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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)"

Stock Markets Rise Despite U.S. Violence: Live Updates

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_173049075_9e8111ba-c933-43c7-b6c3-a194b5e4eecd-articleLarge Stock Markets Rise Despite U.S. Violence: Live Updates United States Economy Stocks and Bonds Standard&Poor's 500-Stock Index Economic Conditions and Trends Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…Vincent Yu/Associated Press

Global markets rise despite American protests.

Global markets rose on Monday despite jitters over the violence in the United States, as investors looked to further signs of recovery from the coronavirus and a lack of major retaliation from the United States in its dispute with China over the fate of Hong Kong.

Stocks in London and Paris were more than 1 percent higher in early Monday trading, though markets in Germany and a number of other countries were closed for a holiday. Asian markets rose strongly, paced by an increase of more than 3 percent in Hong Kong and more than 2 percent in mainland China shares.

Despite the unrest in the United States, futures markets were indicating Wall Street would open modestly higher.

Investors were cheered by results from surveys of purchasing managers around the world, which showed uneven but steady progress in recovering from the coronavirus outbreak. They also saw President Trump’s response on Friday to China’s efforts to take a heavier hand in Hong Kong’s affairs as less severe than it could have been. Mr. Trump said the United States would begin rolling back the special trade and financial status it grants to the former British colony but left many of the details unsaid.

Markets did not totally dismiss the problems in the United States. Prices for U.S. Treasury bonds were mixed, and the American dollar slipped in value compared with other major currencies.

Neighborhoods are taking on new life as people’s worlds have shrunk.

For all the pain that the virus has caused the 25,000 or so who live in Bernal Heights, a dense little neighborhood built around a grassy hill in the south of San Francisco, it has also brought them together as a community — a pattern that is playing out in neighborhoods around the country.

Neighbors have formed a small newspaper for children. Socially distanced street dance parties and cocktail hours have taken over, block by block, as the sun sets. Some people have created a new micro-social safety net, turning bookshelves into sidewalk food banks and garages into medical-supply distribution centers. Email lists and text chains for each block are buzzing.

And as sheltering in place eases, some of the changes in Bernal Heights are turning permanent.

“The scale of life has changed,” said Francesca Russello Ammon, an associate professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania. “Your world has shrunk. The neighborhood and the block become really important.”

When Ryan Stagg, 27, started baking bread for his neighbors in a one-bedroom apartment on Wright Street, he offered it for free, dangling each loaf in a basket, over the fence and down to the sidewalk.

But he and his fiancée, Daniella Banchero, were both out of work, and their landlord was unwilling to reduce their rent, so they started to charge $9 for a big sourdough loaf and expanded the menu, adding cinnamon rolls ($3), cookies ($2) and crumb cakes.

Recently, they have started using a commercial kitchen in a restaurant that’s been shuttered. And they applied to start a proper registered business: The Bernal Bakery.

Forget swooshes or V’s. The economy’s future is a question mark.

Credit…John Minchillo/Associated Press

There is widespread agreement that the United States economy will soon begin to recover from coronavirus lockdowns. The big debate is whether that rebound will resemble a V, a W, an L or a Nike Swoosh.

Increasingly, economists and analysts are penciling in another glyph: a question mark, writes Jeanna Smialek.

Forecasters often label their expectations for a post-recession rebound with letters — a “V” suggests a rapid recovery, a “W” a double-dip, and so on — but that’s hard to do this time around. As all 50 states begin to open up and consumers trickle out of their homes, the path ahead is wildly uncertain, making prognostication dicey.

It isn’t just Wall Street forecasters eschewing the alphabet in favor of a range of what-if’s. From the Federal Reserve to the White House, analysts have suggested that posing confident prognostications is probably more misleading than helpful. John C. Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said during an appearance last week that it was important for policymakers to prepare for every eventuality, rather than focus on one type of recovery.

Looking to donate? Here are some ways to quickly get money to those in need.

What is the very best way for people with more money than they need to quickly hand it over to those in need, so they can use it for food, shelter and other necessities?

It isn’t easy to find a satisfying answer. Sites and services like GoFundMe can connect donors with real people, but they may lack vetting of recipients, their back stories or their plans. Donors with large amounts to give may want to use tax deductions to increase what they can afford to donate, but may not be able to get them through one-off cash transfers.

The elusiveness of perfect solutions has inspired a variety of social entrepreneurs to pursue various forms of direct giving. If you’ve sent money via DonorsChoose to help a teacher pay for a classroom project, you get the basic idea: Give a little money, know exactly where it’s going, have some sense of who’s getting it and have someone between you and the recipient to provide at least some verification.

Two existing organizations and one new entrant are offering some of the most satisfying ways of providing few-strings-attached assistance. Modest Needs Foundation and GiveDirectly, both nonprofit organizations, are using years of experience to pay people’s bills or hand them money to pay for things themselves. And the 1K Project is facilitating money transfers, although without the tax deductions the other two can offer donors.

GiveDirectly partnered with Propel, a company that helps recipients of SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program once known as food stamps) manage their benefits. They receive a message at random offering the money, a bit like a lottery that they don’t have to enter.

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced sweeping new recommendations on the safest way for American employers to reopen their offices to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The recommendations include: checking temperatures as employees arrive at work, spacing desks six feet apart, and requiring masks. Suggestions run from technical advice on ventilation systems (more open windows are most desirable) to suggested abolition of communal perks like latte makers and snack bins.

Reporting was contributed by Matt Richtel, Ron Lieber, Nellie Bowles, Carlos Tejada and Jeanna Smialek.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Poor Countries Face a Debt Crisis ‘Unlike Anything We Have Seen’

From Angola to Jamaica to Ecuador to Zambia, the world’s poor countries have had their finances shredded by the global pandemic.

The president of Tanzania has called on “our rich brothers” to cancel his country’s debt. Belarus veered toward a default when a promised $600 million loan from Russia fell through. Russia couldn’t spare the money because the ruble had taken a nose-dive, along with oil and gas prices. Lebanon, troubled even before the pandemic, has embarked on its first debt restructuring. And Argentina has defaulted again — for the ninth time in its history.

The low interest rates of the past decade led to an unlikely alliance between poor countries and international investors. Governments, state-owned companies and other businesses were able to raise money relatively cheaply to finance their growth, while investors searching for better returns than they were getting at home gobbled up that debt. As a result, developing countries owe record amounts of money to investors, governments and others outside their borders: $2.1 trillion for countries ranked as “low income” and “lower-middle income” by the World Bank, including Afghanistan, Chad, Bolivia and Zimbabwe.

Now, the pandemic is fraying that alliance. Economic activity has ground to a halt, closing ports, shutting factories, canceling flights and emptying resorts. Governments are on the hook for billions of dollars in interest and principal repayments — payments suddenly made more expensive by volatility in the currency markets at the same time that their public health costs are skyrocketing. And their investors are not in a forgiving mood.

“This is really unlike anything we have seen,” said Mitu Gulati, a law professor at Duke University who studies the debts of countries, or sovereign debt. “The last time we had this many countries likely to go under at the same time was in the 1980s.” In Latin America, that period was known as La Década Perdida — The Lost Decade.

Resolving those debts took years of negotiations, austerity measures and stalled economic development. But the debt crisis brewing today could be even harder to sort out.

Poor countries have long been able to borrow from institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, or from the governments of their trading partners, like China. But in recent years their debt, usually in the form of bonds, became popular with private investment firms. The investment funds in turn placed it with client pension funds, family offices and exchange-traded funds. And those entities have their own interests and their own rules, which will complicate any effort to negotiate easier terms for the borrowers, such as stretched out payment schedules, lower interest rates or reduced principal.

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The stakes are high: Argentina’s multiyear dispute with a group of hedge funds including Elliott Management is a reminder of what can happen when a country lapses on its debt payments to investors. Elliott Management, a New York hedge fund run by Paul Singer, and others bought Argentine bonds shortly before the country defaulted in 2001, and held out for full repayment — at one point even seizing an Argentine naval vessel — rather than settle through a debt restructuring. When the sides finally settled in 2016, Elliott received nearly 400 percent of its original investment, according to Argentine officials.

A group of 77 poor countries are scheduled to make interest and principal payments of $62 billion on their debts this year, according to calculations by Ugo Panizza, an economics professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, who published them in a joint research paper with six other economists and bankruptcy lawyers. A portion of that is due in June.

Private investors have bought up more debt than official lenders in Latin American, East Asian and emerging European countries. These countries tend to issue bonds in dollars or other hard currencies. Now, their own currencies have plummeted in value as investors around the world sought refuge in the dollar — Brazil’s is down more than 30 percent against the dollar this year.

That means it takes more of their own currency to buy every dollar they need to pay their debts. At the same time, they’re spending heavily on everything from hand-washing stations in places without tap water to airlifts of protective equipment for medical workers.

