Your Tuesday Briefing: Almost 800,000 U.S. Covid Deaths

We’re covering the U.S. approaching 800,000 Covid-19 deaths and Jimmy Lai’s sentencing in Hong Kong.

A memorial honoring Los Angeles residents who died from Covid.Credit…Mario Tama/Getty Images

America approaches 800,000 deaths

As the pandemic nears the end of a second year, the U.S. stands on the cusp of surpassing 800,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

No group has suffered more than older Americans. Seventy-five percent of those who have died in the U.S. are 65 or older. Covid-19 has killed one in 100 Americans in that age group. For people younger than 65, that ratio is closer to 1 in 1,400.

The heightened risk for older people has dominated life for many, partly as friends and family try to protect them. “You get kind of forgotten,’’ said Pat Hayashi, 65, of San Francisco. “In the pandemic, the isolation and the loneliness got worse. We lost our freedom and we lost our services.”

Many have watched others in their communities go back to life as normal, and companies have pushed to get people back into the workplace. “There’s all these ways — subtle, overt, direct, indirect — that we are not taking the needs of older people in this pandemic into account,” said Louise Aronson, a geriatrician and the author of “Elderhood.”

Current data: Vaccines are widely available in the U.S., and older Americans have been inoculated at a much higher rate than young people: 87 percent of those 65 and older have been fully vaccinated. But in the past two months, the proportion of older people dying of Covid has increased. More than 1,200 people in the U.S. are dying from the virus each day, most of them 65 or older.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Bucheon, South Korea, is testing facial recognition as a way to track people infected with the coronavirus.

  • South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday, as new cases continue to rise in the country.

  • Covid anxiety and depression are taking hold across the world.

  • New York now requires masks at all indoor public spaces that do not require proof of full vaccination.

  • More than 50 million total coronavirus cases have been found in the U.S.

Jimmy Lai had already received 20 months; he will serve his new term concurrently.Credit…Kin Cheung/Associated Press

Jimmy Lai sentenced to prison

A Hong Kong court on Monday sentenced the former media mogul Jimmy Lai and seven other prominent pro-democracy activists to prison for their roles last year in trying to commemorate the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

The sentences ranged from four months to 14 months. In statements read in court before the sentencing, Lai and his co-defendants made clear that they felt no regret for defying the government’s ban.

Chow Hang-tung, one of the defendants, delivered an impassioned statement condemning the government for using public health reasons to justify what she called an explicitly political prosecution. “Let us not delude ourselves that this is all about Covid-19,” she said.

Background: Activists gathered on June 4 last year before an annual vigil to honor the victims of Beijing’s 1989 suppression of protesters in Tiananmen Square. The government had banned the gathering, which has taken place for three decades, citing coronavirus concerns.

What’s next: Lai and other defendants separately face charges under the national security law, which can bring sentences up to life imprisonment.

Israel’s prime minister, Naftali Bennett, left, greeted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi on Monday.Credit…Haim Zach/Israeli Government, via Reuters

A big meeting between the U.A.E. and Israel

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed met for four hours — two hours longer than planned — in the first official visit to the U.A.E. by an Israeli leader, the latest sign of deepening ties between Israel and parts of the Arab world.

“I’m flying back to Israel, very optimistic that this relationship can set an example of how we can make peace here in the Middle East,” Bennett said in a video released shortly before his departure to Israel.

The pair did not discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to an Israeli official who declined to comment on what regional geopolitical issues were mentioned.

Reporters were barred from the meeting, but photographs showed the leaders chatting informally and laughing. The leaders pledged to establish a joint Emirati-Israeli research and development fund, as well as a business council, according to a joint statement.

Main concerns: Iran remains a major threat to Emirati security, and the Emiratis share Israel’s fear that Iran will attain a nuclear bomb. But their country is a major trading partner with Iran and it favors a less confrontational approach than Israel. The pair’s statement said they had also discussed trade, the economy, the climate and food security.


Asia Pacific

A street vendor prepares an egg dish for a customer in Ahmedabad, India.Credit…Rebecca Conway for The New York Times
  • India is cracking down on food-cart operators that sell or display fish, meat and even eggs, which are prohibited by some stricter interpretations of Hindu dietary rules.

  • Didi, a Chinese ride-hailing giant, is moving its stock listing from Wall Street to Hong Kong as Beijing pressures the country’s corporate sector.

  • South Korea plans to build a test version of a small nuclear reactor, raising questions of whether it is seeking a nuclear submarine despite a treaty with the U.S. that prohibits them.

  • SenseTime, a Chinese artificial intelligence company, postponed its $770 million initial public offering after its work for the government landed it on a U.S. blacklist.

Around the World

Representatives of the Group of 7 nations met in Liverpool, England, on Monday.Credit…Pool photo by Olivier Douliery
  • Top diplomats for the Group of 7 warned Russia of “massive consequences” and “severe costs” should it invade Ukraine or continue military aggressions near its border.

  • Inger Stojberg, a former immigration minister in Denmark, was sentenced to two months in prison after she was found guilty of illegally ordering the separation of underage couples seeking asylum.

  • Workers in Europe are demanding higher pay as inflation soars.

  • Polywork, R.T.O., Zoombie: Here’s how the pandemic has changed corporate jargon.

A Morning Read

Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian president, speaking to supporters during the country’s Independence Day celebrations in São Paulo in September.Credit…Victor Moriyama for The New York Times

A global rise in prices is changing the political terrain for the right-wing populists leading countries like Turkey, Brazil and Hungary, who have enjoyed wide support for years. The cost of living and low wages are becoming top concerns for voters.


David J. Chalmers.Credit…Mamadi Doumbouya for The New York Times

Have a nice virtual life

Given both the technical progress being made and the business push behind it, we’re far more likely than our predecessors were to actually embrace the prospect of life in a virtual world, according to David J. Chalmers, a philosopher at New York University. It needn’t be rooted in visions of dystopia, he told The Times in an interview about his forthcoming book, “Reality+.”

“My analogy would be more like we’re moving to a new, uninhabited country and setting up a society,” Chalmers said.

Besides, he added, the recent evolution of virtual reality means we should be taking more seriously the age-old philosophical debate that we already live in a simulation — which could be neat.

“Discovering that we’re in a simulation would then also tell us that there’s potentially a reality beyond the reality that we experience, which is the reality of the simulating world,” Chalmers said, “and who knows what’s going on there?”

In the more immediate future, Facebook is trying to stake out the metaverse for itself. The writer who coined the term, Neal Stephenson, told Kara Swisher that we should unionize to prevent virtual worlds from becoming dystopias.


What to Cook

Credit…Christopher Testani for The New York Times

This shrimp and bean stew requires minimal prep and cooks quickly.

What to Read

The best poetry of the year, according to our columnist.

What to Watch

Silent films made by an American ornithologist in the early years of Irish independence offer a rare glimpse of 1920s Ireland.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Fret (five letters).

And here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Melina

P.S. A hidden haiku from a story about a Ukrainian soldier who worries for his children: “They give him strength, but / he fears what would happen if / he didn’t come back.”

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the quiet death of the Steele dossier.

You can reach Melina and the team at [email protected].

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