When Mr. Moon took office in 2017, he promised a “fair and just” society. His government has introduced dozens of regulatory steps to curb housing prices, including raising capital-gains taxes on house flipping and property taxes on multiple-home owners.

None of these measures have worked.

Last month, the Moon administration announced plans to supply more than 836,000 new housing units in the next four years, including 70,000 homes to be built in the area southwest of Seoul at the center of the LH scandal. Two civic groups were the first to report that 10 LH officials bought land there months before the highly secretive development plan was announced, accusing the officials of capitalizing on insider information for personal gain, a crime in South Korea.

The government has identified 20 LH officials who are suspected of using privileged information to buy land in various areas before projects were slated to begin there. The investigation has been expanded to target government employees outside of LH, including members of Mr. Moon’s staff. As the dragnet grew larger, two LH officials were found dead this month in apparent suicides. One of them left a note confessing to an “inappropriate deed,” according to the local media.

“LH officials had more access to information on public housing projects than any other, but sadly, we also learned through our investigation that they were ahead of others in real estate speculation,” said Lee Kang-hoon, a lawyer at the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, one of the two civic groups that uncovered the corruption among the LH officials.

Mr. Moon’s political enemies have been quick to fan the flames among angry voters.

“Stealing public data for real estate speculation is a crime that ruins the country,” the former prosecutor-general, Yoon Seok-youl, told the conservative daily Chosun Ilbo this month while criticizing the government’s handling of the situation.

Mr. Yoon has become a darling among the conservative opposition, and recent surveys showed him to be one of the most popular potential candidates in next year’s presidential election. He recently clashed with Mr. Moon over the president’s effort to curtail the power of prosecutors, and resigned early this month.

Lee Jae-myung, the governor of Gyeonggi Province, is another potential candidate in next year’s race. The liberal governor hopes to represent Mr. Moon’s party in the election and has promoted a “basic housing” policy in which the government would provide cheap and long-term rentals for South Koreans.

He recently urged Parliament to enact a comprehensive law banning conflicts of interest among public servants. “If you want to clean the house, you must first clean the mop,” he said. “If you want to make South Korea a fair society, you must first ensure that those who make and implement policies act fairly.”

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New York is making those 50 and older eligible for vaccination on Tuesday, the governor says.

New York will again lower its age requirements for Covid-19 vaccine eligibility, allowing anyone 50 and older to be inoculated beginning on Tuesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Monday.

The change moves the state closer to meeting a call from President Biden for all U.S. states to open vaccinations to all eligible adults by May 1.

So far, only Alaska and Mississippi have opened Covid-19 vaccination to all adults in those states, though an increasing number of states and Washington, D.C., have announced plans to do so by Mr. Biden’s deadline, if not earlier.

Mr. Cuomo has not set a timeline for doing so, but New York has been gradually expanding eligibility as more vaccine supply has become available.

New York City’s health data, 27 percent of the city’s adult residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 13 percent have been fully vaccinated.

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Black women were half as likely to be hired for state or local jobs than white men, a report says.

Government workers have been particularly hit hard by the pandemic. Nearly 1.4 million of the 9.5 million jobs that have disappeared over the past year came from state and local work forces.

State and local government positions account for about 13 percent of the nation’s jobs, and the sector has historically been more welcoming for women and African-Americans, offering an entryway into the middle class.

But a report from GovernmentJobs.com, a recruiting site for public sector jobs, suggests that even in this corner of the economy, applicants who are not white males can be at a disadvantage.

The study, which analyzed more than 16 million applicants by race, ethnicity and gender in 2018 and 2019, found that among candidates deemed qualified for a job in city, county or state government, Black women were 58 percent less likely to be hired than white men. Over all, qualified women were 27 percent less likely to be hired than qualified men.

The disparity was surprising. In a survey of 2,700 applicants, nearly a third said they thought they were more likely to be discriminated against in the private sector than in the public. Black Americans, who make up 13 percent of the population, rely disproportionately on state and local government jobs, making up 28 percent of the applicants for positions.