“The abruptness of this shock is much larger than the 2008 global financial crisis,” said Ramin Toloui, a former assistant Treasury secretary for international finance during the Obama administration.

The International Monetary Fund has already expanded two emergency loan programs, and more than 100 countries have applied. Some, like Jamaica and Uzbekistan, have begun drawing their loans, while others are still being reviewed. The programs will help in the short term, Mr. Toloui said, but much more financial assistance will be required to keep poor countries solvent during a global shock. The I.M.F. itself has estimated the borrower countries’ total current need, from all sources, at $2.5 trillion.

During La Década Perdida, the debt that was crushing Latin America mainly involved loans from groups of banks, which spent years restructuring the loans, while the I.M.F. pushed to reduce government waste and inefficiency and make the local economies more productive. The process required cooperation, and if a bank tried to hold out, it might get a stern call from a regulator to bring it back on board.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172867431_8a2df633-9de7-4529-977e-7aabf8a86122-articleLarge Poor Countries Face a Debt Crisis ‘Unlike Anything We Have Seen’ World Bank Third World and Developing Countries Shutdowns (Institutional) Latin America International Monetary Fund Institute of International Finance Group of Twenty Currency Credit and Debt Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Brazil Banking and Financial Institutions Argentina Angola
Credit…Sergei Gapon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The mix of creditors is different today. There are institutions like the World Bank, individual governments that have lent money — often to finance trade — and private-sector investors. So far, the private investors are the only ones that have been reluctant to give the countries a break.

In late March, the leaders of the World Bank and the I.M.F. issued a joint statement calling on international creditors to grant the struggling countries relief. They suspended the payments owed this year from a group of 76 countries known as the International Development Association, plus Angola, which owes large payments to China. A few weeks later, the Group of 20, a forum for large-economy governments and central banks including the United States, Germany and China, issued a communiqué supporting a payment suspension. Thirty-six countries have already applied, G20 officials said Thursday.

Those organizations have called on bond funds and other private investors to join the suspension on comparable terms.

The response has been slow.

It took the Institute of International Finance, a trade group from around the globe, nearly four weeks to offer a proposal. The group’s members — banks, insurers, hedge funds and other financial entities — say debt forgiveness is complicated by their fiduciary duties to their clients.

Credit…Cristina Vega Rhor/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On Thursday, the group said it would be up to each investor to decide whether to go along with a moratorium, and any skipped interest payments would be tacked on to the borrowers’ principal. In other words, the countries would come out of the moratorium with more debt than they went in with.

Christian Kopf, head of fixed income at Union Investment Group, a large German asset manager with funds that own emerging market debt, said the approach that official institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are taking won’t work for many investors. That’s because suspending payments on a bond results in a default.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 28, 2020

    • 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’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.

    • 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.)

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

      More than 40 million people — the equivalent of 1 in 4 U.S. workers — have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic took hold. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • 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.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


“Contractually, under the prospectuses and circulars of the bonds fund that we offer, we are not allowed to own defaulted bonds,” he said.

Investors would be forced to sell their bonds, and credit rating firms would be required to downgrade the countries. “It would destroy for years to come the market access of those countries,” Mr. Kopf said.

In remarks to a United Nations group on Thursday, the president of the World Bank, David Malpass, did not directly address the predictions that a breather could cause mass selling and turn borrower countries into pariahs. “Much more is needed, including longer term debt service relief and, in many cases, permanent and significant debt reduction,” he said.

Mr. Malpass also said commercial creditors had to find a way to take part “and not exploit the debt relief of others.”

Mr. Gulati, the Duke law professor, said he wondered if any solution could be reached in time for borrowers to skip their June bond payments without being deemed to be in default.

Decisions by the I.M.F., World Bank and G20 to let the countries skip payments will certainly free up cash, he said. But that doesn’t mean the countries will put it toward the costs of the public health crisis. If the private investors don’t get on board, the money could move into their pockets instead.

“That relief,” he said, “can be used to pay the private creditors on time and in full.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Grateful for Aid, but Worried About What Comes Next

The Paycheck Protection Program, the federal government’s ambitious effort to keep workers at small businesses off the unemployment rolls through the worst of the pandemic, has provided a financial safety net to more than four million companies.

For many, the money was a lifeline. It let a trucking company keep paying drivers who would otherwise have been laid off and gave a group of therapists time to adjust to telemedicine and connect with new clients.

But the pandemic’s devastation continues. Many cities are still shut, consumers’ habits have changed and recharging the economy may take years. Small companies, which employ nearly half of America’s workers who don’t work in government, typically have thin margins and scant savings. Some fear they won’t survive without further help.

Even for those who got help, the program’s rollout was messy and chaotic, and Congress is arguing over proposed changes. The program offered small companies a loan that would be converted to a grant if they used most of the money for eight weeks of payroll. The earliest loan recipients are near the end of their eight-week relief period.

Here’s how six businesses that got loans from the paycheck program’s $660 billion fund are faring.


Billings, Mont.

+ Received a loan on April 3 (declined to disclose the size)

ImageWestlake Legal Group 00virus-loanportraits3a-articleLarge Grateful for Aid, but Worried About What Comes Next United States Economy Unemployment Small Business Shutdowns (Institutional) Layoffs and Job Reductions Labor and Jobs Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (2020) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…Janie Osborne for The New York Times

Tanya Weinreis, the owner of Mountain Mudd, remembers the moment her business changed: 9:01 p.m. on Friday, March 13, as she wrapped up a 14-hour shift at her coffee kiosk at the MetraPark events center. Mrs. Weinreis had just taken delivery of 60 gallons of milk for the next day’s final round of a statewide high school basketball tournament.

“The announcer got on the speaker and said, ‘Don’t come back’ — the tournament was canceled,” Mrs. Weinreis recalled. “We lost thousands of dollars from just that one day.”

Mrs. Weinreis had around 50 employees at Mountain Mudd’s 11 kiosks and pop-up event locations. The MetraPark location was one of her busiest, and missing its summer season — with events like rodeos, graduation ceremonies and the annual MontanaFair — will leave a crater in her company’s sales.

Credit…Janie Osborne for The New York Times
Credit…Janie Osborne for The New York Times

But Mrs. Weinreis’s business is generally well suited for a socially distanced world: The kiosks can operate with just a few workers, and customers drive through. She has been able to keep nearly all of her other stands running.

Mrs. Weinreis received her federal loan check just a few hours into the program’s first day, thanks to a team at Yellowstone Bank. Her employees’ head count and hours have stayed fairly constant, Mrs. Weinreis said, and she expects to have her loan fully forgiven. She hired several new workers in May and is cautiously optimistic heading into the summer.

“April was the worst month we’ve ever had. But May, so far, has been better,” she said. “Based on that, I’d like to think we’ll be in good shape to continue operating without needing any more funding. I’m very hopeful. This was a great program, and I feel very thankful for it.”


Salt Lake City

+ Received a five-figure loan on April 6

Credit…Lindsay D’Addato for The New York Times

Utah is one of the few places that never had a statewide stay-at-home order, but Jennifer McMurrough’s customers vanished as the pandemic spread. March 14 was the first weekend in her company’s 22-year history that she had no overnight boarders.

“It went to zero, and it stayed there a long time,” she said. “The whole business is down at least 90 percent. No one is going to work, and half my business relies on the travel season.”

Ms. McMurrough had nine full-time employees (one quit because of the pandemic) and some part-time help. The paycheck loan helped her keep paying her workers, who are still caring for Little Dogs Resort’s handful of canine clients, but she’s frustrated by the program’s shifting rules and complicated terms. She was wary when she signed the paperwork — “I’ve never signed loan documents before where I didn’t know all the rules,” she said — and she is concerned about whether her post-pandemic payroll will line up with her precrisis head count, wages and hours. If it doesn’t, a portion of her loan may have to be repaid under the program’s rules.

Credit…Lindsay D’Addato for The New York Times
Credit…Lindsay D’Addato for The New York Times

“I’m treating this as a debt that I have to start paying back in November,” she said, referring to the end of the loan’s six-month grace period. “I’ll be pleasantly surprised if I don’t have to, but I’m not counting on it. And if I do have to pay it back, I’m in an even more precarious position than I was when I started.”

Ms. McMurrough is determined to adapt and survive, but she’s concerned about how the pandemic has reshaped her market. She expects to lose what is usually a booming summer season. Her staff has stayed busy making repairs and catching up on paperwork, but none of that work makes money. She recently applied at her bank, Celtic Bank, for a working-capital loan.

“I have no doubt my business is viable and we will thrive again, but we’ve lost months of sales,” she said. “My next payroll is the last one in my covered period, so whatever I’m going to do next, I have one pay period left to figure it out.”


Ada, Okla.

+ Received a $699,000 loan on April 15

Credit…Nick Oxford for The New York Times

Just one week after A&J Transportation got its paycheck loan, its entire staff of truckers was out of work because producers shut down their wells as oil prices plunged in April.

