people” after an attendee at crowded pool parties at the Lake of the Ozarks over Memorial Day weekend tested positive for Covid-19.
The health department in Camden County, where the parties took place, said in a news release on Friday that the unidentified person, a resident of Boone County, tested positive last Sunday after arriving at the lake area the day before. Videos and photos posted on social media showed throngs of people mingling in close quarters.
When images of the event surfaced, Lyda Krewson, the mayor of St. Louis, said, “It’s irresponsible and dangerous to engage in such high risk behavior just to have some fun over the extended holiday weekend.”
The Camden County Health Department said in its release that the person was “likely incubating illness and possibly infectious at the time of the visit.” It released a timeline of the person’s movements and asked those who may have been in the area to seek tests and self-isolate if they had symptoms including “fever, cough, shortness of breath, body aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of taste or smell.”
Health officials in St. Louis and in Kansas had already urged partygoers to self-isolate for 14 days.
The owner of one of the places listed on the timeline, a bar and restaurant called Backwater Jacks, previously said that no laws were broken, though the images appeared to show people violating Gov. Mike Parson’s state order requiring social distancing, according to The Associated Press.
The Camden County statement said an investigation was underway by the Boone County Health Department, with Lake area health departments assisting.
India and Thailand are easing their lockdowns, but grim prospects remain for both.
Though the number of infections in India is still skyrocketing, officials said easing the lockdown was necessary to rescue an ailing economy. The restrictions, which were imposed more than two months ago, have been brutally hard on migrant workers and poor people.
The country’s Home Ministry said the new rules, which would take effect on June 8, were part of a broader plan to reopen. Movie theaters and schools will remain shut, but people are now free to move around outside “containment zones,” areas with a high number of infections.
“This battle will stretch on, but we are on the way to victory, and to be victorious is our common resolve,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote in a letter to the country on Saturday.
Officials began lifting some restrictions last month, hoping to ease suffering in India, a nation of 1.3 billion. But in recent weeks, as industry has resumed and more people have poured onto the streets, the country has emerged as a worrisome outbreak zone.
India’s number of daily new infections is among the highest in the world, surpassed only by Brazil, the United States and Russia. The country has reported more than 170,000 total infections and 4,971 deaths.
India’s struggles with the virus stand out, as other countries in southern Asia have recently held infections low enough to reopen more aggressively. Thailand has begun reopening restaurants, with other businesses like some salons and gyms cleared to resume operations on June 1. Buddhist amulet markets, where people trade in the tiny talismans, have also been authorized to open with social-distancing measures.
Unlike India, though, Thailand disproportionately relies on the tourist economy as a source of revenue, and the country has suffered as tourists have been banned since incoming commercial flights were suspended in early April. The ban on tourists will extend at least through the end of June, jeopardizing as many as 8.4 million jobs.
Officials are looking to control hot spots and prepare hospitals for new cases in N.Y.C.
As New York City looks toward reopening on June 8, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Saturday that state officials were focusing on controlling hot spots in the city and preparing its hospitals to deal with a potential second spike.
Since late March, the city has been all but paralyzed under the devastating weight of the outbreak, which has forced thousands of businesses to shutter and almost 900,000 people to lose their jobs.
Under Phase 1 of reopening, retail stores will be allowed to open for curbside or in-store pickup and nonessential construction and manufacturing can resume, sending as many as 400,000 people back to work.
In the coming week, officials will focus on ensuring the city’s 11 public hospitals and more than 100 private hospitals have “surge and flex” capacity to deal with a potential uptick in new virus patients, Mr. Cuomo said on Saturday.
Mr. Cuomo said officials will also target the 10 ZIP codes in the city with the highest infection rates, distributing masks and hand sanitizers and opening an additional testing site in each ZIP code.
On Saturday, Mr. Cuomo also signed a bill to give death benefits to the family members of public employees who died because of the coronavirus. “It is the least that we can do,” he said.
Advice in Japan: Keep your voice down to prevent virus transmission.
President Shinzo Abe on Monday lifted Japan’s state of emergency, but his government is urging people to continue avoiding what it calls the “3 Cs” — closed spaces where crowds meet in close proximity.