There are steps that could mitigate bias. The study found that many more Black women were called in for interviews when all personally identifying information was withheld during the application screening process — so recruiters did not know a candidate’s name, race and gender. Using a standardized rubric with specific guidelines for each score also sizably increased the number of Black women called in.

Penisha Richardson, who is 35 and lives in Newport News, Va., is a specialist in technical support at a company making printers and copiers. She remembers that when she was looking for jobs — in the public and private sectors — she got many more responses when she listed her name as Penny instead of Penisha.

“I had one person tell me I should go by Penny because it’s easier to pronounce,” Ms. Richardson said.

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Covid-19 Live Updates: France Begins Monthlong Lockdown as Cases Surge

reported 35,000 new coronavirus cases, according to a New York Times database — one of the highest numbers since November, when a second wave of infection forced the entire country into lockdown. The country’s slow inoculation campaign, further set back by a temporary suspension of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, has not helped.

French officials said they would resume AstraZeneca vaccinations as soon as possible — they said that France’s national health authority had recommended the doses only for people age 55 and older. A very small number of cases of blood clotting have occurred in people younger than that.

Health Minister Olivier Véran welcomed the move. “Thank you to all of our doctors and pharmacists who as of today are going to mobilize to continue the vaccination campaign,” he said in a tweet.

Germany, Italy and Spain, said on Thursday that they would resume using the AstraZeneca vaccine, within hours of the European Medicines Agency declaring it safe. Norway said it would await further study.

But officials worry that a fearful public may not be easily reassured.

Coronavirus infections in France rose 24 percent from the previous week. The variant first identified in Britain now represents three-quarters of new cases.

The Paris region has borne the brunt of it. Last week, health officials in Paris ordered hospitals to cancel many of their procedures to make room for Covid-19 patients. And this week some patients were transferred to other regions to ease the pressure on hospitals.

France has been under a nighttime curfew since mid-January, with restaurants, cafes and museums remaining closed. Making a calculated gamble, the government tried to tighten restrictions just enough to stave off a third wave of infections without taking more severe steps that might hurt the economy.

But as infections started to increase in late February, the government imposed new lockdowns on weekends in the French Riviera, the famed strip along the Mediterranean coast, and in the area surrounding the northern port of Dunkirk. Officials made clear that more lockdowns might follow in other regions.

The new restrictions will affect about a third of the population, though they don’t go as far as those imposed a year ago, at the start of the epidemic.

Primary schools and secondary schools will remain open, and the rules for high schools and universities will remain much the same, with attendance limited to prevent infections. People will also be allowed to take walks and exercise with no time limit.

Though nonessential shops will close, the definition of essential has been expanded to include bookshops and music shops.

Bruno Riou, the head of the crisis center for Paris public hospitals, said a lockdown was the only remaining option to prevent more deaths, given that less than 9 percent of the population has received at least a first vaccination dose.

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Biden: U.S. on Track for 100 Million Vaccinations Since Jan. 20

President Biden said Thursday the U.S. would on Friday reach his Covid-19 vaccine goal of 100 million shots in 100 days, though he had earlier conceded they should aim higher.

In the last week, we’ve seen increases in the number of cases in several states — scientists have made clear that things may get worse as new variants of this virus spread. Getting vaccinated is the best thing we can do to fight back against these variants. While millions of people are vaccinated, we need millions more to be vaccinated. And I’m proud to announce that tomorrow, 58 days into our administration, we will have met my goal of administering 100 million shots to our fellow Americans. That’s weeks ahead of schedule. Eight weeks ago, only 8 percent of seniors, those most vulnerable to Covid-19, had received a vaccination. Today, 65 percent of people age 65 or older have received at least one shot. And 36 percent are fully vaccinated. This is a time for optimism, but it’s not a time for relaxation. I need all Americans, I need all of you to do your part. Keep the faith, keep wearing the mask, keep washing your hands and keep socially distanced. We’re going to beat this. We’re way ahead of schedule, but we’ve got a long way to go.

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President Biden said Thursday the U.S. would on Friday reach his Covid-19 vaccine goal of 100 million shots in 100 days, though he had earlier conceded they should aim higher.CreditCredit…Jon Cherry for The New York Times

As more states expand eligibility for coronavirus vaccinations, the pace of daily shots administered in the United States has steadily increased to a rate that is now 12 percent higher than it was a week ago.