“We lived through the 2014 oil crash, the 2008 economic crash. This one is worse,” said Dana Sanford, the office manager for the family-run business, which worked exclusively on oil fields. “We’ve never had zero oil work for this amount of time, ever.”

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The loan arrived right as the work disappeared, so A&J used it to keep paying all its 72 employees, even though most had nothing to do but stay home. The money kept those workers off the unemployment rolls, Ms. Sanford said.

To get some cash, A&J started bidding for over-the-road contracts. It landed jobs hauling toilet paper, medical supplies and other goods, but the work required refitting its fleet of trucks for different road conditions. For the drivers, too, long-haul trucking is very different from what they did before.

Credit…Nick Oxford for The New York Times
Credit…Nick Oxford for The New York Times

“It was expensive and time-consuming, but we had to do something to adjust,” Ms. Sanford said.

She does not expect a quick recovery. A&J hopes to return one of its crews — about a third of its workers — to the oil fields in June, but Ms. Sanford thinks it will be months before the company’s full fleet is needed. Its eight weeks of payroll support will run out in mid-June.

“The drivers are getting a little more scared as that last week approaches, wondering, ‘Am I going to have a job when this is done?’” she said. “I wish we could apply again. Even four more weeks would be really helpful. The P.P.P. has been a wonderful program, and we’re really glad the Trump administration did it. But what comes next is still pretty uncertain for us.”


Minneapolis

+ Received a $29,700 loan on April 16

Credit…Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

When Minnesota closed its schools on March 18, business plunged at Arubah Emotional Health Services, which works extensively with children and families.

“We lost about 40 percent of our clientele,” said Anissa Keyes, the group’s founder and president. “But then, the pandemic caused a different, larger population to need support.”

Because medical reimbursements typically have at least a month’s delay, Arubah’s cash-flow nadir came in mid-April. “There was 37 cents in my business account,” Ms. Keyes recalled. “It was right after payroll. The next day, the loan deposited, and I could breathe again.”

Arubah’s therapists had never done telehealth appointments, but virtual visits were soon the only option. As they adjusted, Arubah’s calendar began filling up again. Bookings are back to about 80 percent of what they were; Ms. Keyes thinks they’ll reach — and probably surpass — full capacity by July.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 28, 2020

    • 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’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.

    • 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.)

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

      More than 40 million people — the equivalent of 1 in 4 U.S. workers — have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic took hold. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • 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.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


The loan “was perfectly timed and gave us the perfect boost to sustain us,” she said.

She began working on her loan-forgiveness calculations this past week and is unsure if her debt will be fully erased. Some of her 15 employees had their hours reduced during the slow weeks. The paperwork is “a headache,” she said, and is full of imprecise and confusing language.

“Even if I have to pay some of it back, I’m grateful,” she said. “Our numbers are going back up. For the mental-health industry, this crisis has caused a really big boom — which is unfortunate.”


Parkville, Md.

+ Received a six-figure loan on April 14

Credit…André Chung for The New York Times

On Monday, March 16 — the day Maryland’s schools closed — Brandon Hutson, the president of Ed & Jim’s Body Shop, arrived at work at 7:30 a.m. to a ringing phone.

“I thought, ‘OK, here it comes,’” he said. “It was the first cancellation. I hung up, and it rang again — and again, and again, and again, the entire morning.”

Two weeks later, Mr. Hutson and his uncle William Hutson, the shop’s owners, furloughed their 14 employees. When Brandon Hutson learned about the Paycheck Protection Program, he applied immediately, and started recalling his workers the day the money came through. But sales since then have been spotty.

Credit…André Chung for The New York Times
Credit…André Chung for The New York Times

“We have work coming in, but it’s not nearly what it was,” he said. “We had one really good week, then it tapered off, then a decent week, then a slow one.”

Right now, thanks to the loan, the workers are being paid roughly what they made before, but the end date for that subsidy is nearing. And other deferred bills — health insurance, vendor payments, the business’s bank loan — will also be coming due. Mr. Hutson would like to see another round of small-business aid.

“Eight weeks was a good chunk of time,” he said. “We were optimistic. We thought that it would be rough, but that would be enough time to get through this curve. But we’re not through. What about the next eight weeks? That’s a concern everyone has right now.”


Charlottesville, Va.

+ Received a $159,100 loan on April 7

Credit…Zachary Wajsgras for The New York Times

“I was on Cloud 9 the day our loan came through,” said Lindsey Munson, the administrator of the Montessori School of Charlottesville, Va. “It really made such a difference for us.”

Ms. Munson’s school has children from age 21 months through kindergarten — too young for much screen time and distance learning. After Virginia announced on March 13 that it was closing its schools, the Montessori School furloughed its 13 assistants and tried to figure out how long it could keep paying its six teachers, who have been running online sessions.

Ms. Munson offered parents a rebate for the final two months of the year. They had three choices: a cash refund, a credit toward next year’s tuition or a tax-deductible donation to the nonprofit school. About half chose to donate the money.

Credit…Zachary Wajsgras for The New York Times
Credit…Zachary Wajsgras for The New York Times

“That’s the only thing allowing us to not start off next year at a loss,” she said. “We do a lot of scholarships and basically break even. We can’t just borrow our way out of this, because we have no way to pay it back.”

The Paycheck Protection Program helped the school stay solvent through the end of the year, but Ms. Munson is wary of what comes next. It’s “anyone’s guess” what will happen to the school’s small summer camp, which normally starts in late June, and Virginia’s government is still hashing out a plan for the fall.

“If things stay closed, everyone who has benefited from this program really needs it to happen again,” she said. “We need to be keeping people on payrolls so they can pay their bills, and we need our small businesses and nonprofits to stay intact so that there’s jobs for people to come back to.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Black Americans Have a Message for Democrats: Not Being Trump Is Not Enough

COLUMBIA, S.C. — In an on-camera address after a week of destructive protests, former vice president Joseph R. Biden Jr. pleaded with his audience to imagine life for black people in America. Imagine, he said, “if every time your husband or son, wife or daughter left the house, you feared for their safety.” Imagine the police called on you for sitting in Starbucks.

“The anger and frustration and the exhaustion, it’s undeniable,” he said.

Exhaustion. For many black Americans across the country, what a year this month has been. The coronavirus pandemic has continued to disproportionately kill black people, and a spate of high profile killings in recent months in Georgia, Kentucky, and Minnesota, the latter two at the hands of the police, led to widespread demonstrations nationwide.

Protests shook more than three dozen cities on Saturday as crowds expressed outrage over the death of George Floyd, a black security guard who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis. Demonstrators shut down freeways, set fires and battled police batons and tear gas, the pain and frustration of the moment spilling out into the streets.

In Columbia, the city where Mr. Biden delivered his victory speech after the South Carolina primary just over three months ago, demonstrators on Saturday said they were demanding more than what it seemed like an election in November would deliver. Not only justice for the death of George Floyd, but change in political and economic power that would prevent the death of another black person in police custody, another brutal video going viral.

“I’m tired of coming out here,” said Devean Moon, a 21-year-old Columbia resident, one of hundreds who participated in the peaceful protests in the city. “I’m tired of feeling forced to do all this.”

Credit…Sean Rayford for The New York Times
Credit…Sean Rayford for The New York Times

It dawned on Sierra Moore, 24, who attended the protests carrying a homemade sign that read “No Justice, No Peace,” that she and her grandmother have been protesting the same issues over the course of a century.

She looked at the racially diverse group of thousands, which gathered for a short program on the State House steps before leading a march to the local police station.

Next to her was another sign: “Respect my existence or expect my resistance.”

“I just don’t think that’s how change happens,” Ms. Moore said of voting. “They’ve been telling us to do that for so long — and we’ve done it — and look at everything that’s still going on.”

Her words — expressing a sentiment shared by her peers — serve notice to politicians, civil rights groups and Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee who has urged unity amid the frustration. “If you want change in America, go and register to vote,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, but interviews with activists and leading Democratic figures including Stacey Abrams of Georgia, the longtime civil rights leader and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, and Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, flipped that typical framework: If Democrats want people to vote, party leaders need to listen to why people are angry.

Ms. Abrams described the events of the past week as what happens when people are desperate for “their pain to be validated.”

“You cannot motivate someone to a behavior that they don’t believe will actually bring change,” she said. “We have to start by saying what you feel and what you fear is real.”

Mr. Biden has attempted to strike this balance. He made clear during his recent remarks that he had spoken to Mr. Floyd’s family. He talked about the country needing to confront the “uncomfortable truths” of racism.

“The very soul of America is at stake,” he said, tying the tension between the police and black communities to removing President Trump from the White House.

But the moment may still test Mr. Biden’s priorities, as a weary black electorate desires far greater change than the promise of a return to normalcy that has fueled his campaign. The Democratic Party is the political home of most black Americans. The former vice president, one of the Senate architects of the modern criminal justice system, cannot confront racism without addressing systemic inequalities, and he cannot address systemic inequalities by simply returning to a pre-Trump America.

