Coronavirus, Atlanta, March Madness: Your Weekend Briefing

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

1. It is officially spring, but a season typically defined by renewal feels more like a season of worry.

Coronavirus cases — significantly down since the U.S. peak in January — have plateaued this month at about 55,000 new infections a day, a level public health officials say is still too high. But some governors are already starting to relax restrictions.

“History has shown us that when you have that plateauing, that’s usually the forerunner of another surge — we’ve actually seen that in the European Union,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, adding, “the more people get vaccinated, the less likelihood that there is going to be a surge.”

Large parts of France, above in Paris, as well as Italy, Poland and other regions are back in lockdown as they try to stop a third wave. The latest outbreaks are a stark reminder that not enough people have been inoculated to blunt the impact of a rush of new infections.

Only about 13 percent of Europeans have received a first dose, compared with 23 percent in the U.S. and 40 percent in Britain. The slow rollout in Europe can be explained by a cascade of small decisions that have led to increasingly long delays.

Here’s a global look at who can get vaccinated right now.

2. Independent inquiries into law enforcement’s handling of the George Floyd protests reveal a widespread failure of American policing.

In city after city, more than a dozen reports reviewed by The Times paint a damning indictment of police forces that were poorly trained, heavily militarized and stunningly unprepared for the possibility that large numbers of people would surge into the streets, as they did in Chicago, above, moved by the graphic images of Mr. Floyd’s death under a police officer’s knee.

The reports are strikingly similar, and almost uniformly assert that departments need more training in how to handle large protests. Police departments in some cities have fought back against the findings, arguing that officers were asked to confront unruly crowds as business owners, residents and elected leaders demanded a strong response.


Asian-Americans are becoming the most economically divided demographic in the country. But the events of the past year could finally bring people together, our columnist writes in an analysis.

The suspect in the massacres told the police that he had a sex “addiction,” and that he had been a customer at two of the spas he targeted. In his religious struggle with sexual purity, some evangelicals hear echoes of their own.


4. The list of sexual harassment accusations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York continues to grow.

Alyssa McGrath, an aide to Mr. Cuomo, described a series of unsettling interactions with him, telling The Times that Mr. Cuomo would ogle her body, remark on her looks and make suggestive comments to her and another executive aide. She described a pattern of flirtatious banter and a work environment in which women were persistently pitted against one another.

“He has a way of making you feel very comfortable around him, almost like you’re his friend,” Ms. McGrath said. “But then you walk away from the encounter or conversation, in your head going, ‘I can’t believe I just had that interaction with the governor of New York.’”

Mr. Cuomo has denied the allegations.


5. On Thursday, 149 migrants were escorted onto a bridge by U.S. Border Patrol agents. We were with them when they found out they were being taken back to Mexico.

“They cheated us!” yelled one parent. “They promised they would help us!” wailed another.

On the same day that families collapsed in tears as they realized everything they had risked on their journey was falling apart, the Democratic-led House passed bills that would offer a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.

The trek from Central America to U.S. soil has always been perilous, but the massacre of 13 migrants from one corner of Guatemala has shaken that country. These photos show the lives they left behind.

6. The federal government set up stimulus payments to prop up the economy. They may also be propping up the market.

Analysts at Deutsche Bank recently estimated that as much as $170 billion from the latest round of payments could flow into the stock market. A survey found that traders ages 25 to 34 said they expected to put half of their “stimmies,” a popular term for stimulus checks, into stocks.

Separately, the value of collectibles — like coffee tables, whiskey and Porsches, above — has soared. That’s partly thanks to the wealthy who have been one-upping each other in online auctions. Here’s how they’re spending their extra cash.


7. The N.C.A.A.’s fear of a canceled tournament game became a reality.

Virginia Commonwealth was bounced from the men’s basketball tournament after what its coach described as “multiple positive tests.” Oregon will advance to the round of 32. Virginia, the 2019 champion, is out in the first round after losing to Ohio.

8. Springtime blooms are on their way.

Cornflowers are always the first sign that things are beginning to thaw in Brooklyn, like at Marsha P. Johnson State Park, above, named for a central figure of the 1969 Stonewall uprising. This essay offers a tour of the park and of New York City’s wildflowers, some of which you’re more likely to encounter in a sidewalk crack than in a bouquet.

“A wildflower can refer to any flowering plant that was not cultivated, intentionally planted or given human aid, yet it still managed to grow and bloom,” writes Sabrina Imbler, a definition “that feels particularly suited to New York City and its many transplants.”

These eight gardens across the country welcome visitors with a range of beloved blooms, traditional collections and experiential outdoor spaces.


9. A surprisingly easy project: homemade holiday ham.

For this one, you won’t have to spend weeks curing, brining and smoking a hog’s leg; Steven Raichlen, barbecue master, shows you how to do it within days — or even hours. All you’ll need is a grill, some patience and special pink curing salt. “Think of this as ham in a hurry,” he writes.

If you’re looking for a pescatarian option, try moqueca. The vibrant seafood stew, simmered with coconut milk, red palm oil and tomatoes, is a cornerstone of Afro-Brazilian cuisine.


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