Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Occasions

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By closing early, much of Central Europe was able to avoid the widespread coronavirus infections that caused so much devastation in the first wave of the pandemic. But now, from the Polish port city of Gdansk on the Baltic Sea to the old fortress town of Kotor on the Adriatic Sea in Montenegro, the virus is moving in the region and setting new records for infections every day as the death toll continues to rise.

In Poland hospital beds are filling up; Doctors in Hungary warn of a lack of medical staff; The Romanian authorities are trying to track down new cases. and health workers fall ill in Bulgaria. The Czech Republic has the highest coronavirus transmission rates in Europe.

There is particular concern about the damage the virus could cause in the former communist countries of central Europe, some of which have weak health systems, critical shortages of doctors and nurses, and inadequate testing programs.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s final day of interrogation in the Supreme Court confirmatory session focused on the future of the Affordable Care Act.

Judge Barrett told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she had no “animus” or an “agenda” to put down the health bill, even though President Trump specifically asked for it when the court hears a challenge next month. Our Supreme Court correspondent writes that at certain points the judge’s technical description seemed to suggest leaving the ACA intact. Read our highlights of the day.

GOP: Republicans praised the rise of a conservative religious judge. Senator Lindsey Graham praised her as “a woman who is rude for life and accepts her faith without apology”.

The result: Judge Barrett adopted a “supermom” image that popularized her with some Americans, including concerns about the role of working mothers.

Opinion: In Judge Barrett, writes our columnist Nicholas Kristof, Republicans once again support a Supreme Court candidate who could lead the United States backwards.

Excellent bells and whistles: Judge Barrett’s pumps and pearls help portray the candidate as the opposite of an extremist, writes our chief fashion critic – and an extremist is natural as the Democrats try to portray her.

In almost any location in central London, you’re never too far from a Pret A Manger store – if not two dozen. The sandwich and coffee chain has become the hangout for rushed British office workers, and has invaded cultural life with traditions like the Christmas sandwich and a policy allowing employees to give free coffee to people they like.

With offices deserted due to the pandemic, Pret’s customers are nowhere to be seen. And what used to be his greatest asset – his stronghold in central London – has suddenly become his greatest weakness.

Now the company is ready to try almost anything to get back on its feet, including selling coffee beans on Amazon, switching to delivery, and developing a special menu of hot evening meals, such as a chipritle chicken burrito -Bowl. You can even get a coffee subscription and the first month is free. “When you are in survival mode,” said the manager, “you have to try things.”

Quote: “I exist because of Pret’s oppressive omnipresence,” published Albert-Camus-meets-Pret’s satirical Twitter account @PretLEtranger last month. “I don’t need myself now.”

Farmers in Mexico armed with sticks, stones and homemade shields ambushed soldiers and confiscated La Boquilla Dam above to stop water supplies to the US. The farmers said the Mexican government is sending water – their water – to Texas, leaving them next to nothing for their crops.

Our reporter looked at the stalemate of Mexican farmers against the president of their country and the superpower across the border. The struggle shows a growing conflict over increasingly scarce resources as a result of rising temperatures and long periods of drought caused by climate change.

Golden morning glow: An Athenian court sentenced the leaders of the neo-fascist party of Greece on Wednesday to 13 years in prison after being declared criminals last week, ending one of the most important political trials in the country’s modern history.

Soccer: A proposal to dramatically restructure the English Premier League was unanimously rejected by its members. Across the channel, the French Football Association hired a consultant to handle complaints about a toxic work culture. And the incoherence of the British government’s rules is reflected in the “nice game”, writes our football correspondent.

BTS: South Korea’s much-anticipated IPO for years has focused on the K-pop superstar group and $ 4 billion company Big Hit Entertainment, which began trading in South Korea Thursday.

Ikea idea: The Swedish furniture retailer has launched a worldwide campaign to buy back used furniture to fight climate change and stop excessive consumption.

Snapshot: Protesters up in Bangkok on Wednesday as the royal motorcade passed. After months of protests calling for reform, this was the first time members of the Thai royal family had seen the frustration up close. The three-finger greeting from “The Hunger Games” has become a symbol of movement.

Lived life: Herbert Kretzmer, the London theater critic whose English-language texts for “Les Misérables” helped turn a little-known French musical into one of the most successful theater productions in the world, died on Wednesday at the age of 95.

What we read: This vice article on the growing appeal of desserts that aren’t too sweet. “I hope this is the future,” writes Carole Landry of the briefing team. “Let’s be against the sugar bombs.”

Cook: James Beard’s onion sandwich is fresh and no frills. Rolling the edge of the sandwich in chopped parsley gives it a retro style, but is also crucial in flavor.

See: The Netflix documentary “Blackpink: Light Up the Sky” is a short but lovable introduction to the adored K-pop girl group.

To dance: Older adults who practice ballroom dancing, folk dancing, and other dance styles are less likely to fall than those who walk or do other exercises, researchers say. A strong argument for a little boogie.

Let us help you overcome boredom with our collection of home ideas to read, cook, watch, and do while you are safe at home.

Recent case studies of people re-infected with the coronavirus – including a 25-year-old man in Nevada and an 89-year-old woman in the Netherlands – have raised concerns about recurring attacks. But these cases are very, very rare. Here’s what you need to know.

Re-infection with coronaviruses is highly unusual. More than 38 million people worldwide are infected with the virus, but fewer than five of these cases have been confirmed as reinfections. One virologist described it as “a microliter-sized drop in a bucket compared to the number of cases that have occurred around the world”.

In most people, the immune system works as expected. Reinfections can occur for a number of reasons: because the original infection was particularly mild, because the immune system was otherwise weakened, or because the patient was exposed to a large amount of the virus that started the infection before the immune response could take effect, at three To give examples.

The same variability has been seen in patients with diseases like measles and malaria, experts said.

A second set of symptoms does not prove re-infection. For every confirmed case, there are dozens of individual reports of infected people who were sick and appeared to have recovered but got sick again weeks or months later. The vast majority of these cases are unlikely to be true reinfections. More likely to be people who have symptoms associated with the original infection again.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thank you for coming to me

– Natasha

Thank you very much
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

PS
• We listen to “The Daily”. Our latest episode is about Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings.
• Here is our mini crossword puzzle and a hint: “Indeed this is wrong” (five letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
• A Utah man’s chance encounter with four baby cougars while hiking resulted in this hair-raising six-minute video after their mother followed him on the trail.
• Our Editor-in-Chief Dean Baquet published a note in support of the Times Magazine’s 1619 Project.

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