On Thursday, Illinois joined a growing list of at least 16 other states announcing that they were opening appointments to all residents 16 years and older this month or next.

“The light that we can see at end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter as more people get vaccinated,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a news conference.

President Biden said on Thursday that the United States was a day away from reaching his goal of administering 100 million vaccine doses in 100 days — with six weeks to spare before his self-imposed deadline.

“We’re way ahead of schedule,” he said in brief remarks from the White House, “but we have a long way to go.”

Mr. Biden maintained that the 100 million-shot goal was ambitious, even though he conceded in January that the government should be aiming higher. And though the new administration has bulked up the vaccine production and distribution campaign, its key elements were in place before Mr. Biden took office.

As of Thursday, the seven-day average was about 2.5 million doses a day, according to a New York Times analysis of data reported from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last week, Mr. Biden set a deadline of May 1 for states to make vaccines available to all adult residents. At least Maine, Virginia, North Carolina and Wisconsin, in addition to Washington, D.C., plan to meet that goal. Others, including Colorado, Connecticut, Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan and Montana, hope to make vaccines available to all of their adult residents even earlier.

Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah said opening up eligibility to all adults in his state would help address vaccine equity and reach rural communities. He also said it would “allow us to take our mobile vaccination clinics into these hard-to-reach areas or populations who may have a little more vaccine hesitancy.”

Other states have also pushed up their eligibility dates: Nevada will make vaccines available to all adults on April 5; Missouri on April 9; Maryland as of April 27; and Rhode Island starting April 19.

New York has yet to make all adults eligible, but the state recently expanded to include public-facing government employees, nonprofit workers and essential building service workers. On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, newly eligible because of the change, received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a news conference.


16+ or 18+

50+ or 55+

60+ or 65+

Eligible only in some counties


Restaurant workers

Eligible only in some counties


High-risk adults

Over a certain age

Eligible only in some counties

Sheikh Mohamed Hamad Mohamed al-Khalifa, center behind brown box, who plans to climb Mount Everest, arriving at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Monday.
Credit…Nishant S. Gurung/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

KATHMANDU, Nepal — A peculiar vaccine drama is unfolding at the international airport in Nepal’s capital. It involves a member of Bahrain’s royal family who arrived with thousands of doses of coronavirus vaccines from China for an expedition to Mount Everest.

Before setting out, a team of Bahraini climbers led by Sheikh Mohamed Hamad Mohamed al-Khalifa had announced that they would be coming with 2,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines, which Nepal’s government said would be of the AstraZeneca kind.

This move would fulfill a pledge that the climbers had made to local villagers during another expedition last September — a promise of generosity that led the villagers to name a local hill “Bahrain Peak.”

But when the climbers arrived in the capital, Kathmandu, on Monday, an inquiry by Nepal’s drug regulators found that the vaccines they were carrying were actually the one developed by Sinopharm, a Chinese state-owned vaccine maker.

The Nepali authorities now find themselves in a fix: whether to accept the vaccine doses or refuse.

The doses are being held in cold storage at the airport, and the climbers have been quarantined at a hotel as the authorities ponder how to handle the situation.

Nepal has largely relied on the AstraZeneca vaccine for its rollout, which is off to a slow start. Relying on a donation of one million doses from India, Nepal has vaccinated about 1.7 million people in a country of about 30 million.

Its efforts have been slowed because of a delay in the delivery of two million vaccine doses that it bought from the Serum Institute of India.

Although Nepal approved the emergency use of the Sinopharm vaccine after China pledged to give 500,000 doses to the country, it has not received the Chinese donation.

In September, the Bahraini climbers arrived in Nepal in a chartered plane to climb two mountains, Mount Manaslu and Lobuche Peak. The vaccine doses they were carrying this week were a gift for villagers in Samagaun, a gateway to Mount Manaslu.

The team of Bahraini climbers could not be reached for comment. But Mingma Sherpa, the owner of Seven Summit Treks, the agency that has been organizing the Bahrain team’s Everest expedition, said the complications might have resulted from miscommunication between Nepal’s foreign ministry and the health ministry.

