Coronavirus, Senate, India: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering a stimulus deal between the Senate and the Trump administration and the growing toll of the coronavirus in New York. We also look at the newest additions to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry (when the news includes Mister Rogers, it’s not all bad).

Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday advised people who have passed through or left the city recently to place themselves in a 14-day quarantine. About 60 percent of the country’s new confirmed cases of the coronavirus were in the New York City metropolitan area, officials said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has emerged as the Democratic Party’s most prominent voice during the crisis, offered a grim forecast for the outbreak in the city and criticized the federal government for its slow response in sending crucial equipment.

“You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?” he said. “What are we going to do with 400 ventilators when we need 30,000 ventilators? You’re missing the magnitude of the problem.”

Related: The city’s public transportation network is cutting service at least 25 percent, after subway ridership on Tuesday fell 87 percent — by nearly 4.8 million riders — compared with the same day last year.

“It has been 12 days since T woke up in the middle of the night on March 12 with chills.”

In a first-person essay, an editor for The Times, Jessica Lustig, describes life with her family since her husband was diagnosed with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

She writes: “It’s as if we are in a time warp, in which we have accelerated at 1½ time speed, while everyone around us remains in the present — already the past to us — and they, blissfully, unconsciously, go about their ordinary lives, experiencing the growing news, the more urgent advisories and directives, as a vast communal experience, sharing posts and memes about cabin fever, about home-schooling, about social distancing, about how hard it all is, while we’re living in our makeshift sick ward, living in what will soon be the present for more and more of them.”

Driven by his own curiosity, a writer for The Times Magazine traveled to the area around the former nuclear plant, the site of arguably the worst ecological catastrophe in history. “I was on a kind of perverse pilgrimage,” he writes. “I wanted to see what the end of the world looked like.”

Above, two tourists at an abandoned amusement park in Pripyat, a city built for Chernobyl workers.

Draft could include women: Under a new recommendation to Congress, all Americans ages 18 to 25 — not just young men as currently required — would have to register with the government in case of a military draft.

Snapshot: Above, a boarding school for girls in need in Maracaibo, Venezuela. As the country’s economic crisis deepens, mothers and fathers are going abroad in search of work, leaving hundreds of thousands of children in the hands of relatives, friends and, sometimes, one another.

In memoriam: Terrence McNally, a four-time Tony Award-winning playwright, dramatized and domesticated gay life in a Broadway career that spanned five decades. He died on Tuesday at 81, from complications of the coronavirus.

A playlist for history: The theme song for “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.” are among 25 recordings that have been added to the national registry at the Library of Congress.

What we’re reading: This article about a socially distanced wedding from The Cut. It’s “a charming story of making do,” says Steven Erlanger, our chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe, “when you just have to get that wedding done for the insurance.”

Cook: This “highly adaptable” vegetarian skillet chili from Melissa Clark is part of her series on cooking with pantry staples.

Watch: Netflix’s feel-good documentary “Crip Camp” recalls a Catskills summer camp that fostered American disability rights activism. We made it a Critic’s Pick.

Listen: Patrick Stewart reads Shakespeare on Twitter, Ballet Hispánico is on Instagram, and art museums are expanding their digital offerings. If you’re stuck at home and hankering for the fine arts, there’s plenty online.

Smarter Living: Catastrophizing — imagining the worst-case scenario and planning for it — can be damaging. So take a breath, stick to the facts and follow these other suggestions for staying sane.

There is growing evidence that anosmia — loss of the sense of smell — may be a coronavirus symptom. Medical experts said that people who lose their ability to smell or taste should isolate themselves for at least a week, even if they are otherwise asymptomatic.

Sarah Maslin Nir, a Times reporter who covered a suburban outbreak, lost her sense of smell last week and later tested positive for the virus. She spoke to our colleague Jonathan Wolfe about her experience for our Coronavirus Briefing.

When did you notice that you couldn’t smell?

I had a socially distant lunch with a friend on Perry Street, at opposite ends of a stoop, and she passed me some Clorox wipes. And I thought, Unscented Clorox wipes? That’s weird. But then I looked at them, and they said “lemon scent.”

What did you do next?

I quickly made my exit, because I remembered reading an article about two Chinese health care workers and one sentence stuck out to me — that one of the women lost her sense of taste and smell. I went home, got my godmother on FaceTime, opened my spice cupboard and tried sniffing all of the spices. I sliced fresh ginger and practically put it up my nose and couldn’t smell it.

Is anosmia your only symptom?

I don’t have a cough or a fever, but I’m exhausted. And because I can’t smell, food is bland. Eggplant Parmesan tastes like a hot wet book.

Has your sense of smell returned?

Since I can’t smell, I don’t really have an appetite, but I’m still trying to eat nutritiously. After several days, my sense of smell briefly came back: I was making myself what I would normally make, a kale salad, and surprisingly, it did not taste like serrated paper. But shortly after that it went away again.

How would you describe anosmia to others?

It’s deeply unsettling. It’s a constant reminder that something is deeply wrong with your body. You can perk up and have a good moment or two, but then you eat your Cheerios and your heart misses a beat.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Capital of Vietnam (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
The Times Company has acquired Audm, a subscription-based audio app that transforms long-form journalism into audio.

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