Coronavirus, India, Platypuses: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. We’re starting tonight’s briefing with some good news: a drug that may help save coronavirus patients.

Scientists at the University of Oxford said that a low-cost steroid was effective when given to severely ill patients receiving oxygen. The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce virus deaths, researchers said, and comes after a 6,000-patient trial of the drug in Britain.

One of the chief investigators for the trial said that dexamethasone should now become the “standard of care in these patients,” noting that it is inexpensive, widely available and can be used immediately. Many experts in the U.S. demanded to see the data and the study itself, which have not yet been peer reviewed or published.

With our brief spot of good news comes one more behavior to be hyper-aware of: closing the toilet seat. A new study shows how turbulence from a toilet bowl can create a large plume that can carry coronavirus particles to a bathroom’s next visitor.

2. Officials in Tulsa, Okla., are pleading with the Trump campaign to cancel a rally scheduled for Saturday as coronavirus infections in the state surge — or at least move it outdoors.

The rally, President Trump’s first in over three months, could become a disastrous “super-spreader” event. It is currently slated for a 20,000-person indoor arena. “It’s a perfect storm that we can’t afford to have,” the executive director of the Tulsa health department said. Above, a rally for Mr. Trump in Charlotte, N.C., in March.

The number of active coronavirus cases in Tulsa County, which includes the city of Tulsa, climbed from 188 to 532 in a one-week period, a 182-percent increase; hospitalizations with Covid-19 almost doubled.

More than 2.1 million people in the U.S. have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 116,200 have died. Here’s our latest case count.

Separately, the Trump administration sued to stop the publication of John Bolton’s highly anticipated book about his time as national security adviser. The book is set for release on June 23.


3. President Trump signed an executive order on “guiding principles” for police training and use of force, including new restrictions on chokeholds.

But the measure will have little immediate effect, and it does not address calls from activists and protesters nationwide for broader action to confront racism.

We’re also learning more about the former Atlanta Police Department officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks over the weekend. Garrett Rolfe had been issued a written reprimand in 2016 for another use-of-force incident involving the use of a firearm, and had four citizen complaints, according to records the department released.


An Indian military spokesman said on Tuesday that three Indian soldiers were killed during the fighting, which involved rocks and wooden clubs, and 17 others succumbed to injuries and cold in the freezing, high-elevation terrain. No shots were fired, according to officials. Protesters took to the streets in Ahmedabad, India, on Tuesday, above.

The two countries had been working to de-escalate border tensions after several face-offs between Chinese and Indian troops in recent weeks. The violence is a continuation of a long-running dispute between India and China about the precise location of their jagged Himalayan border.


5. Retail sales in the U.S. rebounded, but we’re not out of the woods yet.

Sales rose 17.7 percent in May after a record drop in April, as stores and restaurants started to reopen. But the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, told lawmakers that a path to economic recovery remained uncertain and warned that a prolonged downturn could widen existing inequalities.

“Levels of output and employment remain far below their pre-pandemic levels,” Mr. Powell said. Overall retail sales, for instance, were still down 8 percent from February. Some categories, like clothing, were down as much as 63 percent from a year ago.

5. The five largest known coronavirus clusters in the U.S. are inside prisons.

Virus cases in U.S. corrections facilities have soared in recent weeks to more than 68,0000, even as the overall daily rate in the nation has remained relatively flat, according to Times data. Prison deaths tied to the coronavirus have also risen by 73 percent since mid-May. Corrections officials’ muddled response is complicating the spread.

Above, an inmate at the San Diego County Jail in April assisted in daily cleanings to help prevent the spread of the virus.


The California utility, which had repeatedly failed to maintain a transmission line that ignited the state’s most devastating wildfire, has agreed to pay a nearly $2 billion fine for causing the blaze. The fire destroyed the town of Paradise, above.

Victims’ families are expected to make statements in court at a hearing that starts on Wednesday and is expected to last for several days.


8. Table for two … in the parking lot.

As restaurants around the country look to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, cities are accelerating applications and waiving fees to allow al fresco dining. The effort appears to be paying off. OpenTable, an online reservation system, has counted a tenfold increase in outdoor seating this spring compared with a year ago. Above, East Hampton, N.Y., over the weekend.

The drink tab is also moving outside. New York City threw bars a lifeline in March by allowing them to sell to-go drinks. With warmer weather, bar regulars have reassembled outdoors, and owners are trying to balance business and safety. Some New Yorkers, feeling the safety of the outdoors, are openly disregarding social distancing measures that helped the city rebound.


9. “We don’t need a parade to make ourselves known.”

That’s the author Thomas Page McBee, above, on what Pride Month means to him this year. Fifty years after the first Pride March, Mr. McBee, Jericho Brown and Carmen Maria Machado, also authors, reflected on a complicated moment for the L.G.B.T.Q. community.

From the story of that first march, held on June 28, 1970, in New York City to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, to the story of how a rally for black transgender lives in Brooklyn on Sunday gathered 15,000 people, we spoke to organizers and activists about the spread of the movement.


10. And finally, the return of the platypus.

As Australia’s wildfires encroached on the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in late December, a rescue team from a Sydney zoo worked through thick smoke and darkness to save a small fleet of platypuses.

Rescuing wildlife from climate change events is likely to become more necessary in the future. In the case of the seven platypuses, four months later they are back home — a little plumper, and with a tracking device to study the endangered species.

Their receivers, one zoo official reported, “are tracking them happily moving about the ponds.”

Have a liberating night.


Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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