For West End’s Return, Cleansing Spirits and an Aching for Change

LONDON — At 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Maureen Lyon will be murdered at St. Martin’s Theater in London, her screams piercing the air.

Her death is a moment many in London’s theater industry will welcome for one simple reason: It’s the opening of “The Mousetrap,” Agatha Christie’s long-running whodunit, and it will signal that the West End is finally back.

For the last 427 days, the coronavirus pandemic has effectively shut London’s theaters. Some tried to reopen in the fall, only for England to plunge into a new lockdown before they even got to rehearsals.

They tried again in December, and several musicals, including “Six,” about the wives of Henry VIII, reopened to ecstatic audiences. But just days later, the shows were forced closed once more.

said theaters can reopen with social distancing on Monday and without it on June 21, provided coronavirus cases stay low, thanks to the country’s rapid vaccination drive. Vaccine passports might be required by then — a measure many major theater owners back.

A host of shows are scheduled to reopen this month, with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new “Cinderella” musical coming June 25 and a deluge of others soon after. “Hamilton” reopens in August. What happens to these shows will likely be a bellwether for Broadway’s reopening in September.

But what’s it actually like for the theatermakers who are starting work again after 15 months? Has the pandemic shaped the way they think about theater? We visited four to find out.

“Work that engages with who we are now.”

palo santo — a wood shamans use to cleanse evil spirits — and burned it in front of his cast. He’d only performed a ritual like that once before, he said, as he’d been afraid of “feeling like an idiot.”

But the actors also wanted to mark the occasion. “Every day now they’re saying, ‘Can we burn some more?’” Rickson said.

One of Britain’s most in-demand directors, Rickson’s Broadway triumphs include “Jerusalem” and the 2008 revival of “The Seagull.” (“The finest and most fully involving production of Chekhov that I have ever known,” wrote Ben Brantley in The New York Times.)

The night the shutdown hit, he was in a dress rehearsal for the play “All of Us” at the National Theater, while his revival of “Uncle Vanya” was attracting sellout crowds in the West End. Suddenly, he was without work or a sense of purpose. During lockdown last spring, he walked round the West End and cried while looking at all the shut theaters.

He kept himself busy by filming “Uncle Vanya,” but said he spent most of the time reflecting on what he wanted theater to be when it returned. His answer: “New work, work that engages with who we are now, courageous work.”

“Walden,” by the largely unknown American playwright Amy Berryman, is the first example of that. He came across the play — about two sisters with contrasting views on how humanity should deal with climate change — last summer, while searching for scripts with the producer Sonia Friedman.

“It’s kind of dazzling in its imaginative scope,” Rickson said. “It’s like a play by a writer who’s written 20 plays, not a debut.”

Britain’s vaccine rollout was “fast by any measure,” she said. “Of course, “if we weren’t selling any tickets, I wouldn’t feel so jolly.”

Burns, the chief executive of Nimax Theaters, is one of the unsung heroes of the West End’s comeback. Over the past year, many figures in Britain’s theaterland have grabbed headlines for trying to support workers during the pandemic.

Lloyd Webber continually harangued the British government to let theaters reopen, even hosting a government-sanctioned experiment in July to prove it could happen safely. The “Fleabag” star Phoebe Waller-Bridge set up a fund to support freelance theatermakers, as did the director Sam Mendes.

But Burns did something else: She tried, repeatedly, to open her six theaters with social distancing and mask mandates.

In October, she managed to open the Apollo for 14 performances by Adam Kay, a comedian and former doctor, before England went into a second lockdown. In December, she opened several more for just over a weekend, before England went into lockdown again.

said when naming her its producer of the year. “In the face of overwhelming odds this year, she has consistently tried to make it happen, when some other established commercial producers didn’t.”

Now, she’s planning to open them all once more. “Six,” the musical about the wives of Henry VIII, will play at the Lyric. “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” a musical about a boy dreaming of being a drag queen, will be right next door at the Apollo.

announced a Rising Stars festival, letting 23 young producers host shows in her venues this summer. The shows include “Cruise,” a one-man tale of gay life in London, as well as an evening of magic acts.

be built down the road from the Palace.

It doesn’t have a name yet, she said. How about the Burns Theater? “No, no, no, no, no,” she replied. She’s naming a bar inside after herself. “That’s enough,” she said.

“I’ve learned that I don’t need to change to please anyone”

a hit musical about a gay teenager who dreams of becoming a drag queen.

