Life on hold for the coronavirus
Italy has shut down all of its schools, the latest step in a sprawling effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus that has kept hundreds of millions of students out of classrooms and day cares around the world.
It’s just one of a host of life-altering measures taken to preserve public health, and it has ripple effects: rising child care costs for parents, suppliers losing out on cafeteria food orders, babysitters and nannies in flux, and loneliness and tech glitches for kids in online classes, to name a few.
Exceptions: To maintain some sense of normalcy, performers and artists of all kinds are honing their show-must-go-on creativity. One Swiss pianist learned a complex score made for a 100-person ensemble in a day, after an orchestra was quarantined.
Another angle: The stigma is real for ex-Diamond Princess passengers, even those without symptoms, as their friends ghost them, neighbors shun them and strangers threaten them.
Elsewhere in the world:
Los Angeles County declared a state of emergency as it confirmed six new cases, and the U.S. death toll reached 11 people. A cluster of the virus grew in New York, as officials pledged to disinfect the subway regularly.
Italy surpassed 3,000 cases and 100 deaths; French officials discouraged the customary cheek-kiss greeting; and Britain saw a sharp increase to 85 cases, up from 51 on Tuesday.
All eyes are on Holi next week, India’s huge festival that brings crowds across the country, after its cases jumped to at least 28. Officials implemented airport screenings and visa restrictions.
In other news: “Contagion,” Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 thriller about a fictional pandemic, has shot up in popularity since the start of the virus.
The U.S. presidential race narrows
Mike Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, has dropped out of the Democratic primary race, after the Super Tuesday elections made it clear that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders appear to be the party’s front-runners.
Mr. Biden, the former vice president, won at least nine of the 14 states that voted on Tuesday, with a lead that was small but could be hard to beat. Mr. Sanders appeared to win the day’s biggest prize, California. Here are the full results.
News analysis: “Lifted by a hasty unity among center-left Democrats disinclined toward political revolution, Mr. Biden has propelled himself in the span of three days from electoral failure to would-be juggernaut,” our reporter Matt Flegenheimer writes.
Closer look: Interviews with voters found deep uncertainty about the Democratic field. “I don’t think we have a perfect candidate this time — we don’t have a Barack Obama,” said Justin Faircloth, a real estate investor and musician in Charlotte, N.C.
If you have 5 minutes, this is worth it
Hit men for hire?
When the first sites selling hit-man services were discovered, people started to assume the dark web was crawling with assassins waiting to kill on command. But they have turned out to be a hotbed for scams, rarely, if ever, actually carrying out the crimes.
The sites do, however, ensnare the people who hire them, leading to salacious headlines that draw attention away from other crimes on the dark web, like drug markets and identity theft. “There is actual crime, but we are too busy talking about some guy who wants to kill his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend,” one researcher said.
Here’s what else is happening
Afghanistan: The Taliban resumed attacks against Afghan forces after signing a deal to end their war with the American military. The fighting raised concerns that the U.S. was leaving its Afghan allies vulnerable to an insurgency unwilling to let go of violence as its main leverage.
Read: Dennis Staples’s “This Town Sleeps,” Celia Laskey’s “Under the Rainbow” and Nana Oforiatta Ayim’s “The God Child” are all debut novels that feature outsiders in unwelcome territory.
Listen: Hayley Williams’s eclectic, unexpected, ambitious solo project let the singer and songwriter exorcise demons and stretch her creative powers. That’s good news for her long-running band, Paramore, too.
Smarter Living: Microaggressions, the everyday insults that members of marginalized groups experience, can negatively affect one’s health or elicit symptoms of trauma. Here’s how to decide which ones to fight, and what to say.
And now for the Back Story on …
In 1896, The New York Times adopted its now famous mission: “to give the news impartially, without fear or favor.” But what does this mean in practice? Some of our reporters and editors recently told us what they do to remain objective.
Peter Baker, our chief White House correspondent, says:
“As reporters, our job is to observe, not participate, and so to that end, I don’t belong to any political party, I don’t belong to any non-journalism organization, I don’t support any candidate, I don’t give money to interest groups and I don’t vote.
“I try hard not to take strong positions on public issues even in private, much to the frustration of friends and family. For me, it’s easier to stay out of the fray if I never make up my mind, even in the privacy of the kitchen or the voting booth, that one candidate is better than another, that one side is right and the other wrong.”
Elizabeth Dias, a National correspondent who covers religion and politics, says:
“I don’t go to marches, though that’s the hobby du jour in Washington right now. When my friends point out that Americans have the right to free assembly, I agree. I just also think of another First Amendment right, freedom of the press, and that is my focus.
“Impartiality, for me, is not about hiding something I really think, or trying to keep my real views from being exposed. It is about trust. I think about my readers a lot. I want them to trust me.”
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Lara Takenaga wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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