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All Spikes Aren’t Equal

2020-07-28 10:46:14
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Much of the world is now coping with a coronavirus resurgence.

The number of new daily cases has risen more than 20 percent in both Europe and Canada over the past week. It’s up about 40 percent in Australia and Japan. Hong Kong reported 145 cases yesterday, its highest one-day count yet and the sixth straight day of more than 100 new cases.

All of these increases are worrisome reminders that crushing the virus is not a one-time event, at least not until a vaccine is available. It involves constant vigilance.

As countries take steps toward more normal functioning — reopening schools, workplaces and restaurants, for instance — they will often spark new outbreaks, which in turn will require more tests, quarantines and even limited lockdowns.

And yet all of these places are in a very different situation from the United States:

Even with the recent surges, the outbreaks elsewhere are much more contained and manageable than in the U.S. The U.S. has had about 15 times as many confirmed new cases, per capita, as Canada over the past week and 12 times as many as Hong Kong or Europe.

As a result, these other places still have the chance to keep their recent outbreaks from turning into something worse. Hong Kong has prohibited restaurant dining, limited public gatherings to two people and required mask-wearing in public at all times. Belgium is limiting people’s social contacts outside their family to the same five people over the next four weeks.

Much of the U.S. is responding less aggressively, even though its outbreak is more severe. Until that changes, many parts of the U.S. reopening — schools, pro sports and more — are likely to suffer setbacks, epidemiologists say.

In other virus developments:


President Trump’s disapproval rating in the FiveThirtyEight polling average has reached its highest level since early 2019: 55.8 percent. And his political struggles have some political analysts beginning to imagine what a post-Trump Republican Party might look like.

“With every bad poll and with every divisive tweet, the crisis in the Republican Party will become more acute and the conversations about its future more urgent,” writes Elaine Kamarck of the Brookings Institution.

Among the predictions:

  • The party will double down on Trump’s populist economics and cultural conservatism but sand off its inflammatory edges. Republicans like Nikki Haley, Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton seem to be angling for this path, The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein writes.

  • Part of this approach, Commentary’s Noah Rothman argues, would be rejecting the personality-driven style that has undermined Trump’s effectiveness: “Even Trump’s prospective successors have subtly but detectably sought to guide the conservative movement’s young activists away from the Trumpian affectation that now threatens to scuttle his presidency.”

  • The party will only pretend to change. After Trump, Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg Opinion argues, the party will return to the obstructionist approach it took during the Obama presidency.

One factor that will shape the outcome, writes Bret Stephens of The Times, is whether Trump loses narrowly or in a landslide — if he loses at all.


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Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. You can see today’s print front page here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about the battle over unemployment benefits. The new “Popcast” asks what “Folklore” portends for Taylor Swift’s musical evolution.

Correction: Yesterday’s newsletter mistakenly suggested that the W.N.B.A and Major League Baseball were the only two major U.S. sports to have resumed. Major League Soccer has, too.

Lalena Fisher, Ian Prasad Philbrick and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at [email protected].

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