A group of Japanese amusement parks has also issued its own guidelines for how to prevent the virus from spreading. Among the tips? Keep your voice down on roller coasters.
That’s not a joke: The Japanese news media has lately helped to popularize the notion that talking loudly may be linked to increased aerosol transmission of the pathogen.
But is that true?
Scientists who study the transmission of respiratory illnesses like influenza say that infections typically happen when a healthy person comes into contact with respiratory droplets from an infected person’s cough, sneeze or breath.
Some emerging scientific research, however, suggests that the rate of transmission may also be linked to how — and at what volume — you speak.
A 2019 study in the journal Scientific Reports, for example, found that the rate of particle emission increased as speech grew lower, regardless of language. It also said that “speech superemitters” consistently released “an order of magnitude more particles than their peers.”
And in January, a study in the journal PLOS One found that certain vowels and consonants — “i” and “d,” for example — were linked to higher particle emission rates, among other speech patterns.
How all of that may affect coronavirus transmissions, or not, has yet to be studied, a team of scientists from the University of California, Davis, wrote in a recent ScienceDaily editorial.
Among the questions to be studied further, they wrote, is why some people are “superemitters”; how far droplets travel once expelled from one’s mouth; and how fast they fall to the ground.
Should runners wear masks? Here are some tips for exercising safely.
With early-phase reopening plans in many states allowing crowds back into public parks and open spaces for the summer, visitors have increasingly been forced to reckon with opposing views on how to stay safe while exercising.
Not helping matters is the byzantine patchwork of advisories that different cities and states have put in place. In most places, no concrete rules require those exercising outdoors to wear face coverings, though carrying a mask as a precaution and keeping a healthy distance is recommended more or less everywhere.
Many runners and cyclists find it challenging to inhale through masks as their heart rate rises, prompting some to do without. This has raised questions about how to work out safely, particularly if you’re planning on venturing into a crowded area.
There is no scientific consensus around the importance of wearing a mask while exercising, primarily because so little relevant research has been completed. And to date, many of the most basic questions — such as whether heavier breathing increases the risk of spreading the virus (or the social-distancing radius that should be observed) — remain unanswered.
Even so, runners can balance safety and personal comfort with a few widely agreed-upon measures, like wearing face gaiters or avoiding running directly behind someone for prolonged periods.
Other tips? Refrain from spitting, take a wide berth around others when passing, and think twice before yelling at anyone who may be flouting the rules.
Some Canadians are heading back to workplaces that may raise their risk of infection.
In Canada, a growing number of shop workers are back on the job, after the easing of government orders that had closed most stores across the country except in British Columbia.
But returning to work is likely to feel uneasy for many, even if it means they are not among the three million Canadians who have lost their jobs during the outbreak.
In the meatpacking industry, staying on the job has brought not only widespread illness but also death. In High River, Alberta, a town in the foothills of the Rockies, a meatpacking plant owned by Cargill, which is based in Minnesota, has Canada’s largest single outbreak. More than 1,500 coronavirus infections and three deaths have been linked to the outbreak in the plant, most of them employees.
Another meatpacking plant, in Brooks, Alberta, owned by JBS of Brazil, is linked to hundreds of cases. And about 40 federal meat inspectors who work in those plants have become infected as well, the union that represents them said.
The High River plant was temporarily closed for cleaning and to allow the installation of, among other things, plastic shields. New safety protocols were also introduced.
The structure of the meatpacking industry in the 21st century creates significant economic pressure to keep plants running. Sven Anders, an agricultural economist at the University of Alberta, said the two plants in Alberta plus a Cargill facility in Guelph, Ontario, processed upward of 95 percent of Canada’s beef production, much of which is exported to the United States.
A Cambodian general in Mali is among U.N. peacekeepers’ first virus deaths.
A Cambodian major general has died of the coronavirus while on a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, Cambodian officials said Saturday, the second such death among peacekeepers stationed around the world.
