Royal Ascot Continues, With Face Masks Instead of Top Hats

There was no parade of royals, no throng of fashionable spectators in top hats and fascinators. But the normally glamorous Royal Ascot horse racing meeting still got underway as usual on Tuesday.

Also missing was the enthusiastic racing fan Queen Elizabeth, for the first time in her 68-year reign as sovereign. “I am sure,” she wrote in a statement, “it will remain one of Britain’s finest sporting occasions.”

The four-day event was immortalized in “My Fair Lady” by Eliza Doolittle, who shocks a crowd of toffs by earthily urging on her horse.

This year is the first time there are no spectators at the nonfictional Ascot. Before the first race, there were a handful of people in the paddock keeping a respectful distance from one another.

The customarily huge fields, as many as 30 horses, were cut to a maximum of 24 to abet social distancing, and the jockeys and officials all wore masks.

At least one trainer, Mark Johnston, who recovered from Covid-19 in April, said the safety measures were more than enough. “If anything, the precautions are over the top,” he told the BBC. “We’re out in a big open space, built for tens of thousands of people, with only a couple of hundred people there. So the precautions are more than adequate. I think the risk of viral transmission is very, very low indeed.”

The racing was top class, including two Group 1 races on Tuesday and more to come the rest of the week. The first race, the Buckingham Palace Handicap, was won by Motakhayyel under jockey Jim Crowley.

While Major League Baseball and the players’ union continued to squabble about restarting their season, at least one league, the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, will begin its season, on July 3.

The minor league, which is based in the Midwest and independent of Major League Baseball, has been in existence since 2005. Six of its 12 teams will participate in the 2020 season, based in three hub cities: Fargo, N.D.; Milwaukee; and Sioux Falls, S.D.

The Chicago Dogs, Milwaukee Milkmen, Sioux Falls Canaries, Winnipeg Goldeyes, Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and St. Paul Saints, the defending champions, will play. The regular season will be cut to 60 games, down from the usual 100.

The teams playing were chosen mostly on geography, with several more southerly teams left out. “We were excited for the opportunity to play baseball in 2020,” Mark Brandmeyer, a new owner of the Kansas City T-Bones, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, it will now take another year for our vision to be realized.”

  • Updated June 12, 2020

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

The league plans to make about 25 percent of the seats available for fans to abet social distancing.

Could the momentous decision to delay the Summer Olympics for a year be topped by a momentous decision to delay them for two years?

Haruyuki Takahashi, an executive on the organizing committee, said that if the Games could not be held in 2021 for economic or health reasons, “I will postpone it again,” he told Nikkan Sports.

Other members of the organizing committee and International Olympic Committee officials have said that the Tokyo Games will be canceled if they cannot be held in 2021.

Toshio Muto, secretary general of the organizing committee, said Tuesday of Takahashi’s statement, “I recognize it as an opinion.”

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