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U.S. Labels Chinese Language Education Group a Diplomatic Mission


However, in recent years, American teachers and administrators have debated whether teachers in the Confucius Institutes or their educational material help disseminate Chinese government propaganda. In 2014, the University of Chicago ended its contract with the Confucius Institutes, and several other universities have done the same since. As a result, the number of institutes has dropped from above 100 at their peak.

Republican lawmakers, notably Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who promotes aggressive policies against China, have urged American schools to break ties with the institutes.

A 2018 report on Chinese government and Communist Party influence operations in the United States done by the Hoover Institution and the Asia Society had details on the work and structure of the Confucius Institutes. It said the organization in Beijing that oversees the institutes, the Hanban, which is under the Education Ministry, has ties to the Communist Party’s Central Committee. The Hanban typically gives a $150,000 start-up grant to an American university, with grants of $100,000 and $200,000 per year afterward, the report said. It gives $50,000 in initial funding to secondary schools and $15,000 per year afterward.

“Most troublesome are two provisions in the Hanban contracts with U.S. host institutions: One forbids the C.I.s from conducting any activities that contravene Chinese law, while the other requires that the enabling contract remains confidential, making oversight by the academic community difficult,” the report said.

In summarizing its findings on the programs, the report said that “because C.I.s have had positive value in exposing students and communities to Chinese language and culture, this report does not generally oppose them. But it does recommend that more rigorous university oversight and standards of academic freedom and transparency be exercised over C.I.s.”

Outside the Confucius Institutes, many teachers and students of the Mandarin Chinese language at American universities have for decades used textbooks from mainland Chinese publishers that have lessons with overt government or party propaganda. American teachers and students have rarely objected to the material. For many university students, it has been easy to tell that the material is propaganda.

In a telephone call with reporters, David R. Stilwell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, said on Thursday that the U.S. government would work with American educational institutions with a goal of “looking for other opportunities for Chinese language training and instruction,” but he did not give details.

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Afghanistan to Investigate Video Showing Forces Mutilating Taliban Corpses


KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s defense ministry said it was investigating a video circulating on social media Thursday that showed men in Afghan army uniform mutilating bodies of purported Taliban fighters.

The intensification of violence on the eve of peace talks to end the war, with fighters from both sides often resorting to brutal tactics, has raised concerns that revenge-taking might continue long after any peace deal is signed.

The two-minute cellphone footage shows the men in uniforms smashing the heads of corpses with hatchets. Other soldiers, with their faces visible, are gathered around the scene — some laugh, some film and photograph, one stands over a body, smoking a cigarette as he poses for a picture.

The Taliban, in a statement, said the bodies of their fighters were mutilated in the Arghandab district of Zabul province. In early April, the Taliban killed a large number of soldiers from an Afghan army unit there, in the deadliest episode in the district in recent months. An Afghan official said the video likely dates to around that time.

One man filming the mutilation scene can be heard saying, “They had come to fight in Arghandab — this is their Red Unit,” referring to the Taliban’s elite force.

“If proven that these were personnel of the Afghan army, the perpetrators will be dealt with according to the law,” the defense ministry said.

The Taliban and the Afghan government are expected to begin direct negotiations in a few days, as part of an agreement reached in February between the insurgents and the United States, which backs the government. That agreement has already led to a draw down of American forces, from a little over 12,000 troops to about 8,000. As preparations for the direct talks stalled, bogged down by a dispute over exchanging prisoners, violence has intensified across the country.

The Taliban in recent months have killed members of the Afghan forces who had long left the force, or have repeatedly targeted officers who were on their way home to their families and posing no immediate threat, then dumped their bodies after executing them.

In the lead up to the talks, both sides have gone online to spread images and videos of the other’s abuses. The widespread images sow hatred that could fan vengeance long after a peace agreement on paper.

“As the violence continues, we see more brutal and shocking tactics from the sides and examples of revenge-taking, and that is very worrying and impacts any trust in a peace process,” said Shaharzad Akbar, the chief of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission.

“It is on the leadership of the two sides to have clear messages to their fighters to avoid war crimes and actions that furthers the instinct for revenge that will make the reconciliation that should come out of a peace process difficult.”

Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan, and Fahim Abed from Kabul.

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World

You Probably Won’t Catch the Coronavirus From Frozen Food


Amid a flurry of concern over reports that frozen chicken wings imported to China from Brazil had tested positive for the coronavirus, experts said on Thursday that the likelihood of catching the virus from food — especially frozen, packaged food — is exceedingly low.

“This means somebody probably handled those chicken wings who might have had the virus,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University. “But it doesn’t mean, ‘Oh my god, nobody buy any chicken wings because they’re contaminated.’”

Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain that “there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or consuming food is associated with Covid-19.” The main route the virus is known to take from person to person is through spray from sneezing, coughing, speaking or even breathing.

“I make no connection between this and any fear that this is the cause of any long-distance transmission events,” said C. Brandon Ogbunu, a disease ecologist at Yale University. When the virus crosses international boundaries, it’s almost certainly chauffeured by people, rather than the commercial products they ship.

The chicken wings were screened on Wednesday in Shenzhen’s Longgang district, where officials have been testing imports for the presence of coronavirus genetic material, or RNA. Several samples taken from the outer packaging of frozen seafood, some of which had been shipped in from Ecuador, recently tested positive for virus RNA in China’s Anhui, Shaanxi and Shandong provinces as well.

Laboratory procedures that search for RNA also form the basis of most of the coronavirus tests performed in people. But RNA is only a proxy for the presence of the virus, which can leave behind bits of its genetic material even after it has been destroyed, Dr. Ogbunu said. “This is just detecting the signature that the virus has been there at some point,” he said.

To prove that a dangerous, viable virus persists on food or packaging, researchers would need to isolate the microbe and show in a lab that it can still replicate. These experiments are logistically challenging and require specially trained personnel, and aren’t a part of the typical testing pipeline.

