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Jobless Aid, Data Overload, Baseball: Your Monday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. The Senate unveiled a stimulus package that would cut a jobless benefit supplement to $200 from $600.

The Republicans’ $1 trillion proposal, introduced after a struggle to iron out policy differences with the administration and one another, contrasts with a $3 trillion House plan passed by Democrats that would extend the $600 weekly payments, which expire on Friday, through the end of the year. Above, helping the unemployed in Tulsa, Okla.

A critical segment of the Republican Party is unwilling to pour another $1 trillion into the economy, and many say the job aid is a disincentive to returning to work because it exceeds regular wages for some workers.

The policy gulf between the two parties has widened in recent days to the point where top White House officials have begun to float the prospect of a narrow bill to address the unemployment benefits, liability protections and school funding.

In other virus developments:

  • President Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, tested positive for the coronavirus, making him the most senior White House official known to have contracted it. Officials said there was “no risk of exposure to the president or the vice president.”

  • Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky said the state’s bars would have to close again to slow the spread, about a month after they had reopened. He also cut restaurant capacity limits and recommended that schools wait until the third week of August to resume in-person classes.

  • And Oklahoma broke another state record for single-day cases today, with 1,244.

2. Americans now have access to a huge set of virus data. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

On the Illinois Department of Public Health website, for instance, you can learn how many hospital beds exist statewide, how many ventilators are available in Peoria and how many intensive-care unit beds are free in Champaign. Above, a test site in Chicago.

But the experts are looking at the daily case count, the positivity rate, hospitalization data and the number of confirmed and probable deaths from the virus.

There’s reason for caution about the mass of statistics. “For some people, it’s helped them understand what is happening,” said one health professional and scholar. “For other people, it’s been misinterpreted and not very helpful.”


3. The baseball season was rocked by the virus in its opening days.

The Miami Marlins won’t play their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles today after learning that 14 members of the team — 12 players and two coaches — tested positive for the virus.

The Phillies’ home game against the Yankees today was also called off following the Marlins’ three weekend games in Philadelphia, where the Miami team remains. Above, the Marlins celebrating victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.

Major League Baseball is trying to stage a 60-game regular season, but the current situation was always a possibility.

“If we have a team or two that’s really decimated with a number of people who had the virus and can’t play for any significant period of time,” Rob Manfred, the M.L.B. commissioner, said on July 2, “it could have a real impact on the competition. And we’d have to think very, very hard about what we’re doing.”


4. Dr. Sapan Desai cast himself as an ambitious physician, entrepreneur and researcher.

He got a college degree in one year and an M.B.A. in three months and started his own medical-data business. And then two of his coronavirus studies disrupted multiple clinical trials with their unexpected conclusions.

His accomplishments came under scrutiny after renowned medical journals retracted the two coronavirus studies in June.

More than a dozen doctors who worked with him said in recent interviews that they had often found him to be an unreliable physician who seemed less interested in patient care than in his medical journal and company.

Dr. Desai, pictured above, who declined to be interviewed, has defended his company’s data.


5. Hong Kong reported its highest single-day count since the pandemic began.

A total of 145 cases was reported today, the territory’s sixth straight day of more than 100 new infections. In response, Hong Kong will prohibit dining in restaurants, limit public gatherings to two people and require mask-wearing in public at all times. Above pedestrians wearing masks in Hong Kong today.

  • North Korea is blaming a defector from the South for bringing the coronavirus with him. South Korea confirmed that a 24-year-old man who defected to the South in 2017 swam back across the border in July. Pyongyang said the man could be the country’s first virus case.

  • Belgium reinstated strict social-distancing rules to avoid another lockdown. The prime minister ordered Belgians not to socialize with more than five people at a time and restricted all shopping visits to 30 minutes.

  • In France, the pandemic’s economic crisis, combined with the Trump administration’s 25 percent tax on French wines, has collapsed the wine market. Since the wine vats must be emptied for the 2020 harvest in a month, some of that unused wine is going to distillers for conversion into alcohol for hand sanitizer.


6. John Lewis is the first Black lawmaker to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

But because of the pandemic, the honor was short-lived. After a few hours under the dome, his coffin was being moved outside to the Capitol steps so the public could pay respects — with masks required and social distancing enforced — from tonight through Tuesday. Above, the flag-draped coffin today.

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, paid his respects and Vice President Mike Pence was also expected at the Rotunda. President Trump is not scheduled to attend.

Mr. Lewis, a 17-term congressman from Georgia and the senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, died July 17 after battling pancreatic cancer.


7. Joe Biden had set a rough deadline of Saturday for announcing his vice-presidential candidate. Don’t hold your breath.

With the latest polls in the presidential race so favorable for Mr. Biden, there is no particular sense of impatience within his campaign or the Democratic Party at large.

Still, many voters are eager to know. We identified 13 women under consideration by Mr. Biden, and looked at why each might be chosen, or not. And we begin our profiles of the candidates with an in-depth article on Susan Rice, the former national security adviser.


8. Virus cuts a cash lifeline for the families of migrants.

For years, Flavius Tudor, above, sent money he made in England to his mother in Romania. Now, he’s not working, and his 82-year-old mother had to send him money so he could pay his bills.

Around the globe, the pandemic has jeopardized a vital artery of finance supporting hundreds of millions of families — so-called remittances sent back home from wealthy countries by migrant workers.

Last year, they sent a record $554 billion. That is likely to plunge by one-fifth this year, making it the most severe contraction in history and increasing the odds that the pandemic will produce the first global increase in poverty since 1998.


9. Hotels want Americans to make this the summer of the road trip.

Most business travel and nearly all group bookings remain on hold, and many travelers are reluctant to take unnecessary plane trips.

So hotel marketing campaigns are leaning into nostalgia, invoking family car rides to a beach, the mountains or a national park. Above, a drive-in movie night at an Arizona hotel.

“It’s not going to be very hard to convince people to drive because they just want to get away,” a lodging consultant said. But watch out for state travel restrictions.

10. And finally, can trees live forever?

Scientific experts agree that the question is almost impossible to answer. But they are happy to argue about it.

A study in January maintained that many of the world’s long-lived trees — above, an 800-year-old Douglas fir in Canada — show no signs of old age, leading some people to conclude that they are immortal.

In response, a paper published today in the journal Trends in Plant Science argues that even the most venerable trees have limits. “There is no immortality,” the author said.

Have a limitless evening.


Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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