The European Union agrees to a groundbreaking stimulus package to fight the pandemic recession.
European Union leaders early on Tuesday stepped up to confront one of the gravest challenges in the bloc’s history, agreeing to a landmark spending package to rescue their economies from the ravages of the pandemic.
The 750 billion euro ($857 billion) stimulus agreement, spearheaded by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France, sent a strong signal of solidarity even as it exposed deep new fault lines in a bloc reshaped by Britain’s exit.
The deal was notable for its firsts: Countries will raise large sums by selling bonds collectively, rather than individually; and much of that money will be handed out to member nations hit hardest by the pandemic as grants, not loans.
“Europe has shown it is able to break new ground in a special situation. Exceptional situations require exceptional measures,” Ms. Merkel said in a news conference at dawn. “A very special construct of 27 countries of different backgrounds is actually able to act together, and it has proven it.”
The talks were defined by shifting roles among members now jostling to make their voices heard and for leadership in the absence of Britain, which had often played the part of the thrifty contrarian, fastidious about rules, in past summits.
This time, Ms. Merkel, who holds the E.U.’s rotating presidency, put her finger on the scale on behalf of hard-hit southern countries and did battle with the nations she once championed, the northern members that have been less affected by the virus and are wary of the vast sums being thrown around.
Economists predict a recession in Europe far worse than anything since World War II. France, Italy and Spain, the bloc’s second-, third- and fourth-largest economies, are expected to suffer the most, clocking in contractions of around 10 percent this year.
Greece and other smaller economies that are still recovering from the last recession will also be badly affected by the downturn.
The package now goes to the European Parliament for ratification, where it is expected to face a serious challenge on the grounds that it does not tackle concerns about how Poland and Hungary’s governments violate the bloc’s standards for democracy and the rule of law.
Chinese officials are hailing a visit by a team of experts sent to Beijing by the World Health Organization to investigate the source of the coronavirus as evidence that the country is a responsible and transparent global power. But the investigation by the W.H.O. is likely to take many months and could face delays.
For starters, there are logistical headaches. China has placed the advance team of experts who are laying the groundwork for a broader investigation under a standard 14-day quarantine, forcing them to do some of their detective work from a distance.
“Obviously the arrival and quarantine of individuals and working remotely is not the ideal way to work, but we fully respect the risk-management procedures put in place,” Mike Ryan, the W.H.O.’s chief of emergency response, said at a news conference on Friday. He said it would take weeks before a full team would be able to visit China.
The W.H.O.’s investigation comes as China faces intense global backlash, including from the United States, for initially downplaying and failing to contain the virus, which emerged in December in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
For weeks, China had fiercely resisted demands from other nations that it allow independent investigators onto its soil to study the origin of the pathogen. Beijing has also tried to deflect blame by suggesting, without evidence, that the virus could have originated elsewhere.
Now, officials are trumpeting Beijing’s response to the outbreak as a model for the world and attacking the United States for “shirking its responsibilities” in the global fight against Covid-19.
The Trump administration, which has repeatedly attempted to distract from its own response to the pandemic, has criticized the W.H.O.’s inquiry. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently said that he expected it to be a “completely whitewashed investigation.”
Joseph R. Biden Jr. will announce a sweeping new $775 billion investment in caregiving programs on Tuesday, with a series of proposals covering care for small children, older adults and family members with disabilities.
The speech, near his home in Wilmington, Del., will be the third of four economic rollouts that Mr. Biden, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee, is doing before the Democratic National Convention next month. He is seeking to blunt one of the few areas of advantage — the economy — that President Trump maintains even as Mr. Trump’s overall standing has dipped.
Mr. Biden’s plans are intended to appeal to voters who are now more acutely aware of how essential caregivers are, as a health crisis has shuttered schools — a source of child care for many Americans — and limited the options to care for older relatives who are more vulnerable to the coronavirus.
But they are also aimed at the caregivers themselves, promising more jobs and higher pay. His campaign estimated that the new spending would create three million new jobs in the next decade, and even more after accounting for people able to enter the work force instead of serving as unpaid, at-home caregivers.
In a conference call outlining the plan on Monday night, the Biden campaign framed the issues as an economic imperative to keep the country competitive globally, and to enable it to recover from the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic. The United States is the only rich country without paid family leave and has no universal child care; research has shown that labor force participation has stalled because of that.
In other news from around the United States:
Hidalgo County, Texas, where new cases have been on the rise, issued a shelter-at-home order and a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew to help stem the spread of the virus. The order goes into effect on Wednesday.
President Trump is set to resume his live virus briefings starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, attributing his decision not to the increasing threat of the pandemic but to the fact that the briefings had high television ratings.
The beverage giant Coca-Cola reported a big drop in revenue and profit in the second quarter as many consumers remained at home during the pandemic.
The virus threatens the luster of superstar cities.
Eduardo Porter, an economics reporter for The Times, writes about how the pandemic could drive a shift away from the density of America’s urban areas:
Cities are remarkably resilient. They have risen from the ashes after being carpet-bombed and hit with nuclear weapons. “If you think about pandemics in the past,” noted the Princeton economist Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, “they didn’t destroy cities.”
That’s because cities are valuable. The New York metropolitan area generates more economic output than Australia or Spain. The San Francisco region produced nearly one of five patents registered in the United States in 2015. Altogether, 10 cities, home to under a quarter of the country’s population, account for almost half of its patents and a third of its economic production.
So even as the Covid-19 death toll rises in the nation’s most dense urban cores, economists still mostly expect them to bounce back, once there is a vaccine, a treatment or a successful strategy to contain the virus’s spread. “I end up being optimistic,” said the Harvard economist Edward Glaeser. “Because the downside of a nonurban world is so terrible that we are going to spend whatever it takes to prevent that.”