His dressing room was adorned with art from fans, and months after dropping out of drama school to take the role, he had become used to seeing his face plastered on London’s buses. Then the pandemic forced his theater shut, and he found himself at home with his mum, dad and sister.

tweeted a picture of a full airplane, alongside one of an empty theater. “It just made me think, ‘Why’s that one OK, and the other isn’t?’” he said. “Every other industry was talking about getting back to work, and we were all sitting at home.”

During lockdown, he read a host of scripts and learned to cook pasta dishes and curries (“I’m going to be the meal-prep queen when we go back”). And he spent a lot of time reflecting on who he wanted to be as an actor.

“I see the world through a different gaze now,” he said. “I’ve learned that I don’t need to change to please anyone.”

Thomas said he thought that attitude would help when the musical returns May 20. Jamie “is so unapologetically himself, and he’s calling for the world to adapt to him and his fabulousness and his queerness,” Thomas said. “He’s not changing.”

The show, which has a cast of 26 and a nine-person band, is the largest to reopen next month, thanks to a government grant. Thomas said he knows what to expect in terms of coronavirus precautions, as his show was one of the few to briefly reopen in December.

“It was weird,” he said, “but the rules and the mitigations and masks are such a small sacrifice in order to be able to do our jobs.”

The Mousetrap,” was trying to do a costume fitting for the actor Sarah Moss — without touching her.

It started well. Inside a cramped room at the St. Martin’s Theater, Hudson-Holt handed Moss a heavy black wool coat, then stood back to admire the fit. But within seconds, she had leapt forward, grabbed the rumpled collar and adjusted it.

“Sorry!” she said, realizing she’d broken the rules. “It’s just instinct.”

“The Mousetrap,” which has been running in the West End since 1952 is scheduled to reopen on May 17, the first play here to do so.

“We’ve been going so long,” Hudson-Holt said. “If we can survive this, others can,” she added.

Hudson-Holt, who’s been with the show for almost 20 years, had spent most of the past year at home. “We were lucky, as the very good management kept us furloughed,” she said, meaning the government paid a chunk of her salary. “But for a lot of freelancers — costume makers, propmakers, actors — it’s been just devastating.”

To lessen coronavirus risks, two casts will now alternate in the eight roles. The show’s website makes that move sound like a canny piece of marketing, encouraging audiences to see both sets of actors. In reality, it’s in case illness strikes; if one cast has to isolate, the other can step in.

all its stores have closed.

Her daily routine changed in other ways. Rather than taking measurements in person, she called the actors, politely inquiring if they’d gained weight or muscle in lockdown and would be needing a bigger size.

“I was having to ask people, ‘Oh, have you been doing any sport lately? Or maybe some baking?’” she said.

Despite the no-touching rule, the fittings went according to plan. Hudson-Holt had found a hat for Moss, new to the role of Miss Casewell, one of many potential murderers stuck in an English guesthouse after a snowstorm.

Only a lime green silk scarf caused problems. Hudson-Holt tried showing Moss how to fold, then tie it, but Moss was flummoxed. “Can you slow down a bit and show me again?” she said.

“Today’s a fun test for everyone,” Hudson-Holt said.

Once the fitting was over, Hudson-Holt put Moss’s outfit aside. It would be steamed later to kill any potential viruses. “I know it seems hyper vigilant,” she said, “but who wants to be the one that mucks this up?”

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Keith Haring’s Refrigerator Door Is on the Auction Block

It began life began as a white refrigerator door in an apartment in SoHo, but by the 1990s, it was anything but plain. It was covered with the graffiti tags and wide-marker signatures of the famous friends of the tenant in the apartment. “Madonna Loves Keith,” read one inscription.

Yes, that Madonna. The tenant was the artist Keith Haring, a star of the SoHo art scene, who partied with Andy Warhol and graffiti artists like LA II (whose real name is Angel Ortiz) and Fab Five Freddy (Fred Brathwaite), both of whom signed the refrigerator. Also on the door are the letters JM, which the auctioneer Arlan Ettinger, in an interview, speculated had belonged to Jean-Michel Basquiat, the downtown artist who became a megawatt celebrity. (Ettinger said he had tried to verify the Basquiat signature but that “there’s no way of absolutely confirming” it’s his writing or not.)

