U.S. Schools, U.K. Jobs, Hagia Sophia: Your Thursday Briefing




President Trump at a White House discussion of school reopenings this week. (Credit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times)
President Trump at a White House discussion of school reopenings this week. (Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times)

President Trump is at odds with his own public health experts over how to safely reopen schools in the fall, as coronavirus infection numbers in the U.S. climb faster than ever.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump assailed safety guidelines issued by the U.S. disease control agency for schools that hope to open by September, calling them “very tough” and “expensive.” Hours later, Vice President Mike Pence said the agency would issue new recommendations.

Mr. Trump also threatened to cut federal funding for schools that did not fully reopen, pointing to schools in other countries that had done so without issue. But in countries like Germany, children returned to classes only after the virus was brought under control.

Higher education: The administration said this week that it would strip international students of their visas if their colleges held classes entirely online — a move seen as putting pressure on universities to reopen for in-person teaching this fall. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have sued to block the directive.

Details: The U.S. now has more than three million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 131,000 deaths, by far the world’s largest outbreak.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the outbreaks.

In other developments:

  • Hong Kong has entered what one health official called “a third wave” of coronavirus infections, as the authorities reported 38 new cases on Tuesday and Wednesday.

  • A New Zealand man who tested positive for the virus will face criminal charges after sneaking out of a hotel quarantine site, the public broadcaster RNZ reported.

  • Thousands of Serbs demonstrated for a second night on Wednesday, in part against President Aleksandar Vucic’s handling of the crisis. They were met by a violent police response that some analysts said harkened back to the 1990s.

  • Japan’s theme parks banned screaming on roller coasters over fears that it could spread the virus. “Please scream inside your heart,” one commercial said.

The British government has announced $38 billion worth of tax and spending measures meant to preserve and create jobs, fearing an avalanche of layoffs in the fall.

With a wage subsidy program set to end in October, the plan released Wednesday includes tax cuts, employment coaching and even a 50 percent discount for diners who go to restaurants and pubs.

Britain’s economy contracted 25 percent in just two months, the same amount it had grown in the last 18 years, said Rishi Sunak, the chancellor of the Exchequer.

Details: Britain’s popular furlough program has paid up to 80 percent of the wages of 9.4 million workers, helping to keep the unemployment rate to 3.9 percent. But that rate could climb to 11.7 percent by the year’s end, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned on Tuesday.

Also: The head of London’s police said on Wednesday that the force would review its handcuffing practices after two Black athletes were handcuffed during a traffic stop on Saturday.

President Emmanuel Macron has long pledged to make equality for French women “the cause of my term,” and he has vowed to end violence against women.

So there was consternation among French feminists this week over his new cabinet choices: Gerald Darmanin, the new interior minister and head of the national police, who has been accused of rape, and Eric Dupond-Moretti, Mr. Macron’s choice for justice minister, a celebrity lawyer known for insensitive remarks.

For many, the appointments signaled the end of the government’s commitment to advancing the rights of women in France, where the #MeToo movement has raised some awareness of sexism but society remains deeply patriarchal, our correspondent writes.

Outside feminist circles, reaction to the appointments was far more muted.

Details: A member of Mr. Darmanin’s political party accused him of having raped her in 2009. He has maintained that the encounter was consensual. And activists have not forgiven Mr. Dupond-Moretti for calling the trial of a local official accused of several rapes, whom he defended, “an illustration of the war between the sexes.”

#MeToo in Egypt: In a country where women who are sexually assaulted are often blamed for it, the arrest of a male Egyptian university student after a flood of accusations from women on social media has raised hopes for a reckoning.

Since it was built in the sixth century, Hagia Sophia, seen in the background above, has been a Byzantine cathedral, a mosque under the Ottomans and finally a museum in what is now Istanbul, making it a potent symbol of Christian-Muslim rivalry.

Now, a push by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to declare it a working mosque threatens to set off an international furor, escalating tensions with Greece and upsetting Christians around the world.

Floods in Japan: At least 58 people died as torrential rains spurred widespread evacuations. Tens of thousands of troops, police officers and other rescue workers are working through mud and debris in the hardest-hit towns along the Kuma River.

Burkina Faso violence: The bodies of at least 180 men thought to have been killed by security forces have been found dumped in fields, by roadsides and under bridges in a town in the West African country over the past eight months, witnesses told human rights researchers.

What we’re reading: This Sahan Journal feature about Minnesota’s first Somali public school principals. Abdi Latif Dahir, our East Africa correspondent, calls it “an inspiring story.”

Cook: The perfect summer pound cake takes no special equipment or skill to pull off, as this peach version proves.

Watch: In “The Beach House,” the writer-director Jeffrey A. Brown’s debut feature, a romantic getaway (remember those?) becomes a surreal nightmare.

Do: You may have developed some good habits in lockdown, but how do you maintain them once it ends? There are strategies to help you keep up the home cooking and regular exercise. Start preparing now.

Staying safe at home is easier when you have plenty of things to read, cook, watch and do. At Home has our full collection of ideas.

Growing scientific evidence suggests that the coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale. The risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and it may help explain past superspreading events in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. Here’s a look at what we know.

What does it mean for a virus to be airborne?

That means that it can be carried through the air in a viable form. H.I.V., too delicate to survive outside the body, is not airborne. Measles is airborne, and dangerously so: It can survive in the air for up to two hours.

For the coronavirus, the distinction has been more complicated. Experts agree that the virus does not travel long distances or stay viable outdoors. But evidence suggests that it can traverse the length of a room and, under one set of experimental conditions, remain a threat for up to three hours.

How are aerosols different from droplets?

Aerosols are droplets, droplets are aerosols — they do not differ except in size.

From the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization and other public health agencies have focused on the virus’s ability to spread through large droplets that are expelled when a symptomatic person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets are heavy, relatively speaking, and fall quickly to the floor or onto a surface that others may touch. This is why public health officials have recommended maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others, as well as frequent hand washing.

Should I start wearing a hospital-grade mask indoors? And how long is too long to stay in a room with other people?

Health care workers may all need to wear N95 masks, which filter out most aerosols. For the rest of us, cloth face masks will still greatly reduce risk, as long as most people wear them.

As for how long is safe, a lot depends on whether the room is too crowded to allow for safe distancing from others and whether fresh air is circulating through the room.



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

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about how The Times got access to a database of coronavirus cases, and what it revealed.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Light years away (three letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Our international correspondent Patrick Kingsley joined the RTE Radio 1 show The Business to discuss the future of the entertainment industry in Europe.

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