Coronavirus, Testing, Fiona Apple: Your Weekend Briefing


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Here are the week’s top stories, and a look ahead.

1. Demonstrators across the country violated social-distancing orders to call for the reopening of states and the American economy.

The rallies, like the one outside the state Capitol in Austin, Texas, above, rode a wave of similar protests this past week. On Saturday alone, people also gathered in Indianapolis, Ind.; Carson City, Nev.; Annapolis, Md.; Salt Lake City, Utah, and Brookfield, Wis.

2. What does the year ahead look like?

There will be no quick return to normal American life, but there is hope for managing the outbreak now and in the long term. Our global health reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. spoke to over 20 experts on what to expect in the coming months.

Some of their predictions:

  • The lockdowns will end haltingly. Putting safety first could mean reopening only after coronavirus cases declined for 14 days, 90 percent of contacts of infected people could be traced, infections of health care workers were eradicated, recuperation sites existed for mild cases — and many other hard-to-reach goals.

  • It is not clear whether recovery from the virus and antibodies confer immunity. If they do, or are believed to, America could be split into two classes: those protected (or thought to be) and those still vulnerable.

  • The virus can be kept in check, but only with expanded resources like widespread testing. And treatments are likely to arrive before a vaccine.

3. The U.S. needs to triple the number of coronavirus tests it is currently administering before the country can reopen, experts say. Above, a testing line in the Bronx.

But shutting down a plant backs up production, crushes prices paid to farmers and eventually leads to months of shortages.


5. In normal times, men are a majority of the overall work force. The pandemic has flipped that.

One in three jobs held by women has been designated as essential, according to a Times analysis of census data. Nonwhite women are more likely to have essential jobs — cashier, emergency room nurse, home health aide and more — than anyone else. Above, Constance Warren, who works the cold cuts counter in a New Orleans grocery.

No matter their sex, race or income level, most Americans are united on one thing, according to a Times survey: a sense of deep pessimism about the economy.


Republican senators locked in difficult races are preparing commercials that will condemn China. Party officials are brandishing polling data in hopes that Mr. Trump will confront Beijing. But with a reliance on China’s manufacturers for lifesaving medical supplies as well as trade talks and unstable markets to consider, Mr. Trump has repeatedly muddied those efforts.

We also spoke to Bernie Sanders’s supporters about whether they’ll be voting for Joe Biden. They weren’t unenthusiastic.


7. The latest threat to Indonesia’s wildlife: bird-singing competitions.

Officials and conservationists say wild songbirds are disappearing at a tremendous rate across the vast archipelago. One bird protection organization estimates that poachers capture more than 20 million songbirds a year.

Much of the demand is fueled by the growing craze for high-stakes bird singing contests at which government officials frequently preside. To build a bird’s stamina, one poacher said that he would slap the sides of its 20-foot-cage to make it fly 500 laps a day.

8. Fiona Apple is back — and unbound.

“Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” the singer and songwriter’s first album since 2012, is a bold, cathartic, challenging masterpiece. Our critics have a lot to say about it.

“It’s not just the wild craftsmanship of each song,” says Jon Pareles, our chief pop music critic, in conversation with Wesley Morris and Lindsay Zoladz. “It’s also that she’s fearless about what she’s doing: with sounds, with structures, with people’s expectations.”

Ms. Zoladz described the album as “the first big musical monocultural event to unite us all in our self-isolation.”


10. And finally, dig into one of our Best Weekend Reads.

The heartbreaking last texts of a hospital worker on the front lines, the legacy of Apollo 13, above, and New Yorkers talking the tawk are among our favorite stories from the past week.

For more ideas on what to read, watch and listen to, may we suggest these 12 new books our editors liked, a glance at the latest small-screen recommendations from Watching and our music critics’ latest playlist.

Have as splendid a week as possible.


Your Weekend Briefing is published Sundays at 6 a.m. Eastern.

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