And yet there is a lingering sense that this time might be different.
The pandemic threatens the assets that make America’s most successful cities so dynamic — not only their bars, museums and theaters, but also their dense networks of innovative businesses and highly skilled workers, jumping among employers, bumping into one another, sharing ideas, powering innovation and lifting productivity.
As a hospital in Queens was overflowing with coronavirus patients during the early days of the outbreak, a temporary hospital four miles away — with hundreds of beds and scores of medical professionals available to treat patients — remained mostly empty.
And in the entire month that the facility, which was built at the U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, remained open, it treated just three patients from the Queens Hospital Center emergency department, records show. Overall, the field hospital cost more than $52 million and served only 79 patients.
The Queens Hospital Center emergency department has a capacity of 60, but on its worst night of the pandemic, more than 180 patients lay on stretchers in the observation bays and hallways. Alarms rang incessantly as exhausted doctors rushed from crisis to crisis.
The pandemic has presented unique challenges for officials grappling with a fast-moving and largely unpredictable foe. But the story of the Billie Jean King facility illustrates the missteps made at every level of government in the race to create more hospital capacity in New York. It is a cautionary tale for other states now facing surges in cases and for New Yorkers bracing for a possible second wave.
Doctors at the Queens Hospital Center, a public hospital in Jamaica, and at other medical centers wanted to transfer patients to Billie Jean King. But they were blocked by bureaucracy, turf battles and communication failures, according to internal documents and interviews with workers.
As the coronavirus spread in March, the federal government, state leaders, city officials and hospital executives all began creating their own temporary medical facilities, at times competing against each other. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office oversaw most transfers to the centers, but city officials say the state did not closely coordinate with other players.
The federal government’s biggest contribution, the Navy hospital ship U.S.N.S. Comfort, arrived in New York with great fanfare but initially did not accept coronavirus patients at all, prompting one hospital executive to call it “a joke.”
Nearly 900,000 public workers in Britain, including teachers, doctors and security forces, will receive raises in recognition of the “vital contribution” they have made during the coronavirus pandemic, Britain’s finance ministry announced Tuesday.
Salaries for teachers in England will increase 3.1 percent, and dentists across Britain will get raises of 2.8 percent. The salaries of police and military forces, along with members of the judiciary and other civil servants, will also increase from 2 to 2.5 percent. But nurses and other National Health Service staff won’t be included in the deal, because they negotiated a three-year pay increase in 2018.
“These past months have underlined what we always knew — that our public sector workers make a vital contribution to our country and that we can rely on them when we need them,” Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the Exchequer, said in a statement.
While the announcement was welcomed as deserved news for thousands of workers who have battled the pandemic, including many in the revered National Health Service, opposition politicians said the raises wouldn’t make up for a decade of austerity during which a Conservative government froze salaries or granted small increases.
“Many other public sector workers — including those working on the front line in social care — won’t get a pay rise out of this,” said Anneliese Dodds, the opposition Labour Party’s economic minister, because they are paid by local governments that haven’t seen their budgets increase.
At least 300 health workers and caregivers had died of the coronavirus as of late May, according to numbers provided by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Britain has been one of the worst-hit countries in the world, with over 45,300 confirmed deaths and 295,000 cases.
Here are other developments from around the world:
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines said the police would arrest people for not wearing masks in public. “We have to ask our police to be more strict,” he said. “Catch them. A little shame or put them on notice forever.”
Air passengers to China must provide a negative coronavirus test result before boarding the flight, the aviation authority said. The test must be completed within five days of the trip.
A new public service announcement makes a point that federal leaders in the United States have largely overlooked: Asian-Americans are facing a surge of harassment linked to fears about the pandemic.
The spot, which debuted last Tuesday, includes testimonials from a firefighter, a nurse, a driver, an artist, the celebrity chef Melissa King and others, who describe being told to “go back to China” or having people spit in their direction.
The somber ad, produced by the nonprofit Advertising Council with help from the Emmy-winning writer Alan Yang, ends with a request: “Fight the virus. Fight the bias.”
Anxiety about the virus, which was first detected in Wuhan, China, has fueled xenophobia and bigotry toward people of Asian descent. A coalition of civil rights groups recorded more than 2,100 incidents in 15 weeks; the New York City Commission on Human Rights recently described a “sharp increase in instances of hostility and harassment.”
President Trump has repeatedly described the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” and, in recent weeks, as “kung flu,” despite saying publicly that it is “very important that we totally protect our Asian-American community in the United States” and that the pandemic is “not their fault in any way.”
The fight against pandemic-related harassment of Asian-Americans has largely fallen to civil rights groups, marketing agencies, social media accounts and nonprofit organizations.
In a Pew Research Center survey, 58 percent of English-speaking Asian-American adults said expressions of racist or insensitive views about Asians had become more common since the pandemic began. More than 30 percent said they had encountered slurs or racist jokes in recent months, and 26 percent said they feared being threatened or physically attacked because of their race — a higher percentage than for Black, white and Hispanic adults.
Now is still a good time for your home improvement project.
Contractors may be allowed back in your home as lockdowns lift, but it’s also a good time to tackle that new bathroom light installation, paint job or other project yourself. Here are some tips to help you get the job done right, and what to know if you call a professional.
Reporting was contributed by Julie Creswell, Shane Goldmacher, Javier C. Hernández, Tiffany Hsu, Robin Lloyd, Claire Cain Miller, Elian Peltier, Eduardo Porter, Amy Qin, Brian M. Rosenthal, Kaly Soto, Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Eileen Sullivan.