After samples taken from the surface of the meat came up positive, officials performed similar tests on several people whom they suspected had come into contact with the product. They also tested a slew of other packaged goods. All samples analyzed so far have been negative for coronavirus RNA, according to a statement released by the Shenzhen Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarters Office.

But the same statement cautioned consumers about imported frozen products, and early reports of the news sparked alarm on social media.

Both Dr. Ogbunu and Dr. Rasmussen said that an extraordinarily unusual series of events would need to occur for the virus to be transmitted via a frozen meat product. Depending on where the virus originated, it would need to endure a potentially cross-continental journey in a frozen state — likely melting and refreezing at least once along the way — then find its way onto someone’s bare hands, en route to the nose or mouth.

Even more unlikely is the scenario that a virus could linger on food after being heated, survive being swallowed into the ultra-acidic human digestive tract, then set up shop in the airway.

“The risks of that happening are incredibly small,” Dr. Rasmussen said.

Some viruses might be able to weather such an onerous pilgrimage. But the coronavirus probably isn’t one of them because it’s a so-called enveloped virus, shrouded in a fragile outer shell that’s vulnerable to all sorts of environmental disturbances, including extreme changes in temperature.

Viruses are often frozen in laboratories that maintain stocks of pathogens for experiments. But virologists must monitor that process carefully to avoid destroying the vulnerable bugs.

The Coronavirus Outbreak ›

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated August 12, 2020

Can I travel within the United States?Many states have travel restrictions, and lots of them are taking active measures to enforce those restrictions, like issuing fines or asking visitors to quarantine for 14 days. Here’s an ever-updating list of statewide restrictions. In general, travel does increase your chance of getting and spreading the virus, as you are bound to encounter more people than if you remained at your house in your own “pod.” “Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from Covid-19,” the C.D.C. says. If you do travel, though, take precautions. If you can, drive. If you have to fly, be careful about picking your airline. But know that airlines are taking real steps to keep planes clean and limit your risk.I have antibodies. Am I now immune?As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?What is school going to look like in September?It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.

“The act of freezing and unfreezing is a kind of violent thermodynamic process,” Dr. Ogbunu said. “A virus, for all its toughness and robustness, is a very delicate instrument of infection.”

The C.D.C. has noted that “it is possible” that the coronavirus can spread through contaminated surfaces, including food or food packaging. But that’s not known to be among the main ways the virus gets around.

If you don’t want get infected, avoiding direct contact with other people is probably a better use of your time, Dr. Ogbunu said.

“Yes, we should continue to wash our hands and be mindful of surfaces where a lot of individuals are,” he said. “But it’s close proximity to others that can really facilitate transmission.”

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Business

Hot Property: Joanna Kerns, Marc Appleton sell home near Meghan, Harry



Actress Joanna Kerns, who gained fame in the 1980s and ’90s as matriarch Maggie Seaver on the sitcom “Growing Pains,” and architect-author Marc Appleton have sold their marital home in Montecito for $8.35 million.

The buyer was a limited liability company managed by Scott Adelson, co-president of investment bank Houlihan Lokey, records show.

Called Villa Corbeau, the Mediterranean-style residence is about a five-minute stroll from the new home of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

Designed by Appleton and built in 2006, the graceful two-story takes its cues from the country estates of northern Italy and southern France. Beamed ceilings, wrought-iron fixtures and Tuscan hues bring a rural tone to the interiors, a theme echoed in the kitchen’s butcher-block counters and antique-finished cabinets. Arched French doors bring garden views into the family room.

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The exterior. 

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The entry. 

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The living room. 

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The family room/den. 

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The country-style kitchen. 

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The gardens and fountain. 

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The al fresco dining room. 

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The grounds. 

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A bedroom. 

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A bathroom. 

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A bathroom. 

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The outdoor fireplace. 

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The grounds. 

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The house sits on half an acre. 

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Outside, gardens and mature landscaping surround the home. Pathways lined with decomposed granite wind through various outbuildings including a rose garden, a pool pavilion, an arbor and a potting shed. Amid the backdrop are several dozen mature oaks, Italian cypress and pepper trees.

Kerns has pivoted to the director’s chair in recent years, helming episodes of “Pretty Little Liars,” “Scrubs” and “The Goldbergs,” among others.

Appleton this year co-authored the third book in the “Master Architects of Southern California 1920-1940” series, which focuses on the works of Wallace Neff. His fourth book in the series, on architect Paul Rever Williams, is due out later this year. A consistent force in the design world for decades, Appleton has offices in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara.

Nancy Kogevinas of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties was the listing agent. Dan Encell, also with Berkshire Hathaway, represented the buyer.

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World

Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Reports Nearly 1,500 Daily Deaths, Reflecting Continued Toll of Summer Surge


Key Data of the Day

The U.S. reports its highest single-day virus death toll of the month.

Officials across the United States reported at least 1,470 deaths on Wednesday, the highest single-day total yet in August, according to a New York Times database, and a reflection of the continued toll of the early-summer case surge in Sun Belt states.

More than half the deaths reported on Wednesday were spread across five states that saw some of the most dramatic case spikes in June and July. Texas reported more than 300 deaths Wednesday. Florida more than 200. And Arizona, California and Georgia all reported more than 100 each.

Even as the number of new cases has fallen from its late July peak, deaths have remained persistently high. For more than two weeks, the country has averaged more than 1,000 deaths a day, more than twice as many as in early July.

The last six weeks have marked a tragic reversal of months of progress in reducing deaths. By early summer, deaths had declined to fewer than 500 per day, far below the peak of more than 2,000 daily in April. But even as death reports reached their nadir, the rebound was already being predicted because of the Sun Belt outbreaks.

Because some people do not die until weeks after contracting the virus, reports of additional deaths can remain high even after new case reports start falling. Arizona, where case numbers have been falling for weeks, posted one of its highest daily death totals on Wednesday. Though new cases are showing sustained growth in only two states, deaths are trending upward in 14.