Ettinger, who will sell the refrigerator door on Wednesday at Guernsey’s, said the door served as Haring’s guest register. “It seemed like everybody who was anybody showed up there,” he said, “and you signed in on that refrigerator door. It’s not beautiful, but it’s of that moment, of that time. It reflects a certain spirit, a creativeness, that is alive today if you think about the people who were there — Madonna, and a long, long list of artists.”

Ettinger said the owner, a yoga instructor in California, had insisted on privacy, so much so that he said he did not even know her name. He said his contract to sell the door was with a friend of the owner who forwarded an email describing how the owner had found the apartment on Broome Street — she saw an ad for a “spacious railroad apartment” in The Village Voice in 1990. It came with “this amazing refrigerator covered with the graffiti of the Haring era.” The walls had once been covered, too, but she said that the landlord had repainted them.

She returned home one sweltering day to learn that the refrigerator had conked out and was removed; the delivery men had left it on the street to be picked up with the garbage.

“I raced outside,” the email said. “There, in the back alley, was our old friend, the Haring fridge, lying on its side. The door slipped off the body of the fridge easily. I brought it upstairs while my roommate retrieved the smaller top freezer door.”

In 1993, when she moved to California, she carted the door to her parents’ home in Washington, and stored it in their attic, where it stayed until about 2010, when her mother shipped it to her.

Andy Warhol, whose signature is also on the refrigerator door, figures in another item in the auction: A moose head he owned. The auction will be conducted online through Liveauctioneers.com and Invaluable.com, and by telephone from Guernsey’s. Ettinger’s estimate for the refrigerator door is “in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

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South African Filmmakers Move Beyond Apartheid Stories

JOHANNESBURG — One of South Africa’s top film producers squinted at a monitor as a hush settled over the crew. Cameras zoomed in on an actress playing a dealer of fine art — chicly dressed in a pencil skirt made from bold African textiles — who offered a coy smile as an old flame stepped into her gallery.

It’s the opening scene of a new Netflix movie about high-powered Black women, wealth and modern city life in Johannesburg — one in a flood of productions from a new generation of South African filmmakers. They are bent on telling their own stories on their own terms, eager to widen the aperture on a country after a generation of films defined by apartheid, poverty and struggle.

“We call it the legacy exhaustion, the apartheid cinema, people are exhausted with it,” Bongiwe Selane, the producer, said a few days later in the editing studio. “The generation now didn’t live it, they don’t really relate to it. They want to see stories about their experiences now.”

one of the most unequal in the world, where wealth is still concentrated mostly in the hands of whites and a small Black elite.

But in recent years, the country has also undergone major demographic and economic shifts. The first South Africans who grew up after apartheid are now adults, asserting their voices on social media and in professional workplaces. And a growing Black middle class has been eager to see itself reflected onscreen — and showing it with their wallets.

box office expectations for locally made romantic comedies.

A year later, “Happiness is a Four Letter Word” — the prequel to Ms. Selane’s latest film that opens with the art gallery scene — outperformed several Hollywood releases in South African movie theaters on its opening weekend.

The movie revolves around three bold women navigating a new South Africa. There is Princess, a serial dater and owner of a trendy art gallery; Zaza, a glamorous housewife having an illicit love affair; and Nandi, a high-powered lawyer who gets cold feet on the cusp of her wedding.

“Audiences would come up to me to tell me how they also had a guy who broke their heart and they want to see that, to watch something where apartheid is not in the foreground,” said Renate Stuurman, who plays Princess. “It can be in the background, surely, it’s what brought us here, but people were happy to be distracted.”

according to Digital TV Research, an industry forecaster. For Netflix, the investment is part of a larger push to acquire a generation of Black content.

Nollywood. Nigerian filmmakers have churned out thousands of movies — many produced with just a few thousand dollars and one digital camera — since the late 1990s.

Nollywood films won fans across English-speaking Africa, but South Africa is chipping away at its dominance, industry leaders say.

For the past two decades, South Africa has hosted major Hollywood studios drawn to its highly skilled workers and government-issued rebate on all production costs spent in the country.

Cape Town’s streets were transformed into Islamabad for the fourth season of Homeland; studios constructed models of Robben Island for “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom;” and crews flew helicopters, crashed cars and set off massive explosions in downtown Johannesburg for “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Of the roughly 400 films made in South Africa between 2008 and 2014, nearly 40 percent were foreign productions, according to the National Film and Video Foundation, a government agency.

