Your Monday Briefing – The New York Occasions
The US is nearing 500,000 virus deaths
More Americans have died of Covid-19 than on the battlefields of World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined. No other country has counted so many deaths in the pandemic.
As of this writing, the US toll was 498,033, which is about a fifth of the known global toll – about a year since the first confirmed death of Covid-19. The coronavirus has hit every corner of the US, devastating dense cities and rural areas alike, and killing about one in 670 people in the country. Virus variants are an increasing threat and grief is widespread.
“When I go in, it’s a surreal moment and there’s always that hope,” said Ignacio Silverio, who lost his sister, a restaurant owner, to Covid. “You know, maybe it’s all a dream and she would say hello and we would sit down and have coffee.”
The harrowing milestone, however, comes at a hopeful moment. New virus cases have fallen sharply, deaths are slowing and vaccinations are picking up after a week of winter storms ravaging much of the country. President Biden said the U.S. could get closer to normal by the end of the year, despite Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading epidemiologist, said wearing masks could be necessary by 2022.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
Australia began vaccinating its population against the coronavirus on Sunday, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and 19 others receiving their shots. The first woman vaccinated was an 84-year-old woman living in a nursing home.
People in Canada are not only calling out politicians and doctors for violating coronavirus rules, but also their own relatives and neighbors. So-called snitch lines were flooded with spikes.
As new variants of the coronavirus spread rapidly, European countries are trying to reintroduce border controls, a practice that is wiping out what was once the largest area of free movement in the world.
Myanmar security forces open fire on protesters
Witnesses said two people were killed and dozen injured when security forces opened fire on protesters in Mandalay city on Saturday. It was the bloodiest day of the protests against the coup so far.
The shootings took place as authorities tried to force workers back to their jobs at a local shipyard. A stoppage of work to protest the fall of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s civil leader, paralyzed river traffic on the Irrawaddy, the country’s main commercial waterway, according to Radio Free Asia.
Details: Authorities used water cannons, rubber bullets, tear gas, slings, and ultimately live ammunition to break up the crowd. According to medical professionals, at least 40 people were injured.
Russian dissent and the Internet
For years, the Russian government has been building the infrastructure to restrict freedom of expression on the Internet. Many predicted that Russia would move towards internet censorship, much like China’s great firewall.
But even when President Vladimir Putin faced major protests last month, his government appeared unwilling – and to some extent unable – to block websites or limit the spread of digital disagreements.
Putin’s dilemma: He can continue to try to deal with public discontent by maintaining the appearance of an open society, or he can take state repression to a new level and risk public backlash.
If you have 5 minutes it is worth it
New to Bollywood: Real Women
Bollywood’s onscreen mothers have long been portrayed as passive housewives bowing to patriarchal pressures. But that changes with films like “Tribhanga” above, which deal with issues like single motherhood, sexual abuse, and open relationships.
In fact, a number of new productions show mothers and women as a whole as full and complex people – no melodramatic supporting characters, but pronounced, independent leading actors who are responsible for their own fate.
The following also happens
Elections in Israel: Next month’s elections have the potential to bring real power to the country’s Arab voters. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now campaigning vigorously for the Arab-Israeli electorate, and some Arab politicians are ready to work with him.
Aleksei Navalny: A Russian court has cleared the way for the possible transfer of the opposition leader to a penal colony. This is the latest move by the authorities to silence the country’s most vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin.
Libya weapons: Erik Prince, former head of security firm Blackwater Worldwide and supporter of former President Donald Trump, violated a United Nations arms embargo against Libya by sending weapons to a militia commander who, according to UN investigators, was trying to overthrow the government in Tripoli. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Snapshot: Above, Novak Djokovic won his third consecutive title at the Australian Open. His victory over fourth-placed Daniil Medvedev earned him his 18th career Grand Slam title. Naomi Osaka defeated Jennifer Brady for her fourth Grand Slam title on Saturday.
What we read: This round-up of the last episode of the BBC’s Trump Takes On the World series, where we learn that former US President Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, has offered to take Air Force One home after their summit in Hanoi. The bromance was real, at least from Mr. Trump’s point of view.
Now a break from the news
Cook: This shrimp etouffée is inspired by both Cajun and Creole cuisine.
Listen: The radio play, especially from its golden age in the 1930s to the 50s, is freely available thanks to the internet. There are six shows to enjoy here.
Do: Are you thinking of buying an electric car? They are available in many sizes, shapes, and prices. Here is a summary.
Find something that will make you laugh. At home, you have ideas about what to read, cook, see, and do while being safe at home.
And now for the background story about …
Inventory of 500,000 deaths
A chart on the front page of the New York Times on Sunday shows the entirety of the devastation of Covid in the United States. From a distance the graph looks like a gray blur, but up close it shows something much darker: almost 500,000 individual dots, each representing a single life lost to the coronavirus.
This isn’t the first time the Times designers have used the front page to portray the magnitude of the toll on the pandemic. When Covid-19 deaths hit 100,000 in the U.S. last May, the page was filled with names of the lost – nearly a thousand of them, then just 1 percent of the country’s toll.
And as that number neared 200,000, the main photo on the side showed an artist’s courtyard in Texas filling his lawn with a little flag for every life his state lost to the virus.
However, this is the first time that all deaths in the US have been featured on the front page. “I think part of this technique that is good is that it overwhelms you – because it should,” said Lazaro Gamio, graphics editor at The Times.
That’s it for this briefing. Until next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]
• We hear “The Daily”. Our latest episode is about children and Covid.
• Here is our mini crossword and clue: Cold War superpower (four letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
• Claire Cain Miller, a reporter who worked on our “The Primal Scream” series about working mothers, spoke to NPR about the impact of the pandemic on women.