With the exception of three days this summer, Wednesday’s death total was the country’s highest since late May. The figure was higher on each of those three days because a single state reported large numbers of backlogged deaths from unspecified days. Tuesday’s death toll of 1,450 had also been the highest since late May, excluding the three anomalous summer days.

Efforts to reach an agreement on another pandemic stimulus package could get even tougher after weekly new jobless claims fell below one million for the first time since March and the federal budget deficit continued to hit record highs, reaching $2.8 trillion in July — two major elements that could shift the negotiating landscape.

Republicans and Democrats have been at odds over how much to spend on another round of stimulus aid, with Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, pushing for at least $2 trillion and the White House insisting on staying around $1 trillion.

Democrats have insisted that much more than $1 trillion is needed for humanitarian and economic reasons. Republicans have objected to that price tag, with some lawmakers and White House officials saying the economy is beginning to recover and doesn’t need that level of support and that the United States cannot afford to keep piling on debt.

Those positions could further harden given that weekly jobless claims, which had been above one million for months, fell below that number last week, with 963,000 people filing first-time claims for benefits under regular state unemployment programs. On Thursday, Ms. Pelosi doubled down on the Democrats’ position, saying that they would not agree to a stimulus package unless it provided at least $2 trillion of additional aid.

Ms. Pelosi also said she did not plan to deliver her convention speech from Washington, signaling that she did not expect in-person negotiations in the coming days.

The Treasury Department said on Wednesday that the budget deficit had reached a historic high of $2.8 trillion, in large part because of spending from the first $2.2 trillion pandemic package that lawmakers approved in March.

Even before those numbers were released, some Republicans in Washington were already saying they hoped no additional aid would be forthcoming because of the ballooning deficit.

“From my standpoint, the breakdown in the talks is very good news. It’s very good news for future generations,” Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, said in an interview last week with Breitbart News. “I hope the talks remain broken down.”

But economists warn it is too early to withdraw aid, especially given that the virus has not abated and the pace of rehiring has slowed. Millions of Americans remain out of work and much of the spending power from the last stimulus package has run out, including an extra $600 per week in unemployment aid.

“It remains quite stunning that Congress has yet to agree on a fresh round of relief legislation with so many Americans hurting financially,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economist at Bankrate.com.

In other U.S. news:

The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed Rhode Island to make voting by mail easier in the November election. The court rejected a request from Republicans that it block a lower court’s order, which had suspended a requirement that absentee ballots be completed in front of witnesses or a notary.

Five months after AMC Theatres closed all its U.S. cinemas — crowded indoor spaces not being the best places to be during a pandemic — the company announced that it would reopen more than 100 theaters across the country on Aug. 20. To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the company said it would price all movies that day at 15 cents, so “moviegoers can again enjoy the magic of the big screen at 1920 ticket prices.” Twitter users were less than thrilled by the gimmick. “Only 15¢ for the chance to catch a deadly virus!” one wrote. “Bargain of a lifetime.”

Trump’s testing czar expresses satisfaction with testing levels.

The Trump administration official in charge of coronavirus testing said on Thursday that the United States was doing enough testing to slow the spread of the virus — an assessment at odds with that of public health experts who say more testing with faster results is necessary.

“We are doing the appropriate amount of testing now to reduce the spread, flatten the curve, save lives,” the official, Adm. Brett M. Giroir, told reporters on a conference call.

Dr. Giroir made his remarks as the Department of Health and Human Services announced that the administration was investing $6.5 million in two commercial laboratories to beef up testing capacity. He argued that the pandemic was moving in the right direction, with the number of hospitalizations declining nationally, and said the test positivity rate — the percentage of tests that come back positive — was under 7 percent.

“It is clear that the number of cases is decreasing,” he said, “and that decrease is real.”

Some experts disagreed.

“Unfortunately, the United States needs to improve testing to reduce spread and flatten the curve,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

While the national positivity rate may be around 7 percent, she noted, “several states have double-digit positivities.”

Mark McClellan, director of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, who was commissioner of food and drugs under former President George W. Bush, agreed, writing, “I don’t think we have enough, which seems reinforced by the significant continuing community spread and resulting disruptions to schools, economy, etc.”

Dr. Giroir said the issue was not the total number of tests being conducted, but how tests were being deployed. He said that by testing a minimum of 2 percent of the population, health professionals could detect hot spots and outbreaks, and then increase testing in those areas to get a better handle on the spread of the virus.

“You beat the virus by smart policies supplemented by strategic testing,” he said. “You do not beat the virus by shotgun testing everyone all the time.”

In June, as the coronavirus crisis appeared to hit a lull in the United States, teachers and parents across the country finally began feeling optimistic about reopening schools in the fall. Going back into the classroom seemed possible. Districts started to pull together plans. Then came a tweet.

“SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” President Trump declared on July 6, voicing a mantra he would repeat again and again in the coming weeks, with varying degrees of threat, as he sought to jump-start the nation’s flagging economy.

Around the same time, caseloads in much of the country started to climb again. In the weeks since, hundreds of districts have reversed course and decided to start the school year with remote instruction.

By some estimates, at least half of the nation’s children will now spend a significant portion of the fall, or longer, learning in front of their laptops.

Rising infection rates were clearly the major driver of the move to continue remote learning. But Mr. Trump’s often bellicose demands for reopening classrooms helped harden the view of many educators that it would be unsafe.

“If you had told me that Trump was doing this as a favor to the schools-must-not-open crowd, I’d believe you,” said Rick Hess, director of education policy at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

Indeed, as the president has pushed for schools to reopen, parents have largely moved in the other direction. A recent Washington Post poll found that parents disapprove of Mr. Trump’s handling of school reopening by a two-thirds majority. And a new Gallup poll shows that fewer parents want their children to return to school buildings now than did in the spring.

On Wednesday, New York City’s bid to become the only major district to bring students back into physical classrooms hit a snag. The city’s influential principals’ and teachers’ unions called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to delay the start of in-person instruction by several weeks before phasing students back into buildings throughout the fall. Students are scheduled to return to classrooms one to three days a week starting Sept. 10.

