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Coronavirus, Congress, N.F.L. Draft: Your Friday Briefing – THE SVG ONLINE

Coronavirus, Congress, N.F.L. Draft: Your Friday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering the latest federal aid package in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the first round of the N.F.L. draft. It’s also Friday, so there’s a new news quiz.

ImageOutside an unemployment office in Fayetteville, Ark., this month. About 4.4 million people filed for jobless benefits last week, the Labor Department reported.
Credit…September Dawn Bottoms for The New York Times

Across America, states have scrambled to handle a flood of applications for unemployment benefits as more and more people line up for help during the coronavirus pandemic. In the past five weeks, more than 26 million people in the U.S. have filed new jobless claims.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, said this week that states, which shared $150 billion from previous pandemic aid, should consider filing for bankruptcy. But there is bipartisan agreement that Congress will need to help more, our chief Washington correspondent writes.

The pandemic has cost lives and livelihoods, and has also shaken fundamental assumptions about American exceptionalism, the singular role that the U.S. played for decades after World War II as an example to the world.

Our Berlin bureau chief, Katrin Bennhold, writes that for Europeans, the crisis has exposed two big weaknesses of the U.S.: an erratic president who often does not follow scientific guidance, and the absence of a robust public health care system and social safety net.

The coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic just over a month ago, and many people are nostalgic for life before the virus. The Times asked readers to send photos and videos that captured those moments, and we received hundreds of submissions from around the world.

Related: The coronavirus has been especially punishing for older people. Yet many New Yorkers in this age group are thriving, not fearful about their career prospects and emotionally more experienced at managing disruption to everyday life. They shared their stories.

Another angle: Hospitals in the New York area have been playing motivational songs to celebrate the release of patients treated for the virus. Among the favorites: the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Above, Gabrielle Hamilton at her bistro, Prune, in the East Village in Manhattan. With daily sales dwindling and a lockdown looming, she closed the restaurant in mid-March.

It’s not clear which businesses will survive the pandemic, but the restaurant industry’s fragility has long been troubling. (Don’t ask her about brunch.)

In an essay for The Times Magazine, she writes: “I, like hundreds of other chefs across the city and thousands around the country, are now staring down the question of what our restaurants, our careers, our lives, might look like if we can even get them back.”

Aid offer to Greenland: The U.S. has agreed to provide the island, a semiautonomous Danish territory, with $12.1 million in economic support. The offer has received a divided reaction in Denmark, after President Trump expressed interest in buying Greenland last year.

News quiz: Did you follow the headlines this week? Test yourself.

Modern Love: In this week’s column, a woman who just went through a breakup goes from being romantic partners to just pandemic partners.

Late-night comedy: After the official who spearheaded the federal government’s effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine was dismissed, President Trump denied knowing him. Trevor Noah said, “Trump has never heard of the guy in charge of finding a vaccine. And you know what? To be honest, part of me is not surprised.”

What we’re reading: Slate’s collection of voices of people who survived Ebola, SARS and even the 1918 flu. “These remarkable reflections on past pandemics help us begin to see what it will be like to come out the other side of this one,” writes Elizabeth Dias, our national religion correspondent.

Cook: Namoura, a cake made from semolina flour, is soaked in syrup while it’s still warm. Perfect for iftar dinners during Ramadan.

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

The National Football League’s games start in August, so it has mostly dodged pandemic disruption so far. But its most spectacular off-season event began on Thursday: the N.F.L. draft, when players learn whether they’ll get million-dollar contracts.

Ken Belson, who has covered the N.F.L. for The Times since 2013, chatted about the draft with our Times Insider colleague Terence McGinley. Here are edited excerpts.

Does it surprise you that the N.F.L. has proceeded with its off-season?

There were a handful of people who were calling on the N.F.L. to shut down in sympathy with the other leagues. There were teams that were nervous about the perception of newly minted millionaires at a time when people were hurting and unemployment was rising.

Now, two teams told me how surprised they were at the positive reaction to N.F.L. free agency and the fact that they believe the fans have come to grips with that.

In this economy, with no new sports happening, the draft is going to be a ratings spectacle because there is little else to watch. And I think they believe it will be good for the country to have fresh content on TV.

There are 32 new millionaires — it’s like a sports lottery. It’s a happy sports story when there’s a short supply of them.

The development in recent years of off-season programming seems fortuitously positioned for this moment, right?

It’s been deliberate, and they have been strategic. The draft has been perhaps the most obvious. They started moving it around the country. With each place they’ve moved, it’s gotten more sponsors.

In a normal year, the draft speculation starts the minute the Super Bowl is over. It fills hours and hours of TV time when there are no games. How good does that get? If you are in the business of providing content, you don’t have to put on a game and it will still fill hours of talk radio and TV.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
To Tejal Rao 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 is about the changing ways of grieving during the coronavirus pandemic.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Zzzzz” sound (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Three reporters for The Times were honored with awards from the Association of Health Care Journalists for their work in 2019: Matt Richtel, Andrew Jacobs and Donald McNeil.


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