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Good morning. The pandemic has plunged Puerto Rico into an economic crisis. A transcript offers new details of George Floyd’s killing. And other countries are doing more than the U.S. to help schools open.
An Iowa school district suspended its in-person summer school program this week after an outbreak of fevers. Fort Benning, an Army base in Georgia, had a coronavirus outbreak shortly after new recruits arrived. And multiple sports teams have had to halt practices after athletes or other employees got sick.
All of these recent cases make clear that reopening is not simply a matter of declaring it to be so.
Opening safely during a pandemic, and being able to stay open, requires planning carefully — and usually spending significant amounts of money, to pay for testing, cleaning and new social-distancing procedures.
Across the political spectrum, there have been calls for the reopening of U.S. schools this fall. And understandably so: Remote learning went very badly in the spring. An autumn without in-person school would leave students further behind and leave many parents without child care again.
The good news is that the experience in other countries suggests that it may be possible to reopen schools. Germany, Denmark and others have done so without causing big new virus outbreaks, as President Trump noted yesterday.
But those other countries have taken two steps that the U.S. has not.
One, they have first reduced the overall rate of new infections to low levels: Germany reported 35 new cases per million residents over the past week; the U.S. had almost 1,100. (The Times updates this map every day, tracking the virus around the world.)
Two, some of those other countries have allocated new money for schools, as I heard after surveying some of my Times colleagues around the world.
Hong Kong is covering the cleaning costs for its schools, Bella Huang told me. South Korea is helping schools open day care centers from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or longer, Su-Hyun Lee, who’s based in Seoul, said. Germany is subsidizing laptop purchases for low-income students, to help them combine remote and in-person learning, according to Christopher Schuetze in Berlin. And Italy has sent money to schools to pay for more teachers, student desks, masks and other equipment, Elisabetta Povoledo, a reporter in Rome, told me.
The U.S., by contrast, is suffering through by far the worst coronavirus outbreak of any affluent country, and the federal government has done little to help schools reopen.
Paul Romer, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, told me that reopening U.S. schools was feasible — but would require huge amounts of additional testing, as well as mask wearing, social distancing and keeping windows open.
Trump, defying the advice of scientists, criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for recommending that schools take rigorous measures before reopening. Vice President Mike Pence later said the agency would change its recommendations.
Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a Republican former education secretary, has said he favors $50 billion to $75 billion in new federal funding to help schools. In May, House Democrats passed a bill with $58 billion in aid for public schools; the Senate has not taken up the bill.
The closure of schools is a “national emergency requiring mobilization at every level,” Michelle Goldberg, a Times Opinion columnist, said on the new episode of “The Argument” podcast. Ross Douthat called the lack of action an example of American society’s “indifference and lack of concern for families with kids.”
FOUR MORE BIG STORIES
1. Another crisis in Puerto Rico
The pandemic has severely damaged Puerto Rico’s economy. At least 300,000 Puerto Ricans — which equals about 30 percent of the civilian labor force — have filed unemployment claims linked to the pandemic, and many other people are ineligible for aid because they are part of the island’s large informal economy.
The economy had been already struggling before the virus hit, because of Hurricane Maria, the government’s bankruptcy and a series of earthquakes in January.
In other virus developments:
The U.S. set another daily record for confirmed new virus cases: more than 59,400. The top health official in Tulsa, Okla., suggested that a surge there was connected to the indoor rally that Trump held last month.
Front-line medical workers are facing a problem many had hoped would be resolved by now: a shortage of respirator masks, isolation gowns and disposable gloves.
Theme parks in Japan have banned screaming on roller coasters, because it spreads coronavirus, The Wall Street Journal reports, and advised riders: “Please scream inside your heart.”
The Wirecutter explores why some new bottles of hand sanitizer smell so bad.
2. Two rulings favor religious groups
The Supreme Court delivered twin 7-to-2 rulings favorable to private religious institutions yesterday. One ruling broadened religious schools’ exemption from federal employment discrimination laws. The other upheld a Trump administration regulation letting employers with religious and moral objections limit access to birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Coming today: The court plans to issue its final decisions of the current term today, including whether Congress and New York prosecutors can have access to Trump’s financial documents.
3. Egypt’s #MeToo moment
In Egypt, a 21-year-old university student was arrested just days after dozens of women shared accusations of sexual assault and harassment on social media. The news media, which the government heavily influences, and a top Islamic clerical body have largely supported the women.
It’s a “a remarkable turn for Egypt, where sexual harassment and assault are woefully common and victims are afraid to speak out for fear they themselves could be blamed,” Declan Walsh, The Times’s Cairo bureau chief, writes.
4. An app gets young traders in deep
The Robinhood stock trading app is drawing a surge of young, inexperienced investors like Richard Dobatse, above, a Navy medic in San Diego, who are incurring giant losses. Robinhood uses behavioral nudges and push notifications to encourage rapid, risky trading, a Times analysis found.
Few items of food have as devout a following as bagels. Enthusiasts will endlessly debate the merits of their preferred bagel shop and variety: the soft chew of New York-style bagels, the dense sweetness unique to Montreal-style bagels. (I’m partial to the smaller — and more traditional — variety, like those at Absolute Bagels on the Upper West Side.)
If you’re looking to recreate some of the magic at home, here’s a recipe for tangy everything bagel dip that is delicious on chips, pretzels, veggies and, of course, bagel chips.
A guide to tech that lasts
All tech products will eventually break down. They’re designed to become obsolete. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to identify which gadgets can last for many years.
The technology writer Brian X. Chen created a list of questions to ask before making a tech purchase. Among them: Is the tech easy to repair, and are the batteries replaceable? If so, that extends the longevity of your product considerably.
A TV show worth revisiting
Two years ago, Wyatt Cenac, the former “Daily Show” correspondent, addressed police reform in his debut HBO series, “Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas.” It was thoughtful and ahead of its time, aiming to teach the audience about subjects like community policing and defunding. But it didn’t resonate with viewers and was canceled after two seasons.
In a new interview, Cenac looked back at what happened to “Problem Areas” and the challenges faced by Black performers in late-night TV. “When we did it, people just weren’t ready to hear about it or think about it,” he said. He is working on an upcoming stand-up comedy special for HBO.
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Nevada city whose name aptly rhymes with “casino” (four letters).
You can find all of our puzzles here.