Coronavirus, Italy’s Economy, Earth Day: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering President Trump ordering a halt on green cards, Italy’s south facing economic carnage and Earth Day turning 50.

President Trump announced on Tuesday that he would temporarily stop issuing most green cards to prevent immigration to the U.S. — a move he said was to protect work opportunities for millions of unemployed Americans.

Mr. Trump backed away from suspending guest worker programs after business groups were angered at the threat of losing foreign labor. Justice Department lawyers are still studying the legality of the president’s order.

Context: Mr. Trump’s denigration of immigrants was the centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign. As he seeks re-election, the president has continued to stoke anti-immigrant sentiment to energize supporters.

Markets: Futures markets suggested moderately higher openings in the United States and Europe. Follow our live briefing.

A national lockdown has kept the deadly virus, which first exploded in the wealthy north, from ravaging the south. But fear about economic ruin is widespread, with some people unable to buy food or pay rent.

Officials are concerned that organized crime is exploiting the crisis by stepping in to provide loans. Off-the-books workers, ineligible for government benefits, have been hit hard.

“We are really headed toward total desperation,” said one woman who relies on donations of flour to feed her daughters.

Details: Unemployment in the south was already at 18 percent and more than 3.5 million workers in Italy operate off the books — 12 percent of the country’s G.D.P.

Looking forward: The number of people facing acute hunger this year because of the pandemic is likely to double, with 265 million people facing starvation.

At least 25,000 more people have died during the coronavirus pandemic over the past month than official Covid-19 death counts report — a truer portrait of the pandemic’s toll, experts say.

A review of mortality rates in 11 countries shows that far more people died in the past month than in previous years, including those who died from other illnesses and could not seek medical care.

In Paris, more than twice the usual number of people have died each day. In New York City, the number is four times the typical death toll.

Opinion: Earlier detection and treatment of the pneumonia that Covid-19 causes could keep more patients alive, one emergency doctor writes.

Above, rural firefighters in the Australian state New South Wales in February. In the wake of a devastating fire season in Australia, scientists and disaster officials are working on new fire-prediction technologies that will help firefighters work faster and more safely when the blazes return in just a few months.

But what’s most needed is tackling climate change, says one former fire commissioner. “It’s a bit like going to a gas fire and putting out all the houses and burning cars around it but not turning off the gas.”

U.S. presidential campaign: New fund-raising figures show Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, is $187 million behind the Republican Party and President Trump, who has spent the past three years amassing campaign contributions.

Snapshot: Above, the golden lion tamarin, which lives only in Brazil. There are only about 2,500 tamarins today, and conservationists are hoping to ensure the monkeys’ survival by expanding its natural habitat.

‘Last of the adventurers’: Peter Beard, a wildlife photographer known as much for his death-defying photographs as his glamorous private life, was found dead in the woods at 82.

Wanderlust: We asked four Travel contributors to share their memories of trips that still impart a sense of wonder and hope. The journeys include a bittersweet return to Hyderabad, India, and a college student’s self-discovery in Australia.

What we’re reading: This remembrance in Rolling Stone. Kevin McKenna, a deputy editor on the Business desk, suggests this “wonderful account of the avid concert-going life of my friend Ron Louie,” a designer who helped The Times start its first website in the 1990s. He died of complications from the coronavirus in March.

Cook: Mastering the technique of cooking pasta and sauce together in a single pot will save you time at the stove — and the sink. The ratio of pasta to water is crucial to the dish’s success.

Today is Earth Day, the annual event established as a way to raise awareness about the state of our planet. John Schwartz, one of our reporters covering climate change, spoke about what Earth Day means five decades later.

In broad terms, what has changed since 1970?

The air over the U.S. is much cleaner, and so is the water we drink in most parts of the country. We don’t use DDT or asbestos. But other threats have arisen. The biggest of those — the issue that wasn’t really on the radar for most people in 1970 — is climate change. Scientific evidence has grown and scientific consensus has gelled, and so now we recognize that there are threats that are more fundamental, and ultimately more harmful, than we ever knew 50 years ago.

With the coronavirus crisis dominating our lives, is Earth Day relegated to a second-tier event this year?

It’s anything but second-tier, but it’s virtual. You won’t have millions marching in the streets, but there are activities all around the world. Young climate strikers are speaking out. The modern-day equivalents of the 1970 “teach-ins” are happening online.

That’s it for this briefing. If you’re cramped, here’s how to work out at home. See you next time.

— Isabella

Thank you
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. Carole Landry wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about coming rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Varieties (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Wirecutter, a Times product review site, has started a three-day email course to help make the transition to working at home a bit easier.

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