“Blood Psalms,” a series for Showmax, employs massive sets reminiscent of “Game of Thrones,” green screens to concoct magical powers, and elaborate costumes of armor and golden crowns.

Inside an editing suite in Johannesburg one recent morning, Mr. Qubeka chatted with an editor slicing together shots for the show, about a queen battling a world-ending prophecy — a plot drawn from African mythology.

“The true revolution,” Mr. Qubeka said, “is that we as South Africans are being sought out for our perspective and our ideas.”

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Roger Federer on His New Gig: Swiss Tourism Spokesman

I love to walk through small villages where life is still normal. Small places where people are driving tractors and there is one baker, one church. The people in these places aren’t multitasking. They go about their days in a normal way. Someone shows up and they want to know, “Hey, what brought you here?” It’s very friendly, so you can always have a chat with people.

Tennis club life in Switzerland is important. This is how I grew up. There are many scenic places where you can play tennis in Switzerland. Tennis Club Geneva, where the Geneva Open tournament is played is very beautiful. Tennis Club de Genève Eaux-Vives is also really nice. The clubs in Basel where I played growing up in the Interclub competition are quite nice.

There was a boom building tennis clubs when I was growing up, so every second village has its own club. We have to protect this tennis culture we have. The restaurants at the tennis clubs are very important. A lot of the clubs where I’ve played, they have really good chefs, really good service and very high quality. People spent a lot of their time at the clubs, so the food has to be good and it’s usually at a good price, too.

I mean, chocolate, hello, you have to love chocolate if you’re Swiss. I used to be white, then I was milk, and now I even like going dark. I like it all. Then I like the Bündner Nusstorte, which is like a nut tart from the region of Graubünden. That’s beautiful. And then, of course, there’s rösti, a potato fritter dish. We have a dish called Zürcher Geschnetzeltes that’s like minced meat with a mushroom sauce, and I love to eat cordon bleu — that’s beautiful, too.

Fly into Zurich or Geneva and go from there. In the summer, I think you would want to visit Lucerne and Interlaken and maybe visit the Jungfrau, Basel, Zurich, Bern, the capital — its inner city is also really beautiful. We also have some incredible museums in Switzerland. The Fondation Beyeler art museum is great. I grew up visiting the Tinguely Museum, which is very interesting.

In Lucerne, there is the Swiss Museum of Transport, which is still my favorite place to take my children. It’s a wonderful place where you can see old trams, trains, planes, cars, bikes, you name it.

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Pamela Kraft, 77, Dies; Arts Magnet and Champion of Indigenous Rights

In 2012, the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns recognized her efforts, awarding her its “Spirit of the U.N.” award.

Influenced by the shamanic teachings of Carlos Castaneda and others, her activism could veer toward the mystical, which somehow seemed appropriate, given Ms. Kraft’s interests in all things magical and colorful growing up.

Pamela Ann Kraft was born on Oct. 31, 1943, in Dover, N.J., to William Kraft, an Army veteran who worked at Picatinny Arsenal in Wharton, N.J., and Ida Kraft, a homemaker. As a child, Pamela loved making art and taking flights of fancy — she used to say that she believed her mother and aunts had been witches in a previous life.

Her creative interests led her to study fine art at Douglass College, a women’s college affiliated with Rutgers University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in fine art in 1965.

At Douglass, Ms. Kraft became a friend and muse to the artist Robert Watts, a professor there who introduced her to Fluxus, the international anti-art movement that balanced a revolutionary ethos with a spirit of cheeky fun and that attracted such artists as George Brecht, Nam June Paik, and Yoko Ono. Ms. Kraft appeared in multiple film and photography projects by Mr. Watts, including “89 Movies (Unfinished)” (1965), which was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970.

Before long, Ms. Kraft made her way to New York City, settling in a spacious loft on West 28th Street in Manhattan’s flower district and working as a waitress at Max’s, a star-studded nexus of the city’s rock and art scenes.

“That first time I walked into Max’s it was like a strange dream of the most wonderful people that you loved in the art world all sitting in the same restaurant,” Ms. Kraft was quoted saying in the 1998 book “High on Rebellion: Inside the Underground at Max’s Kansas City,” by Yvonne Sewall-Ruskin. “It was a dream come to life. You had a sense of the absurd given to you in material form.”

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David Swensen, Who Revolutionized Endowment Investing, Dies at 67

Other money managers joining universities sought Mr. Swensen’s advice. He always suggested that they keep their offices on campus if possible, and he was sensitive to matters that students brought up, like climate change. Students have continued to push Yale to take a stronger stand on the issue.

