Coronavirus, Democrats, Milwaukee: Your Thursday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, a mass shooting at a brewery in Milwaukee, and the origins of deadly sectarian violence in New Delhi.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan asked all of the country’s schools to close for a month to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. Here are the latest developments.

ImageVice President Mike Pence at the White House on Wednesday.
Credit…Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

President Trump said on Wednesday that the vice president would coordinate the government’s response to the virus. Mr. Trump made the announcement during a news conference in which he played down the danger of an outbreak, saying, “The risk to the American people remains very low.”

Health experts echoed the president’s optimism, but offered a more sober assessment of the risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention later announced that someone had contracted the infection in California without apparently traveling to countries that have had outbreaks or being exposed to a known patient.

Cases have now been documented on every continent but Antarctica. Here are the latest updates on the virus and maps of where it has spread.

Related: Senator Elizabeth Warren said money for building a wall on the southwestern border should be diverted to contain the virus. Other Democratic presidential candidates also questioned the Trump administration’s response to the threat.

“The Daily”: Today’s episode is about the potential for an outbreak in the U.S.

Another angle: Officials have so far played down suggestions that the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to begin July 24, could be altered or canceled. If the outbreak worsens, they have only unappealing options.

How to prepare:

The Times is starting an email newsletter, with the latest coronavirus developments. Sign up here.

The former vice president is counting on a win in South Carolina on Saturday to position him as the leading moderate challenger to Bernie Sanders.

But even if Mr. Biden succeeds, his thin campaign organization in California and other states that vote next week would present a daunting challenge.

The Super Tuesday contests determine a third of the delegates in the Democratic primary.

Another angle: The Times interviewed dozens of Democratic Party officials and found overwhelming opposition to nominating Mr. Sanders if he arrives at the national convention in July without a majority of delegates.

Perspective: Who should be the nominee? Our Opinion columnists make the case for the top six candidates.

A 51-year-old worker still wearing his uniform fatally shot five fellow Molson Coors employees on Wednesday before killing himself, officials said.

About 1,000 people work at the sprawling complex, known for decades as the Miller Brewery.

Background: The shooting was the latest in a series of attacks at U.S. workplaces. Twelve months ago, a fired employee killed five workers at a suburban Chicago factory. Last May in Virginia Beach, a municipal worker who quit his job went on a shooting rampage and killed 12 people.

Quotable: “We shouldn’t accept this — this is not the way that things should be,” said Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor, Mandela Barnes. “We should never grow comfortable in the face of these repeated tragedies all across America.”

Violence against women is rampant in Afghanistan, and there are few legal consequences for abusers. One prison in the city of Herat houses many women who felt that killing their husbands was the only way to escape an abusive marriage.

The facility is also run and staffed by women, and many inmates said they felt freer in prison than they had at home.

Roots of the Delhi riots: At least 25 people have died this week in some of the worst religious violence in India in years. It started after a local Hindu politician told the police to evict Muslim protesters or he and his men would.

The future of #MeToo: Those driving the movement say they feel a surge of momentum after Harvey Weinstein’s conviction. But they’re grappling with how to move beyond individual allegations to change laws and policies.

Trump campaign sues The Times: President Trump’s re-election campaign filed a lawsuit over a 2019 Opinion article headlined “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo.” It’s the first time Mr. Trump’s political operation has sued an American news outlet since he took office.

Snapshot: Above, part of an advertisement in the magazine Popular Mechanics in the 1930s. For more than a century, alligator sightings in New York’s sewers have lent an air of legitimacy to an entrenched urban myth. We traced the history.

Late-night comedy: “Why is Mike Pence in charge?” Jimmy Kimmel asked. “What is his plan to stop the virus, abstinence?”

What we’re reading: This Vulture article about business speak. “Molly Young puts into plain but excellent words everything I feel and believe about corporate jargon,” says Pamela Paul, our Books editor.

Cook: Make vegetarian chili in a skillet: It thickens faster in a shallower pan.

Listen: The Atlanta rapper Lil Baby discusses how he has remained low-key while earning more than 11 billion streams for songs like “Woah.”

Read: Jamie Oliver’s “5 Ingredients” flavors our latest advice, how-to and miscellaneous best-seller list.

Smarter Living: Moving is stressful. Here are some steps for setting up your new space.

Li Yuan, our New New World columnist, wrote this week about public dissent in China as people grow increasingly frustrated with the government’s response to the coronavirus. Melina Delkic, on the Briefings team, asked her about her column.

Walk us through the origins of this backlash.

When Li Wenliang, the doctor who tried to warn China about the virus, died, I stayed up the whole night, and so did many, many Chinese people.

From that night on, it seems to me there has been a tug of war between the online population — the public — and the propaganda machine. The online revolt was something I had never seen before. I had never seen something so unanimous — people sad and angry at the same time. People saw themselves in Dr. Li.

What changed?

There are more people willing to speak out. Especially young people, they’re really organizing themselves. I was stunned to find that so many people were just so outspoken, laughing at how ridiculous the party was in trying to spin the huge national disaster into something positive. One blog post was headlined: “News Coverage Should Stop Turning a Funeral Into a Wedding.”

I took so many screenshots — because posts can disappear in a minute. Everybody takes a lot of screenshots, and people figured out how to build an online archive of media articles, social media posts and videos outside the Chinese internet, because it’s censored. They want to keep records of this collective memory. That feels quite unprecedented.

Is there still a fear of censorship or punishment?

Everybody is fearful. I would say it’s very hard not to live in fear in China.

Why isn’t the messaging working this time?

I don’t think there has ever been any event that has affected 1.4 billion people. Everybody has to at least stay at home, not go out, try to find masks. Many people have this question: “Why didn’t we know this before, why didn’t the government tell us earlier?”

People are frustrated. They also read so many heartbreaking stories and watched so many videos and they are just really sad. The party came out like, “Oh, these medical workers are so brave — let’s celebrate our unity.” Many people are like, “I don’t want to do that right now.”

What will the Communist Party do now?

Since Dr. Li’s death, they really enhanced the censorship. They’re sending out a very clear message: We don’t want you to talk about the negative effects of this outbreak.

Eventually, the government will probably win, because it’s just too powerful. At the same time, I don’t think we should underestimate the anger, frustration and resilience of the Chinese people, especially the young people.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Chris Harcum provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about the coronavirus outbreak.
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• Members of The Times’s 2020 fellowship class come from 16 states, as well as Egypt, Syria and Taiwan. Meet them here.

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