Super Tuesday, Coronavirus, Supreme Court: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering Super Tuesday results, the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S., and a milestone in Iran’s nuclear program.

Senator Elizabeth Warren failed to win any states, including her home of Massachusetts, where she came third. Michael Bloomberg won only in American Samoa.

Here are five takeaways from the night, in which Mr. Biden won at least nine of the 14 states, including some in which he hadn’t campaigned.

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.

Another angle: Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general, was forced into a runoff election in his quest to win back the Senate seat representing Alabama that he held for 20 years.

Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday that the government had lifted all restrictions on screening, although White House officials emphasized that the supply of tests may not immediately meet demand.

Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, is deadlier than seasonal flu but doesn’t transmit as easily, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, said on Tuesday. “Globally, about 3.4 percent of reported Covid-19 cases have died,” he added. “Seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1 percent of those infected.”

Here are the latest updates and maps of where the virus has spread.

There are now at least 120 confirmed cases in the U.S. and nine deaths, all in the Seattle area. Officials said on Tuesday that the deaths last week of two patients from a nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., were now being attributed to the virus, suggesting that it had been circulating in the home longer than previously known.

Related: Epidemiologists say the risk of transmission connected to using public transit is hard to assess, but New Yorkers tend to spend less time on subways and buses than they do in other crowded spaces. Here are tips on staying safe.

Another angle: The Federal Reserve on Tuesday approved its biggest one-time rate cut since the 2008 financial crisis. But our economics correspondent Peter Goodman says the move was the equivalent of “handing coupons to shoppers and sending them to a store that is closed.” Here are the latest market updates.

We spoke with Donald McNeil, a Times health reporter, about what it’s like to contract the coronavirus, based on what we’ve learned from China.

What does this illness look like? Some people compare it to the flu.

No, it’s different from the flu. It’s a lung disease. Ninety percent of people get a fever, 80 percent get a dry cough and then it drops down to 30 percent get shortness of breath and malaise — you know, being tired.

A runny nose shows up in only 4 percent, and that may be people who also happen to have a cold or a flu.

We’ve been told that 80 percent of cases are “mild.” But you said that could include pneumonia?

Yes. Chinese health officials define “mild” as a positive test — that’s fever, shortness of breath and possibly pneumonia, but not so bad that you need to be hospitalized. Once you need oxygen, you go into the severe category.

What are we learning about asymptomatic cases?

The good news is that a large study from China suggests that less than 1 percent of cases are asymptomatic. Almost all people get sick.

Read more about the symptoms of the coronavirus and the prospects for a cure. For an informed guide to the outbreak, sign up for our coronavirus newsletter.

Hideo Kojima, above, has been compared to a filmmaker, and his video games — including the Metal Gear Solid series and, more recently, Death Stranding — have become blockbusters.

A writer for the Times Magazine attributes the unique personality of the developer’s games to “Kojima Weirdness”: “Playing them can feel like exploring the deepest recesses of an obsessive and endlessly imaginative mind. At its worst, though, Kojima Weirdness can leave you shaking your head at just how ridiculous that mind can be.”

Iran’s nuclear program: For the first time since President Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal, international inspectors said that Tehran appeared to have enough enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon. However, it would take months or years to manufacture a warhead.

Supreme Court abortion case: The justices are set to hear arguments today about whether Louisiana can require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. It’s the court’s first major consideration of abortion since its shift to the right under President Trump. A ruling is expected in June.

Tornadoes in Tennessee: At least 25 people were killed after powerful storms swept across the central part of the state, including Nashville.

Snapshot: Above, the University of Engineering and Technology in Lima, Peru. Its Dublin-based designers, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, were selected on Tuesday as the recipients of this year’s Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor.

Late-night comedy: James Corden said, “We won’t find out the results of today’s elections until long after this taping, so, for now, we’ll just congratulate any man who’s around the age of 78. Well done!”

What we’re reading: From The Guardian, an evening with Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, who watch “Jeopardy!” and eat dinner together every night. “Still alive, still best friends, still amusing themselves and us,” says Steven Erlanger, a Times diplomatic correspondent in Europe.

Smarter Living: Follow these steps to create a restful bedroom.

Alexandra Stevenson, a business correspondent for The Times in Hong Kong, has been exploring the global effects of the coronavirus outbreak. She spoke with Mike Ives, of the Briefings team, about her latest report, on how the shutdown in China is hurting business around the globe.

What was the most striking thing you learned while reporting this story?

How China plays such a big role in the lives of individuals around the world. We read a lot from corporations about how their bottom lines are being hit. We also have heard a lot from policymakers who are worried. But China is the economic center of gravity for so many smaller players, too.

One economist put it this way: We’ve never been here before. Not even in wartime has an economy ground to a halt the way China’s did. And the world has never been as integrated as it is today.

You interviewed a truck driver from Mongolia who may need a new job because the border with China has closed. How did you find him?

The truck driver, Battogtokh Uurtsaikh, is someone I met in the Gobi Desert in October. I was reporting a story about how China’s demand for coal plays such a big role in the lives of Mongolians.

I met Mr. Battogtokh on this highway between Mongolia’s biggest coal deposit and a dusty border town with China. He was with four other young truck drivers who were working together to fix a flat tire and a broken hub on one of their trucks. They grew up together and now travel in a pack, each in his own truck with a walkie-talkie to communicate.

Was he surprised to hear from you?

Not really. But his circumstances have changed a lot since we found him. At the time, he was hopeful that this gig would be a quick way to make good money and pay off his loans. But he hasn’t driven his truck for more than a month. Some of his friends, desperate for work, are still trucking coal to the border, but they can’t find any Chinese traders to buy the coal.

A correction: Tuesday’s briefing, relying on remarks by Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, referred imprecisely to the availability of coronavirus testing in the U.S. Dr. Hahn intended to say that the administration could have the capacity for approximately one million tests by the end of the week, not that one million tests could be administered by the end of the week.

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 the Super Tuesday results.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Witty remark (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times received several nominations in the World Press Photo Awards, including for the work of Ivor Prickett in Syria and Times videographers in Chile.

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