Mr. Swensen acknowledged that greenhouse gas emissions posed a grave threat and asked managers to consider the financial risks of climate change, particularly if the government imposed carbon taxes. The investment office recently estimated that 2.6 percent of the endowment is invested in fossil fuel producers, a multi-decade low, and that it expects that decline to continue.

In 2018, Mr. Swensen said Yale would not invest in outlets that sell assault weapons. Most recently he encouraged endowments to hire more women and members of minorities.

Over the years he was a trustee or adviser to a host of institutions, including the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Corporation, the Courtauld Institute of Art, the Chad Zuckerberg Initiative and the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Mr. Swensen’s first marriage, to Susan Foster, ended in divorce. In addition to Ms. McMahon, he is survived by three children from his first marriage, Alexander Swensen, Timothy Swensen and Victoria Coleman; his mother, Grace; two brothers, Stephen and Daniel; three sisters, Linda Haefemeyer, Carolyn Popp and Jane Swensen; and two grandchildren. He lived in Killingworth, Conn.

Mr. Swensen was as concerned about the small investor as he was about his endowment. In his book “Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment” (1995), he advised people to keep their costs low and to stick to exchange-traded funds, which invest across an entire index of stocks, rather than investing with money managers or mutual funds that select individual stocks, and where the costs can erode profits. It was virtually impossible for the average investor to get into the best private funds, he said.

Alex Traub contributed reporting.

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Covid-19 Live Updates: India Becomes 2nd Country to Report 20 Million Total Cases

wrote on Twitter.

The Indian Premier League announced on Tuesday that it was suspending all the remaining matches of the season after several players and staff tested positive for the coronavirus. The league had drawn intense criticism for going ahead with their matches in cities that have been among the worst hit.

Made up of eight teams, the Indian Premier League is the biggest cricket league in the world.

Since the league’s season started last month, some of the biggest cricket stars have traveled across the country in so-called bubbles and played in empty stadiums. But even the stringent safety protocols couldn’t stop team members from being infected. At least five people on three teams have tested positive. The competition was scheduled to finish at the end of the month.

“These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” the league said in a statement.

India reported over 368,000 new cases and 3,417 deaths on Monday. It has reported more than 222,000 Covid-19 deaths, although actual figures are most likely much higher.

With aid being shipped from countries like the United States and Britain, among others, there was hope among weary residents that the situation could start easing.

Eight oxygen generator plants from France, each of which can supply 250 hospital beds, were earmarked for six hospitals in Delhi and one each in Haryana and Telangana, states in northern and southern India.

One of the generators was installed at the Narayana hospital in Delhi within hours of being delivered, according to The Times of India. Italy has also donated an oxygen generation plant and 20 ventilators.

Keidy Ventura, 17, received a dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine in West New York, N.J., last month.
Credit…Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Medical experts welcomed the news that the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine could be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for use in adolescents ages 12 to 15 by early next week, a major step forward in the U.S. vaccination campaign.

Vaccinating children is key to raising the level of immunity in the population, experts say, and to bringing down the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. And it could put school administrators, teachers and parents at ease if millions of adolescent students soon become eligible for vaccinations before the next academic year begins in September.

Pfizer’s trial in adolescents showed that its vaccine was at least as effective in them as it was in adults. The F.D.A. is preparing to add an amendment covering that age group to the vaccine’s existing emergency use authorization by early next week, according to federal officials familiar with the agency’s plans who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health and the father of two adolescent daughters, said the approval would be a big moment for families like his.

“It just ends all concerns about being able to have a pretty normal fall for high schoolers,” he said. “It’s great for them, it’s great for schools, for families who have kids in this age range.”

But with demand for vaccines falling among adult Americans — and much of the world clamoring for the surplus of American-made vaccines — some experts said the United States should donate excess shots to India and other countries that have had severe outbreaks.

“From an ethical perspective, we should not be prioritizing people like them over people in countries like India,” Dr. Rupali J. Limaye, a Johns Hopkins University researcher who studies vaccine use, said of adolescents.

Dr. Jha said that the United States now had a big enough vaccine supply to both inoculate younger Americans and aid the rest of the world. As of Monday, the United States had about 65 million doses delivered but not administered, including 31 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to figures collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 105 million adults in the United States have been fully vaccinated. But the United States is in the middle of a delicate and complex push to reach the 44 percent of adults who have not yet received even one shot.

