500,000 deaths approaching and signs of receding
The United States is approaching 500,000 known coronavirus-related deaths Monday, a staggering death toll that is higher than in any country in the world.
In just one year, Covid-19 has become a leading cause of death in the United States, rivaling heart disease and cancer, and dramatically lowering life expectancy. More Americans have died from Covid-19 than they did during World Wars I and II and the Vietnam War combined.
We will cover the people we lost and the grief that touched every corner of America. Grief “never goes away,” said Moses Jones’ nephew in Chicago. “She would have done so much,” said the mother of Helen Etuk, a student from North Texas on the way to becoming a pediatrician.
But it comes amid encouraging news: new cases, hospitalizations and deaths slowed down drastically. Experts attribute the progress to increased adherence to social distancing and mask wear, seasonality of the virus, and a build-up of natural immunity among groups with high rates of existing infection.
It’s a window of opportunity to vaccinate widely and prevent more deaths, even as concerns grow about new contagious variants. “We see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s still a long tunnel,” said Wafaa El-Sadr, epidemiologist at Columbia University.
In other developments:
The director general of the Serum Institute of India said the dozens of countries that have ordered its Covid-19 vaccines should be prepared for shipping delays, because he had been “invited” to fulfill national orders first.
As France rushed to plan its vaccination campaign, the government quietly released million euros in contracts with consulting giant McKinsey & Company. The contracts, which were not initially disclosed to the public, have sparked debate in a country where the civil service is supposed to run public affairs, and private sector involvement is viewed with suspicion.
Early data from Scotland’s vaccination campaign showed that the AstraZeneca vaccine reduces the risk of Covid-19 hospitalization up to 94 percent. The Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization by 85%, with protection being somewhat reduced over longer periods.
Myanmar protesters defy violence
Millions of people participated in a general strike Monday against the military coup who impeached the country’s leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, three weeks ago, despite a disturbing warning on state television: “Protesters are now urging people, especially emotional teenagers and young people, to a path of confrontation where they will suffer loss of life. “
The generals tried to put a stop to Monday’s dissent with barricades, armored vehicles and snipers waiting on the rooftops. Two protesters were shot dead over the weekend, and the military has a long history of deadly repression. But that hasn’t stopped people in hundreds of towns and villages from showing their disagreement.
Civil servants, bankers, doctors, cashiers, telecom operators and others joined in the strike, making the normal functioning of the country almost impossible. Columns of people filled the crossroads in Yangon, Mandalay Station and elsewhere. As of Monday, more than 560 people had been arrested, according to a tracking group.
Quote: “I will sacrifice my life for our future generations,” said Ko Bhone Nay Thit, a 19-year-old university student in Mandalay. In this town, restaurant owner Daw Htay Shwe wrote her will before joining a rally, saying, “I will protect the democracy of our country with my life.”
Court denies Trump’s latest offer to protect his taxes
The Supreme Court decided to allow the publication of Donald Trump’s tax returns, a decisive final defeat for the former president in his battle against New York prosecutors.
After the brief unsigned court order, investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office collect the files of the law firm who represents Mr. Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA, according to people familiar with the matter.
Prosecutors, forensic accountants and analysts have investigated Mr. Trump and his companies for a wide range of possible financial crimes. With the records, they will have a more complete picture of the potential discrepancies between what the Trump organization has told its lenders and the tax authorities. Read our investigation into Mr. Trump’s taxes since last year.
Investigation: The district attorney’s investigation initially focused on silent payments to two women who claimed to have relationships with Mr. Trump. But statements from prosecutors suggest they are also investigating potential crimes such as tax and insurance fraud.
If you have 5 minutes, it’s worth it
10 years after the Christchurch earthquake
In 2011, an earthquake in New Zealand’s second largest city razed an area where 8,000 houses once stood, killing 185 people. Today, there is only an expanse of green space left twice the size of New York’s Central Park. Above, what is called the red zone.
Deemed uninhabitable, the area was bought by the government and the remains were washed away. Beyond the slumped street lights and the faded road stencil, there is little sign of a human past. The area offers a sobering reminder that New Zealanders live in one of the most geologically active places on the planet.
Here is what else is happening
Congo attack: Italian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo Luca Attanasio was among three people killed during an attack on a humanitarian convoy Monday near the city of Goma. The attack is the latest in a wave of violence in this country.
Pakistani aid workers: Armed men killed four aid workers in Northwestern District of North Waziristan Monday. The attack could signal a resumption of insurgency in the border region of Afghanistan that was once a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban.
What we listen to: The Podcast “Renegades: Born in the USA” by former President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen. High-profile conversations on topics such as their unlikely friendship, personal challenges, race, and racism, are an interesting way to tackle some of America’s biggest issues.
Now a break from the news
And now for the Back Story on …
A floral uprising in Japan
Our Tokyo office manager Motoko Rich wrote about finding solace and calm in the flowers around town. Below is a condensed extract.
Soon after we moved to Japan, I came to appreciate the public’s obsession with flowers.
All over the city there are carefully manicured stands of trees along numerous boulevards and rivers, as well as lovingly cultivated gardens. And while Tokyo is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, flowers are plentiful here in everyday places.
It’s in the modest flora that I find most pleasure: weeds growing behind a rusty railing, or a neglected shrub of scarlet berries climbing up a drain pipe on a dilapidated house.
Back in Brooklyn, before moving to Japan to become the New York Times Tokyo bureau chief, I hadn’t been a particularly horticultural person. My husband and I used to joke that it was a miracle our two kids were able to thrive given our poor record with houseplants.
Here in Japan, however, I quickly discovered that I am easily enchanted by the profusion of flowers. Particularly during the pandemic, the hunt for flowers has become a way to allay anxiety.
After two days of not leaving our apartment because I was covering the resignation and replacement of the chairman of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, I went to the grocery store and spotted some tiny flowers. of pink and cream daphne nestled in bushes in the front. .
For a moment, the tension evaporated.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
Carole Landry helped write this briefing. Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh contributed to the news hiatus. You can join the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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