“Our needs aren’t moderate,” Mr. Jackson said in a recent interview. “The absence of Trump is not enough.”

Mr. Biden’s win in South Carolina was a turning point for his once-flailing campaign. His support came from across all demographics, but his particular strength was older black voters — people who said the community’s familiarity with and trust of Mr. Biden, combined with his perceived ability to beat Mr. Trump, earned their backing.

To win in November, and to deliver on his promise of American unity, Mr. Biden is likely to need more than the coalition that brought him his primary victory. And to engage younger voters, he’ll need to offer more than the promise of ousting Mr. Trump as an answer to current despair.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172935528_e26db12b-e101-4778-b2eb-44643a30f52c-articleLarge Black Americans Have a Message for Democrats: Not Being Trump Is Not Enough Trump, Donald J Pressley, Ayanna Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings Jackson, Jesse L discrimination Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Columbia (SC) Civil Rights and Liberties Black People Biden, Joseph R Jr Abrams, Stacey Y
Credit…Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune, via Associated Press

On the policy front, a task force with criminal justice experts that supported Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has already been convened. Mr. Jackson, who supported Mr. Sanders in the primary, said Mr. Biden is “a consensus builder” and, if surrounded by the right people, the quality should serve him well.

But Mr. Biden also must minimize mistakes, said Mayor Stephen Benjamin of Columbia, alluding to the recent controversy in which Mr. Biden apologized after saying “you ain’t black” to black people uncertain whether to support him or Mr. Trump.

“The greatest asset that every candidate has, for better or for worse, is authenticity,” Mr. Benjamin said. He views authenticity as a prerequisite to leveling with people who are used to being disappointed. “I do believe, that if the vice president is authentically Joe, a legitimately good man who cares, I think people will gravitate to that authenticity.”

Engaging with a community that feels disaffected by the political system can be difficult. Mr. Trump has made a public show of trying to coax black Americans away from the Democratic Party, though he inadvertently made clear in comments to reporters on Saturday how little progress he has made: “MAGA is Make America Great Again,” he said, discussing his voting base. “By the way, they love African-American people, they love black people. MAGA loves the black people.”

Last October, Mr. Trump was in Columbia to address a forum on policing and criminal justice — many of the issues protesters are taking to the streets over — held at Benedict College, a historically black institution. He spoke a day ahead of some of the 2020 Democratic candidates, including Mr. Biden.

“The Democratic policies have let African-Americans down and taken them for granted,” Mr. Trump said then.

Progressive black leaders are extremely critical of Mr. Trump, as are many black voters. But they also believe that Democrats have sometimes been their greatest obstacle in addressing police brutality and racial inequality.

“Part of the reason these are systemic inequalities is that they transcend not only party, but time,” said Ms. Abrams, who is among those being vetted by Mr. Biden as a potential running mate. She also noted that:“We have to be very intentional about saying this is not about one moment or one murder — but the entire infrastructure of justice.”

Ms. Pressley, one of the House members who introduced a resolution to condemn police brutality, racial profiling, and the excessive use of force in Congress this past week, pointed to the confluence of issues facing black communities: a public health crisis, an economic crisis and, with the threat of police violence, “just trying to stay alive.”

Economic experts have predicted that even as the country faces a nationwide downturn, black communities may be hit particularly hard. Access to capital will dry up more quickly, especially for black business owners, and a coming “avalanche of evictions” could displace black renters across the country.

Ms. Pressley, an insurgent progressive in 2018 who beat a Democratic incumbent partly with a strategy to engage nontypical voters, said if elected officials want to speak to people’s pain, they have to understand the “deficit of trust” they’re operating under.

“People don’t participate, not because they’re ignorant and they don’t know enough,” she said. “It’s because they know too much. They live it every day.”

At Saturday’s march in South Carolina’s capital, thousands gathered at a state capitol rich with its own racial back story. The Old Carolina State House was burned to the ground during the Civil War, and the new building includes monuments to 19th-century state figures who were open racists — such as Dr. J. Marion Sims, a pioneer in the field of surgery who experimented on enslaved black women, and Benjamin Tillman, a former U.S. senator and South Carolina governor who spoke positively about lynch mobs that killed black residents.

Credit…Sean Rayford for The New York Times

On Saturday, the state house steps were filled with many black South Carolinians, demanding the right to live without fear, an echo of what some people fought for more than a century ago, in the days of Mr. Sims and Mr. Tillman.

“Clearly our voices are not enough,” said Kayla Brabham, a 28-year-old student at Benedict College who skipped Mr. Trump’s speech at her school.

“It’s not just the last couple years or months, it’s the whole time I’ve been alive,” she said. “We should not have to come out here to make y’all feel like we’re important.”

Even her name, she said, was a reminder of the country’s legacy of black violence.

“B-R-A-B-H-A-M, ” she said, spelling it out. “We got that from our slave masters. My great-great-grandmother was a slave in Hampton, South Carolina.”

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Two Crises Convulse a Nation: A Pandemic and Police Violence

They are parallel plagues ravaging America: The coronavirus. And police killings of black men and women.

Jimmy Mills’s life has been upended by both. His barbershop in Midtown Minneapolis was one of many small, black-owned businesses that have struggled to survive the pandemic. But Mr. Mills was hopeful because, after two months shut down, he was due to reopen next week.

Then early on Friday, the working-class neighborhood where Mr. Mills has cut hair for 12 years went up in flames as chaotic protests over the death of George Floyd and police killings of African-Americans engulfed Minneapolis and cities across the country.

“To have corona, and then this — it’s like a gut shot,” Mr. Mills, 56, said.

The upheaval sparked by a video capturing Mr. Floyd’s agonizing last minutes as a white police officer kneels on his neck is pulsing through an America already ragged with anger and anxiety. Emotions are raw over the toll of a pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 people across the country and cost millions of jobs.

Minneapolis residents said outrage and protests in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd were a result of a community being tested repeatedly in recent weeks by both police violence and the virus — and in ways that put America’s deep racial inequalities in stark relief.

The outbreak has inflicted disproportionate economic and health tolls on racial minorities and immigrants in Minneapolis and beyond. Black and Latino workers have been more likely to have lost their jobs. Many others are among the low-paid hourly workers who risk their health by going to work at grocery stores, nursing homes, factories, slaughterhouses and other jobs that cannot be done remotely.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172975950_3f9c3d56-3b0b-4868-9e85-8a2e99c13c46-articleLarge Two Crises Convulse a Nation: A Pandemic and Police Violence Race and Ethnicity Minneapolis (Minn) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Black People
Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

By one estimate, black people accounted for at least 29 percent of known Covid-19 cases in Minnesota, despite making up about 6 percent of the state’s population. African-Americans make up 35 percent of coronavirus cases in Minneapolis, though they are less than 20 percent of the city’s population.

“There are no words to describe what people are going through,” said State Representative Mohamud Noor, who represents a district with many Somalis and other immigrants. His great-uncle died of the coronavirus a few days ago, and Mr. Noor said he is losing track of how many other relatives and constituents are dying.

Mr. Noor said the school closures had hurt poorer students without laptops or reliable internet access to take classes online, and that waves of job losses had sent local unemployment rates soaring. Now, with more than 200 businesses damaged or destroyed in the unrest, Mr. Noor said he was worried about new waves of foreclosures, job losses and business failures.

“Many people who are poor who didn’t have much, this devastation will really impact them,” Mr. Noor said.

Even before the pandemic, the Midtown neighborhood, where buildings were burned, damaged and looted, had been trying to rebuild itself after years of economic hardship. The area is in a historically segregated part of town where some residents had felt neglected. A railway was repurposed into a bike and walking trail that runs through the neighborhood. The Midtown Global Market had sprung up, attracting diners and shoppers to its Hmong, Indian, Moroccan and other international food and crafts.

But now, next door to Mr. Mills, the barber, a dollar store and beauty-supply shop have been burned to rubble. The front windows of Mr. Mills’s barbershop were smashed, and looters stole his televisions, video equipment and his clippers.

Now, with the power out, water seeping across the floor and phalanxes of police officers and National Guard troops blockading his neighborhood, he does not know when his J-Klips barbershop might reopen.

Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

“Half of the place is condemned,” he said. “Where do we go from here?”

Phillipe Cunningham, a city council member, represents a poor ward in northern Minneapolis with a large black, Hmong and Native American population. He said had spent the past two months fighting to get a coronavirus testing site opened and fielding calls from laid-off workers falling behind on rent and black business owners unable to navigate the maze of federal relief programs.

On Friday, Mr. Cunningham drove around surveying damaged buildings, helping some of the same business owners board up their storefronts and trying to prevent looters from breaking into stores.

“We were already struggling,” Mr. Cunningham said.