While adolescents so far appear to be mostly spared from severe Covid-19, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the Biden administration’s top Covid adviser, has repeatedly stressed the importance of expanding vaccination efforts to include them and even younger children. In March, Dr. Fauci said that he expected that high schoolers could be vaccinated by fall and elementary school students by early 2022.

Dr. Richard Malley, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, said that immunizing adolescents was worthwhile because they can spread the virus, even if they transmit it at a lower rate than adults.

President Xi Jinping on a screen in Beijing last month. The Chinese government’s aggressive brand of “wolf warrior” diplomacy has drawn criticism from other countries.
Credit…Greg Baker/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Even in China, where propaganda has become increasingly pugnacious, the display was jarring: A photograph of a Chinese rocket poised to blast into space juxtaposed with a cremation pyre in India, which has been overwhelmed by a wave of coronavirus infections.

“Chinese ignition versus Indian ignition,” the title read.

The image drew a backlash from internet users who called it callous, and it was taken down on the same day by the Communist Party-run news service that posted it. But it has lingered as a provocative example of a broader theme running through China’s state-run media, which often celebrates the country’s success in curbing coronavirus infections while highlighting the failings of others.

Chinese leaders have expressed sympathy and offered medical help to India, and the controversy may soon pass. But it has exposed how swaggering Chinese propaganda can collide with Beijing’s efforts to make friends abroad.

“You’ve had this growing tension between internal and external messaging,” said Mareike Ohlberg, a senior fellow in the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin who studies Chinese propaganda. Ms. Ohlberg said of the Chinese authorities, “They have an increasing number of interests internationally, but ultimately what it boils down to is that your primary target audience still lives at home.”

A woman pleaded for oxygen for her husband at a Sikh temple, in Ghaziabad, India, on Monday.
Credit…Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Savita Mullapudi, an international development consultant in Pittsburgh, heard the ping of a WhatsApp message on her phone around 4 p.m. on Thursday. The sender was a former colleague who, like her, was an Indian immigrant who had lived in the United States for years. He had an urgent favor to ask.

With India’s health care system overwhelmed by the nation’s unprecedented Covid-19 surge and hospitals running out of lifesaving oxygen, an Indian charity was scrambling to find oxygen concentrators, which filter oxygen from the air. One manufacturer was based in Pittsburgh. Could Ms. Mullapudi visit the site to vet the equipment?

Like many members of the Indian diaspora who have watched and mobilized from afar as a deadly second wave of the coronavirus has swept across India in recent weeks, Ms. Mullapudi, whose parents and in-laws live there, leapt at the opportunity to help. She called the company a few minutes later but was told the earliest date for a visit was May 8 — far too late.

So Ms. Mullapudi, 44, said she did “the next-best thing.” She asked a few local doctor friends to tap their networks in Pittsburgh and across Pennsylvania for their opinions of the company and the quality of its products.

By 9 a.m. the next day, she had received texts and long emails from medical professionals and hospital executives with “rave reviews” of the manufacturer, she recalled, as well as detailed descriptions of the machines’ electricity costs and how long they lasted.

Credit…Aria M. Narasimhan

“The minute I said ‘India Covid,’ I was inundated with responses,” Ms. Mullapudi said. “These networks of people that we all work with or know as friends just churned it around, and that’s what really gave the organization confidence to go ahead.”

Before noon on Friday, the foundation ordered more than 400 oxygen concentrators to be flown to India. Though Ms. Mullapudi described her role as just “one drop in an ocean,” she acknowledged the profound impact of so many small acts of human kindness in the face of such dire challenges.

“Eventually it’s just people helping people,” she said. “That’s the story of hope.”

Pfizer’s vaccine is disproportionately reaching the world’s rich.
Credit…Dado Ruvic/Reuters

On Tuesday, Pfizer announced that its Covid vaccine brought in $3.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of this year, nearly a quarter of its total revenue. The vaccine was, far and away, Pfizer’s biggest source of revenue, report Rebecca Robbins and Peter S. Goodman of The New York Times.

The company did not disclose the profits it derived from the vaccine, but it reiterated its previous prediction that its profit margins on the vaccine would be in the high 20 percent range. That would translate into roughly $900 million in pretax vaccine profits in the first quarter.

Pfizer has been widely credited with developing an unproven technology that has saved an untold number of lives.

