—A 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand early Monday morning, triggering a tsunami that threatens the country’s eastern coast.
—France marked the anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed 130 people in Paris last year. President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo visited the sites targeted in the attacks, where the names of the victims were read aloud.
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Europe's Foreign Ministers Call Emergency Meeting to Talk About Trump
The head of the European Council has called an emergency meeting of the continent's foreign ministers to discuss the unexpected election of Donald Trump as the president of the United States, which has rattled European leaders.
Donald Tusk, the president of the council, scheduled the gathering in Brussels at the suggestion of Germany, The Guardian reported Sunday. The foreign ministers will meet Sunday night, with the exception of Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary and one of the leaders of the campaign for Brexit, who is boycotting the meeting.
The ministers will "exchange notes on how far they believe Trump will follow through on his dramatic but sometimes inconsistent pledges to turn U.S. foreign policy upside down, including over Russia, Syria, Iran and NATO," The Guardian wrote. The ministers will also convene Monday for a regular meeting, so it’s unclear why Tusk called for another one the night before.
President Obama will try to reassure Europe about the next administration when he travels to Berlin this week to meet with the leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.
New Zealand Downgrades Tsunami Threat After Earthquake
New Zealand has downgraded the tsunami warning issued after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the country’s South Island shortly after midnight Monday.
New Zealand’s ministry of civil defense and emergency management said Monday fewer parts of the east coast are now at risk of dangerous waves. Here’s an earlier map, released at about 3 a.m. local time, showing the areas at most risk of a tsunami impact. The darker blue indicates areas that are most vulnerable:
Paris Marks Anniversary of Deadly Terrorist Attacks
France marked the anniversary of last year’s Paris terrorist attacks, which left 130 people dead at a concert hall, stadium, and several bars and restaurants.
Residents paid tribute to the victims on Sunday by placing flowers, candles, and notes at the sites that were targeted in the ISIS-directed attacks. French President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo visited each of the six sites, where they unveiled commemorative plaques and the victims’ names were read aloud, according to the BBC. They released colorful balloons into the air outside the Bataclan, where assailants attacked during a concert, spraying the crowd with bullets. The music venue reopened Saturday night with a show by the singer Sting.
France has been under a state of emergency since the attacks. The state of emergency was extended in Juy after a man drove a truck into a crowd in Nice on Bastille Day, killing 84 people. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Saturday it would remain in place because of the risk of “attacks of the kind we saw in Nice.”
New Zealanders Seek High Ground After Powerful Earthquake
Tsunami warning sirens are ringing along New Zealand’s east coast after a powerful earthquake struck the country early Monday morning, sending residents into the streets and damaging some roads.
The 7.8-magnitude struck shortly after midnight on New Zealand’s South Island, 15 kilometers (nine miles) northeast of Culverden. About 45 aftershocks followed, the largest recorded at 6.2 magnitude, according to GeoNet, which monitors seismic activity in New Zealand. Strong quakes were felt in Wellington, the country’s capital.
No injuries have been reported, but power outages have hampered communication.
New Zealand’s ministry of civil defense and emergency management has issued a tsunami warning to the country’s entire east coast and urged residents to seek higher ground and avoid beaches. Waves between three and five meters (10 to 16 feet) are expected near the quake’s epicenter.
The ministry released a map showing the areas at most risk of a tsunami impact. The darker blue indicates areas that are most vulnerable:
The U.S. may end up with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the industrialized world. This is how it’s going to play out.
Three months ago, no one knew that SARS-CoV-2 existed. Now the virus has spread to almost every country, infecting at least 446,000 people whom we know about, and many more whom we do not. It has crashed economies and broken health-care systems, filled hospitals and emptied public spaces. It has separated people from their workplaces and their friends. It has disrupted modern society on a scale that most living people have never witnessed. Soon, most everyone in the United States will know someone who has been infected. Like World War II or the 9/11 attacks, this pandemic has already imprinted itself upon the nation’s psyche.
A global pandemic of this scale was inevitable. In recent years, hundreds of health experts have written books, white papers, and op-eds warning of the possibility. Bill Gates has been telling anyone who would listen, including the 18 million viewers of his TED Talk. In 2018, I wrote a story for The Atlantic arguing that America was not ready for the pandemic that would eventually come. In October, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security war-gamed what might happen if a new coronavirus swept the globe. And then one did. Hypotheticals became reality. “What if?” became “Now what?”
The coronavirus outbreak may last for a year or two, but some elements of pre-pandemic life will likely be won back in the meantime.
The new coronavirus has brought American life to a near standstill, closing businesses, canceling large gatherings, and keeping people at home. All of those people must surely be wondering: When will things return to normal?
The answer is simple, if not exactly satisfying: when enough of the population—possibly 60 or 80 percent of people—is resistant to COVID-19 to stifle the disease’s spread from person to person. That is the end goal, although no one knows exactly how long it will take to get there.
There are two realistic paths to achieving this “population-level immunity.” One is the development of a vaccine. The other is for the disease to work its way through the population, surely killing many, but also leaving many others—those who contract the disease and then recover—immune. “They’re just Teflon at that point,” meaning they can’t get infected again and they won’t pass on the disease, explains Andrew Noymer, a public-health professor at the University of California at Irvine. Once enough people reach Teflon status—though we don’t yet know if recovering from the disease confers any immunity at all, let alone lifelong immunity—normalcy will be restored.
Trump is utterly unsuited to deal with this crisis, either intellectually or temperamentally.
For his entire adult life, and for his entire presidency, Donald Trump has created his own alternate reality, complete with his own alternate set of facts. He has shown himself to be erratic, impulsive, narcissistic, vindictive, cruel, mendacious, and devoid of empathy. None of that is new.
