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Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S.-China Tensions Threaten to Dominate W.H.O. Meeting

https://www.nytimes.com/newsgraphics/2020/04/09/corona-virus-social-images-by-section/assets/US_promo.jpg?u=1589800024491


W.H.O. gathers to push for global coordination amid a deepening rift between the U.S. and China.

The World Health Organization is holding its first global assembly since the outbreak of the pandemic on Monday, an extraordinary virtual meeting of heads of state and health experts from around the world to try to coordinate an effective international response to a crisis that is far from over.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the W.H.O., said the gathering was perhaps the most important for the world body since it was founded in 1948.

But there is a risk that the gathering serves to underscore division rather than promote unity as the United States and other countries will call for the W.H.O. to investigate China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

President Xi Jinping of China addressed the assembly Monday morning and defended his nation’s handling of the outbreak, saying that officials had acted with transparency.

“We have done everything in our power to support and assist countries in need,” he said.

President Trump and some other world leaders have accused the Chinese authorities of allowing the virus to spread worldwide by suppressing or withholding vital information about it after it emerged in Wuhan, China, in December. In recent weeks, European and Australian officials have joined Mr. Trump in calling for an investigation into China’s handling of the virus and its origins there.

Mr. Trump has sought to deflect some of the criticism aimed at him by stirring anger at China and the W.H.O. Last month, after repeatedly claiming that the organization had been too quick to believe the information about the virus coming from China, he ordered his administration to halt funding for the organization — a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars, although his administration has raised the possibility of partly restoring it.

When big companies got loans backed by the federal government’s $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program, outrage ensued. Many people expressed anger that the government’s main vehicle for helping mom-and-pop shops struggling during the pandemic was being undermined.

Lawmakers opened congressional inquiries and demanded firms give the money back, while the Trump administration tightened eligibility rules. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, threatened to hold firms criminally liable if they did not meet the program’s requirements and gave companies until today to decide whether to return their loans without repercussions.

But the majority of money extended to public companies has so far not been returned.

Two of those companies, Escalade, a sporting goods manufacturer in Evansville, Ill., and RealNetworks, a Seattle software developer, both sought and received loans that they had determined they needed to pay employees and keep their operations afloat. Escalade got $5.6 million on April 14; RealNetworks qualified for $2.9 million on April 24. But after the federal government scolded publicly traded companies for taking loans, they took different paths.

Escalade returned the funds, hoping to avoid running afoul of new federal guidelines for the loans and betting states would loosen stay-at-home restrictions enough to restart operations. RealNetworks kept its loan and says it will use it to bring workers back this week.

Jerome H. Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, said that while he expected the U.S. economy to recover from the sharp and painful downturn brought about by the coronavirus, that process would take time — potentially until the end of 2021.

“This economy will recover; it may take a while,” Mr. Powell said in an interview on the CBS program “60 Minutes.” “It may take a period of time, it could stretch through the end of next year, we don’t really know.”

Asked whether the economy could recover without an effective vaccine, Mr. Powell suggested that it could make a start, but not get all the way there.

“Assuming that there’s not a second wave of the coronavirus, I think you’ll see the economy recover steadily through the second half of this year,” he said. “For the economy to fully recover, people will have to be fully confident, and that may have to await the arrival of a vaccine.”

The interview with Mr. Powell, which CBS said was recorded on May 13, follows a blunt speech he gave the same day, warning that the economy may need more financial support to prevent permanent job losses and waves of bankruptcies.

Asian markets rose broadly, if moderately, on Monday on continuing hopes that the global economy would gradually emerge from the coronavirus outbreak.

Major markets were up less than 1 percent. Oil prices also rose on futures markets, while prices of the longer-term U.S. Treasury bonds fell, both signs of investor optimism. Futures markets were predicting that Wall Street would open about 1 percent higher.

Investors were looking for silver linings as the world grapples with lockdowns and other restrictions.

“This is really the most crucial time,” Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, a Republican, said Sunday on CNN. “And the most dangerous time.”

Mr. DeWine’s assessment was echoed by state leaders across the United States as pressure builds to revive commerce and chart a path for states to stagger back toward a semblance of normalcy.

To prevent that, some states are taking extra measures. In Illinois, owners of restaurants, bars and other establishments that open too soon can now be charged with a Class A misdemeanor under a measure enacted by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat. The punishment could be up to a year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. The rule also applies to businesses such as barbershops and gyms, according to Mr. Pritzker’s office.