In many pockets of the city where the virus seemed to be more concentrated, residents have not had access to masks and hand sanitizer, even as the mayor ordered masks be worn when inside businesses as of earlier this week, said Jia Starr Brown, pastor of First Covenant Church in downtown Minneapolis.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 28, 2020

    • 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’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.

    • 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.)

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

      More than 40 million people — the equivalent of 1 in 4 U.S. workers — have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic took hold. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • 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.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


Even healthy people in Minneapolis were feeling anxious after a long stretch of being holed up in their homes as spring arrived; a limited reopening of businesses was not set to begin until Monday. That loosening of restrictions came with a long list of social-distancing and sanitation rules.

Ms. Brown spoke as she stepped away from a protest outside a county building Friday afternoon, saying she was heartened to see so many people attend rallies calling for justice for Mr. Floyd, even when doing so was a health risk.

“This is about collective widespread grief, and how great must the grief be that people would risk their livelihoods?” she said. “Who we are as a people is greater than the risk to be out there. This is urgent. This isn’t about just our own individual lives as black people, but this is about our futures and children.”

Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Many young people, especially minorities, were gig-economy workers holding two or three part-time jobs that evaporated when the outbreak hit, said Tyler Sit, pastor of the New City Church, which is blocks away from where Mr. Floyd died and from the Third Precinct that was burned in the protests. They were left jobless and worried about not having benefits should they become ill.

Sitting at home during lockdown, with no work and no prospect of finding work for the foreseeable future, he said, they were more aware than usual of news reports and then had the time to react by taking to the streets.

“I hear messages from community members trying to deliberate whether or not they’re going to show up. They don’t want to catch Covid-19 and spread Covid-19 if they happen to be an asymptomatic carrier,” he said. “But there’s a deep feeling of we have to do something because our city is burning.”

In Atlanta, Denver, New York and beyond, protesters have also emerged despite the pandemic. They have slipped on face masks and bandannas to guard against the coronavirus, as well as tear gas.

Rashawn Ray, a sociologist and fellow at The Brookings Institution, said one crucial difference between the two plagues is that the coronavirus, like past diseases, may one day dissipate with a vaccine or medical breakthrough. “We’ve never gotten to a place where racism is not a significant part of everyone’s life in the United States,” he said.

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In Days of Discord, President Trump Fans the Flames

Westlake Legal Group 30dc-virus-assess-facebookJumbo In Days of Discord, President Trump Fans the Flames twitter Trump, Donald J Recession and Depression Presidents and Presidency (US) Minneapolis (Minn) impeachment Floyd, George (d 2020) Economic Conditions and Trends Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

WASHINGTON — With a nation on edge, ravaged by disease, hammered by economic collapse, divided over lockdowns and even face masks and now convulsed once again by race, President Trump’s first instinct has been to look for someone to fight.

Over the last week, America reeled from 100,000 pandemic deaths, 40 million people out of work and cities in flames over a brutal police killing of a subdued black man. But Mr. Trump was on the attack against China, the World Health Organization, Big Tech, former President Barack Obama, a cable television host and the mayor of a riot-torn city.

As several cities erupted in street protests after the killing of George Floyd, some of them resulting in clashes with the police, Mr. Trump made no appeal for calm. Instead in a series of tweets and comments to reporters on Saturday, he blamed the unrest on Democrats, called on “Liberal Governors and Mayors” to get “MUCH tougher” on the crowds, threatened to intervene with “the unlimited power of our Military” and even suggested his own supporters mount a counterdemonstration.

The turmoil came right to Mr. Trump’s doorstep for the second night in a row on Saturday as hundreds of people protesting Mr. Floyd’s death and the president’s response surged in streets near the White House. While most were peaceful, chanting “black lives matter” and “no peace, no justice,” some spray painted scatological advice for Mr. Trump, ignited small fires, set off firecrackers and threw bricks, bottles and fruit at Secret Service and United States Park Police officers, who responded with pepper spray.

The police cordoned off several blocks around the Executive Mansion as a phalanx of camouflage-wearing National Guard troops marched across nearby Lafayette Square. A man strode through the streets yelling, “Time for a revolution!” The image of the White House surrounded by police in helmets and riot gear behind plastic shields fueled the sense of a nation torn apart.

Mr. Trump praised the Secret Service for being “very cool” and “very professional” but assailed the Democratic mayor of Washington for not providing city police officers to help on Friday night, which she denied. While governors and mayors have urged restraint, Mr. Trump seemed more intent on taunting the protesters, bragging about the violence that would have met them had they tried to get onto White House grounds.

“Big crowd, professionally organized, but nobody came close to breaching the fence,” the president wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning. “If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least. Many Secret Service agents just waiting for action.”

His suggestion that his own supporters should come to the White House on Saturday foreshadowed the possibility of a clash outside his own doors. “Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???” he wrote on Twitter, using the acronym for his first campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

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Updated 4m ago

Asked about the tweet later, he denied encouraging violence by his supporters. “They love African-American people,” he said. “They love black people. MAGA loves the black people.” By evening, however, Mr. Trump’s supporters were not in evidence among the crowds at the White House.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington responded sharply on Saturday morning, saying her police department will protect anyone in Washington, including the president, and by Saturday evening her officers were out in force around the White House.

But she called the president a source of division. “While he hides behind his fence afraid/alone, I stand w/ people peacefully exercising their First Amendment Right after the murder of #GeorgeFloyd & hundreds of years of institutional racism,” she wrote. “There are no vicious dogs & ominous weapons. There is just a scared man. Afraid/alone …”

After his morning barrage, Mr. Trump tried to recalibrate later in the day, devoting the opening of a speech at the Kennedy Space Center following the SpaceX rocket launch to the unrest in the streets and clearly trying to temper his bellicose tone.

“I understand the pain that people are feeling,” he said. “We support the right of peaceful protesters and we hear their pleas. But what we are now seeing on the streets of our cities has nothing to do with justice or peace. The memory of George Floyd is being dishonored by rioters, looters and anarchists.”

The days of discord have put the president’s leadership style on vivid display. From the start of his ascension to power, Mr. Trump has presented himself as someone who seeks conflict, not conciliation, a fighter, not a peacemaker. That appeals to a substantial portion of the public that sees in him a president willing to take on an entrenched and entitled establishment.

But the confluence of perilous health, economic and now racial crises has tested his approach and left him struggling to find his footing just months before an election in which polls currently show him behind.

“The president seems more out-of-touch and detached from the difficult reality the country is living than ever before,” said Carlos Curbelo, a former Republican congressman from Florida who has been critical of Mr. Trump. “At a moment when America desperately needs healing, the president is focused on petty personal battles with his perceived adversaries.”

Such a moment would challenge any president, of course. It has been a year of national trauma that started out feeling like another 1998 with impeachment, then another 1918 with a killer pandemic combined with another 1929 given the shattering economic fallout. Now add to that another 1968, a year of deep social unrest.

It is fair to say that 2020 has turned out to be a year that has frayed the fabric of American society with an accumulation of anguish that has whipsawed the country and its people. But in some ways, Mr. Trump has become a totem for the nation’s polarization rather than a mender of it.

“I am daily thinking about why and how a society unravels and what we can do to stop the process,” said Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian at New York University. “The calamity these days is about more than Trump. He is just the malicious con man who lives to exploit our vulnerabilities.”

As the nation has confronted a coronavirus pandemic at the same time as the greatest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression, whatever unified resolve that existed at the beginning of the twin crises quickly evaporated into yet another cultural clash. And the president has made everything into just another partisan dispute rather than a source of consensus, from when and how to reopen to whether to wear a mask in public.

Mr. Trump led no national mourning as the death toll from the coronavirus passed 100,000 beyond lowering the flags at the White House, posting a single tweet and offering a passing comment on camera only when asked about it. Rather than seek agreement on the best and safest way to restore daily life, he threatened to “override” governors who prevented places of worship from resuming crowded services.

“Crisis leadership demands much more from the White House than irresponsible threats on social media,” said Meena Bose, director of the Peter S. Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency at Hofstra University.

Mr. Trump’s initial response to the rioting in Minneapolis, where a police officer has been charged with murder after kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as he cried out that he could not breathe, underscored the president’s most instinctive response to national challenges. Threatening to send in troops, he wrote early Friday morning that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Only after a cascade of criticism did he try to walk it back, posting a new tweet 13 hours later, suggesting that all he had meant was that “looting leads to shooting” by people in the street.

“I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means,” he said, a reformulation that convinced few if any of his critics.

Even some of Mr. Trump’s usual allies were distressed at the original shooting tweet. Geraldo Rivera, the television and radio host who often spends time with Mr. Trump at the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, decried “the recklessness” of that message and called on the president “to self-censor himself.”

“Come on, what is this, sixth grade?” Mr. Rivera said on Fox News. “You don’t put gasoline on the fire. That’s not calming anybody.” He added: “All he does is diminish himself.”