The major general, Sor Savy, 63, who died on Friday, was deployed to the troubled African nation in April last year. Before the pandemic hit, forcing the United Nations to delay troop rotations, he and his team had been scheduled to return home last month.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that Covid-19 had claimed its first two victims among the peacekeepers but did not identify them by name. A peacekeeper from El Salvador died of the illness on Thursday.
More than 95,000 men and women serve in 13 U.N. missions around the world. U.N. officials say there are 137 confirmed cases of the virus among peacekeepers, most of them in Mali. Cambodia contributes about 800 troops to the U.N. missions, including 300 in Mali. Two other Cambodian peacekeepers stationed there tested positive, Cambodian officials said.
“Sor Savy’s death is a huge sacrifice of a Cambodian soldier in a humanitarian mission under the U.N. umbrella and the loss of a bright Cambodian soldier,” a spokesman for Cambodia’s Defense Ministry, Chhum Socheat, said in a Facebook post on Saturday.
Several outposts of the U.N.’s peacekeeping mission in Mali have been sealed off to stop the spread of coronavirus. These include two bases in the ancient northern city of Gao and the riverside town of Mopti, both of which used to be tourist hubs but whose more recent visitors often wear military uniforms or the well-known blue peacekeepers’ helmets.
The U.N. said even stricter measures could be imposed, and Gao and Mopti had their lockdowns extended to June 4 and June 11.
From 3,000 miles away, our correspondent watched movers pack up her life.
Sui-Lee Wee is a New York Times correspondent who until recently was based in Beijing, where she covered gender, health care and other issues in China. This is her story of moving back to Singapore.
“Hey, who are those men?” my 4-year-old son, Luke, said on a video call with his nanny in Beijing, as he peered at masked movers carting boxes.
Our nanny was coordinating the packing of our furniture into storage because my family was stuck in Singapore, about 3,000 miles away.
Back story: In March, China banned all foreign residents from returning, leaving us stranded in Singapore. My husband, Tom, and I did not want to pay rent on two apartments, so we decided we would pack up the only home my two kids had ever known.
The only problem was that desperately homesick Luke did not know this yet.
“They’re helping us fix some stuff,” Tom explained to him.
“What? All the doors are broken?”
A week earlier, our nanny had done a walk-through of our apartment and sent several video clips of our possessions: the pink hand-me-down balance bike that Luke never rode, Liam’s crib, Luke’s fire-engine bunk bed. All of it felt frozen in time. Our Pompeii.
I couldn’t decide how to broach the topic with Luke. I had always told him about what was happening in the world (within reason), but Beijing was his world. and he still asked repeatedly: “Why are we staying in Singapore for SO LONG?”
So while I was giving him his bath, I dove in. “Hey, you know the men you saw on the video today? They were moving our stuff into a big storeroom.” Pause. “And maybe one day, we can go back and get them again.”
“Oh, OK,” Luke responded.
That’s it? I thought. It was a reminder not to foist my anxieties onto my children. The kids, hopefully, will be all right.
In some nations, the coronavirus isn’t the only epidemic.
After a dengue epidemic sickened over 100,000 people and left 180 dead in Honduras last year, officials braced for another surge in the mosquito-borne disease this year and wondered how they would manage.
Then the coronavirus arrived, pitching the nation into a grueling, two-front public health battle — a crisis mirrored in numerous nations, particularly in the developing world.
In the Caribbean and Latin America, where the number of coronavirus cases has been rising sharply, at least nine countries have paused some immunization activities, threatening efforts to control diseases like polio, tuberculosis and measles.
Dengue is also bedeviling nations in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, another country hard hit by the coronavirus. And in Africa, health officials are concerned about recent outbreaks of yellow fever, cholera, measles and Ebola, among other diseases.
Vaccination programs in at least 68 countries have been “substantially hindered,” according to a statement released last week by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Gavi, a public-private partnership that helps provide vaccines to developing countries. And the suspensions could affect about 80 million children under the age of 1.
The pandemic “has showed the vulnerabilities of many countries in different manners,” said Dr. Richard Mihigo, the coordinator in Africa for the World Health Organization’s immunization and vaccines development program.
