Rome has survived sacking, floods, fire and conquest. Now this?
Unlike conquests, fires and floods, the coronavirus is clearly not a danger to Rome’s beauty. But what will it do to its spirit?
Campo de’ Fiori, a square that is usually home to a bustling, touristy market, was pretty much empty except for a little girl riding her bicycle around the statue of the philosopher and astronomer Giordano Bruno, who was burned alive at the spot in 1600, decades after one of the city’s several sackings.
With so few cars and people on the streets, the scent of wisteria, draping over ancient defensive walls and garden fences, floats further.
At the quiet Ponte Sisto bridge, usually crowded with street artists, five mallards, their necks flashing green, landed in formation to skim on the Tiber in solitude.
And yet, there is an undercurrent of a city about to burst. Romans have a reputation for getting around the rules — in traffic, in line, in life. Fans call it endearing creativity; critics, insupportable incivility. Will living with the virus enhance or expunge that?
The answer is likely to come soon. The government will begin loosening Europe’s longest lockdown on Monday.
Warmer weekend temperatures and fatigue over weeks of confinement lured millions of Americans outside on Saturday, adding to the pressure on city and state officials to enforce, or loosen, restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the virus.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio pleaded with residents to resist the impulse to gather outdoors. In New Jersey, golf courses reopened, and Gov. Philip D. Murphy said that early anecdotal reports indicated people were maintaining social distance.
Elsewhere, protesters pressing for the loosening restrictions gathered in the capitals of Kentucky, Oregon and Florida, where the governor has already announced a relaxing of restrictions. In Stillwater, Okla., officials abandoned a requirement that people wear masks in shops and restaurants after workers were faced with violent threats.
Former President George W. Bush is calling on Americans to put aside partisan differences, heed the guidance of medical professionals and show empathy for those stricken by the coronavirus and resulting economic impact.
In a three-minute video message, Mr. Bush, struck a tone of unity that seemed to contrast with the more combative approach taken at times by President Trump, as the former president evoked the sense of national solidarity in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
“Let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat,” Mr. Bush said in the professionally produced video, part of a series of videos aired online called The Call to Unite that also featured Oprah Winfrey, Tim Shriver, Julia Roberts and others.
The lifting of stringent rules across the nation signaled a new phase in the country’s response to the virus and came even as confirmed cases nationally continue to grow.
“It’s clearly a life-or-death-sort-of-level decision,” said Dr. Larry Chang, an infectious diseases specialist at Johns Hopkins University. “If you get this wrong, many more people will die.”
The Philippines will suspend all commercial flights into the country beginning Sunday, joining several countries that have suspended most air travel in response to the pandemic.
The Manila International Airport Authority announced the move on its Facebook page. It did not give an end date for the suspension of commercial passenger flights, which began at 8 a.m. Sunday. Other air traffic, including cargo flights and those transporting medical supplies, will be allowed to continue, it said.
A handful of countries have similarly blocked almost all air travel in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus, moves that coincide with new restrictions on migration that have been imposed around the world.
India suspended international and domestic passenger flights in late March. On Saturday the country’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation said the restrictions will be extended until May 17. Thailand will continue to bar most flights to the country until May 31.
Last month, Myanmar extended its suspension of all flights to the country until May 15. And Nepal said it would extend a suspension of all domestic and international flights until May 15.
The United Arab Emirates has suspended flights until further notice, and Argentina has banned commercial flights until Sept. 1, one of the longest such restrictions.
The International Civil Aviation Organization says international air travel could drop between 44 percent and 80 percent over the course of 2020, compared with the previous year. The overall reduction in the number of passengers could reach 1.5 billion, it said.
Four months after the coronavirus began its deadly march around the globe, the search for a vaccine has taken on an intensity never before seen in medical research, with huge implications for public health, the world economy and politics.
With political leaders — not least President Trump — increasingly pressing for progress, and with big potential profits at stake for the industry, drug makers and researchers have signaled that they are moving ahead at unheard-of speeds.
But the whole enterprise remains dogged by uncertainty about whether any coronavirus vaccine will prove effective, how fast it could be made available to millions or billions of people, and whether the rush — compressing a process that can take 10 years into 10 months — will sacrifice safety.
“We are going to start ramping up production with the companies involved,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the federal government’s top expert on infectious diseases, said on NBC this week. “You don’t wait until you get an answer before you start manufacturing.”
While scientists and doctors talk about finding a “global vaccine,” national leaders emphasize immunizing their own populations first. Mr. Trump said he was personally in charge of “Operation Warp Speed” to get 300 million doses into American arms by January. The most promising clinical trial in China is financed by the government. And in India, the chief executive of the Serum Institute of India — the world’s largest producer of vaccine doses — said that most of its vaccine “would have to go to our countrymen before it goes abroad.”
But George Q. Daley, the dean of Harvard Medical School, said thinking country by country rather than in global terms would be foolhardy since it “would involve squandering the early doses of vaccine on a large number of individuals at low risk, rather than covering as many high-risk individuals globally” — health care workers and older adults — “to stop the spread” around the world.
Worshipers at one of Seoul’s largest Catholic churches must refrain from singing hymns or saying “amen” for fear of spreading saliva. Priests sanitize their hands during communion. Holy water has been removed from the chapel.
“This should become the new normal from now on,” said Gong Mi-young, 53, who owns a tutoring school and attended Mass one night this week at Myeongdong Church in the South Korean capital. “We have to be ready for war.”
South Korea even has a name for the new practices: “everyday life quarantine.” The authorities recently released a 68-page guide, offering advice on situations like going to the movies (“refrain from shouting”) and attending funerals (“bow your head instead of hugging”).
As cities in Asia, Australia and elsewhere get their coronavirus outbreaks under control, churches, schools, restaurants, movie theaters and even sporting venues are starting to open, creating a sense of normalcy for people who have spent weeks and even months in isolation.
But they are returning to a world reimagined for the age of coronavirus, where social distancing, hygiene standards and government-imposed restrictions are infused into nearly every activity — a way of life that is likely to persist until a vaccine or a treatment is found.
In Hong Kong, tables at restaurants must be spaced at least five feet apart and customers are given bags to store their face masks during dining.
In China, students face temperature checks before they can enter schools, while cafeteria tables are outfitted with plastic dividers.
In South Korea, baseball games are devoid of fans and players can’t spit on the field.
The new social customs and mandates in Beijing, Hong Kong and Seoul, as well as Sydney, Australia, and Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, offer a preview of what might soon be common globally.
All but a few U.S. states have suspended in-person classes for the rest of the academic year, and some are preparing for the possibility of shutdowns or part-time schedules in the fall.
Whenever students do come back, classes are unlikely to look the same. There may be staggered half-day classes or one-day-on, one-day-off schedules so desks can be spread out and buses can run at lowered capacities.
The researchers, Dr. Mette Kalager and Dr. Michael Bretthauer, a husband-and-wife team at the University of Oslo, have proposed a test in which similar school districts in adjacent towns are compared when one stays shut and the other is carefully reopened, with students and teachers in both districts tested at the start and end of a 10- to 14-day cycle. If virus transmissions don’t increase in the reopened school, the restrictions would be scaled back further.
In the best-case scenario — no increased transmission — all schools could open after three to six weeks.
Reporting was contributed by Michael Levenson, Javier C. Hernández, Su-Hyun Lee, Gina Kolata, Peter Baker, David E. Sanger, David D. Kirkpatrick, Carl Zimmer, Katie Thomas and Sui-Lee Wee.