But the company’s vaccine is disproportionately reaching the world’s rich — an outcome, so far at least, at odds with its chief executive’s pledge to ensure that poorer countries “have the same access as the rest of the world” to a vaccine that is highly effective at preventing Covid-19.

As of mid-April, wealthy countries had secured more than 87 percent of the more than 700 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines dispensed worldwide, while poor countries had received only 0.2 percent, according to the World Health Organization. In wealthy countries, roughly one in four people has received a vaccine. In poor countries, the figure is one in 500.

Foreign domestic workers waited to be tested for the coronavirus in Hong Kong on Sunday.
Credit…Jerome Favre/EPA, via Shutterstock

The Hong Kong government on Tuesday backpedaled from a plan to require coronavirus vaccinations for all foreign domestic workers after several days of sharp criticism from foreign diplomatic missions and some residents, who called the requirement discriminatory.

Officials had announced on Friday that the domestic workers — largely low-paid, female migrants from Southeast Asia who clean, cook and perform other household tasks — would have to be vaccinated in order to renew their employment contracts. The government has not issued vaccination requirements for any other group in the city, including other foreign workers.

But officials said it was necessary after two domestic workers recently tested positive for variant strains of the coronavirus. Sophia Chan, the secretary for food and health, said that because domestic workers had a habit of “mingling” with each other during their time off — which, under Hong Kong law, is only one day a week — the entire group of roughly 370,000 workers was considered high-risk.

Hong Kong’s vaccine uptake has been slow, and none of its major outbreaks of the coronavirus have been attributed to domestic workers gathering on their days off.

The announcement provoked an immediate backlash, with critics alleging that the government was making scapegoats of the domestic workers, who make up about 5 percent of Hong Kong’s population of 7.5 million and have long endured poor treatment.

The consuls general of the Philippines and Indonesia — the two main sources of Hong Kong’s foreign domestic workers — said that if there were vaccination requirements, they should be applied to all foreign workers. The Philippines’ outspoken foreign secretary tweeted that the move “smacks of discrimination.”

The government denied that it was discriminating against the workers, but on Tuesday, Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, said that in light of the “discussion and attention” that the plan had elicited, she would ask the labor department to “study the specific situation again” and consult foreign consulates. A decision on the plan would be announced later, she said.

Still, the government has said that all foreign domestic workers who have not been fully vaccinated must be tested for the coronavirus by May 9.

Vaccinations have begun at Castello di Rivoli, a contemporary museum near Turin, Italy. The art installation is a wall painting by Claudia Comte, a Swiss artist.
Credit…Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

These days, visitors to the website of one of Italy’s most renowned contemporary art museums are met with a twofold invitation: “Book your visit in advance” and “Book your vaccination.”

The Castello di Rivoli, once a palace owned by the Savoy dynasty, recently became one of several Italian museums to join the country’s vaccine drive, following in the footsteps of cultural institutions throughout Europe.

With the rallying cry of “Art Helps,” the museum near Turin has set aside its third-floor galleries for a vaccination center run by the local health authorities. During their shots, patients can enjoy the wall paintings by Claudia Comte, a Swiss artist.

Comte worked with the composer Egon Elliut to create a soundscape that evokes “a dreamlike feeling,” the artist said, and lulls vaccine recipients as they move from room to room before and after the shot.

“Art has an extraordinarily important effect on well-being,” said Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the museum’s director. She said that she couldn’t have commissioned “a more perfect” backdrop than Comte’s works for a “space to merge the art of healing the body and the art of healing the soul and the mind,” noting that in Italian the words for “to heal” and “curator” came from the same Latin word, “curo.” In history, she said, some of the first museums were former hospitals.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania has taken a different approach from her virus-denying predecessor, stating that the nation could not ignore the pandemic.
Credit…Associated Press

Less than two months after Tanzania’s first female president took office, the government on Monday announced new steps to tackle the pandemic, a significant shift for the East African nation whose late former leader had denied the seriousness of the virus.

Beginning Tuesday, all travelers arriving in Tanzania are required to present proof of a negative coronavirus test taken in the previous 72 hours and must pay for a rapid test after they land, the health ministry said.

The ministry said that foreigners arriving from countries with new Covid-19 variants would be placed in a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a government-designated facility, while returning residents would be permitted to isolate themselves in their homes. The announcement did not specify which countries these measures would apply to.

