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This was the week that ripped the fabric of modern life 70 years in the making. As the Covid-19 death toll topped 10,000 globally, governments locked down schools, businesses, social venues and most other every-day aspects of society. Policy makers responded with promises to rescue economies hurtling toward disaster, while the private sector also vowed to pitch in.

This edition of Weekend Reads brings stories about which people, countries and institutions are shouldering the mantle of leadership. There are also deep dives into how it may all be for naught if they don’t work together, and that this couldn’t come at a worse time for U.S. President Donald Trump.

We hope you enjoy these and more of our best stories from the past seven days.

Coronavirus Hits at Worst Possible Time for Trump’s ReelectionTwo months ago, Trump’s reelection prospects had never looked brighter: Impeachment was behind him, unemployment was at historic lows and the stock market seemed to hit a new high every day. As Joshua Green reports, all that has changed.

Europe’s Desperate Doctors Shield Themselves With Trash BagsIn Spain, some doctors and nurses are taping garbage bags to their arms to shield themselves, while  in Italy, medical workers are falling ill. John Follain and Laura Millan Lombrana detail how health care in the two countries is buckling.

  • And click here for Vernon Silver's ground-zero account of how Italy realized refusing to acknowledge the virus was a deadly mistake.

Engineers of 2009 Auto Bailout Say Virus Rescue Should Be BiggerThe U.S. should apply lessons learned in the 2009 financial bailout on a bigger scale, according to people who led the last rescue. But as Jeff Green and Mike Dorning write, there should be stricter terms for the largest, healthiest companies.

‘Whatever It Takes’ Only Works If Countries CoordinateRead here about how governments and central banks are ramping up efforts to combat the sweeping economic consequences of the novel coronavirus. But s Shawn Donnan writes, it’s only going to work if they all act together.

Wristband Trackers, Jail Used to Control Virus in TravelersAsian countries are turning to high-tech wristband monitors, jail time and steep fines to contain Covid-19. K. Oanh Ha, Jinshan Hong and Faris Mokhtar report how Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan are battling a surge in new cases.

A Coronavirus Explosion Was Expected in Japan. Where Is It?Japan was one of the first countries outside of China hit by the coronavirus and now it’s one of the least-affected among developed nations. Gearoid Reidy writes how that’s puzzling experts.

Big Tech Tries to Help the U.S. Narrow the Virus Testing GapU.S. tech companies are preparing to help tackle the outbreak. Gerrit De Vynck reports how Amazon.com is prioritizing medical shipments and Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube have pledged to stop the spread of misinformation.

China Showers Europe With Virus Aid While Sparring With TrumpAs Europe becomes the new epicenter, China is stepping up its outreach to governments there. Alan Crawford and Peter Martin explain that it’s coming just as the U.S. — and in some cases the EU — is seen to be turning away.

World’s Biggest Emitter of Greenhouse Gases Is in South AfricaSouth Africa’s Secunda coal-to-fuels and chemicals plant is the world’s single biggest emitter site of greenhouse gases. Antony Sguazzin reports that, despite the damage it does to the environment, the plant supplies economic opportunities in a country with 29% unemployment.

And finally … Southern birds making themselves comfortable farther north are the unwitting prophets of climate change after a winter that missed the all-time warmth record by a 10th of a degree. Read Brian K. Sullivan’s eulogy for winter which, in his words, “has become a stranger, and strange.”


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