Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

Sweden has seemed to handle the coronavirus outbreak without an economically devastating lockdown.

Our correspondents examined the country’s approach and found that trust is high in the government, institutions, and in fellow Swedes to socially distance from each other — something public health officials have used to justify not imposing mandatory orders.

The country has kept its borders open, allowed restaurants to keep serving and left many schools in session while other nations have slammed the brakes. “I’m happy we didn’t go into lockdown,” one restaurant consultant said. “Life has to go on.”

Details: Though Sweden’s older residents have been hit hard, its death rate of 22 per 100,000 people is the same as that of Ireland, which has been praised for its handling of the pandemic — far better than that in Britain or France.

Markets: Futures markets were predicting strong openings for Wall Street and Europe. Follow our live briefing.

The governments of Spain, France and Greece on Tuesday announced plans to rekindle some semblance of normalcy, but warned that restrictions on large groups would remain in place for months.

But in Spain, where the pandemic has ravaged large cities like Barcelona and Madrid, the plight of the country’s remote villages has been less noticed. For them, isolation mixed blessing: offering some protection against the contagion, but revealing vulnerabilities once the coronavirus strikes.

Quote of note: “In the areas that may have been neglected, the feeling of abandonment can be as much emotional as it is material,” said one writer who coined the expression “España vacía,” or “empty Spain,” to refer to the draining away of resources and people.

Sopan Deb, a Times writer, grew up in the U.S. with a love of sports that his father, an immigrant from India, did not understand.

“Like many South Asian parents of his generation living in the United States, his focus was on survival and trying to get to the next day,” Mr. Deb writes. “On behalf of their children, it was on professional and scholastic pursuits. Anything else was a distraction.”

Genoa bridge: Nearly two years after 43 people died when a bridge collapsed, its replacement, a symbol of Italian can-do spirit, has all but been completed in record time.

U.F.O. sightings: The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed that three Navy videos of “unidentified aerial phenomena” were authentic. While seekers of extraterrestrial life were encouraged, there was nothing new.

Snapshot: Above, scavengers in Indonesia who make a living picking plastic, metal and even bones from one of the world’s largest landfills face additional misery as the global economic slowdown closes recycling centers.

New fiction from Simone de Beauvoir: A novel abandoned by the author, who died in 1986, draws on a childhood relationship that shaped her views on gender inequality and sexism. The book is being released in France this fall and in the U.S. next year.

What we’re reading: This meditation in Elle on the Stanley Tucci Negroni video you’ve all seen. “The bullet points will make you laugh,” writes Melina Delkic of the Briefings team.

Listen: With Broadway closed, Ben Brantley recommends streaming “Take Me to the World,” a celebration for Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday. And here’s how the cast of “Sing Street” made a show from home.

We have lots more suggestions of fun and interesting things to do, or read, or cook, or watch on our At Home page.

Taylor Lorenz covers internet culture for The Times. In the latest On Tech newsletter, Taylor talked to Shira Ovide about influencers’ power, the mix of opportunity and stress they face during the pandemic, and her STRONG FEELINGS that internet companies are failing us.

Shira: Why should we care about influencers?

Taylor: Influencers are part of a massive industry that drives retail, marketing, entertainment and more. Companies’ marketing deals with influencers are projected to be far larger than advertising sales for the entire newspaper industry in the United States. The products you see in Target and Walmart are often the influencers’ own products, use their names, are developed with them or are promoted by them.

People who say they don’t follow influencers might have scrolled through updates from an Instagram mommy blogger, taken a cruise after seeing someone’s YouTube review or bought needlepoint kits from a person they follow online. Those are probably all influencers!

How will this crisis change how we and social media stars behave online?

It might cull influencers who seem out of touch, like those showing off lavish lifestyles. More of us are likely to adapt what young people are already doing. They’re ditching the hyper-perfect aesthetic online, and embracing the chaos of livestreaming and TikTok, where humor and personality matter more than beautiful pictures.

How do you feel about people spending more time online now?

I worry about the lack of healthy boundaries, and internet companies don’t make it easy to escape. These sites need an option to pause activity, and a universal “away” message to signal that you’re taking a break. I deactivate my Twitter account on many weekends so people can’t message me. Many people do that with Instagram. That’s a sign that people want easier ways to tune out and come back.

That’s it for this briefing. Indulge in some coronavirus hip-hop. 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 coronavirus testing around the world.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Shape of a toilet seat (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Tara Parker-Pope, the founding editor of our health site Well, hosts a Q. and A. with Lisa Damour, a psychologist, and a group of teenagers on how they are managing stress and anxiety during the Covid-19 pandemic. R.S.V.P. here for the call, which will happen at 4 p.m. Eastern (9 p.m. in London), or catch up with it afterward here.

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