Your Monday Briefing – The New York Times

The health authorities in northeastern China have reported a new cluster of cases in a town near the Russian border. China reported 14 new cases in total on Saturday, including one in Wuhan, the first new case in the city since early April.

The flare-ups pointed to continuing difficulties in stopping the virus, even for countries that have been largely successful in curbing infections — a cautionary tale for the many countries seeking to restart their economies.

Worldwide, the officially reported number of coronavirus cases has soared above four million people across 177 countries, and more than a quarter million people have died, according to a New York Times database.

Quotable: “There is no going back to the life we had before Covid-19,” said Kim Gang-lip, a South Korean official for disaster management. “Instead, we are creating a new set of social norms and culture.”

As the first reports surfaced of a mysterious pneumonia spreading in Wuhan, China, in December, Taiwan’s vice president, Chen Chien-jen, jumped into action. He ordered the authorities to screen travelers from China and to isolate people showing symptoms of the virus.

Mr. Chen had spent his career preparing for this moment — he is an epidemiologist and an expert in viruses who trained at Johns Hopkins.

Leading Taiwan’s response to the outbreak has made Mr. Chen a target of anger among Chinese commentators, but he rejects their criticism. “China has to be focused more on Covid-19 control rather than politics,” he said.

Historians say pandemics have two endings: a medical one, when death rates plummet; and a social one, when the wave of fear over the disease wanes. “When people ask, ‘When will this end?’ they are asking about the social ending,” said a historian at the Johns Hopkins University.

Asian-Americans: A five-part series airing on PBS is the most ambitious documentary project ever on the history of Asian-Americans. The actor Daniel Dae Kim, who narrates the series, said it “chronicles our place in this country and how much a part of it we are, and in that way it’s also a celebration of how American we are.”

Israeli-Palestinian tensions: A new Israeli military order that took effect on Saturday forbids banks to process payments that the Palestinian Authority makes to the families of Palestinians who have spent time in Israeli jails. The Palestinians defend the funds as income for families who have lost their breadwinners, but the Israelis say the practice rewards terrorism.

China-U.S. media fight: The Trump administration is imposing new restrictions on Chinese journalists working in the U.S., escalating a conflict with China over the news media. Chinese journalists working for non-American news outlets will be limited to 90-day work visas. Previously, most were granted open-ended stays.

Elon Musk: The technology entrepreneur threatened to move the headquarters of Tesla out of California to Texas or Nevada after California’s health authorities pushed for a one-week delay in reopening a Tesla factory in Fremont over concerns about the coronavirus.

What we’re reading: This essay in Places Journal on the new silences and sounds emerging in cities during the pandemic. Jon Pareles, our chief pop music critic, says: “With cities gone quiet, this far-reaching essay ponders how listening closely to the city as a body, a machine and a community can reimagine urban life.”

More than 279,000 people have died in the global pandemic.

Our “Those We’ve Lost” series puts names and faces to a few of them and offers a glimpse of the diversity of the whole: an Afghan general, a painter from Wuhan, an emergency medical worker from New York, a nun in Quebec. This series is anchored by writers on the Obituary News Desk, but some 45 additional reporters from our business, international, culture and other desks have contributed.

Daniel J. Wakin, who leads the project, talked with the Briefings team about it.

Can you talk about some of the obits that have stood out?

Dan: The ones that really get to me are the people who die so young, with such promise ahead of them. Valentina Blackhorse was a Navajo pageant winner who had big aspirations. She was only 28. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the centenarians. We have a few of those. Hilda Churchill was 108 and had lived through the Spanish flu and two world wars. The love stories also stand out. Norman Gulamerian spent years wooing his bride-to-be with hundreds of letters. Each story is kind of a gem.

It’s been nearly seven weeks since the series started. What has surprised you the most?

It’s not so surprising but maybe unexpected how the categories of the victim have shifted. We knew at first that many were elderly. Then we learned young people were dying too. Then it became apparent how many African-Americans, essential workers, then nursing home residents were affected.

What has been the feedback, over all?

While some on social media have criticized us, saying we’re inflating the gravity of the epidemic, most readers say that putting names to the numbers is meaningful, powerful, moving. We’ve received more than 200 suggestions from readers through a form we have posted. I just wish we could do them all.

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

— Carole

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

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