Your Tuesday Briefing – The New York Times

The British prime minister, who was hospitalized the night before, was moved to intensive care on Monday after his condition worsened two weeks after testing positive for the coronavirus. His foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, is standing in for him.

Mr. Johnson’s aides said that the move was in case he needed a ventilator and that he was still conscious.

The country, which was slow to impose stay-at-home restrictions, has seen its death rate skyrocket and prominent figures sickened.

As of Monday, more than 51,000 people in Britain had tested positive and 5,373 people had died, though figures showed the rate of hospital admissions slowing.

Spain and Italy, among the hardest-hit countries after the United States, may have reached an important turning point: Though the number of cases is still increasing, the rate of new infections is no longer rising.

How will we know when to reopen cities and states? Yesterday, we looked at the conversation in Italy around antibodies. Here are four benchmarks researchers have identified:

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 staffing.

2. Authorities must be able test at least everyone who has symptoms, and to get reliable, timely results.

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. Because it can take up to two weeks for symptoms to emerge, there must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.

Most countries with epidemics are not there yet. Still, Iran, a regional epicenter, will reopen businesses this week despite experts warning that the country risked a new wave of infections.

Austria has mapped out a timetable for a gradual return to normalcy, though neighboring Germany ruled out an early lifting of social distancing measures.

In other news:

  • In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would declare a state of emergency in seven prefectures, including Tokyo, where the virus is spreading rapidly.

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

  • Health officials in Greece rushed to test hundreds of migrants after deciding on Sunday to quarantine a second migrant camp on the mainland.

  • Poland’s government pushed forward plans for a presidential election in May, saying that millions of voters could cast their ballots by mail.

  • Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr. Catherine Calderwood, resigned on Sunday after photographs of her and her family at their second home in a Scottish coastal town emerged.

For Europe in particular, this plague has eerie echoes of the waves of terrorism it underwent in recent years. It has engendered fear of the stranger, emptied the streets and killed thousands.

But the terrorism of the coronavirus, inflicted by nature, is all the more frightening because it cannot be persuaded or surveilled away, writes our chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe.

Fighting it means thinking collectively and staying alone, rather than political demonstrations.

It’s why the world’s autocrats are in a risky situation as they turn to their usual tools of propaganda and repression to seem in control. But a virus cannot be censored, and a devastating pandemic could threaten their dominance.

Quotable: “Terrorists count on that randomness, and in a sense this virus behaves the same way,” one counterterrorism expert said. “It has the capacity to make people think, ‘It could be me.’”

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.

Cardinal Pell case: A court on Tuesday overturned the conviction of Cardinal George Pell, the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader ever found guilty of sexually abusing children.

Great Barrier Reef: New data from scientists released on Monday shows extensive overheating and damage along the 1,500-mile natural wonder.

Germany: For nearly four centuries, the people of Oberammergau have performed an epic play as thanks for surviving the bubonic plague. They did not expect another pandemic to force them to break that promise.

History: Newly revealed rare footage of British M16 staff members working with the famous code-breaking facility Bletchley Park captured a glimpse of their lives in World War II.

Cook: Is there anything more satisfying than an easy bowl of carbonara, a.k.a. the bacon, egg and cheese of the pasta world? It’s today’s pantry staple dish from our food columnist Melissa Clark.

Watch: In an uncertain time, far-fetched and improbable horror movies can actually make you feel safe. Alternatively, there are new streaming offerings this month that aren’t scary.

Do: Our friends at T Magazine have a lot to say about how to take care of your hair at home. And for children, a new game involves spotting teddy bears during walks.

We have ideas about what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

Many workplaces, including The Times, are undergoing major shifts to respond to the needs of a pandemic. In our newsroom, journalists are shuffling roles and taking on new beats to meet the challenge — especially in our live briefings, the primary vehicles for Times reporting during the crisis.

Our first coronavirus live briefing was published 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 among 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.

— 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 job losses in the U.S.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: cup of joe (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
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