On Thursday, Mr. de Blasio announced that all of New York City’s roughly 1,300 public school buildings will have a full-time, certified nurse in place by the time schools are scheduled to physically reopen.

The announcement fulfills a major safety demand made by the city’s powerful teachers’ union, which has said its members should not return to schools until there is a nurse in every building. The union has also demanded that the city upgrade outdated ventilation systems and create a clearer protocol for testing and tracing in schools.

The collateral damage from the pandemic continues: Young adults and Black and Latino people in particular describe rising levels of anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts, and increased substance abuse, according to findings reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a survey, U.S. residents reported signs of eroding mental health, in reaction to the toll of coronavirus illnesses and deaths and to the life-altering restrictions imposed by lockdowns.

The researchers argue that the results point to an urgent need for expanded and culturally sensitive services for mental health and substance abuse. The online survey was completed by 5,470 people in late June. The prevalence of anxiety symptoms was three times as high as those reported in the second quarter of 2019, and depression was four times as high.

The impact was felt most keenly by young adults ages 18 to 24. According to Mark Czeisler, a researcher at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, nearly 63 percent had symptoms of anxiety or depression that they attributed to the pandemic and nearly a quarter had started or increased their uses of substances to cope with their emotions.

Overall, nearly 41 percent reported symptoms of at least one adverse reaction, ranging from anxiety and depression to post-traumatic stress disorder. Nearly 11 percent said they had suicidal thoughts in the month leading up to the survey, with the greatest clusters being among Black and Latino people, essential workers and unpaid caregivers for adults. Men were more likely to express such feelings than women were.

The researchers, who represent a joint effort largely between Monash University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said the symptoms were less pronounced in older groups.

New unemployment claims in the U.S. fell below one million last week for the first time in months.

The number of Americans filing for state unemployment benefits fell below one million last week for the first time since March. But layoffs remain exceptionally high by historical standards, and the pace of rehiring has slowed.

The Labor Department on Thursday reported that 963,000 people filed first-time claims for benefits under regular state unemployment programs last week. Another 489,000 applied under the federal program that covers independent contractors, self-employed workers and others who don’t qualify for regular state unemployment insurance.

Unemployment filings have fallen sharply since late March, when nearly 6.9 million Americans applied for benefits in a single week. But the numbers still dwarf those in any previous recession: Before the coronavirus pandemic, the worst week on record was in 1982, when 695,000 people submitted claims.

Unlike the temporary layoffs that dominated in the first weeks of the crisis, most of the new job losses are likely to be permanent.

“It’s even more frightening now,” said Nick Bunker, economic research director for North America at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “There’s no silver lining of quick recalls like the higher levels that we saw back in March.”

And the broader economic recovery has lost momentum. Employers brought back 1.8 million jobs in July, the Labor Department reported last week, well below the 4.8 million in June. More timely data from private-sector sources suggests that the slowdown has continued in August, and economists warn that it could worsen now that key federal programs to help households and businesses weather the pandemic have expired.

A $600 federal boost to unemployed workers’ weekly state checks ran out at the end of July, and negotiations between the White House and Democrats to reinstate it have come to a stop. Many jobless Americans have seen their weekly income slashed by half or more. State unemployment benefits vary widely: In Massachusetts, some workers can receive more than $900 a week, while in Mississippi, the maximum benefit is just $235. Benefits tend to be less generous in states with larger Black populations.

New Zealand has a fresh outbreak. Can it beat the virus again?

As the week began, New Zealanders were celebrating 100 days without community spread of the coronavirus. Now residents of the country’s largest city, Auckland, are back under lockdown as health officials battle a fresh outbreak.

Four new cases in Auckland were reported on Wednesday, and by Thursday the cluster had grown to 17. Epidemiologists are now racing to solve the mystery of how the virus found its way back into the isolated island nation.

One theory is that it entered through cargo and spread through a cold storage warehouse where some of the infected New Zealanders worked. But epidemiologists say that is a long shot because human-to-human contact was the most likely source.

Another focus is quarantine facilities for returning travelers — the source of a recent outbreak in Melbourne, Australia.

Either way, New Zealand is rolling out a huge testing, contact tracing and quarantine blitz that aims to quash Covid-19 for the second time.

“Going hard and early is still the best course of action,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday, at what will once again be a daily coronavirus news briefing. “We have a plan.”

Many other places — including Australia, Hong Kong and Vietnam — have confronted second waves after early triumphs. But New Zealand has responded with a level of urgency and action that it hopes will be a model for how to eliminate a burst of infection and rapidly reopen.

India has now reported the fourth most coronavirus-related deaths in the world after the United States, Brazil and Mexico. It surpassed Britain on Thursday.

The country has recorded at least 47,033 deaths so far, according to a New York Times database. Britain’s total as of Thursday morning was 46,706.

India also recorded its largest tally of new infections to date on Thursday, with 66,999 new cases and more than 800 fatalities. Most new cases are coming in five of its component states, including those containing Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi.

At least 2,411,547 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in India overall, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which said that nearly 1.7 million people, or about 71 percent, have recovered. Only the United States and Brazil have reported more total cases.

Health experts have been warning that India’s mortality statistics are likely to worsen, because state-run hospitals are overflowing with patients while private hospitals remain out of reach for most Indians.

In late March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed one of the most severe lockdowns anywhere, ordering all Indians to stay indoors, halting transportation and closing most businesses. But as the country’s ailing economy started contracting, officials lifted some of the restrictions, hoping to ease the suffering.

People soon thronged markets with little heed for maintaining social distance, and congested areas soon experienced an explosion of new infections. Some areas then reimposed restrictions, only to lift them again.

Two people in China who had seemingly recovered from the virus tested positive again.

A 68-year-old woman in the Chinese province of Hubei, where the global coronavirus outbreak was first detected, tested positive again this month after recovering from a case of the virus recorded in February, officials said. Another man who had recovered from an infection in April was also found to be an asymptomatic carrier in Shanghai this week.