He said the Sinopharm vaccine had also been used during Bahrain’s vaccination drive.

“It’s up to the government,” Mr. Sherpa said. “If they think it’s OK, the vaccines will be administered to villagers. If they think it’s risky to vaccinate the people, the team will take the vaccine back to Bahrain.”

Maria Alyokhina, center, a member of Pussy Riot, at a hearing at the Moscow City Court in February.
Credit…Moscow City Court Press Service, via Shutterstock

A Russian court has confined some of the country’s most prominent opposition figures to house arrest on accusations that they violated coronavirus safety rules, in what appears to be a government effort to use the restrictions to muzzle its opponents.

The legal action, known as a “sanitary case,” targets 10 opposition politicians and dissidents, including the senior leadership of Aleksei A. Navalny’s organization and members of the protest group Pussy Riot. All are accused of inciting others to violate rules introduced last spring to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Their lawyers have denied that they did.

Prosecutors say their social media posts promoting a protest in Moscow in January resulted in attendance by 19 people who were legally required to isolate because of positive Covid-19 tests, thus putting at risk others who attended.

Defense lawyers say the authorities are cynically twisting coronavirus rules to isolate people who pose no infection risk but are seen by the government as posing a political one.

“The ideological intent is to label opposition figures as infectious, as toxic, as poisoners of the public,” said Danil Berman, a lawyer for Maria Alyokhina, a member of Pussy Riot who was one of those targeted. Isolating key leaders before parliamentary elections scheduled for this year also hobbles the opposition, he said.

Many people around the world have complained that coronavirus restrictions have infringed on their freedoms as a byproduct of safety measures. But the Russian opposition members argue that the government is using the restrictions against them with the specific aim of curbing their liberty.

Online posts from the opposition figures promoting the protest did not specifically encourage people who were sick to attend, as the government charged, defense lawyers say. Lockdowns in Moscow had in any case been mostly lifted months earlier.

Also, the defense lawyers say, the rules are selectively enforced to restrict opposition activity while allowing pro-government events to go ahead with few restrictions, though the virus would spread as readily at either type of gathering.

Hiking at Zion National Park in Utah in November.
Credit…Nikki Boliaux for The New York Times

Last June, as Americans began to emerge from lockdowns and into a new yet still uncertain stage of the pandemic, Amy Ryan and her family set sail in a 44-foot catamaran and headed up the Atlantic coast. They haven’t stopped sailing since.

Ms. Ryan’s husband, Casey Ryan, 56, was on partly paid leave from his job as an airline pilot. School was remote for their daughters, now 7 and 11. Ms. Ryan, a real estate agent, could manage her team from anywhere.

For nine months, the Ryans have been hopscotching, first up the coast and later in the Caribbean. “We’re so secluded most of the time, we won’t see any people on land for weeks at a time,” Ms. Ryan said. The biggest challenge is finding a Covid-19 test before setting sail for a new location.

For many people, the past 12 months have been lived in a state of suspended animation, with dreams and plans deferred until further notice amid worry over venturing out for even basic excursions. But some people, like the Ryans, took the restrictions — virtual school and remote work — as an opportunity to pick up and go somewhere else. With a good internet connection, a Zoom conference call can happen just as easily on a boat or in the back of a camper as it can in a living room.

Many people bristle at the idea of anyone taking a trip at all, let alone traveling indefinitely at a time of immense suffering. School and office closings weren’t meant to make it easier to see the world; they were intended to persuade people to stay home and slow the spread of a deadly virus. And with many out of work and struggling to pay bills, or trying to balance parenting with the demands of remote work, it would have been impossible.

But these families insist that their “slow travel” methods — allowing for only rare encounters with other people indoors — are no more dangerous than staying home. Spend your time crisscrossing the country in a camper and staying in state parks, and you rarely encounter anyone outside your family, except to get food and gas.

“This pandemic has been so incredibly hard for everybody, and people are finding their ways of managing and getting through it,” said Ashish K. Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, adding that isolated activities like sailing and camping are not inherently risky.

Until the pandemic, the Ryans weren’t sailors, nor had they ever planned to be. But they spent the lockdown watching YouTube videos about families that sail. By May, they had bought a boat with no idea how long they would be on it.