But many of the president’s defenders rejected the idea that he had mishandled the crises, pressing the argument that Democrats and the news media were to blame for the turmoil in the streets, which spread from Minneapolis to New York, Atlanta, Washington, Louisville, Portland and other cities.

“Keep track of cities where hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage and serious injuries and death will take place,” Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor who has served as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, wrote on Twitter on Friday night. “All Democrat dominated cities with criminal friendly policies. This is the future if you elect Democrats.”

Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner who was pardoned by Mr. Trump for tax fraud earlier this year, amplified the point on Twitter. “It should be no surprise that every one of these cities that the anarchist have taken over, are the same cities run by leftist Democrats with the highest violence, murder and poverty rates,” he wrote on Twitter. “They can’t handle their cities normally, so how are they going to deal with this?”

Mr. Trump, who this past week retweeted a video of a supporter saying that “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat” (though the supporter insisted he meant that in a political sense), picked up the theme on Saturday.

With crowds visible from his upstairs windows, Mr. Trump reached for his phone and again assailed the “Democrat Mayor” of Minneapolis for not responding more vigorously and called on New York to unleash its police against crowds. “Let New York’s Finest be New York’s Finest,” he wrote. “There is nobody better, but they must be allowed to do their job!

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In Lockdown, a Neighborhood Opens Up

The residents of Bernal Heights, a dense little neighborhood built around a grassy hill in the south of San Francisco, have been under lockdown a long time — since March 17, to be exact, when the city became among the first in the United States to shut down.

With incomes and freedom lost, and boredom and anxiety setting in, the neighborhood turned inward. This has led to a flurry of new activity.

Neighbors in the upper-middle-class community have formed a small newspaper for children. Socially distanced street dance parties and cocktail hours have taken over, block by block, as the sun sets. Some people have created a new micro-social safety net, turning bookshelves into sidewalk food banks and garages into medical-supply distribution centers. Email lists and text chains for each block are buzzing. And as sheltering in place eases, some of the changes in Bernal Heights are turning permanent.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172397622_43261972-28f6-4375-918e-95e9e6646b13-articleLarge In Lockdown, a Neighborhood Opens Up Scavenger Hunts Quarantines Quarantine (Life and Culture) parenting News and News Media Food Banks and Pantries Food Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Children and Childhood Bernal Heights (San Francisco, Calif)

It’s a sign of how Covid-19 has taken us back in time. Televisions had killed stoop culture. Those little stages for gossip, flirting and catching up went quiet as people retreated to the living room after work. Then phones killed the living room TV time and homes got quiet, too, each family member retreating to a bedroom or a far end of the sofa.

Now we have returned to the stoop.

For all the pain that the virus has caused the 25,000 or so who live in Bernal Heights, it has also brought them together as a community — a pattern that is playing out in neighborhoods around the country.

“The scale of life has changed,” said Francesca Russello Ammon, an associate professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania. “Your world has shrunk. The neighborhood and the block become really important.”

In a one-bedroom apartment on Wright Street, Ryan Stagg, 27, turns on the oven to bake the sourdough country loaf he has prepped the night before. A little while later, he revs up the countertop toaster oven for sourdough cinnamon rolls and brown butter chocolate chip cookies — the specialty of his fiancée, Daniella Banchero.

When the virus hit, the couple were hitting their stride. Ms. Banchero was cooking at Piccino, a hip restaurant in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco that is teeming with start-ups. Mr. Stagg was just opening Pollara, a new Roman pizza place in Berkeley, Calif. He was laid off. She was furloughed.

“We were finally getting a little bit of success,” Mr. Stagg said.

They started baking bread for neighbors, dangling each loaf in a basket, over the fence and down to the sidewalk. It was free. Demand grew.

Their landlord was unwilling to reduce their rent, so they started to charge $9 for a big sourdough loaf and expanded the menu, adding cinnamon rolls ($3), cookies ($2) and crumb cakes.

Their woodworker friend who lives down the road and was out of work welded them a boom arm. An artist a few blocks further painted them a sign.

In recent days, they have started using a commercial kitchen in a restaurant that’s been shuttered. And they applied to start a proper registered business: The Bernal Bakery.

Natalie Mead, who works at Instagram, was home on medical leave for chronic migraines when the lockdown happened. She was ready to help. One thing her house has that is rare in the neighborhood is a deep front garden. So she decided to make a scavenger hunt for children.

“I just went down into my basement and started looking around for anything fun, and it took me awhile since I don’t have kids,” Ms. Mead, 28, said. “But I found some Hot Wheels I still had from when I was a kid.”

She hid them in the garden and wrote in big chalk letters on the sidewalk: “I spy five Hot Wheels. “

Neighborhood children (and some adults), bored from staring at Zoom, were hooked. Soon, items to keep the game going were pouring in.

“People have brought over a lot of collections — stress ball collection, dinosaurs that their kids aren’t playing with anymore, action figures, billiard balls, little miniature board games,” Ms. Mead said. “This week it’s Smurfs.”

For social distancing reasons, neighbors usually leave the prizes to hide under her front stairs. Ms. Mead said she hears 10 to 20 families a day coming through her garden for the scavenger hunt. The hunters arrive first thing in the morning, when many children are often still in their pajamas.

“I have to keep myself from coming out and saying hi all day now,” she said.

Chris Colin, a freelance journalist, came up with the idea of a kids’ newspaper two days into the school cancellations.

“I looked up and realized that there were not only two children in my house with nothing to do but I just felt this, like a disturbance in the force,” he said.

Grown-ups have wine. Kids are struggling.

“The idea was not just to occupy them but to give them a way to explore what the hell has happened to their world at a very local level, a very personal level,” he said.

Mr. Colin emailed some parents in the neighborhood asking if their children would contribute articles. He expected a couple of submissions. He stopped counting after 100.

And so the paper, called Six Feet of Separation, was born.

In each issue, Mr. Colin accepts short reflections and recipes, pieces on loneliness or adventures. No writers above the age of 17 need apply.

One 14-year-old data journalist organized a bunch of children to climb to the top of Bernal Hill in different shifts to count the number of people walking up and determine peak crowd hours. He has started accepting “foreign correspondents,” who write missives from well beyond Bernal Heights.

“My editorial policy is, ‘Yes,’” Mr. Colin said.

He carefully formats each newspaper as a PDF and then blasts it out over email. He publishes when he has enough articles, every week or so. Parents then print out copies at home.

Now the paper is expanding through word of mouth among parents. A representative from AT&T found Mr. Colin. They are donating to fund its expansion around the country.

The food bank is just some bookshelves that Colleen Irwin, a nurse practitioner at San Francisco General Hospital, put in front of her house. But every day it’s full of fresh and canned food.

She started it after talking to a neighbor who told her there were day laborers in Bernal Heights who had not had anything to eat. She asked if he was hungry right then, and he said he was.

“So I text the Pussy Chicks,” she said, referring to her group of politically active friends, who named themselves after the iconic headgear of the 2017 Women’s March. “And of course people stopped what they were doing, they went in their cupboards, and so it started the next day. And I started talking to a neighbor, Dan, who was walking by with a dog, and I said, ‘Could you build a bookcase?’”

In the end, someone donated the shelves. She made a poster that read “Emergency Food Bank” and covered it in glittery paper. She handed out postcards to those who had orange and lemon trees in their backyards, asking for citrus donations.

“Everybody says yes,” Ms. Irwin said. She estimated that at least four times a day, the bookshelf fills up and empties out.

“It’s a dynamic little thing,” she said. “Little kids come by and the parents have them bring stuff and put it in there, and then the kids come back later and say, ‘Hey Ma, the chili, it’s gone.’”

Misa Perron-Burdick, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Bernal Heights, has many low-income patients. She wanted the women who see her to leave with supplies to shelter in place. So she reached out to friends and neighbors and set up an Amazon wish list and a PayPal account.

“It just snowballed. We get about 10 deliveries of supplies a day,” Dr. Perron-Burdick said. “Everything happens in the garage.”

Neighbors are shopping, donating supplies, and helping to sort, stock, and deliver goods. From the garage, they pack individual care packages and head out for delivery. Many of the volunteers were recently laid off themselves. The corner-store owner even made a deal to source products wholesale for her.

Dr. Perron-Burdick wants to hold onto some of the changes.

“I don’t want to stop relying on my neighbors for things, and I don’t want my neighbors to stop relying on me for things,” she said. “I hope that we don’t go back to the way we were.”

Some neighbors have banded together to shop on a rotation, taking care of the Target run or the grocery run for a half-dozen homes at a time. Others have bulk ordered groceries — 50-pound bags of flour, 30 pounds of blueberries, a giant salmon — to share.

There’s a Google map of houses with rainbows in the window for kids to “scavenger hunt” and count the rainbows from the safe distance of the sidewalk.

There is a “window pane block party” for people to “introduce themselves” by putting a sign on their window. One resident posts new jokes in the window every day.

