Coronavirus Surge, Mississippi, Stonewall Inn: Your Weekend Briefing

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

1. The number of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is surging to levels not ever seen in the course of the pandemic.

Infections nationwide have risen 65 percent over the past two weeks, including in several states that were among the first to reopen. By Saturday evening, more than 41,000 cases of the coronavirus had been announced across the U.S., including single-day records in Nevada, South Carolina and Florida; above Miami on Friday.

2. Covid-19 can spread without symptoms, but for months health officials minimized that risk and pushed misleading messages despite mounting evidence.

Interviews with doctors and public health officials in more than a dozen countries show that a two-month delay was a product of faulty scientific assumptions, academic rivalries and, perhaps most important, a reluctance to accept that containing the virus would take drastic measures.

Models suggest that earlier, aggressive action might have saved tens of thousands of lives. Dr. Camilla Rothe’s team in Munich, above, was among the first to warn about asymptomatic transmission

3. How do Americans feel about the country right now? Anxious. Hopeful. Exhausted. Angry.

Nevertheless, many voters remain optimistic about the future, a Times/Siena College poll shows, viewing this moment as a chance for progress — one they can help shape at the voting booth.

The poll also found that a majority of American voters support demonstrations against police brutality and that many see President Trump as out of touch with the concept of racial justice.

We spoke to a group of teenage girls about youth activism, leading protests and what they hope for in the future. “As teens, we feel like we cannot make a difference in this world, but we must,” said Zee Thomas, 15.


4. Mississippi, home to the last state banner in the country with an overt Confederate symbol, is on the verge of lowering the flag for good.

Lawmakers there voted to push ahead with legislation that would remove the 126-year-old flag and lay the framework for replacing it. Mississippi has grappled over the flag for decades, but in the wake of broader convulsions over racial history, lawmakers faced renewed pressure from those who say that the time has come.

And in New Jersey, Princeton University said it would remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from campus buildings and programs, citing the former president’s “racist thinking and policies.”

This Op-Ed from Caroline Randall Williams, about the legacy of Confederate monuments told through the story of her family’s enslaved past, is one of our most read stories this weekend.


5. “We live from tourists.”

The pandemic decimated Central Florida’s once-booming leisure and hospitality industry, shutting down Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal Orlando and a plethora of smaller attractions.

But just as Disney World and other destinations begin to reopen, infections in the state are surging, worrying workers, who are already struggling to get by, that going back to their jobs will lead to infection.

The pandemic is also testing the Affordable Care Act as never before as millions lose jobs and medical coverage. How it performs as a safety net may decide its future as it heads to the Supreme Court, where it is likely to be argued during the closing stages of a bitter presidential election.

6. Afghan and American officials say the long-running war has entered a complicated period of uncertainty.

Targeted killings and widespread attacks across Afghanistan have sapped the brief optimism created by peace talks, which have since stalled. Above, Kabul last month.

And in a sign of the complexity of the war zone, U.S. intelligence officials recently concluded that a Russian spy unit secretly offered bounties to militants in Afghanistan for killing American troops. The rewards were offered even as the Taliban negotiated peace with the U.S.

The Trump administration has been deliberating since late March about what, if anything, to do about the explosive intelligence assessment.


7. Fifty-one years ago today, transgender women of color led the uprising at the Stonewall Inn in New York City.

What followed was a dramatic shift in L.G.B.T.Q. activism for generations to come. But at no point have black transgender people been put at the center of the movement they helped start.

That may finally be changing. The convergence of the Black Lives Matter and L.G.B.T.Q. movements right now is a moment activists say is long overdue, and one they are determined not to let slip away. Above, protesters in New York this month.

Pride Month events around the world continue through out the day, many virtually. For some, that means missing out on an important moment of visibility and acceptance: their first Pride.


8. The region beyond Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was mostly unexplored — until now.

A recent expedition into the inky depths of the Coral Sea revealed an unknown world of creatures and geological features. They included a thriving population of chambered nautili, a living fossil whose ancestors go back a half-billion years.

The expedition mapped more than 13,000 square miles of seabed and discovered submarine canyons, dune fields, submerged reefs and massive landslides. And in an apparent global first, the expedition was conducted remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.


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

The case for reparations from Nikole Hannah-Jones (above, a civil rights rally in 1973), the radical quilting of Rosie Lee Tompkins and the benching of a beloved summer staple (ballpark peanuts) top this week’s roundup of great journalism.

For more ideas on what to read, watch and listen to, may we suggest these 9 new books our editors liked, a glance at the latest small-screen recommendations from Watching, and our music critics’ latest playlist.

Happy Pride, happy Sunday. Have a happy week.


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

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