“If it hadn’t been for Covid,” Ms. Ryan said, “there is no way this would have happened.”

Marge Rohlf receiving a vaccination at the Madrid Home in Iowa in January.
Credit…Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register, via Associated Press

For the first time in nearly a year, Iowa is reporting that there are no active coronavirus outbreaks in any of the state’s long-term care facilities.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 2,200 residents of those facilities have died from the virus, according to Iowa’s Covid-19 dashboard. But the rate of outbreaks began a steep decline in January, when the state ramped up vaccinations for residents and staff.

In the first two weeks of January alone, cases declined 70 percent, from 410 to 119 by mid-January, according to the Iowa Health Care Association. Of the state’s 445 skilled nursing homes and 258 assisted-living facilities, 146 were experiencing outbreaks in December.

“This is a big milestone,” said Nola Aigner Davis, the public health communications officer for the Polk County Health Department in Des Moines. “It really speaks volumes of how effective this vaccine is.”

For much of the pandemic, residents and employees in nursing homes have been among the most vulnerable people in the country.

The coronavirus, as of late February, had scythed through more than 31,000 long-term care facilities and killed at least 172,000 people living and working in them. More than 1.3 million long-term care residents and workers have been infected over the past year.

Of Iowa’s 5,673 deaths, nearly 60 percent were people over age 80.

That has changed, however, with the advent of vaccinations.

Facilities for older people were given early priority for shots, and from late December to early February, a New York Times analysis found, new cases among nursing home residents — a subset of long-term care residents — fell more than 80 percent. That was about double the rate of improvement in the general population.

Even as fatalities were peaking in the general population, deaths inside the facilities decreased more than 65 percent.

About 4.8 million residents and employees in long-term care facilities have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 2.8 million have been fully vaccinated.

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As 4th Election Looms, Some Ask: Is Israel’s Democracy Broken?

Polling suggests that next week’s vote is unlikely to break the deadlock, leading many Israelis to brace for yet a fifth election later this year.

“Is Israeli democracy broken, given what we’ve seen over the last couple of years?” asked Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, a research group in Jerusalem. No, he said, it was “flawed but not broken,” and for that he credits the Civil Service professionals who have kept it going.

But if the system is not yet broken, it is deep in dysfunction.

Parliament did not pass a state budget for either 2020 or 2021, despite the extraordinary costs of the pandemic, forcing government agencies to go month to month. Cabinet meetings have been postponed or canceled because of disputes within the coalition, and cabinet approval of critical foreign policy decisions has occasionally been bypassed altogether. Key government positions remain unfilled. The executive branch is at war with the judicial branch.

And the prime minister, who denies the charges against him and dismisses the prosecution as a coup attempt, is trying to run the country even as he stands trial.

To his critics, Mr. Netanyahu has trapped the country in an electoral limbo for one main reason: to win enough seats in Parliament to allow him to change the law and circumvent his court case.

This time, he is accused of sabotaging budget negotiations to collapse the coalition government and trigger next week’s elections. The action upended a power-sharing agreement that would have allowed Benny Gantz, Mr. Netanyahu’s centrist coalition partner, to replace him as prime minister this fall.

The maneuver was reminiscent of one that Mr. Netanyahu pulled off three elections ago, in May 2019, when he led a push to dissolve Parliament and start a new election cycle. The move prevented the president, Reuven Rivlin, from giving Mr. Gantz an opportunity to try to form a coalition that could have removed Mr. Netanyahu from power.

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Massachusetts joins a growing number of states rapidly expanding vaccine eligibility, some well ahead of Biden’s May 1 deadline.

Not long ago, Covid-19 vaccines were available only to the most vulnerable Americans and some essential workers. That is quickly changing as vaccine production and distribution ramp up and more states begin to heed a call from President Biden to expand access to all adults by May.

States are also racing to stay ahead of the growing number of virus variants, some of which are more contagious and possibly even more deadly. At least three states — Maine, Virginia and Wisconsin — and Washington, D.C., have said that they will expand eligibility to their general population by May 1, the deadline that Mr. Biden set last week. Other states — including Colorado, Connecticut, Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana and Utah — hope to do so this month or next.