The two cases, which came months after their original diagnoses, have revived concerns about mysterious second-time infections that have baffled experts since the early days of the pandemic, with some blaming testing flaws.

The authorities in Jingzhou, a city near Wuhan, the original epicenter of the outbreak, said on Wednesday that the woman had tested positive again on Aug. 9, after having recovered for several months from a virus infection first recorded in early February. The nucleic acid test results for her contacts were all said to be negative.

“There have been very few reports of cases of possible ‘relapses’ or second-time Covid-19 infections, and we still don’t fully understand the risk of this,” said Benjamin Cowling, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong. “But we would expect that some infected persons could be vulnerable to reinfection, particularly as time passes.”

“It’s a feature of other respiratory infections that we can be reinfected with similar viruses throughout our lives, and it is unlikely that a Covid-19 infection (or a vaccination) would provide lifelong immunity against a subsequent infection,” Dr. Cowling added. “What we have not yet understood is the duration of immunity.”

Other experts have said it is highly unlikely that the coronavirus would strike the same person twice within a short window, and reports of reinfection may instead be cases of drawn-out illness, with the virus taking a slow burn even months after their first exposure.

A 35-year-old man from Yemen living at the Vial camp on Chios tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday night, a Greek Migration Ministry official said, and a woman employed at the camp by a branch of the European Asylum Support Office tested positive on Thursday.

The man, who arrived from neighboring Turkey in September, has been hospitalized on the island with mild symptoms. Another 25 camp residents believed to have been in contact with him have been quarantined, the official said. Contact tracing for the woman was still in progress.

The Chios infections are not the first in a Greek migrant camp — dozens of cases were reported in April at three facilities on the mainland. But they are the first in an island camp, where overcrowding is the most intense. Conditions at the island camps, long criticized as unsanitary and inhumane by human rights groups, have become particularly worrying amid the pandemic.

Greece has generally weathered the pandemic better than many of its neighbors, recording around 6,000 cases since late February and just over 200 deaths. But daily case reports have increased sharply in recent weeks, prompting the authorities to reintroduce some restrictions. The country reported 262 cases on Wednesday, its highest figure so far; only 29 of them appeared to be linked to foreign arrivals.

In other news from around the world:

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who offered this week to be “injected in public” with Russia’s coronavirus vaccine to allay concerns about its safety, may not be cleared to do so until May 1, 2021, his government said on Thursday. A spokesman for Mr. Duterte said the president would not take part in Russian-financed clinical trials scheduled to begin in the Philippines in October.

Canada has established a system to divert fresh food that would otherwise go unused because of restaurant shutdowns to food banks and other relief agencies. Marie-Claude Bibeau, the agriculture minister, said on Thursday that the project would prevent about 12 million kilograms of food, including eggs, meat, seafood and vegetables, from going to waste.

Officials in multiple provinces in China said the virus had been found on packaging of seafood imports from Ecuador, and Shenzhen said a sample of frozen chicken wings from Brazil had tested positive. Officials in China only tested for coronavirus genetic material on the imported food and packaging, but it is unclear if there was infectious virus and there is no evidence to suggest that people can get the virus from food.

The British government wants to appoint a “head of pandemic preparedness” to review the government’s approach and to act on “lessons learned” from the coronavirus crisis, according to a job posting on an internal website that was reported by British news outlets. Britain is among the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, and many experts, lawmakers and health care professionals say the government’s handling of the situation is to blame.

In New York City, this spring was nearly as deadly as the worst months of the 1918 flu pandemic, an analysis shows.

The 1918 influenza pandemic is the deadliest in modern history, claiming an estimated 50 million lives worldwide, including 675,000 in the United States.

By some measures, the toll of the Covid-19 surge in New York City this spring resembled that of the flu pandemic. In March and April, the overall death rate was just 30 percent lower than during the height of the 1918 pandemic in the city, despite modern medical advances, according to an analysis published on Thursday in JAMA Network Open.

Many people liken Covid-19 to seasonal influenza while regarding the 1918 pandemic as a time of incomparable devastation, said Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and lead author of the analysis.

“But in reality, what 1918 looked like is basically this,” he said, except with dead bodies in refrigerated trucks rather than piled in the streets.

Nearly 33,500 people died in New York City from March 11 to May 11 of this year, according to the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In a city with a total population of nearly 8.3 million, this amounts to an incident rate of 202.08 deaths per 100,000 person-months — a standard way of denoting deaths over time.

The researchers then looked at deaths in October and November of 1918, the peak of the city’s flu outbreak. Dr. Faust identified 31,589 deaths among 5.5 million city residents, for an incident rate of 287.17 deaths per 100,000 person-months. In all, the death rate in the city last spring was about 70 percent of that seen in 1918.

People today are conditioned by the “medical-industrial complex” to think that all diseases can be conquered, said Nancy Tomes, a historian of American health care at Stony Brook University.

That may be why many Americans, particularly those who believe the pandemic is overblown, are so angered to find that a virus has upended their lives, she added.

“In 1918, people were very familiar with infectious diseases and dying from them,” Dr. Tomes said. “There was not this whole kind of expectation that we have today that this shouldn’t be happening.”

Does it seem as if everyone’s got it better than you?

A beach house, a suburban home, a home without children, a home filled with family: These days, everyone wants something that someone else has. You are not alone if you are filled with “quarantine envy.” Here are some ways to deal with it.

Reporting was contributed by Ian Austen, Alan Blinder, Ben Casselman, Damien Cave, Emily Cochrane, Katie Glueck, Jason Gutierrez, Jan Hoffman, Mike Ives, Thomas Kaplan, Niki Kitsantonis, Apoorva Mandavilli, Elian Peltier, Amy Qin, Christopher F. Schuetze, Eliza Shapiro, Mitch Smith, Deborah Solomon, Serena Solomon, Eileen Sullivan, Lauren Wolfe, Sameer Yasir and Elaine Yu.

