What You Need to Know Today: Coronavirus, China, Face Masks

President Trump issued nonbinding guidelines on Thursday that recommend a patchwork reopening of the country, backing down from an earlier assertion that he would decide how and when to end widespread lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic.

“You’re going to be calling the shots,” he told the nation’s governors on a conference call. “We’ll be standing right alongside of you, and we’re going to get our country open and get it working.”

The guidelines urge states not to lift restrictions until they reach a 14-day period in which case numbers fall steadily and hospitals are not overwhelmed. But the guidance doesn’t envision the comprehensive testing that public health experts have sought and left difficult questions unanswered, including on travel between states.

Here are the latest updates from the U.S. and around the world, as well as maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

New podcast: What is the internet doing to us? Our latest audio series, “Rabbit Hole,” explores what happens as our lives move online. Listen to the first episode here.

Infectious disease experts are unsure just how deadly the coronavirus will be, after projecting earlier this year that around 1 percent of infected people would die, a rate 10 times that of a typical flu.

Read: A look at the history and culture of crossword puzzles is among 12 new books we recommend. Want a good barometer of what people are reading at home? Look no further than our best-seller lists.

Dream: It’s nice to drift through the idea of living in this restored rowhouse in Malaysia, if you could get there (and had $1.8 million to spend). It’s nice to go to galleries as well, if only virtually, to look at art from Feliciano Centurión and Jennifer Bolande. (You could make yourself into art afterward, maybe?)

We have more ideas about what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

This week, our video team took you inside Tripoli, Libya, where residents already facing the horrors of a war zone are grappling with the pandemic. Shelling has prompted more people to flee to the city center, and fresh attacks in residential areas mean they must choose between fleeing further, and risking exposure to the virus, or staying put, and risking bombardment.

Melina Delkic, on the Briefings team, spoke with one of the people interviewed in the video, Montaha Nattah, a 21-year-old student. Here’s their text exchange lightly edited for space.

What’s your typical day like?

Most of my day is spent writing papers, preparing projects, attending classes and studying for exams. Studying during quarantine is quite difficult — you barely have the energy to get tasks done — but studying while living in a war zone and being quarantined is an outrageous combination I would never want anyone to experience.

Libyans are used to leaving their houses whenever there is intense shelling nearby. Unfortunately, during the era of Covid-19, that is not the case.

How long have you lived in Tripoli?

My whole life until 2018, when I got to study at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. I visited Libya every summer and winter break, but during these extraordinary times and despite the ongoing conflict, I decided to go back home because I believe that home is a feeling, not only a place.

If this pandemic is going to be the end of the world, then I’d rather die in my hometown next to my family.

What are you seeing and hearing around you right now?

Living in Tripoli nowadays means hearing drones flying above your head most of the time. It means hearing projectiles falling around you. It means seeing and smelling smoke and polluted air when you open your window because of the places that get bombed.

And finally, it means putting your earphones on whenever there is intensive shelling, so you can forget about the reality a little.

That’s it for this briefing.

As we end another week, I wanted to thank all the readers who’ve written recently, particularly those who’ve asked how we at The Times are doing. It means a lot to us.

See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode includes an interview with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, whose district has been hit hard by the coronavirus.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Container of peanut butter or jelly (three letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Apoorva Mandavilli, the founding editor in chief of Spectrum, an award-winning news site on autism science, is joining The Times as a health and science writer.

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