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Different responses to viruses

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As the coronavirus has increased again in recent weeks, much of the United States has chosen to keep restaurants open and schools closed. Much of Europe has done the opposite.

The European approach seems to work better.

Look at this graph, which shows the number of new virus cases daily in five countries, adjusted for population size:

As you can see, the United States and Europe have faced serious outbreaks, with the number of cases increasing even faster in much of Europe than in the United States for much of this. autumn. But in the past two weeks, France, Germany, Spain and Britain have managed to reduce their growth rates.

What is Europe doing differently? It is cracking down on the type of indoor gatherings that most often spread the virus. England closed pubs, restaurants, gyms and more on November 5 and announced they would remain closed until at least December 2. France, German regional governments and the region of Catalonia in Spain have also closed restaurants, among other businesses.

“I’m sure the Europeans didn’t want to restrict their activities any more than we did,” Janet Baseman, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, told me over the weekend. “Everyone is tired and ready for this to end, but we have to come to terms with the reality of the data we have.”

Many Americans have refused to accept this reality. In much of the country, restaurants remain open for indoor dining. Last week, New York state announced a new policy that public health experts see as a strange middle ground: Licensed businesses can stay open until 10 p.m.

The only indoor activity that appears to present the least risk is school, especially elementary school. Why? Young children seem to spread the virus less often than adults. “Research has shown that if you put social distancing protocols in place, school is actually a pretty safe environment,” said Andreas Schleicher, who studies schools for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. , at NPR.

Closing schools and switching entirely to distance learning, on the other hand, has significant social costs. Children learn less and many parents, mostly mothers, have dropped out of the workforce. The United States suffers from these two problems and of a raging pandemic.

There are no easy answers, of course. The closure of restaurants and other businesses creates economic hardship (which some European countries are trying to alleviate with government assistance).

And the virus is now spreading so quickly in the United States that keeping schools open poses risks, including the possibility of teachers, janitors and other workers infecting each other. To keep schools safe and secure, the United States would likely have to shut down other public places first. Only a few states – including Michigan, Oregon, New Mexico, and Washington – have recently closed their indoor restaurants.

“The number of cases and hospitalizations in the United States that we are seeing right now is appalling,” Baseman said.

But if there aren’t perfect solutions to the pandemic, there are better and worse ones. Right now the United States appears to be far from what is possible.

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Ever since Netflix’s “The Crown” began airing in 2016, fans have been excitedly anticipating the character of Princess Diana. This weekend, she arrived, in the first episode of the show’s fourth season.

It covers Diana from 16 to 28, from the late 1970s. Emma Corrin, in her first leading role, plays the part. Sarah Lyall, a former London correspondent for The Times, writes that Corrin nails “the princess’s flirtatious signature gesture – head tilted to the side, eyes peering flirtatiously upward through her bangs.

The portrait is based on interviews, media accounts, and a revealing 1992 biography by Andrew Morton. Diana edited the manuscript in her own handwriting and personally approved each page, Morton said.

A new challenge for this show: a large part of its audience will have experienced the events it portrays, such as Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles and Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as Prime Minister. Can the show still look like the escape from the first three seasons? “As always, they took a lot of cinematic liberties,” Sarah writes. “Britain’s ‘crown’ watchers are already debating what is correct and what has been changed for dramatic purposes.

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A new building at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston displays works by Latin American and Latin American artists rarely exhibited in the United States (In Opinion, Former Republican congressman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Barack Obama’s former home secretary Ken Salazar argue the country should establish a museum honoring Latin American history and culture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. DC)