Memorial Day, Testing, Hong Kong: Your Weekend Briefing


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

1. The U.S. is approaching a grim milestone of 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

Almost all of them occurred within a three-month span at an average of more than 1,100 deaths a day. The Times scoured obituaries and death notices honoring those who died. The 1,000 names listed here reflect just 1 percent of the toll.

They are our family members, friends and neighbors. Our Sunday front page is dedicated to them.

The number comes on the eve of Memorial Day, typically a kickoff to the first rites of summer. But public health officials warn that the impulse for social interaction and fun could result in an uptick in cases. Above, a couple on Staten Island distributed flags among the graves of veterans.

President Trump has been questioning the official coronavirus death toll, even as most experts say it is likely higher than what has been reported. And testing remains an issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been lumping together tests for active coronavirus with those for recovered patients, muddying the process of tracking the pandemic’s course.

2. Hong Kong may be facing the fate of its future yet again.

New national security laws, outlined at the annual session of China’s legislature on Friday, would strip down the territory’s autonomy, and likely curtail some of the civil liberties that differentiate Hong Kong from the rest of the country.

While Beijing considers its intervention a necessary move for maintaining the country’s sovereignty, the U.S. has condemned the move and considers it a full-frontal attack.

There are two great risks facing the territory: The political protests that dominated its streets last summer could return, as seen on Sunday, above, and the Beijing measures could drive away the commerce and capital Hong Kong needs to flourish.

3. What role should employers play in testing workers?

As the country slowly reopens, businesses like Shapiro’s Delicatessen in Indianapolis, above, are looking into how to safely bring back their employees. But with little federal guidance, they are largely on their own in sorting out whether or not to test — and how to do it — to reassure workers and customers. Some fear it could lead to a false sense of security.

4. President Trump’s moves leading up to the 2020 election are keeping some politicians awake at night.

Fearful that he might try to disrupt the presidential campaign before, during and after Election Day, a group of worst-case scenario planners — mostly Democrats, but some anti-Trump Republicans — have been gaming out various doomsday outcomes for the 2020 presidential election.

Canceled polling places in battleground states over the coronavirus, criminal investigations into Joe Biden’s son and Mr. Trump’s refusal to accept the final outcome — or leave office — are all possible scenarios they’re considering.

5. Our Books reporter dove into the fan fiction realm known as the Omegaverse.

Fanfic stories are often written by amateurs who borrow characters and plots from established pop-cultural franchises (and often become pornographic). In the case of the Omegaverse, stories typically feature characters arranged into a wolfpack-like hierarchy of dominant Alphas, neutral Betas and submissive Omegas.

But when the story lines are largely crowdsourced, copyright and authorship begin to blur. Such is the case between two authors where a payout of more than a million dollars may be on the line.

6. You shouldn’t gather in groups this Memorial Day weekend, but we know you probably will. Above, Port Aransas, Texas, on Saturday.

Here’s how to keep things safe: If you do get together, plan the guest list and make it potluck. Hold your gathering outside, keep your distance and wear masks for conversation.

7. No gym, no problem (kind of).

With restrictions imposed in their countries to slow the spread of Covid-19, athletes have found ways to train at home. A triathlete anchored his body in a way that let him swim in a backyard pool, above; a canoeist balanced on a yoga ball while paddling in the air; a runner lined up hurdles in the hallway of her apartment building.

But as professional sports trickle back, some athletes must weigh the risk of returning against their own underlying health conditions, which could make them particularly susceptible to the coronavirus.

8. Former President Barack Obama at age 28. Meryl Streep at 27. Eddie Murphy at 19.

The archival storytelling team at The Times has been sifting through some of the millions of photographs in the place we call “the morgue.” One kind of find continued to stand out: the first, or nearly first, time that someone who became famous really caught the paper’s eye.

9. “It just should be a joy.”

That’s what makes comedy work for Steve Carell, who spoke to our culture reporter about his new Netflix show, “Space Force.” It’s his first comedy series since “The Office,” but don’t expect Michael Scott in space: The actor plays a capable, take-charge military leader responsible for creating a new branch of the United States Armed Forces.

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

This week we spoke to Suze Orman, above, about weathering the latest economic storm, examined Brooklyn before it was a global brand, and our Book Review team offered their summer reading suggestions.

For more ideas on what to read, watch and listen to, may we suggest these 8 new books our editors liked, a glance at the latest small-screen recommendations from Watching, and our music critics’ latest playlist.

The Morning is off for the holiday tomorrow and will return on Tuesday. Have a summery week.


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

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