Joyce McKinney and her husband are in the vulnerable-age category, and young people have volunteered to run errands for them, which did not happen before. The other day, she said, an unsolicited bottle of wine and a six pack of I.P.A. showed up on their doorstep.

J.T. Williams is a trial attorney who in 2016 moved from Texas to San Francisco. His dream had always been to sing opera, and here he would do it. In four years, he has performed in more than 100 shows.

Now, every day from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Mr. Williams, a dramatic bass-baritone, stands on his balcony and sings.

He likes dramatic arias, like “Il Pagliacci Prologue,” “Cortigiani” from “Rigoletto,” “Nemico” from “Andrea Chenier” and “Eri Tu” from “Un Ballo in Maschera.” He ends most evenings with the “Toreador Song” from “Carmen.”

There are too many events on different blocks to fully document the stoop cocktail scene.

Some groups do masked singalongs or poetry readings. Every Saturday, a garage door rolls up and Sam Cooke’s “Let the Good Times Roll” plays at full blast. On Easter, a neighbor wore a bunny costume and walked around waving at children.

Around 8 p.m. there’s a drum circle on Bennington Street. On Sundays, there is a sing- and dance-along on Moultrie Street.

“Many of us didn’t know each other despite living within 50 yards,” said Sarah Gordon, a participant in the dance-along. She said she and her neighbors have learned the Electric Slide.

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Trump Moves to Strip Hong Kong of Special U.S. Relationship

Westlake Legal Group 29dc-trump-china-sub2-facebookJumbo Trump Moves to Strip Hong Kong of Special U.S. Relationship Xi Jinping United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Trump, Donald J Pompeo, Mike Kudlow, Lawrence A Hong Kong Foreign Students (in US) Executive Orders and Memorandums Economic Conditions and Trends Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced Friday that his administration would end almost all aspects of the American government’s special relationship with Hong Kong, including on trade and law enforcement, and that it was withdrawing from the World Health Organization, where the United States has been by far the largest funder.

Speaking at a news conference in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Trump voiced a range of grievances against China, angrily denouncing the country’s trade and security practices and its handling of the initial coronavirus outbreak.

As punishment, Mr. Trump said he would strip away Hong Kong’s privileges with the United States, ranging from an extradition treaty to commercial relations, with few exceptions.

“My announcement today will affect the full range of agreements we have with Hong Kong,” he said, including “action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory from the rest of China.”

Mr. Trump’s announcement came largely in response to Beijing’s move this week to put in place broad new national security powers over Hong Kong. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he was reporting to Congress a determination that Hong Kong no longer had significant autonomy under Chinese rule. Mr. Pompeo had earlier called the new Chinese law a “death knell” for the territory, a global financial and commercial hub with special status under American law because, in theory, it has semiautonomy until 2047 under an international treaty that Britain and China signed.

Mr. Pompeo’s finding amounted to a recommendation that the United States should reconsider its special relationship with Hong Kong. A 1992 law says the United States should continue to treat the Beijing-ruled territory under the same conditions it did when it was a British colony.

Mr. Trump made clear on Friday that he no longer considered Hong Kong to be separate from China.

“China claims it is protecting national security. But the truth is that Hong Kong was secure and prosperous as a free society. Beijing’s decision reverses all of that. It extends the reach of China’s invasive state security apparatus into what was formally a bastion of liberty,” Mr. Trump said.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 28, 2020

    • 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’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.

    • 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.)

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

      More than 40 million people — the equivalent of 1 in 4 U.S. workers — have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic took hold. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • 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.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


He said the United States would suspend the entry of some Chinese citizens who have been identified as “potential security risks.” He did not give details, but appeared to be referring to a move to cancel the visas of graduate students and researchers who attended Chinese universities with ties to the military.

The New York Times reported this week that American officials had decided to go ahead with the action, which would affect thousands of Chinese students, a tiny percentage of the total number from China studying in the country.

Mr. Trump also repeated past charges that China had mishandled the coronavirus outbreak and suggested that Chinese officials had knowingly allowed travelers to fly from Wuhan to other countries, including the United States, while limiting access from Wuhan to other cities within China.

It was unclear from Mr. Trump’s announcement whether he was issuing a formal executive order to end the special relationship with Hong Kong entirely. The administration can take piecemeal actions — for example, imposing the same tariffs on goods from Hong Kong that the United States does on products from mainland China — before taking that final, drastic step.

Alan Rappeport contributed reporting.

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Renault to Slash Jobs by 8 Percent

FRANKFURT — About eight million people around the world earn their living making cars and trucks. It’s becoming clearer that not all of them will come out of the pandemic with jobs.

The French carmaker Renault announced an emergency cost-cutting plan on Friday that is likely to serve as a grim template for an industry that was in deep trouble even before the coronavirus brought sales nearly to a standstill.

Renault said it would cut nearly 15,000 jobs worldwide, or about 8 percent of its work force, and pull out of China. The company also vowed a drastic reduction in production as it tries to deal with “the major crisis facing the automotive industry.”

Renault has been hit hard by the pandemic. Its sales in the European Union, the company’s most important market, fell almost 80 percent in April, when dealerships were closed and most buyers were not leaving their homes.

“It’s not just Renault,” said Peter Wells, director of the Center for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff University in Wales. “There are too many factories, too many models, too many dealers. A crisis like this is ruthless in exposing the vulnerabilities of these companies.”

Nissan, Renault’s partner in a global automaking alliance, said Thursday that it would close factories in Indonesia and Spain as it reduces the number of cars it produces by a fifth. The announcement came after Nissan reported a loss for the fiscal year ending in March of 671 billion yen, or $6.3 billion.

Volvo Cars said last month that it would cut 1,300 white-collar jobs in Sweden, its base. Other carmakers, such as Fiat Chrysler and PSA, which makes Peugeot, Citroën and Opel vehicles, will be under pressure to make similar cuts.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172850826_c90d8aec-5ee6-4f31-881b-b3584aea607a-articleLarge Renault to Slash Jobs by 8 Percent Renault SA Peugeot SA Opel, Adam, AG Nissan Motor Co Macron, Emmanuel (1977- ) Layoffs and Job Reductions Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV Dongfeng Motor Corp Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Citroen Automobiles AB Volvo
Credit…Thomas Lo Presti/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Starting Monday, General Motors plans to have three sport-utility vehicle plants running two shifts per day instead of one, while three truck plants will go from two shifts to three. The increase is a response to reports from dealers that supplies of certain models are running thin.

Toyota, Honda, BMW and other foreign automakers have also restarted plants in the United States. Both G.M. and Fiat Chrysler have begun restarting production in Mexico this week.

While plants are again producing vehicles, automakers have not yet eased back on some of the cost-cutting measures they put in place when the virus began spreading rapidly in March. Those include executive pay cuts and suspension of shareholder dividends.

But with demand unlikely to recover to pre-pandemic levels for years, even the American automakers will not be able to avoid further painful cuts, Mr. Wells said.

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Automaker job cuts reverberate far beyond the companies, afflicting other businesses like parts makers, dealers, car insurance providers, repair shops, and pubs and sandwich shops situated outside factory gates. Because of the massive economic fallout, plant closures face stiff resistance from labor unions and political leaders.

The unrest has already begun to manifest itself in Europe.

In Barcelona, some of the 3,000 workers who will lose their jobs at the Nissan facility burned tires outside the factory and marched in protest.

Workers at a Renault plant in Maubeuge, in northern France, walked out immediately after the job cuts were announced on Friday morning. The automaker is considering merging the plant in Maubeuge, where over 2,000 people work, with a nearby plant in Douai to produce electric cars and light commercial vehicles.

Renault said it would also make cuts in marketing and research and development, and halt expansion of factories in Romania and Morocco.

Fabien Gâche, a representative of the hard-line C.G.T. union at Renault, said Friday that the carmaker was cutting jobs but had no “firm, resolute strategy.”

“It is a continuation of what we have seen at Renault for about 15 years, unfortunately,” Mr. Gâche said at a news conference.

Credit…Samuel Aranda for The New York Times

Labor strife adds to the upfront costs of corporate austerity and reduces the overall savings. Renault said it would spend 1.2 billion euros, or $1.3 billion, on severance pay and other expenses related to the plan announced Friday.

Automakers are in a delicate situation because they are asking for government aid even as they put thousands of people out of work. Renault’s announcement of job cuts came only three days after the French government pledged €8 billion to encourage sales of electric cars and help carmakers develop new digital technologies.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 28, 2020

    • 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’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.

    • 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.)

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

      More than 40 million people — the equivalent of 1 in 4 U.S. workers — have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic took hold. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • 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.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


The French government owns 15 percent of Renault, and it is unlikely that the company formulated the cost-cutting plan without consulting political leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron said nothing about the Renault plan Friday. His office declined to comment.

