Coronavirus, Global Recession, Wimbledon: Your Thursday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering fears of a yearslong global recession, the world’s scientists uniting to find a coronavirus vaccine and kindness on the internet.

As governments everywhere restrict movement and business, and consumers are afraid to spend money, recovery from the abrupt halt may take years.

The secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres, on Wednesday called the outbreak the greatest test the world had seen since World War II.

“This is already shaping up as the deepest dive on record for the global economy for over 100 years,” said one Harvard economist, adding that if it lasted long, it would be “the mother of all financial crises.”

Case study: France is throwing financial lifelines to struggling businesses, and testing whether preventing mass joblessness can hasten economic recovery.

Another angle: In China, starting up the economy again has already proved harder than shutting it down.

The race to develop a coronavirus vaccine has prompted what researchers say is an unprecedented global scientific collaboration, with nearly all other research grounding to a halt.

Dwindling stockpiles of protective medical gear is forcing governments into a mad international scramble for face masks. U.S. officials and their Chinese counterparts are casting the search for a cure as a face-off.

Not so in the scientific community, for which academic glory and competitive secrecy have been put aside for a borderless goal.

Studies are posted online long before they would normally appear in academic journals, and researchers have identified and shared hundreds of viral genome sequences.

The world will reach one million confirmed cases and 50,000 deaths in the coming days, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

D.I.Y.: A mask sewed from a pattern or an improvised face covering made from a T-shirt offers some protection.

Another angle: It’s the spiky blob seen around the world. How the illustration from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has come to represent the coronavirus.

Go deeper: Doctors in China reported that a malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, has helped speed the recovery of some mildly ill patients. But the European Union’s drug regulator warned on Wednesday that the efficacy of the drug was uncertain.

In other developments:

  • Cases in Spain surpassed 100,000 as the country recorded its highest daily death toll to reach more than 9,000 casualties.

  • The U.S. government has nearly emptied its emergency stockpile of protective medical supplies like masks, gowns and gloves. A crisis that President Trump had asserted was “under control” has, instead, consumed his presidency.

  • United Nations-sponsored climate talks, widely seen as the most important climate meeting of the past four years, were postponed until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Iran, struggling with a devastating coronavirus outbreak, has called for the United States to lift trade sanctions in a plea supported by the European Union. Instead, Mr. Trump hinted on Wednesday that he was considering striking Iran if its proxy forces again attacked American troops.

  • As infections and deaths mount in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro remains adamant that the coronavirus is nothing but a “measly cold.” He is the sole major world leader to question the merit of lockdown measures to fight the pandemic.

  • Wimbledon, the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament and a cultural institution in Britain, was canceled for 2020 as the country remains on lockdown.

Above, Fos-sur-Mer in southern France, home to some of the country’s most polluting factories. For years, its town residents traded their health for jobs in factories, warehouses and gas terminals.

But enough got to be enough. Hundreds have filed a groundbreaking joint criminal complaint against the Marseille industrial basin for endangering their lives.

“Tiger King”: The popular Netflix documentary series renewed interest in a roadside zookeeper’s plot to kill an animal activist. Since its release last month, the activist’s wife has criticized its handling of her husband’s disappearance. Its focal character, Joe Exotic, has appealed his jail sentence.

April Fool’s Day: In a misfired joke, a Korean star told his fans he had the coronavirus, before admitting it was a prank. His devastated fans were unamused.

Far corners: Expatriates in the U.S. are returning to their home countries, fearing that inequalities in a virus-ravaged health care system will leave them vulnerable.

United Kingdom: The authorities are using drones to shame those breaking social distancing measures. But Britons, who pride themselves on a history of resistance, are not taking kindly to being scolded.

Snapshot: The legal cannabis business is booming in the U.S. and chemists at the biggest weed companies are now in a billion-dollar race for an elusive prize: a consistent, reliable product.

Obituary: Manolis Glezos, a Greek resistance fighter known for once tearing down the Nazi flag over the Acropolis, died on Monday at 97.

Animals: Goats in Wales; coyotes in San Francisco; rats, rats everywhere. Without the presence of humans, animals are venturing out to play.

What we’re looking at: This Twitter thread from the Getty, in which the Los Angeles art museum challenges people to recreate beloved artworks at home. “My favorite is the one that mimics a Chardin still life, but with cans of tuna replacing the fish,” says Melina Delkic, on the Briefings Team.

Cook: Shakshuka is great with just about any cheese. Melissa Clark used mozzarella instead of feta to give the North African egg dish some “stretchy gooeyness.”

Watch:Lady Bird,” always. Or if you fancy a TV drama, here are the 20 best shows since “The Sopranos.” (That could lead you to re-streaming “Friday Night Lights.”) Our short film of the day is “Born Again,” a tiny-tale horror comedy, chosen by Erik Piepenburg.

Do: The art critic Jerry Saltz has ideas for how to be creative. “Isolation favors art,” he adds.

Here’s our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

We just introduced On Tech, a newsletter about how technology is reshaping our world. Shira Ovide, its host, chatted with the Times’s tech columnist Kevin Roose about his recent article on kindness on the internet. You can sign up for the Tech newsletter here, and read the first one here.

So the internet is good now? Did you forget about everything you’ve ever written?

Kevin: It’s not so much that the internet is “good” now — these tools haven’t changed, after all — but I do think we’ve seen people using the internet in a more pro-social way, which is great. I hope it lasts!

What can all of us do to keep this pleasant?

Kevin: I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I think the answer is we need to contribute more. In normal times, we — and I include myself — are much more passive about using the internet. There’s some research that shows we’re happier when we use social media actively rather than passively scrolling.

The more good people use social media, the less the bad people are able to commandeer the megaphone. Now, it’s not only the opportunists who are getting amplified — it’s also doctors, nurses, epidemiologists and people organizing face mask drives.

But doctors won’t keep posting forever. And does the world really need Instagram photos of my boring oatmeal breakfast?

Kevin: Yes, be boring! Living through a pandemic is terrifying. We should all be legally required to post photos of our boring breakfasts. It’s what people used to knock Instagram for — “Oh, it’s just people posting their avocado toast.” But honestly, that sounds amazing right now — an all-avocado-toast social network!

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

— Isabella

Thank you
Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the race to create a coronavirus vaccine.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: subtle insult (three letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Maggie Haberman, a White House correspondent for The Times, will go inside the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis on a call today at 11 a.m. Eastern (4 p.m. in London) with our DealBook team. Register for the call here.

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