Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

The first European countries are tiptoeing toward loosening strict lockdown measures to combat the coronavirus that idled their economies. But easing restrictions too quickly could lead to catastrophic situations the lockdowns prevented.

Countries are now balancing public health with the prospect of an extended recession. Europe’s largest economies, Germany and France, warned on Wednesday that they were expecting the sharpest downturns since World War II.

Now, focus is on contentious talks within the European Union on how it plans to help hard-hit economies recover — a symbol of what solidarity will look like in the future for the bloc.

European finance ministers failed to agree on a list of measures in a marathon meeting that went through Tuesday night.

The eight men had moved to Britain from different corners of its former empire, becoming doctors in the nation’s treasured National Health Service.

They became the first, and so far only, doctors publicly reported to have died in Britain after catching the coronavirus.

In a country where anti-immigrant sentiment birthed the Brexit movement, Britain’s health system is heavily dependent on foreign doctors, many of whom are now on the front lines of the fight against the epidemic.

Quotable: “Migrant doctors are architects of the N.H.S. — they’re what built it and held it together and worked in the most unpopular, most difficult areas, where white British doctors don’t want to go and work,” said one professor. “It’s a hidden story.”

Voices: “We are devastated.” Italy’s health workers, in portraits by the photographer Andrea Frazzetta, tell their stories.

Surprises: Social scientists are debating a contentious theory that adults living with their parents have made the virus more deadly in Italy and Spain.

Above, medical workers in China cheering as they prepared to leave Wuhan after the lockdown was lifted on Wednesday. As the pandemic unleashes the worst global crisis in decades, China has been locked in a public relations tug of war.

Chinese leaders are using a propaganda machine to cast themselves as a responsible world power that has triumphed over the coronavirus. But the country is facing growing criticism that it initially hid the outbreak and understated its severity.

Beijing’s ambitions for global leadership may rest on whether it is pilloried for the pandemic’s roots.

India: In one of the most polluted cities on earth, a rare upside has emerged to the coronavirus: a pure blue sky.

German soccer: All clubs in the country’s top two divisions returned this week to the practice field while observing local health protocols, signaling to millions of soccer-starved supporters that they will soon be able to watch the sport again, and earlier than fans in Europe’s other top leagues.

Poland: The European Union’s highest court on Wednesday ordered a suspension of Poland’s widely criticized disciplinary regime for judges. Critics say the government is eroding the judicial system.

In memoriam: John Prine, the country-folk singer known for his ingenious lyrics, died on Tuesday at 73 from coronavirus complications. Listen to an essential playlist of his songs.

Snapshot: Above, jigsaws are a new global pastime. Demand has surged past levels normally seen at Christmas. Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia even allowed people to leave the house to buy them.

We went inside a puzzle factory in Germany to learn more about a painstaking process that is now colliding with a sudden flood of orders.

Tip: Exercising four days a week can provide indispensable mental health support, according to a timely new study.

What we’re checking out: The Social Distancing Festival, a calendar of live-streamed events. “You’ve probably already exhausted your Netflix and HBO options,” writes our national correspondent Michael Wines, “so here’s are different options to fill those lonely hours.”

Cook: Green goddess dressing, perfect for veggie dunking, uses almost any soft herbs or greens, puréed with something creamy, something garlicky or oniony and a few anchovies.

Watch: Is Drake’s new single, “Toosie Slide,” a TikTok or a song? Our critic Jon Caramanica explores the question. We’ve also found a lot of good dance to stream. And if it’s been a while, this could be the day you watch Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope.”

Do: Are the children squabbling? We asked a bar bouncer, a kindergarten teacher, a hockey referee, a marriage and family therapist, and a police officer: How do you break up a fight? Then we figured out how to farm, inside your home.

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

Around the world, online habits are changing. But are we giving too much power to tech companies now — and possibly forever? Shira Ovide, the host of our On Tech newsletter, chatted about that question on Twitter with Kara Swisher, a veteran technology journalist and a New York Times contributing Opinion writer. Here are portions of their conversation, lightly edited.

Shira: How do you feel about us relying more than ever on services from tech companies?

Kara: I’m nervous about it. It doesn’t abrogate the problems they had before.

Amazon is doing great things, yet look at what’s going on at their warehouses. Zoom is doing great things. But I have school-age kids, so I’m not too happy about what’s happening there with privacy and security.

Facebook has been better than in the past; it’s not permitting false information about the coronavirus to spread. I’m glad they are doing this, but I’m not going to give them a standing ovation for it.

What should tech companies like Amazon do to protect their workers?

Tech companies have lived off the back of other people’s cheap labor for a long time — whether it’s an Uber driver, a delivery person or Amazon warehouse workers. It’s just coming into sharp relief.

These workers deserve much stronger pay and more benefits. That’s costly to the people who want to stay enormously wealthy, and to consumers who like a low price.

What is keeping you happy right now?

I just had a baby with my girlfriend, and staring at a baby who has no idea that any of this is happening is really quite something. Watch a baby eat bananas for the first time. You will feel just fine.

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

— Isabella

Thank you
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the U.S. Navy’s leadership crisis.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: old saying (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times’s DealBook team will discuss the pandemic’s deep and potentially lasting impact on media and advertising with our media columnist Ben Smith and our media industry reporter Edmund Lee at 11 a.m. Eastern on Thursday (4 p.m. in London). R.S.V.P. here.

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