About a third of the job cuts would be in France, Renault said. The company, with about 180,000 employees worldwide, will reduce the number of cars it produces annually to 3.3 million, from four million, an acknowledgment that the auto industry has too much idle factory space to meet consumer demand for its vehicles.

The economic crisis caused by the pandemic has prompted carmakers to focus on the markets where they are strongest. But they may also be cutting themselves off from growth.

Renault said Friday that it would pull out of China, selling its share in a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor. Nissan said this week that it would pare back its presence in Europe and concentrate on Japan, China and the United States as part of a plan to more clearly delineate the division of labor in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.

Renault brand cars were never very popular in China. But China is also one of the few places with potential for substantial growth. Rates of car ownership are still low in China compared to the United States and Europe, where sales have been essentially stagnant for years.

Ford, G.M. and Fiat Chrysler have all reported steady recoveries in China, where the virus outbreak originated.

“I think that China market came back relatively quicker than people had expected,” Mike Manley, Fiat Chrysler’s chief executive, said in a conference call this month. But he predicted a more uneven recovery in Europe, especially in hard-hit countries like Italy, the strongest market for Fiat brand cars.

Jack Ewing reported from Frankfurt. Neal E. Boudette contributed reporting from Ann Arbor, Mich., and Aurelien Breeden from Paris.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Forget Swooshes and V’s. The Economy’s Future Is a Question Mark.

WASHINGTON — There is widespread agreement that the United States economy will soon begin to recover from coronavirus lockdowns. The big debate is whether that rebound will resemble a V, a W, an L or a Nike Swoosh.

Increasingly, economists and analysts are penciling in another glyph: a question mark.

Forecasters often label their expectations for a post-recession rebound with letters — a “V” suggests a rapid recovery, a “W” a double-dip, and so on — but that’s hard to do this time around. As all 50 states begin to open up and consumers trickle out of their homes, the path ahead is wildly uncertain, making prognostication dicey.

Second-wave virus outbreaks, changes in consumer behavior or a wave of unexpected business closures could reshape the future. That has left economists unsure how quick or smooth a rebound the U.S. economy will undergo, prompting many to offer a range of scenarios instead of declarative forecasts.

It isn’t just Wall Street forecasters eschewing the alphabet in favor of a range of what-if’s. From the Federal Reserve to the White House, analysts have suggested that posing confident prognostications is probably more misleading than helpful. John C. Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said during an appearance last week that it is important for policymakers to prepare for every eventuality, rather than focus on one type of recovery.

“We’ve had discussions all my career about V-shaped recoveries, L-shaped, U-shaped,” Mr. Williams said “One thing I’ve learned is, don’t get into that letter game.”

Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, said at an event sponsored by The Washington Post that he shares President Trump’s expectation for a rapid bounceback, but suggested that there are wide ranges around those estimates.

“It’s really hard to model a virus, or a pandemic, the likes of which we haven’t seen in 100 years,” Mr. Kudlow said.

“You can have your own Vs; there’s Vs, there are lesser Vs,” Mr. Kudlow said. “There are combos of Us and Vs.”

Cognizant of that uncertainty, the White House confirmed it will not even issue an update to its economic forecasts this summer, breaking decades of tradition.

Here are the possible shapes that economists are discussing and the caveats that have forecasters writing their predictions in pencil.

Since economists know that economic activity slowed sharply during the first half of 2020, the best possible outcome is a swift recovery, making for a “V” shape in which the economy is back to its 2019 output level within a few quarters.

Unfortunately, economists say that projection is probably a pipe dream. In a note entitled “V Is for Very Unlikely,” Michael Feroli, J.P. Morgan’s chief U.S. economist, described the trajectory as one in which the economy “is turned off and then on, like a light switch.”

Because economic variables like unemployment and output often face a lingering drag after a one-time shock, that sort of outcome is pretty dubious, he said. Lower business capital spending and state and local budget cuts are likely to weigh on growth for some time, alongside other factors, making it hard for the economy to get right back on track.

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It is also worth noting that a sharp rebound in growth rate is distinct from a return to the previous level of economic output. For example, the economy is broadly expected to show a fast rate of growth in the third quarter, given the record contraction in the second quarter. But overall output will remain lower than it was pre-coronavirus for some time, most economists think.

“The initial bounce may feel pretty robust,” said Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Her team recently revised up its third quarter growth forecast; they see a 7 percent output gain following a 40 percent plunge in the second quarter. While stimulus checks may help spending, that is not going to make up for corporate insolvency and lost jobs. Full recovery could take until the end of 2022, she said.

“There’s quite a lot of residual damage,” she said.

Just as only strident optimists expect a perfect “V,” only outright pessimists are projecting an L, in which growth remains at or near the very-low levels it almost certainly hit during the second quarter. The economy is already showing a partial rebound, suggesting that such a formation is unlikely.

Mortgage applications have stabilized after sharp declines, consumer confidence is recovering slightly and while initial jobless claims remain elevated, they are slowing. The car industry is hopeful that auto sales are in for a rebound in June.




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Westlake Legal Group jobless-claims-335 Forget Swooshes and V’s. The Economy’s Future Is a Question Mark. United States Economy Unemployment Shutdowns (Institutional) Federal Reserve System Economic Conditions and Trends Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Budgets and Budgeting

40.8 million

Claims were filed in

the last 10 weeks

Initial jobless claims, per week

Seasonally adjusted

Westlake Legal Group jobless-claims-600 Forget Swooshes and V’s. The Economy’s Future Is a Question Mark. United States Economy Unemployment Shutdowns (Institutional) Federal Reserve System Economic Conditions and Trends Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Budgets and Budgeting

40.8 million

Claims were filed in

the last 10 weeks

Initial jobless claims, per week

Seasonally adjusted


Source: Department of Labor

By The New York Times

Real-time trackers show a muted bounce, with a daily J.P. Morgan credit card series showing a slow but fairly steady uptick starting from mid-April. Google mobility data suggest that people are moving around more and visiting parks, TD Securities said in a research note. The pickup in areas that drive growth — retail, restaurants, and move theaters — has been more restrained.

“None of the states show a sudden snapback,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. macro strategist at TD Securities, noting that some places are further along the path to official reopening. While the nascent recovery seems to preclude an “L,” he said, the limited data so far jibe with the idea that the recovery will be more gradual than the collapse.

That brings us to a scenario that is still on the table: a W-shaped recovery. It could be that the economy will partly bounce back before plunging again amid a second wave of infections as states reopen and people face renewed exposure to the coronavirus, or if the disease stages a comeback this autumn.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 28, 2020

    • 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.

    • 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.)

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

      More than 40 million people — the equivalent of 1 in 4 U.S. workers — have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic took hold. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • 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.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


While economists generally say that a “W” remains entirely possible, they aren’t willing to make it their most-likely forecast because it hinges on two total unknowns: whether there is another spike in infections, and whether states will shut down again if that happens. Analysts who venture a guess increasingly favor a nonletter shape as their base-case: the checkmark.

The Congressional Budget Office’s baseline expectation suggests that growth will contract slightly in the first quarter and sharply in the second quarter before making a gradual rebound starting in the quarter that stretches from the start of July to the end of September. The budget office doesn’t label the shape, because the climb back will be slower than the drop. The trajectory looks like a checkmark on a graph.

There are big uncertainties around that forecast. Additional waves of infection, variations in consumer behavior, and the timeline for a vaccine are all wild cards that could change the path ahead. A host of risks could lead to worse outcomes while a vaccine breakthrough or unexpected government support for the economy could improve the trajectory.

If a quicker recovery takes hold, the rebound could look more like a “swoosh” as growth improves slowly before accelerating. But if more infections occur and a vaccine remains elusive, the economy could also face a “wave” recovery of repeating peaks and troughs as states continually reopen and then pull back.

“We’re all prefacing what we say with: We’re not epidemiologists,” said Mr. O’Sullivan, explaining that the range of possible economic outcomes is unusually wide because it turns so much on what happens with public health. Because it’s a new coronavirus, and a totally unusual shock to the economy, nobody’s guess for what comes next is especially reliable.

Even the Fed’s economists, never shy to to set out a forecast, have sounded uncertain. Minutes from the central bank’s late-April meeting show that staff offered a baseline forecast in which shutdowns gradually ease and growth resumes into the second half of the year, but warned that “a more pessimistic projection was no less plausible than the baseline forecast.”

Fed policymakers, for their part, “discussed several alternative scenarios with regard to the behavior of economic activity in the medium term that all seemed about equally likely,” according to the minutes. Among them were predictions that the country experienced additional outbreaks and shutdowns (a “W” or a wave), and more optimistic situations in which social distancing measures were successfully relaxed (a check or a swoosh).

Richard Clarida, the Fed’s vice chairman, said last week that it could take until early autumn to get more clarity on where the economy is headed.

To put it bluntly, as Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macroeconomics did in a recent research note, “the timing of a full recovery is unknowable.”

Jim Tankersley contributed reporting.

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