In Mississippi and Alaska, everyone age 16 or older is eligible, and Arizona and Michigan have made the vaccines available to all adults in some counties.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine. With three vaccines now in use, Mr. Biden has said that the United States will have secured enough doses by the end of May for shots to be available for all adults.

have already been expanding eligibility for vaccinations. In Ohio, vaccines will open to anyone 40 and up as of Friday, and to more residents with certain medical conditions. Indiana extended access to people 45 and older, effective immediately.

In Massachusetts, residents 60 years and older, as well as people who work in small spaces and those whose work requires regular public interaction, will be eligible for a vaccine on March 22, the state announced Wednesday. Residents 55 and older with certain medical conditions will be eligible on April 5, and everyone else 16 years and older will be eligible on April 19.

Coloradans age 50 and up will be eligible for a shot on Friday, along with anyone 16 years and older with certain medical conditions. Wisconsin said on Tuesday that residents 16 years and up with certain medical conditions would be eligible a week earlier than initially planned.

On Monday, Texans age 50 and older and Georgians over 55 became eligible for vaccines.

In New York State, residents 60 and older are eligible to receive a vaccine, and more frontline workers will become eligible on Wednesday, including government employees, building services workers and employees of nonprofit groups. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has yet to announce how or when the state will open eligibility to all adults.

the federal government has delivered nearly 143 million vaccine doses to states and territories, and more than 77 percent have been administered, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The country is averaging about 2.4 million shots a day, compared with well under one million a day in January.

As of Tuesday, 65 percent of the country’s older population had received at least one vaccine dose, according to C.D.C. data, with 37 percent fully vaccinated.

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Covid-19 Live Updates: States Aim to Expand Vaccine Eligibility Before Biden’s Deadline

vaccine production and distribution ramp up and more states begin to heed a call from President Biden to expand access to all adults by May.

States are also racing to stay ahead of the growing number of virus variants, some of which are more contagious and possibly even more deadly. At least three states — Maine, Virginia and Wisconsin — and Washington, D.C., have said that they will expand eligibility to their general population by May 1, the deadline that Mr. Biden set last week. At least six other states — including Colorado, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, Montana and Utah — hope to do so this month or next.

In Mississippi and Alaska, everyone age 16 or older is eligible, and Arizona and Michigan have made the vaccines available to all adults in some counties.

Mr. Biden said last week that he was directing the federal government to secure an additional 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. With three vaccines now in use, Mr. Biden has said that the United States will have secured enough doses by the end of May for shots to be available for all adults.


50+ or 55+

60+ or 65+

Eligible only in some counties


Restaurant workers

Eligible only in some counties


High-risk adults

Over a certain age

Eligible only in some counties

Several states have already been expanding eligibility for vaccinations. In Ohio, vaccines will open to anyone 40 and up as of Friday, and to more residents with certain medical conditions. Indiana extended access to people 45 and older, effective immediately.

Coloradans age 50 and up will be eligible for a shot on Friday, along with anyone 16 years and older with certain medical conditions. Wisconsin said on Tuesday that residents 16 years and up with certain medical conditions would be eligible a week earlier than initially planned.

On Monday, Texans age 50 and older and Georgians over 55 became eligible for vaccines.

In New York State, residents 60 and older are eligible to receive a vaccine, and more frontline workers will become eligible on Wednesday, including government employees, building services workers and employees of nonprofit groups. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has yet to announce how or when the state will open eligibility to all adults.

Since vaccinations began in December, the federal government has delivered nearly 143 million vaccine doses to states and territories, and more than 77 percent have been administered, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The country is averaging about 2.4 million shots a day, compared with well under one million a day in January.

As of Tuesday, 65 percent of the country’s older population had received at least one vaccine dose, according to C.D.C. data, with 37 percent fully vaccinated.

Virus-related cases, deaths and hospitalizations are significantly down from the peak levels reported in January. But progress has slowed noticeably since the start of this month, with continued drops in some states offset by persistent outbreaks in other parts of the country, especially the Northeast.

