• Your Monday Morning Briefing

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    March 24, 2020

    Subject: Your Monday Morning Briefing
    From: The New York Times

    Good morning!

    Welcome to another week of the coronavirus outbreak.
    We’re covering the stalemate in Congress over its response,
    growing doubts about the Tokyo Olympics, and what to do when you’re stuck at home.

    By Chris Stanford

    What it will take to stop the coronavirus

    If the U.S. is to repeat the success of countries like China and South Korea in containing the epidemic, health experts say it will require extraordinary coordination and money from leaders as well as near-total cooperation from the public.

    Our health reporter Donald McNeil writes: “If it were possible to wave a magic wand and make all Americans freeze in place for 14 days while sitting six feet apart, epidemiologists say, the whole epidemic would sputter to a halt.”

    Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

    In other developments:

    ■ President Trump said major disaster declarations were underway for California, New York and Washington, the three states hardest hit by the virus. With more than 15,000 confirmed cases, New York State now accounts for roughly 5 percent of the world’s total tally.

    ■ Senate Democrats blocked action on a nearly $2 trillion government rescue package, which they said failed to adequately protect workers or impose strict enough restrictions on bailed-out businesses. Another vote is scheduled for this morning.

    ■ In a partial reaction to the political stalemate, global markets fell again today. Here are the latest updates.

    ■ Mr. Trump has declined to use his authority to commandeer private industry to produce medical supplies, counting instead on a market-driven response. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York appealed on Sunday for the federal government to take over the distribution of critical goods.

    ■ Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan suggested today that the Summer Olympics in Tokyo might need to be postponed, hours after Canada and Australia threatened to boycott the Games. The International Olympic Committee has said it will decide within four weeks whether to delay or scale down the event.

    ■ Nearly 70 drugs may be effective in treating the virus, researchers reported. Some medications are already used to treat other diseases, and repurposing them may be faster than trying to invent a new drug, the scientists said.

    ■ A lost or reduced sense of smell and taste has emerged as a telltale sign of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

    ■ Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, became the first senator to test positive for the virus. He went about his routine for days after being tested.

    ■ Germany barred public gatherings of more than two people, except for families, and Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was going into isolation because her doctor had tested positive for the virus.

    “The Daily”: Today’s episode is about the pandemic’s effects on the Democratic presidential primary.

    The Times is providing free access to much of our coronavirus coverage, and our Coronavirus Briefing newsletter — like all of our newsletters — is free. Please consider supporting our journalism with a subscription.

    How the virus spread

    Many of the first known coronavirus cases clustered around a market in Wuhan, China, but by the time officials locked down the city of 11 million and acknowledged that the illness could spread among humans, it was too late: Outbreaks had already been seeded around the world.

    Our data journalists analyzed the movements of hundreds of millions of people to show why the most extensive travel restrictions in human history haven’t been enough to stop the outbreak.

    Background: We also looked back at a century of epidemics, including the 1918 Spanish Flu and Ebola, to give context to the current one.

    Scott Kelly undergoing astronaut training inside a simulator in Russia in 2015.  Bill Ingalls/NASA, via Associated Press

    What to do when you’re isolated

    Being healthy and stuck at home is a best-case scenario right now — but that doesn’t mean cabin fever isn’t real.

    Scott Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut, offered advice on isolation from his year on the International Space Station: Follow a schedule, pace yourself with work, make sure to leave time for fun activities — he watched “Game of Thrones” twice — and go outside if you can (but leave at least six feet between you and others).

    Here are other tips:

    ■ Make little occasions special. A Seattle psychologist dresses up with her husband and children for a “family date night,” and plants a garden with her daughters.

    ■ Follow your favorite writers. Many authors are using social media to engage with their fans, offering readings, art classes, and other activities.

    ■ Start bringing movement into tiny moments. It doesn’t take fancy equipment — or any equipment — to exercise at home.

    ■ Have a virtual happy hour with your friends. Try to ask a question that’s not about the virus, like: What is the most hilarious thing you’ve seen that distracted you from the current situation?

    ■ Listen to these podcasts, which will make you laugh, calm down or dance.

    ■ What’s the organizational expert Marie Kondo up to while working from home? Tidying, of course.

    ■ Our Travel desk is compiling its first reader-generated “36 Hours” column. Submit your ideas for spending a weekend wherever you are.

    Religion and the pandemic

    Minzayar Oo for The New York Times

    Religion is a solace for billions of people grappling with the outbreak. “In times of hardship, fear or panic,” an Egyptian pilgrim said, “either you think, ‘How can God do this to us?’ or you run to Him for protection and for guidance, to make it all make sense.”

    But communal gatherings, the keystone of so much religious practice, are now a clear threat to public health. Above, a Buddhist temple in Myanmar.