Coronavirus, Olympics, Canned Tomatoes: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

1. President Trump said he wanted the U.S. “opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” defying the advice of most health experts. “I think it’s possible, why not?” he added.

Participating in a town-hall-style meeting on Fox News, the president expressed outrage that he had to “close the country” to curb the spread of the coronavirus, and indicated that his guidelines on business shutdowns and social distancing would soon be lifted.

States including New York, California, Maryland, Illinois and Washington have imposed stay-at-home or shutdown orders to help curb the outbreak, which has so far infected at least 52,200 people in the U.S. and has killed 675.

And, as the economic toll from the outbreak worsened, prospects for a $2 trillion economic stabilization plan brightened. Senior lawmakers and administration officials said they were optimistic about finalizing an agreement on Tuesday on the relief package, which now includes a $25 billion increase in funding for hospitals, to respond to the pandemic.

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Markets responded with a rally.

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2. New York State has over 25,660 cases of the virus, nearly 7 percent of the global total. The numbers are expected to only get worse. Above, the beginnings of a makeshift hospital at the Javits Center.

The case count is doubling every three days, and the peak of infection in New York could come as soon as two to three weeks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “The apex is higher than we thought and the apex is sooner than we thought,” he said. “That is a bad combination of facts.”

Vice President Mike Pence said that 2,000 ventilators had been shipped to New York on Tuesday, and that 2,000 more would be sent on Wednesday to address possible shortages.

Medical equipment isn’t the only worry: Doctors are hoarding medications believed to be possible coronavirus treatments by writing prescriptions for themselves and for their relatives.

3. All of India, where there is more than a billion people, is going on lockdown.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered “a total ban of coming out of your homes” in “every district, every lane, every village” for the next 21 days. It was unclear how people would reach essential services in the world’s second-most populous country.

India’s coronavirus caseload is relatively low, at around 500, but officials fear that if the virus hits as it has in the U.S., Europe and China, it may become a far bigger disaster than anywhere else. Above, the police restricting movement to essential travel.

But there was some good news: Hubei Province in China, where the coronavirus first emerged, will begin lifting travel restrictions on Wednesday for many of its 60 million residents after nearly two months of lockdown. Wuhan, the provincial capital in Hubei and the city hardest hit by the epidemic, will remain sealed off until April 8.

4. It’s official: The Tokyo Olympics won’t happen this year.

The International Olympic Committee has agreed to postpone the Tokyo Summer Games until 2021. The decision came after both Canada and Australia said they wouldn’t participate because of the coronavirus pandemic; the U.S. also joined the fray on Monday night and called for a delay.

Most athletes wanted a postponement, even if that decision came with huge disappointment. “It’s hard to think about making more sacrifices than we already have,” Steele Johnson, an American diver, said.

For weeks, the I.O.C. resisted calls to postpone, hoping instead that the opening ceremony in Tokyo could serve as a celebration of triumph over the pandemic.

5. A movement of born-again conservative Muslim women in Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim country — is making a case for wearing the niqab veil.

Members of the Niqab Squad, as they call themselves, say it’s a way to get closer to God and to avoid sexual harassment. Others fear it reflects extremism in the country, which has grown since the dictator Suharto was ousted 22 years ago.

Some of the women wear sneakers with their veils, carry cellphones, ride motorbikes and play sports. “We can become strong Muslim women by participating in archery and horseback riding,” one said.

6. The evening news is back as an American ritual.

The network newscasts had lost relevance, thanks to cable and digital news media. Now, the coronavirus has put tens of millions of viewers back in the 6:30 p.m. habit.

“Nothing else matters right now,” Lester Holt, above, the anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” said in an interview. “This is the story of our lifetimes.”

And while the virus has also revived Facebook as a news powerhouse, local news outlets have been dealt a crippling blow. Without ads and live events, the virus has left many of them struggling to stay solvent.

7. Another tradition of the past is making a comeback thanks to social-distancing edicts: drive-in movie theaters, like the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In in Austin, Texas, above.

While most drive-in theaters open only for the summer, some of their owners have decided to get an early start this year to provide families an escape during the pandemic.

We asked our readers to share how they are finding everyday joys at home: painting landscapes of where they want to travel next, “vacationing” in France via music and stargazing are just a few.

Are you bored? Here’s a New York scene you can color right on your screen, complete with bike delivery, raccoons, “Hamilton” and toilet paper.

8. Mercury might have contained ingredients needed for life. Though that’s a pretty big might.

A study theorizes that the “chaotic terrain” on Mercury’s surface — a jumbled landscape of cracked, uneven rock — was formed by activity underneath the planet’s barren, scorched exterior, and not a collision, the prevailing theory.

A co-author of the study said it was a thrilling prospect given that subsurface volatiles — elements that could easily switch from a solid to a liquid or to a gas — were needed to kick-start life. Though the team could not say which volatiles were present, there was reason to hope that water might be one of them.

9. A can of whole, peeled tomatoes is one of the most versatile players in the cupboard. We taste-tested a dozen brands to find the best one.

The tomatoes were rated for color, flavor, sweetness, acidity, overall appearance and texture. Each brand was sampled raw from the can, though warmed slightly, and then tasted again as part of Marcella Hazan’s famously simple four-ingredient sauce.

The winner: Bianco DiNapoli Organic Whole Peeled.

10. And finally, the ultimate cup of Joe.

At the 19th annual U.S. Coffee Championships (which convened a month before any coronavirus restrictions), competitors in the barista division had just 15 minutes to prove their coffee-making skills. Each contestant was judged for creativity and taste — and did not disappoint.

Take a look at some of their wild designs, which ranged from the whimsical to theatrical — one barista used a device to turn coffee clear, and another used an edible-bubble maker to encapsulate Earl Grey essential oil smoke on top of an espresso shot.

Simple or elaborate, have a savory night.

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