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World

Le Kha Phieu, Vietnam Leader Who Was Pushed Out, Dies at 88


Le Kha Phieu, a career military man whose tenure as a hardline leader of Vietnam ended ignominiously when he was removed from office amid unusually public infighting, died on Aug. 7 in Hanoi. He was 88.

The Central Committee for the Protection and Health Care of Officials said he died “after a period of illness,” which it attributed to “his old age and weak strength.”

Mr. Phieu, who had fought for North Vietnam in its wars against French colonialists and American forces, was elevated to general secretary of the Communist Party in 1997, a time of power struggles and government gridlock.

An ideological conservative, he was considered a compromise selection. But he immediately faced constant factional strife with party reformers and, with his ouster in 2001, wound up serving less than four years of his five-year term.

Mr. Phieu was criticized for ineffective leadership, failure to revive Vietnam’s stagnant economy, inability to root out corruption, subservience to China, and “anti-democratic” behavior in seeking to expand his power.

In what Carlyle A. Thayer, a Vietnam specialist at the Australian Defense Force Academy in Canberra, called a “battle royal” over his removal, he was also accused of misusing military intelligence services to conduct wiretaps on his fellow Politburo members.

Mr. Thayer described Mr. Phieu’s years in office as a period of “reform immobilism,” a preoccupation with political stability that overshadowed economic concerns and limited decisive action on a range of issues, including corruption and the impact on Vietnam of the Asian financial crisis.

Mr. Phieu continued to support the “leading role” of large state-controlled enterprises, a conservative position that both Western economists and liberals within Vietnam said was one of the chief hindrances to growth.

When he was chosen general secretary, the three members of the incumbent ruling troika were named as advisers, a role that enabled them to cast a shadow over his leadership. During Mr. Phieu’s first year in office, one of the three, Do Muoi, the previous general secretary, not only attended meetings of the Politburo but also continued to sit at the head of the table.

Mr. Phieu tried to abolish the role of advisers and adopt for himself the additional post of state president, moves that largely triggered the leadership struggle that led to his removal.

Mr. Phieu was a hard-liner in international affairs as well as on the economy, at a time when party reformers were seeking to reach out to the West. Just before President Bill Clinton visited the country in 2001, Mr. Phieu warned that the battle against the West, to which he had dedicated his life as a soldier, had not ended with Vietnam’s wartime victory.

“They continue to seek ways to completely wipe out the remaining socialist countries,” he said. “We should never relax our vigilance for a minute.”

Mr. Phieu met with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Hanoi in 2001, the year Mr. Phieu was ousted. He clashed with party reformers who sought to reach out to the West. Credit…Hoang Dinh Nam/Agence France-Presse

He ordered party officials to accord Mr. Clinton only a low-key welcome and then berated the president about American imperialism.

Le Kha Phieu was born on Dec. 27, 1931, in the northern Thanh Hoa province. He became a member of the Indochinese Communist Party in 1949. A year later he joined the Vietnam People’s Army, beginning a rise through the ranks that would take him through the wars against the French and the Americans and the subsequent occupation of Cambodia.

He was elected to the Communist Party Central Committee in 1991, elevated to the party secretariat a year later and joined the Politburo in 1994.

Information about survivors was not released.

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Business

Famous Old Hollywood hotel selling for $100 million



An auction of the posh Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills hotel next week was canceled after potential buyers declined to bid more than the $100-million base price established by an unidentified “stalking horse” bidder last month, a federal representative said Thursday.

The sale to that bidder is expected to close in September, said Matthew Bordwin, who is conducting the transaction on behalf of a special master appointed by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

The U.S. government moved to seized the hotel in 2016 from Malaysian financier Jho Low. Federal investigators said Low bought the hotel and other properties, including a Hollywood Hills mansion, with money embezzled from a Malaysian government-owned fund intended to spur economic development in the Southeast Asian country.

Low has denied any wrongdoing; he is a fugitive from Malaysian and U.S. authorities.

Since the L’Ermitage opened in 1975 on Burton Way, it has been known as a celebrity haunt, where luminaries such as Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Laurence Olivier have spent the night and dined in its fancy French restaurant.

A $37-million renovation completed in 2016 helped the hotel keep the coveted five-star rating from Forbes Travel Guide it has held since 2000. Its 116 rooms are all suites, including the 3,328-square-foot presidential suite that includes five balconies, a Steinway grand piano, a formal dining room, dens and a kitchen.

Would-be buyers of the famous inn were at first plentiful, said Bordwin, managing director of Keen-Summit Capital Partners.

“Hundreds of people were interested in the property,” he said, but ultimately all other bidders “couldn’t get over the $100-million number” and backed off in recent days from participating in the sale.

Auction rules said that the next bid had to be $104 million, which was apparently too rich for them, Bordwin said. “That’s a meaningful jump.”

Low bought the hotel for $46 million in 2010, when the market was still depressed after the Great Recession. The previous owner paid $68 million in 2000.

If the latest sale is approved by the court next month as expected, the identity of the stalking horse bidder selected to make the initial bid and set the floor for future bidders will be publicly revealed. Bordwin earlier described the bidder as “a savvy real estate investor with hospitality experience.”

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World

Who Is Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Belarus’s Unlikely Opposition Leader?



Ms. Tikhanovskaya spent her summers in rural Ireland, as a “Chernobyl child” sent to the country for respite. Her host family remembers her as a compassionate leader, even as a youngster.

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World

Your Friday Briefing – The New York Times


Israel struck an agreement with the United Arab Emirates on Thursday to establish “full normalization of relations” and take plans to annex occupied West Bank territory off the table for now to improve ties with the rest of the Arab world.

In a surprise statement issued by the White House, President Trump said he brokered a deal for Israel and the U.A.E. to sign a string of agreements on investment, tourism, security and other areas while moving to allow direct flights between the countries and to set up reciprocal embassies.

If fulfilled, it would make the U.A.E. the third Arab country to establish normal diplomatic relations with Israel, after Jordan and Egypt.

