Your Tuesday Briefing – The New York Times

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would declare a state of emergency for seven areas that include the country’s largest population centers.

The emergency powers are limited: Mr. Abe will be able to request that prefectural governors close schools and ask that residents refrain from going out or holding events, but cannot issue stay-at-home orders or force businesses to close.

Nearly three months into the outbreak, people in Japan were still gathering in crowds and going to restaurants. Leaders previously touted their ability to identify clusters of infection and trace close contacts of infected people, but a senior aide to Abe warned on Monday that in urban centers like Tokyo, “the number of infections that cannot be tracked is increasing.”

Mr. Abe also announced a stimulus package worth nearly $1 trillion as the country faces a deep recession amid slowing trade and tourism.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain was moved to intensive care on Monday, according to his office, nearly two weeks after testing positive for the virus.

  • Western Europe may have reached a turning point: While the total number of patients continues to climb, the rate of new infections is no longer rising in hard-hit countries like Italy and Spain.

  • Nadia, a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York, tested positive for the virus. Your cat will probably not infect you, but experts say to take the same precautions around pets as you would around people.

  • New York’s governor said two days without major increases in the death count could mean the state is reaching an apex of the outbreak, but emphasized that the situation was still dire.

  • Stocks rallied as investors saw signs that the outbreak might be peaking in some of the world’s worst-hit places, with the S&P 500 up over 5 percent in afternoon trading, after European and Asian markets traded higher. Here’s the latest.

  • You can help doctors and nurses by making masks, donating blood and of course following the rules so you don’t get sick.

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How do officials know when it’s time to reopen public spaces and start to bring life back to normal? A physician looked at recent research for The Upshot to determine some of the table stakes:

1. Hospitals must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care. That means having adequate beds, ventilators and staff.

2. Authorities must be able test at least everyone who has symptoms, and to get reliable results in a timely manner. That would be well more than 750,000 tests a week in the United States.

3. Health agencies must be able to monitor confirmed cases, trace contacts of the infected, and have at-risk people go into isolation or quarantine.

4. There must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days. Because it can take up to two weeks for symptoms to emerge, any infections that have already happened can take that long to appear.

Separately, Iran said it was reopening businesses after its reported cases declined, but experts warned that the country risked a new wave of infections. Germany, despite signs of slowing infection, ruled out an early lifting of social distancing measures, even as neighboring Austria mapped out a timetable for a gradual return to normalcy.

Kate Bowler, above, a historian at Duke Divinity School, was 35 and a new mother when she was told in 2015 that she had incurable cancer. For her, losing the normal touchstones of everyday life is familiar territory. She has been offering daily reflections on social media during the pandemic.

She spoke to The Times about the human longing to love and be loved, and about the importance of finding delight in something silly and absurd — for her, it’s onesie Star Wars pajamas.

Great Barrier Reef: A new study from scientists released on Monday shows example after example of overheating and damage along the 1,500-mile natural wonder. Hundreds of millions of people get their protein primarily from reef fish like the coral trout, so ripple effects could significantly affect food supply.

Our first coronavirus live briefing was launched by the Hong Kong bureau on Jan. 23, in the early days of the outbreak. It has been running every day, all day since, managed in shifts between Times newsrooms in Hong Kong and London and the headquarters in New York.

“It’s the longest-running live thing The Times has ever done,” said Rebecca Blumenstein, a deputy managing editor. “We’ve never done anything of this scale before.”

Editors and reporters from nearly every desk have volunteered to help lighten that workload. Others were drafted to serve on the digital front lines.

Michael Cooper, who normally covers classical music and dance for the Culture desk, has been working on our International briefing, which requires him to swiftly process and report on a deluge of information.

“It’s like drinking from a fire hose,” Mr. Cooper said. And on top of the constantly shifting story lines, Times employees have mostly been working from home since March 13.

“We’re pretty used to improvising,” Mr. Cooper said. “When I used to cover plane crashes, you would make a little bureau on a folding table at some disaster site and work from there. We’re used to doing things from strange places.”

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

— Melina

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

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