Truck drivers crossing borders will be permitted to stop only at designated locations and could be tested for the coronavirus at random while in Tanzania.

“Based on the global epidemiological situation and emergence of new variants of viruses that cause Covid-19, there is an increased risk of their importation,” Abel N. Makubi, the permanent secretary of health, said in a statement. As such, he added, the government “decided to elevate and enhance prevailing preventive measures especially those with regard to international travel.”

The new measures under President Samia Suluhu Hassan represent a departure from the blithe approach taken by Tanzania’s former president, John Magufuli, who died in March. Mr. Magufuli long opposed masks and social distancing measures, promoted unproven treatments as cures, argued that vaccines didn’t work and declared that God had helped Tanzania eradicate the virus.

His government also stopped sharing coronavirus data with the World Health Organization. Tanzania has recorded no new cases of the virus since April last year, when it reported 509 infections and 21 deaths.

Two weeks before he died, Mr. Magufuli changed course and told citizens to take precautions against the virus, including wearing masks and observing social distancing.

But since her ascension to power, Ms. Hassan has taken a different turn, stating that Tanzania could not ignore the virus. In early April, she said she would set up a committee to investigate the pandemic and advise the government on its response.

“We cannot isolate ourselves as an island,” Ms. Hassan said in a speech last month.

But Ms. Hassan has also drawn criticism at times for not wearing a mask, including at her own swearing-in ceremony, and for addressing large gatherings of unmasked supporters.

Cafes and restaurants have reopened in Greece for sit-down service for the first time in nearly six months.
Credit…Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press

Greece has reopened to many overseas visitors, including from the United States, jumping ahead of most of its European neighbors in restarting tourism,even as the country’s hospitals remain full and more than three-quarters of Greeks are still unvaccinated.

It’s a big bet, but given the importance of tourism to the Greek economy — the sector accounts for one quarter of the country’s work force and more than 20 percent of gross domestic product — the country’s leaders are eager to roll out the welcome mat.

In doing so, Greece has jumped ahead of other European countries. On Monday, the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, said it would recommend its member states to allow visitors who have been vaccinated. But it remains up to individual countries to set up their own rules.

“We welcome a common position” on restarting tourism in the European Union, Greece’s tourism minister, Harry Theoharis, said in an interview. “All we’re saying is that this has to be forthcoming now. We cannot wait until June.”

Park Avenue between 46th and 59th Streets will go through renovation over the next few years, giving the city a unique opportunity to rethink the famed malls.
Credit…Oscar Durand for The New York Times

At a moment when the pandemic has unleashed demand for open space, plans could transform the medians of Park Avenue in Manhattan and restore them to their original splendor.

Among the options New York City is considering: bringing back chairs and benches, expanding the median, eliminating traffic lanes and carving out room for bike and walking paths.

The revamping of Park Avenue is being driven by a major transit project below ground. A cavernous shed used by Metro-North commuter trains that travel in and out of Grand Central Terminal is over a century old and in need of major repairs.

The work requires ripping up nearly a dozen streets along Park Avenue, from East 46th to East 57th Streets, making possible a new vision.

Removal of traffic lanes is likely to elicit backlash from drivers who complain that pedestrian plazas and bike lanes across the city have made it difficult to get around.

But others say the city would be more livable with fewer cars, making streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as polluting less.

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Vaccination can be relaxing. Just ask these museum visitors.

These days, visitors to the website of one of Italy’s most renowned contemporary art museums are met with a twofold invitation: “Book your visit in advance” and “Book your vaccination.”

The Castello di Rivoli, once a palace owned by the Savoy dynasty, recently became one of several Italian museums to join the country’s vaccine drive, following in the footsteps of cultural institutions throughout Europe.

With the rallying cry of “Art Helps,” the museum near Turin has set aside its third-floor galleries for a vaccination center run by the local health authorities. During their shots, patients can enjoy the wall paintings by Claudia Comte, a Swiss artist.

Comte worked with the composer Egon Elliut to create a soundscape that evokes “a dreamlike feeling,” the artist said, and lulls vaccine recipients as they move from room to room before and after the shot.

“Art has an extraordinarily important effect on well-being,” said Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the museum’s director. She said that she couldn’t have commissioned “a more perfect” backdrop than Comte’s works for a “space to merge the art of healing the body and the art of healing the soul and the mind,” noting that in Italian the words for “to heal” and “curator” came from the same Latin word, “curo.” In history, she said, some of the first museums were former hospitals.

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