Public health leaders like Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, have warned Americans not to let their guard down prematurely, noting that the amount of new cases remains high, at around 55,000 per day.

Serbia’s largest vaccination center this month at the Belgrade Fair, a sprawling exhibition complex in the Serbian capital.
Credit…Laura Boushnak for The New York Times

Stained for years by its brutal role in the horrific Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, Serbia is now basking in the glow of success in a good campaign: the quest to get its people vaccinated.

Serbia has raced ahead of the far richer and usually better-organized countries in Europe to offer all adult citizens not only free inoculations, but also a smorgasbord of five vaccines to choose from.

The country’s unusual surfeit of vaccines has been a public relations triumph for the increasingly authoritarian government of President Aleksandar Vucic. It has burnished his own and his country’s image, weakened his already beleaguered opponents and added a new twist to the complex geopolitics of vaccines.

Serbia, with a population under seven million, placed bets across the board, sealing initial deals for more than 11 million doses with Russia and China, whose products have not been approved by European regulators, as well as with Western drug companies.

It reached its first vaccine deal, covering 2.2 million doses, with Pfizer in August and quickly followed up with contracts for millions more from Russia and China.

As a result, Serbia has become the best vaccinator in Europe after Britain, data collected by OurWorldInData shows. It had administered 29.5 doses for every 100 people as of last week compared with just 10.5 in Germany, a country long viewed as a model of efficiency and good governance, and 10.7 in France.

Serbia’s prime minister, Ana Brnabic, attributed her country’s success to its decision to “treat this as a health issue, not a political issue. We negotiated with all, regardless of whether East or West.”

Serbia’s readiness to embrace non-Western vaccines so far shunned by the European Union could backfire if they turn out to be duds. Sinopharm, unlike Western vaccine makers, has not published detailed data from Phase 3 trials. Data it has released suggest that its product is less effective than Western coronavirus vaccines.

Many Serbians, apparently reassured by the vaccination drive, have also lowered their guard against the risk of infection. The daily number of new cases has more than doubled since early February, prompting the government to order all businesses other than food stores and pharmacies to close last weekend.

More than 150 million students and educators are using Google Classroom app.
Credit…Friedemann Vogel/EPA, via Shutterstock

After a tough year of toggling between remote and in-person schooling, many students, teachers and their families feel burned out from pandemic learning. But companies that market digital learning tools to schools are enjoying a windfall.

Venture and equity financing for education technology start-ups has more than doubled, surging to $12.6 billion worldwide last year from $4.8 billion in 2019, according to a report from CB Insights, a firm that tracks start-ups and venture capital.

Yet as more districts reopen for in-person instruction, the billions of dollars that schools and venture capitalists have sunk into education technology are about to get tested.

“There’s definitely going to be a shakeout over the next year,” said Matthew Gross, the chief executive of Newsela, a popular reading lesson app for schools.

A number of ed-tech start-ups reporting record growth had sizable school audiences before the pandemic. Then last spring, as school districts switched to remote learning, many education apps hit on a common pandemic growth strategy: They temporarily made their premium services free to teachers for the rest of the school year.

“What unfolded from there was massive adoption,” said Tory Patterson, a managing director at Owl Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in education start-ups like Newsela. Once the school year ended, he said, ed-tech start-ups began trying to convert school districts into paying customers, and “we saw pretty broad-based uptake of those offers.”

Some consumer tech giants that provided free services to schools also reaped benefits, gaining audience share and getting millions of students accustomed to using their product.

The worldwide audience for Google Classroom, Google’s free class assignment and grading app, has skyrocketed to more than 150 million students and educators, up from 40 million early last year. And Zoom Video Communications says it has provided free services during the pandemic to more than 125,000 schools in 25 countries.

Whether tools that teachers have come to rely on for remote learning can maintain their popularity will now hinge on how useful the apps are in the classroom.

GLOBAL ROUNDUP

Casting a ballot at a polling station in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
Credit…Sem Van Der Wal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As Dutch voters go to the polls for parliamentary elections this week, the pandemic has changed the usual dynamic.

To help maintain social distancing, the voting process was spread over three days, ending on Wednesday. Voters over 70 were encouraged to vote by mail. And campaigning mainly took place on television, making it hard for voters to spontaneously confront politicians as is typical practice.

