Your Wednesday Briefing



Total deaths in seven states that have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic are nearly 50 percent higher than normal, according to new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s unclear whether the excess deaths are because of the virus or from other causes, but they reflect a global trend in which far more people have died than in previous years.

In other developments:

  • Adding to growing evidence that the virus can spread through the air, Chinese scientists reported capturing tiny droplets containing its genetic markers in two hospitals in Wuhan, where the outbreak started.

  • President Trump signed an executive order in an effort to keep meat processing plants open. Unions and labor advocates said the administration needed to do more to protect workers, thousands of whom have become sick.

  • The Treasury Department is trying to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars lent to big companies under the initial terms of a program intended to help small businesses.

  • Insisting that “governors don’t do global pandemics,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York blamed groups including the World Health Organization, various federal agencies and the news media for not doing their part to sound the alarm. His remarks came after an interview in which he expressed regret for not having provided sufficient warning.

  • Simon Property Group, the biggest mall operator in the U.S., plans to reopen 49 shopping centers in 10 states starting Friday.

“The Daily”: Today’s episode includes an interview with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan about stay-at-home restrictions.

In the absence of a vaccine or proven treatment, survivors of Covid-19 are being viewed as potential saviors for patients with the disease, which has killed more than 210,000 people and sickened more than three million worldwide.

Quotable: “It seems like we have fairy status or something,” said Meg Chamberlin, a woman in Manhattan who traveled to Atlanta after she recovered to make a plasma donation. “And we’d better use it for good.”

Another angle: As officials in New York scrambled last month to find buildings for hospital overflow, location scouts for film and TV volunteered to help. They’re part of a group of people who have used their niche talents and expertise to help the city through the pandemic.

President Trump expressed hope this week that some schools could reopen soon, but all but a few states have suspended in-person classes for the rest of the academic year.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said on Tuesday that the next academic year could start as soon as July, but that significant changes are in store whenever students return. Staggered schedules are likely so that desks can be spread out and buses can run half-empty.

Related: Denmark reopened elementary schools this month, becoming the first country in Europe to do so. Our reporter visited one school to find out what post-lockdown classrooms might look like. A great deal of hand-washing was involved.

In the internet age, the community cookbook may seem like a remnant of church suppers and Junior League fund-raisers. But the pandemic has given the form a new life, as co-workers, friends and strangers seek connection.

Above, Krystal Mack, a chef and artist in Baltimore, is making a community cookbook inspired by her own collection. She says they are “time capsules, so we can look back and see how we chose to survive and come together.”

The 2020 race: Representative Justin Amash, the Republican-turned-independent from Michigan, said that he would explore running for president as a Libertarian. It was unclear how his candidacy could affect the race, and specifically whether he would help or hinder President Trump’s re-election. Separately, Hillary Clinton endorsed Joe Biden.

Snapshot: Above, Easter Island, where about 1,000 monolithic statues dot the landscape. The photojournalist Benjamin Lowy traveled to the island, 2,200 miles off the coast of Chile, and his report is the latest in our Travel section series “The World Through a Lens.”

In memoriam: Irrfan Khan, an Indian film star, appeared in “Life of Pi” and the Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire.” He died today at 53, after suffering from cancer.

Late-night comedy: Vice President Mike Pence toured the Mayo Clinic on Tuesday and ignored the policy for visitors to wear masks. Stephen Colbert said, “You are the head of the coronavirus task force. And you’re in the hospital, and you’re the only one without a mask.”

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

We’ve started an email newsletter, At Home, with our recommendations for what to read, cook, watch and do while staying inside. Sign up here.

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 U.S. newspaper industry. 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. See you next time.

— Chris


Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about stay-at-home restrictions and the debate over public health and economic survival.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, 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 pandemic. R.S.V.P. here for the live call at 4 p.m. Eastern or catch up afterward here.



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