Many countries, he said, “have been almost on their knees, paralyzed.”
Monkeys in India escaped with Covid-19 blood samples.
A troop of monkeys has attacked a lab technician in a town near India’s capital, snatching blood samples of three coronavirus patients who were being treated at a university hospital.
The technician in Meerut, outside New Delhi, was carrying the samples for routine tests at Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Medical College on Tuesday when the monkeys struck.
It got widespread media coverage in India, most of it alarmed: Aggressive monkeys are a problem all over, and many viewers were upset that potentially dangerous medical samples were vulnerable.
“Monkeys have been a big menace here,” said Dr. S.K. Garg, the college’s principal. “Earlier, patients themselves would feed them, and now it seems they are short of food and getting desperate.”
Video footage appeared to show a monkey chewing at the samples while perched atop a tree, then dropping part of the booty to the ground below.
Dr. Dheeraj Raj, a senior administrator at the college, said that the hospital planned to suspend the technician because he had shot videos of the monkeys instead of returning to work.
“These are sensitive times,” he said.
In Geneva, a city known for wealth, a mile-long line for free food.
Our Berlin-based reporter Patrick Kingsley and Laetitia Vancon, a Times photojournalist, are driving more than 3,700 miles around Europe to document changes on a continent emerging from coronavirus lockdowns. Here is the latest dispatch, from Geneva. Read them all.
The first people arrived before 2 a.m.
By 4 a.m., more than 100 people stood waiting in the darkness outside the ice-hockey stadium.
By 7 a.m., the line stretched for more than a mile, and by early afternoon last Saturday nearly 3,000 residents of Geneva, one of the world’s richest cities, had filtered through the stadium to receive a food parcel worth about $25.
In medical terms, Geneva has not been as gripped by the coronavirus crisis as other areas of Western Europe. But the crisis has been ruinous for the undocumented and underpaid workers often forgotten about in a city better known for its bankers, watchmakers and U.N. officials — and most of those on lower incomes have had to rely on charity to survive.
Ultimately, that demand led volunteers and city officials to set up a weekly food bank at the ice-hockey stadium near the river.
Among those lining up last weekend was Sukhee Shinendorj, a 38-year-old from Mongolia, who was living on the cusp of poverty even before the pandemic. He had woken up at 1 a.m. and walked two miles to the stadium to try to beat the line. But several people were already there waiting.
“Catastrophe,” he said of his situation. “It’s a catastrophe.”
Behind him in the darkness, a giant Rolex logo shone from the watchmaker’s headquarters across the street — a stark juxtaposition in a city that is being forced to recognize its profound social inequalities.
In the U.S., a rush to sign up for college admissions tests crashes the testing company’s website.
The pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the college admissions testing industry this week, as the website used to register for the SAT was overwhelmed by pent-up demand for testing and the ACT, the rival testing company, announced virus-related cost cutting.
Registration opened on Thursday for students seeking to take the SAT in August, September and October, after spring test dates were cancelled because of the virus. As students rushed to register, the website for the College Board, which administers the test, was so mobbed that many applicants were not able to get through.
Anxious students and their parents complained on Twitter that the server had crashed, and said they were afraid they would be shut out.
The College Board responded to the tweets on Friday afternoon, a day after the barrage of complaints had begun, telling users to “expect interruptions and delays.”
The registration problems were the latest in a series of setbacks for the testing companies. A growing number of colleges have made submitting SAT or ACT scores optional during the pandemic. Just last week, the prestigious University of California system decided to phase out the use of the ACT and SAT over the next five years, a potential blow to the finances as well as the reputation of the testing companies.
In a sign of the coronavirus’s financial impact, the ACT announced Thursday that it was asking its employees to volunteer for cost-cutting measures, including reducing their work hours, taking leaves of absence or resigning with severance pay. It said there would be no raises next year and some fringe benefits would be reduced.
The pandemic hits a Yemen already gripped by a humanitarian crisis.
The coronavirus appears to have slammed into Yemen, a country staggering from five years of war, competing power centers, a health care system in ruins, widespread hunger and outbreaks of cholera and other infectious diseases.