The virus response has been defined by a balance between curbing the spread and minimizing economic harm. In much of the country, the pendulum has now swung toward the economy.

But governors in states where some rules have been eases are still concerned about a resurgence of the virus.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, a Democrat, said on CNN that he understood “the stress and anxiety that people have,” citing upended dreams and depleted savings.

“The question is,” he added, “how do you toggle back and make meaningful modifications to the stay-at-home order?”

To underscore this point, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday was tested during his live news briefing. While New York is now doing an average of 40,000 tests per day, Mr. Cuomo said, it has the capacity to perform thousands more. The governor also announced a new website that would help New Yorkers identify a testing site near where they live.

Separately, President Trump continued to express his eagerness to see a resumption of some activities. In telephone comments during a golf broadcast on Sunday, he said he missed sports and wanted “big, big stadiums loaded with people.”

A late morning drive down Fifth Avenue, starting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the lanes are normally choked with inching traffic, now passes by almost impossibly quickly.

The notorious F.D.R. Drive along the East River, prone to random standstills throughout its long stretch, now feels more like a Grand Theft Auto game.

In Brooklyn, turn a corner and see a line of people standing six feet apart and still as stone, masked, awaiting permission to enter Whole Foods.

The virus has transformed the experience of operating a motor vehicle in New York City.

With no office to go to or friends to visit, and facing stern orders to stay home, a vast majority of drivers have left their vehicles idle, creating something altogether new: open road, miles and miles of it.

It cannot last, of course; drivers are already seeing an increase in traffic from a month ago, with much more to follow as people venture out of quarantine, wary of public transportation.

But for now, an emptiness remains. No gridlock, no rush hour. Just numbers rolling over on the odometer, the spring afternoon flitting past the window, the smartphone map showing very little yellow or red.

It’s a very pleasant surprise, until you remember what brought it about, at what cost.

“Post-apocalyptic,” one van driver said of the experience. “You’re flying down 278 and there’s no one there and it’s four o’clock in the afternoon.”

“The auto industry is America’s economic engine,” Jim Farley, Ford Motor’s chief operating officer, said in a recent conference call on the company’s reopening plans. “Restarting the entire auto ecosystem is how we restart the economy.”

Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler plan to restart production on Monday, after Toyota, Honda and Tesla began reopening plants last week. Hyundai restarted a plant in Alabama on May 4.

Production will not bounce back quickly. The revival will unfold as dozens of auto plants and hundreds of factories owned by parts suppliers gear up and start making and shipping products.

It will also depend on how quickly stay-at-home orders are loosened in the United States, Canada and Mexico, because the industry’s supply chains are closely intertwined across North America.

Jane E. Brody, who writes the Time’s Personal Health column, takes a look at something many of us might be lacking during the pandemic — motivation.

She consulted Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and author of the highly influential book “Emotional Intelligence.”

Dr. Goleman explained that there are two kinds of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation refers to acts done to receive an external reward or outcome like wealth, power or fame, or in some cases to avoid punishment.

Intrinsic motivation involves behaviors done for their own sake that are personally rewarding, like helping other people, participating in an enjoyable sport or studying a fascinating subject. With intrinsic motivation, inspiration comes from within a person. It tends to be more forceful and the results more fulfilling.

“The stay-at-home edict has pushed so many of us into an external motivation mode that is making us face something that feels like lethargy and meaninglessness,” Dr. Goleman said.

“At the same time,” he added, “it’s a ripe opportunity to think about what really matters to us.”

“Doing what’s meaningful — acting on what really matters to a person — is the antidote to burnout,” said Dr. Goleman. He suggests to those who are feeling bereft of motivation: “Face what’s happening. What does it mean to me? What really matters to me now? Is there a way I can act upon what’s meaningful to me?”

Using the crisis to help your children grow.

Parents can help children use the stress of coronavirus shutdowns as an opportunity for growth, experts say.

Updates from Times correspondents around the globe.

Japan’s economy becomes the largest to officially enter a recession. A Canadian military jet crashes during a flyover for coronavirus workers.

Reporting was contributed by Jeanna Smialek, Neal E. Boudette, Kaly Soto, Marc Santora, Melina Delkic, Jane E. Brody, Abby Goodnough, Adam Liptak, David McCabe, Sharon Otterman, Rick Rojas, Neil Vigdor and Michael Wilson.



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