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New York, Vaccines, Refugees: Your Monday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. New York and two neighboring states will reopen most businesses at full capacity on May 19.

Restaurants, offices, retail stores, theaters, museums, barber shops, amusement parks, and gyms and fitness centers will all be allowed to operate at full capacity in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut for the first time since restrictions were adopted last year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Above, customers exit Uniqlo in Midtown Manhattan.

Businesses in New York will still have to abide by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing guidelines unless they require proof of full vaccination or a negative coronavirus test result.

New York City will also return to 24-hour subway service on May 17.

2. The Food and Drug Administration is preparing to authorize a Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents 12 to 15 years old by early next week.

If the authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is granted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisory panel would most likely meet the next day to make recommendations for the vaccine’s use in adolescents. Above, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine being given at Miami-Dade College in Florida.

In other virus developments:


3. President Biden said he would allow as many as 62,500 refugees to enter the U.S. in the next six months.

The announcement was a reversal, coming about two weeks after Biden faced widespread Democratic condemnation for saying he would leave former President Donald Trump’s limit of 15,000 refugees in place. Above, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents escort migrants to be deported from El Paso in March.

The previous figure “did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees,” Biden said today in a statement.

He acknowledged that the government was unlikely to resettle 62,500 refugees because of budget and staffing cuts that agencies sustained during Trump’s administration.

In addition, the administration will begin admitting about 35 parents out of the thousands of migrants deported without their children under the Trump administration’s controversial family separation policy. The White House is still working on a long-term solution for the remaining separated children.


4. Widespread shortages of key materials are raising inflation fears.

For products as diverse as lumber and microchips, price increases are filtering through the U.S. economy as growing demand for housing, cars, electronics and other goods runs up against supply chain congestion and high tariffs.

The shortages are being watched closely by the Biden administration, which is under increasing pressure from industry groups and businesses to take steps to ease them. The global microchip shortage may reduce U.S. automakers’ output by as many as 1.3 million vehicles this year.

But the complex global supply chains involved in chip manufacturing in particular do not lend themselves to easy solutions, leaving Biden with little apparent power to mitigate the shortage in the near term.


5. The Biden administration takes a big step to curb climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency today moved to cut down on the use and production of hydrofluorocarbons, powerful greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air-conditioning, by 85 percent over the next 15 years.

The E.P.A.’s action is backed by both environmental groups and the business community, which jointly championed bipartisan legislation that Congress passed in December to tackle HFCs. They are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the planet.

The speed with which the E.P.A. moved forward with the proposed regulation underscores the urgency that the administration is placing on climate change, an industry official said.


6. Apple is on trial over how much control it can exert over the app economy.

A civil case brought by Epic Games, maker of the wildly popular game Fortnite, got underway today in federal court in California. It is the most direct challenge to Apple’s power in years.

Epic sued over the commissions of up to 30 percent that Apple charges software makers in its App Store. If Epic wins, it would upend the economics of the $100 billion app market and bode well for Epic’s upcoming trial against Google over the same issues with the Android app store.

An Epic victory would also invigorate the antitrust fight against Apple. Federal and state regulators are scrutinizing the App Store, and on Friday, the European Union charged Apple with violating antitrust laws over its app rules and fees.


7. Bill and Melinda Gates said they were divorcing.

The couple, two of the most influential philanthropists in the world, have together emerged as leading figures in the global fight against Covid-19, and their separation is likely to send shock waves through the worlds of philanthropy, public health and business.

The divorce will create questions about the fate of the Gates fortune, much of which has not yet been donated to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bill Gates, 65, is one of the richest people in the world, worth an estimated $124 billion, according to Forbes. Melinda Gates is 56.

8. An epidemic of nearsightedness is afflicting children.

The World Health Organization estimates that half the world’s population may be myopic by 2050. In East and Southeast Asia, up to 90 percent of high school children are now myopic. In the U.S., myopia increased from 25 percent in the early 1970s to nearly 42 percent three decades later.

Research suggests the growth is related to changes in children’s behavior, especially how little time they spend outdoors. The high intensity of outdoor light has an important influence on the shape of the eye, which in turn affects whether images are seen clearly.

And scientists say months of Covid-induced confinement may be hastening myopia among young children, who are potentially more sensitive to environmental triggers.


9. Celebrating women who choose to go childless.

In January, Zoë Noble, a British photographer who lives in Berlin, began “We Are Childfree” — an ongoing collection of photographs, stories and podcasts documenting the lives of women who eschew motherhood.

About four in 10 U.S. adults under 50 without children said they didn’t expect to become parents, according to a 2018 Pew Research survey. And research suggests that nonparents tend to be happier than parents.

But stereotypes about selfishness remain. Noble, who has 200 applicants waiting to be interviewed, hopes that her project will help upend old beliefs by telling the stories of women who are happily not moms.


10. And finally, what happens when a 19-year-old accidentally moves into senior-citizen housing?

When Madison Kohout’s new landlord in Piggott, Ark., said her neighbors wouldn’t be bothered by noise, the teenager didn’t realize it was because it’s a retirement community. Above, Madison Kohout at home.

But the newest — and youngest — kid on the block has decided to stay. Neighbors check up on her, invite her to dinner and leave snacks at her door, and she has gained a following of her adventure on TikTok.

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