But a denial of the outbreak in the Houthi-controlled north, the absence of clear authority in the divided south and the drying-up of aid everywhere have hobbled any hope of limiting the virus’s spread.
With little testing available and the government and hospitals in disarray, it is difficult to measure the virus’s true spread in a country where war has taken 100,000 lives, airstrikes have killed thousands of civilians and destroyed hospitals and schools, and U.N. officials have accused the Houthi rebels of diverting humanitarian aid.
And while some Health Ministry employees have pleaded with senior officials to release the true numbers so that emergency medical workers and the public can understand the gravity of the threat, the ministry said this week that other countries’ decisions to publicize their coronavirus counts had “created a state of fear and anxiety that was more deadly than the disease itself.”
“The people who are in power haven’t recognized or revealed the right information to the public,” said Osamah al-Rawhani, the deputy director of the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, a Beirut-based think tank focused on Yemen. “And secrecy makes people do the wrong things because they’ve gotten the wrong message.”
Japan defied experts on testing, but its model seems to be working.
As the world tries to get a handle on the coronavirus and emerge from paralyzing lockdowns, public health officials have repeated a mantra: “Test, test, test.” But Japan went its own way, limiting tests to the most severe cases.
Medical experts worried that would blind the country to the spread of infection, allowing cases to explode and swamping hospitals. But Japan’s medical system has not been overwhelmed, and its government never forced businesses to close, although many chose to. This week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared Japan’s battle against the outbreak a resounding success and took the country off a sort of “lockdown lite” that had lasted only a month and a half.
“By doing things in a uniquely Japanese way, we were able to almost completely end this wave of infection,” Mr. Abe said, adding that what he called the “Japan model” offered a path out of the global pandemic.
It’s still unclear, though, exactly what accounts for Japan’s achievement and what other countries can learn from it. Critics say Japan undercounted coronavirus deaths. And some warn that further waves of infection could undermine the government’s self-congratulatory pronouncements.
Stranger’s cough didn’t kill a London transit worker, the U.K. police conclude.
The police in Britain are to take no further action in the death of a ticket kiosk worker at one of London’s busiest railroad stations who tested positive for the coronavirus after being spat on and coughed at while at work by a man who claimed to have the virus.
Detective Chief Inspector Sam Blackburn of the British Transport Police said in a statement on Friday that they were “confident” that the episode at Victoria Station had not led to the death last month of the employee, Belly Mujinga, 47.
The case had become a symbol of the hazards facing transit workers in London. Dozens have died, including more than 30 bus workers. The city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has urged transit passengers to wear face coverings but it is not mandatory to do so.
The Transport Police said they had reviewed CCTV footage of what happened to Ms. Mujinga and interviewed those involved — including a potential suspect, a 57-year-old man from London. They concluded that “there is no evidence to substantiate any criminal offenses having taken place, and that the tragic death of Belly Mujinga was not a consequence of this incident.”
Worker safety is likely to be a top priority for Andy Byford, the former New York transit leader who is about to take charge of London’s main transportation agency. The agency, Transport for London, recently accepted a government bailout of 1.6 billion pounds, about $2 billion, on conditions including the restoration of full services within four weeks.
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Reporting was contributed by Ian Austen, Hannah Beech, Emily Cochrane, Ben Dooley, Melissa Eddy, Alan Feuer, Jenny Gross, Rebecca Halleck, Anemona Hartocollis, Maggie Haberman, Shawn Hubler, Makiko Inoue, Andrew Jacobs, Yonette Joseph, Annie Karni, Adam Liptak, Ruth Maclean, Apoorva Mandavilli, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Raphael Minder, Zach Montague, Sun Narin, Andy Newman, Richard C. Paddock, Robin Pogrebin, Suhasini Raj, Peter Robins, Alissa J. Rubin, Choe Sang-Hun, Marc Santora, Kai Schultz, Kirk Semple, Somini Sengupta, Daniel Slotnik, Rory Smith, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Anton Troianovski, Vivian Wang, Sui-Lee Wee, Sameer Yasir and Vivian Yee.
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