The dynamics: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel needed a way out of his annexation promise, which was becoming increasingly fraught. Mr. Trump needed a win. And the U.A.E., under fire for alleged human rights abuses in Yemen, needed to improve its image in Washington.

In Israel: Mr. Netanyahu reposted a tweet from Mr. Trump announcing the agreement and added, in Hebrew: “A historic day.”

In the U.A.E.: Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto ruler of the Emirates, tweeted: “During a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories.”

A 68-year-old woman in the Chinese province of Hubei, where the global coronavirus outbreak was first detected, tested positive again this month after recovering from an infection recorded in February.

Another man who had recovered from an infection in April was also found to be an asymptomatic carrier in Shanghai this week.

The two cases have revived concerns about second-time infections that have baffled experts. Some have blamed testing flaws. Others have said they may be cases of drawn-out illness. None of the woman’s contacts have tested positive.

Quotable: “We would expect that some infected persons could be vulnerable to reinfection, particularly as time passes,” said Benjamin Cowling, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong.

In other developments:

Upon being named Joe Biden’s vice-presidential pick, Senator Kamala Harris became the first Indian-American, South Asian and Asian-American person to be chosen, as well as the first Black woman on a major party’s presidential ticket.

In interviews, Indian-American leaders and community advocates called Mr. Biden’s choice of Ms. Harris — the daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father — a refutation of President Trump’s demonization of immigrants and a powerful statement on American possibility. Below are some of the feelings they described.

Some called it validation of their family’s decisions to come to America. “It’s a reaffirmation of a decision to undertake something that’s really, really difficult,” said Preet Bharara, the former United States attorney for the Southern District of New York.

It’s “about the changing landscape and what becomes possible for so many other people when they see barriers being broken,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat of Washington State.

“It’s a stand-alone milestone, irrespective of who the opponent is,” said Vanita Gupta, head of the civil rights division of the Justice Department under former President Barack Obama. “But it is particularly poignant given what this country has endured for the last several years.”

Learn more: Read our live coverage of the election, and what progressives think of the choice.

“Jurassic World: Dominion,” filming in England, is one of the few major Hollywood studio films to restart production since the pandemic led to a global shutdown in March. Above, behind the scenes.

It’s a chance for the movie industry to see if it can move past the financial woes caused by the pandemic, like closed movie theaters and audiences increasingly comfortable watching movies from the couch, while keeping everyone safe. That requires constant testing, and actors and staff members staying clustered together. “We are the guinea pigs,” the actor Bryce Dallas Howard said.

Thai protests: Students leading anti-government protests are taking the rare and dangerous step of criticizing the monarchy.

Lebanon: The Parliament approved a state of emergency, which vastly expands the army’s powers in Beirut, until at least Aug. 21 in the wake of a devastating explosion.

Hong Kong: After one of the territory’s best-known democracy activists was arrested this week under the national security law, supporters turned her into a “Mulan” meme.

Snapshot: Above, the show “6 Feet Apart, All Together,” held on western Massachusetts farmland. Several companies are trying variations on what is sometimes called promenade theater — outdoor productions in which audiences move as they follow the action. The form, a cousin to street theater, has a long tradition in Europe and now has new appeal in other regions.

What we’re reading: This New Yorker article about tennis right now. “The U.S. Open is supposed to start in a few weeks, and this is a good look at some of the particular challenges,” Jillian Rayfield, an editor, says. “There’s also been a lot of off-the-court drama this year, and the piece ties it all together.”

Cook: Chocolate-flake raspberry ice cream, using powdered milk for richness, honey for smoothness and vodka for creaminess. Any berries, fresh or frozen, will work.

Deal: If we see every mistake as a crisis, then we avoid taking risks, we become less creative, we even learn less deeply. But if we keep in mind that the learning process is crucial, then we’re far more open and able to accept our mistakes. Here’s how to be more resilient.

Listen: We’ve compiled classical music performances worth streaming.

At Home has our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

The mathematician, pianist and author Eugenia Cheng talked to our Book Review in the By the Book column. Here’s what she said about merging art and math, and her new book “X+Y: A Mathematician’s Manifesto for Rethinking Gender.”

Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).

My ideal reading experience is epic and uninterrupted. I don’t like reading in small daily installments; I like reading an entire book in one sitting. That’s if it’s a novel anyway, and if it’s any good. Deep nonfiction takes longer to absorb, and math books take years. I love the act of turning pages when I’m reading a novel; when I’m studying a math book I might need to spend several weeks on one paragraph.

Unfortunately this means I’m often wary of starting a new novel because I can be fairly sure it will wipe out the rest of my day (and night).

What’s your favorite book no one else has heard of?

“Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women,” by Susan Burton and Cari Lynn.

At least, nobody to whom I’ve mentioned it has heard of it so far. It’s a bracing memoir in the same vein as “Notes From a Young Black Chef,” about someone almost destroyed by the deep structural racism of our society, but who managed, eventually, to rise up to help others.

You’re a concert pianist as well as a mathematician. Who are your favorite musician-writers? Your favorite memoir by a musician?

I don’t read much about music, actually; I prefer just doing it, or learning by observation, that is, going to many many live performances (in the pre-pandemic world).

You’re the “scientist in residence” at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. How do you bridge science and art, and what’s your favorite book to discuss with your students?

Well I must admit: Mine! I wrote my first book, “How to Bake Pi,” as my dream of a liberal arts math course that I thought I would never have the chance to teach.

It’s easier to “bridge” science and art when you don’t really think there’s a gap between them in the first place, as I don’t. The boundaries between subjects are really artificial constructs by humans, like the boundaries between colors in a rainbow.

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

— Melina

Thank youTo Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about reopening schools. • Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Devoutly religious (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.• Jazmine Hughes, who helped launch our Mag Labs, is moving to a writing role on the Metro desk and the magazine.

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As Britain Climbs Out of an Economic Pit, Tough Questions Loom


LONDON — To understand why Britain has spiraled into the deepest recession of its modern history, go for a stroll in central London, no longer a ghost town but still a shadow of its once-bustling self.