But we’re now entering the most dangerous phase of the Trump presidency. The pain and hardship that the United States is only beginning to experience stem from a crisis that the president is utterly unsuited to deal with, either intellectually or temperamentally. When things were going relatively well, the nation could more easily absorb the costs of Trump’s psychological and moral distortions and disfigurements. But those days are behind us. The coronavirus pandemic has created the conditions that can catalyze a destructive set of responses from an individual with Trump’s characterological defects and disordered personality.
China warned Italy. Italy warned us. We didn’t listen. Now the onus is on the rest of America to listen to New York.
In the emergency-department waiting room, 150 people worry about a fever. Some just want a test, others badly need medical treatment. Those not at the brink of death have to wait six, eight, 10 hours before they can see a doctor. Those admitted to the hospital might wait a full day for a bed.
I am an emergency-medicine doctor who practices in both Manhattan and Queens; at the moment, I’m in Queens. Normally, I love coming to work here, even though in the best of times, my co-residents and I take care of one of New York City’s most vulnerable, underinsured patient populations. Many have underlying illnesses and a language barrier, and lack primary care.
The government is showing how not to handle a pandemic.
By now, the global timeline of the coronavirus’s development has been well established: The first case reportedly appeared in mid-November; in December, the Chinese government was still attributing hospitalizations to a peculiar form of pneumonia; through January and February, the outbreak began spreading around the world; and its epicenter is today firmly in Europe and the United States.
Throughout, another set of events were occurring here in India. Late last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government introduced and passed a controversial new law, ostensibly in support of minorities in neighboring countries, that in fact openly discriminated against Muslims and undermined India’s secular foundations. Then, early this year, protests over that new law snowballed into a pogrom in which dozens of people—mostly Muslims—have been killed.
“The thought of simply breathing in and out without coughing and reuniting with my children ... is goal enough. To—literally—live and let live will be enough.”
I can pinpoint the exact moment I started feeling off. My partner, Will, and I were on a bike ride on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 18, to escape our apartment and get some exercise. This was back when leaving a New York City apartment to get some exercise was still okay, or at least that’s what we’d read, or at least that’s what we thought? If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that what is considered dogma today might change tomorrow.
Ten minutes into our bike ride, I was overcome by an intense fatigue. “I think I have to go back,” I said.
Back home, I felt chilled. Took my temperature: 99.1. I’m normally 97.1, but still, not a huge deal. We’d been so careful about wiping down doorknobs, washing our hands, and keeping everyone except for our family out of our apartment. I’d been ambiently worried enough that my 13-year-old son could be a silent carrier of the virus that I’d yanked him out of his public middle school and off the crowded subways four days before Mayor Bill de Blasio pulled the plug– (far too belatedly, in my opinion). I was getting over a urinary-tract infection, so my fever, I thought, must be from that.
It has taken a good deal longer than it should have, but Americans have now seen the con man behind the curtain.
When, in January 2016, I wrote that despite being a lifelong Republican who worked in the previous three GOP administrations, I would never vote for Donald Trump, even though his administration would align much more with my policy views than a Hillary Clinton presidency would, a lot of my Republican friends were befuddled. How could I not vote for a person who checked far more of my policy boxes than his opponent?
What I explained then, and what I have said many times since, is that Trump is fundamentally unfit—intellectually, morally, temperamentally, and psychologically—for office. For me, that is the paramount consideration in electing a president, in part because at some point it’s reasonable to expect that a president will face an unexpected crisis—and at that point, the president’s judgment and discernment, his character and leadership ability, will really matter.
The coronavirus is making me experience what Germans poetically call heimweh, the hurt of being far from your native land.
In times of upheaval or natural catastrophe, the State Department often advises Americans to avoid some of the world’s poorest nations. When ISIS took over large parts of Syria and Mali descended into civil war, the federal government implored Americans not to go to those countries. One of the pieces of advice it offers to those who insist on visiting them anyway is rather blunt: “Draft a will.”
These warnings speak to a set of assumptions so obvious, they seem almost silly to spell out. America is a rich and stable country. So long as U.S. citizens stay home—or restrict their travel to other developed nations—they are likely to remain safe. Travel warnings tend to flow from north to south, rich to poor, democracy to dictatorship.
Unless the country does dramatically more to provide them with the equipment they need to do their job safely, it risks disaster.
The morning before my shift, I try to stay busy with emails, writing, cleaning the house, anything really. If I sit and think about it too long, undisturbed, I get nervous. I’m afraid to go to work, and yet I’m told I must. The flitting anxiety swells as I pull on my scrubs and head to the car. The streets are empty. I drive alone into the epicenter. It peaks when I first step through the door into the jumble of patients in chairs, stretchers, and beds crowded around our cramped workstation, staff jammed together discussing care, writing notes, calling reports. Then I start, surrounded by my colleagues, and am too busy to think about it. The fear is as much for my family and friends as for me. Probably more. I’m a physician who works in an emergency department in Washington, D.C., and the coronavirus is spreading.
New restrictions in Hong Kong show that a single round of constraints won’t be enough to beat the pandemic.
HONG KONG—As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases exploded in China early this year, Hong Kong, densely populated and connected to the mainland, was able to largely contain the virus’s spread. A combination of community response and official action held back the pace of infections, with the number of patients discharged from treatment until recently outpacing those remaining in the hospital. This month, civil servants on work-from-home orders were allowed to return to their office. Soon, private businesses started to do the same. Commuters began to refill the buses and subways. Bars and restaurants left largely vacant for weeks saw patrons remerge. As reports of outbreaks abroad worsened, Hong Kong appeared to be slowly returning to form.