Coronavirus, Joe Biden, Harvey Weinstein: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering the latest on the coronavirus outbreak and Joe Biden’s growing lead in the Democratic presidential race. We’re also looking ahead to the sentencing of Harvey Weinstein.

In other developments:

When the first U.S. case of the coronavirus was confirmed in late January, scientists tried to repurpose a research project on the flu to test for the new virus.

But federal and state officials wouldn’t allow it, saying the researchers did not have explicit permission from the study’s subjects.

The episode illustrates how regulations often designed to protect privacy and health have impeded the national rollout of testing. Even now, states like New York and California are struggling to test widely, making it impossible for officials to get a true picture of the outbreak.

“The Daily”: Today’s episode is about what went wrong with testing in the U.S.

Go deeper: We’ve produced an illustrated look at the virus, including how it enters the body and infects cells.

The former vice president is now the Democratic Party’s likely presidential nominee, after defeating Senator Bernie Sanders in at least four of the six states that voted on Tuesday, including the big prize of Michigan.

Mr. Sanders has not been mathematically eliminated in the delegate race, but his path to success has narrowed to a sliver. Here are five takeaways from the voting and the full results so far.

Only 10 days after his first victory, in South Carolina, Mr. Biden moved to unify a fractured party on Tuesday with an appeal to Mr. Sanders’s supporters. “We share a common goal,” he said, “and together we’ll defeat Donald Trump.”

News analysis: “So thorough is Mr. Biden’s hold on the party now that any collapse would probably require a political U-turn as sharp as the one that precipitated his rise,” our reporters write.

What’s next: Both Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders canceled big election night events, citing concerns about the coronavirus, and there will be no live audience at Sunday’s debate between the two candidates. Vice President Mike Pence said that the future of President Trump’s rallies would be decided on a “a day-to-day basis.”

Our tech columnist Kevin Roose used to be a proponent of avoiding the office and the commute required to get there.

But a stint working from home during the coronavirus outbreak has reminded him that what remote workers gain in productivity, they often miss in harder-to-measure benefits like creativity and innovative thinking that being in an office can provide.

Harvey Weinstein sentencing: The former Hollywood producer faces up to 29 years in prison when he is sentenced today. Newly released court documents show that, in the days after reports about his history of sexual assaults, Mr. Weinstein made a plea for help to two dozen influential people, including the billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Jeff Bezos.

Vladimir Putin’s future: The Russian president could stay in office at least until 2036 and perhaps for life under new legislation.

Secret site for migrants: Greece is detaining migrants incommunicado and then summarily expelling them to Turkey, one of several hard-line measures taken to seal Europe’s borders that experts say violate international law. The Greek government has defended its actions as a legitimate response to recent provocations by the Turkish authorities.

Snapshot: Above, the village of Langar, Tajikistan, on what was the Silk Road, a vast network of ancient trade routes from China to the Mediterranean. Our writer spent 12 days following the path through Central Asia. There were “frequent incidents of abject, often hilarious, transactional chaos,” she writes, adding, “We hoped it would never end.”

Late-night comedy: “Today, ‘Wheel of Fortune’ filmed without an audience as a protective measure against the coronavirus,” Jimmy Fallon said. “Things are so bad over there, Vanna is now turning all the letters with her elbow.”

What we’re reading: This Tampa Bay Times investigation of GardaWorld, a company that took shortcuts while building an armored truck empire. It “reveals, with one jaw-dropping and horrifying detail after another, the wreckage and carnage left behind,” says Matt Apuzzo, our investigative correspondent in Brussels. “Brilliant investigative journalism.”

Cook: Pastelón, a lasagna-like casserole of plantains, cheese and picadillo from Puerto Rico, is “a dish to dream about,” says our Food editor, Sam Sifton.

Listen: On the latest Popcast, our critics discuss how Kevin Parker built and sustained his psych-rock project, Tame Impala.

Eat: When Pastrami Masters, a new deli, moved into its space in Brooklyn, it kept the previous tenant’s Lebanese menu. Read Pete Wells’s review.

Smarter Living: Sweat can’t transmit the coronavirus, but that doesn’t make the gym risk-free. Here’s what experts say.

Melissa Clark, a Food columnist, wrote last week about stocking up against uncertainty. We talked to her about cooking in stressful times.

The federal government recommends storing a two-week supply of water and food. How should people be thinking about buying food right now?

It’s always a good idea to have a stocked pantry, whether you feel anxiety about the world or just about the fridge being empty. There’s an extra layer of security and control — whatever happens, you’ll eat well.

What should be first on the list?

Start with your favorite starch — it could be pasta, or rice. Next: protein. Beans are great — if you’re going to be home for a long time, you might as well simmer up some dried beans, which have the best flavor, though canned beans are among my favorite convenience foods. That’s the sort of skeleton of the meal, then you need flavor: so stock up on aromatics like garlic and onions, and spices. If you like to bake, buy butter, yeast, sugar, salt.

Should we think about food as more than just calories and nutrition at a time like this?

People stress eat, that’s a real thing. So you might as well eat really well. But feeding yourself, your family and your neighbors is going to give you a great sense of calmness and joy. That’s how we get through hard times.

That’s it for this briefing, which has been written from the confines of my guest room.

See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. Adam Pasick, of the Briefings team, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach us at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about testing for the coronavirus in the U.S.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Available to hang out (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Stephanie Preiss, who has been helping lead our efforts to imagine a bigger audio business, has been named The Times Company’s vice president, audio and TV.

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