Shuttered storefronts pock the shopping promenade on Oxford Street. Theaters in the West End are dark, office towers deserted. Below ground, the tube is a grim parade of signs warning passengers to wear face masks and keep their distance. With traffic at barely a quarter of last year’s levels, that is not hard.

Only restaurants, buoyed by a government stimulus program that subsidizes diners’ meals, are showing signs of life. But like the government’s widely praised furlough program that guaranteed 80 percent of the salaries of millions of workers, the “Eat Out to Help Out” promotion will soon wind down, and the government faces tough choices about whether to extend the support.

Unquestionably, Britain has been laid low by the coronavirus, easily the hardest hit of any European nation, both in public health and the economy.

“What we’re grappling with is something that is unprecedented, and we don’t have a playbook for how to deal with it,” the chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, told the BBC on Wednesday after the Office of National Statistics reported that the economy shrank by an unheard-of 20.4 percent in the second quarter.

That was the deepest quarterly decline of any major European country, and it prompted a fresh round of hand-wringing in Britain, which has also earned the unwelcome distinction of running up the highest death toll from the coronavirus in Europe, with more than 51,000 fatalities.

In part, Britain’s dire economic numbers reflect a quirk of timing: Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a lockdown a week later than most of his European neighbors and lifted the restrictions later as well. That means Britain sustained more damage in the second quarter than France, Italy or Germany, which began reopening during that period.

But Britain’s economic woes are also linked to its broader ordeal with the virus. Because its outbreak was so widespread, prolonged and deadly, economists said, the fear of contagion continues to be higher in Britain than elsewhere. Despite the government’s urging, people have yet to resume normal lives, particularly in cities like London, where working from home is an alternative for many.

Google, which uses cellphone signals to track foot traffic to offices, shops, restaurants and transit stations, shows that commercial activity in Britain has trailed Germany, France, Italy and Spain since mid-May, though the gap has begun to narrow.

“If you have a massive outbreak, people are going to respond by being cautious and it will take a while for confidence to return,” said John Springford, the deputy director of the Center for European Reform, a research institute. “It makes sense that London is going to be among the hardest hit places.”

For all its talk about reopening, Britain still has the strictest set of restrictions in place of any major European country, according to Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government, which tracks the stringency of government-imposed restrictions, from schools and workplace closings to travel bans.

It is even more locked down than Spain, which has recently seen a spike in infections that prompted the British government to impose a 14-day quarantine on people who traveled there and returned to Britain.

Like Spain, Britain is particularly vulnerable to a sudden decline in consumption because its economy is more dependent on services, including tourism and hospitality, than those of Germany or France. Economists said it was no accident that Spain’s second-quarter contraction, at 18.5 percent, was closest to that of Britain. The German economy, with its extensive industrial base, shrank by 10.1 percent while France’s fell 13.8 percent.

None of this eases the pressure on Mr. Johnson’s government, which has come under harsh scrutiny for its handling of the pandemic. Until now, its economic measures have insulated people from the sudden dislocation of losing their livelihoods.

But Mr. Sunak insisted the government will stop subsidizing wages altogether at the end of October. He has so far resisted fierce pressure from the opposition and other critics to soften his stand.

“A downturn was inevitable after lockdown, but Johnson’s jobs crisis wasn’t,” said Anneliese Dodds, the Labour Party’s shadow chancellor, who said the government must continue targeted support for vulnerable workers.

The Coronavirus Outbreak ›

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated August 12, 2020

Can I travel within the United States?Many states have travel restrictions, and lots of them are taking active measures to enforce those restrictions, like issuing fines or asking visitors to quarantine for 14 days. Here’s an ever-updating list of statewide restrictions. In general, travel does increase your chance of getting and spreading the virus, as you are bound to encounter more people than if you remained at your house in your own “pod.” “Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from Covid-19,” the C.D.C. says. If you do travel, though, take precautions. If you can, drive. If you have to fly, be careful about picking your airline. But know that airlines are taking real steps to keep planes clean and limit your risk.I have antibodies. Am I now immune?As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?What is school going to look like in September?It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.

Mr. Sunak contends the government cannot guarantee wages indefinitely because some jobs are never going to come back after the pandemic. Encouraging people to look for new jobs is vital to giving them a sustainable future.

Still, a huge spike in the unemployment rate will be hard for Mr. Johnson’s Conservative government to withstand, especially since it ran on a platform of bringing prosperity to Britain’s industrial north. The drumbeat of job losses is already underway: On Tuesday, the troubled department store chain, Debenhams, announced 2,500 job cuts on top of a previously announced 4,000.

Critics said it was unreasonable for the government to force people back into the job market when Britain’s test, trace and isolate system was not robust enough to give them confidence that they can move around safely. That is particularly true in parts of the country like Leicester and Greater Manchester that have suffered fresh outbreaks and have been put under local lockdowns.

“The government has taken a one-size-fits-all approach to ending the job retention program,” said James Smith, research director at the Resolution Foundation, a London research institute. “But the economic response has to be targeted to where the economy is hardest hit.”

Mr. Sunak has tried to do that with “Eat Out to Help Out,” a 500 million pound ($654 million) program to bolster the beleaguered restaurant industry by subsidizing the meals of customers by up to £10 ($13) per person. As of Aug. 9, the government said people had bought 10.5 million meals using the incentive.

At the German Gymnasium, a cavernous restaurant next to Kings Cross railroad station, the promotion drew a respectable crowd on Tuesday night — comparable, the general manager, Sam Bernard, said, to a weekend night. He said his only request would be for the government to extend it to Thursday night.

Like most restaurants, the German Gymnasium faces murky prospects. It depends on business from Google and Facebook, which have offices nearby. But both companies have told their employees they can work from home until at least next summer. And the government’s subsidy ends on Aug. 31.

“We can’t rely on government support forever,” Mr. Bernard said. “If it does stop, we will just have to fend for ourselves and think a bit outside the box.”

Anna Joyce contributed reporting.