Coronavirus cases are again surging in the Netherlands, prompting the authorities to warn of a third wave. Last year, it took the government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte until November to get the country’s testing capabilities in order, and the vaccination process is also going slowly.

Yet during the campaigning, more localized issues managed to overshadow the government’s handling of the coronavirus.

The prime minister and his cabinet resigned in January over a scandal involving the tax authorities’ hunting down people, mostly poor, who had made administrative mistakes in their child benefits requests. Many were brought to financial ruin as a result.

Broader policies put forward by Mr. Rutte, who has been in power since 2010, were also a focus on the campaign trail. While his party is ahead in the polls, it has lost some support in recent weeks.

Neighboring Germany is also entering a packed election season, with national and state votes coming in a year that will bring to an end the 16-year chancellorship of Angela Merkel.

In other developments around the world:

Andrea Maikovich-Fong, a psychologist in Denver, said she worried about how some clients would adjust as the world begins to reopen.
Credit…Stephen Speranza for The New York Times

When the pandemic narrowed the world, Jonathan Hirshon stopped traveling, eating out, going to cocktail parties and commuting to the office.

What a relief.

Mr. Hirshon experiences severe social anxiety. Even as he grieved the pandemic’s toll, he found lockdown life to be a respite.

Now, with public life about to resume, he finds himself with decidedly mixed feelings — “anticipation, dread and hope.”

Mr. Hirshon, a 54-year-old public relations consultant, is one of numerous people who find the everyday grind not only wearing, but also emotionally unsettling. That includes people with clinical diagnoses of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, and also some run-of-the-mill introverts.

A new survey from the American Psychological Association found that while 47 percent of people have seen their stress rise over the pandemic, about 43 percent reported no change in stress and 7 percent said they felt less stress.

Mental health experts said that this portion of the population found lockdown measures protective, a sort of permission to glide into more predictable spaces, schedules, routines and relationships. And experts say that while the lockdown periods have blessed the “avoidance” of social situations, the circumstances are poised to change.

“I am very worried about many of my socially anxious patients,” said Andrea Maikovich-Fong, a psychologist in Denver. That anxiety, she said, “is going to come back with a vengeance when the world opens up.”

A protest over masks and Covid vaccines outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta on Saturday.
Credit…Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Former President Donald J. Trump recommended in a nationally televised interview on Tuesday evening that Americans who are reluctant to be vaccinated against the coronavirus should go ahead with inoculations.

Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, were vaccinated in January. And vaccine proponents have called on him to speak out in favor of the shots to his supporters — many of whom remain reluctant, polls show.

Speaking to Maria Bartiromo on “Fox News Primetime,” Mr. Trump said, “I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it — and a lot of those people voted for me frankly.”

He added: “It is a safe vaccine, and it is something that works.”

While there are degrees of opposition to coronavirus vaccination among a number of groups, polling suggests that the opinions break substantially along partisan lines.

A third of Republicans said in a CBS News poll that they would not be vaccinated — compared with 10 percent of Democrats — and another 20 percent of Republicans said they were unsure. Other polls have found similar trends.

Mr. Trump encouraged attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., late last month to get vaccinated.

Still, Mr. Trump — whose tenure during the pandemic was often marked by railing against recommendations from medical experts — said on Tuesday that “we have our freedoms and we have to live by that, and I agree with that also.”

With President Biden’s administration readying television and internet advertising and other efforts to promote vaccination, the challenge for the White House is complicated by perceptions of Mr. Trump’s stance on the vaccine.

Asked about the issue on Monday at the White House, Mr. Biden said Mr. Trump’s help promoting vaccination was less important than getting trusted community figures on board.

“I discussed it with my team, and they say the thing that has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks is what the local doctor, what the local preachers, what the local people in the community say,” Mr. Biden said, referring to Mr. Trump’s supporters and campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”

Grace Sundstrom, a senior in Des Moines, wrote her college essay about correspondence she had with Alden, a nursing home resident.
Credit…via Grace Sundstrom

This year perhaps more than ever, the college essay has served as a canvas for high school seniors to reflect on a turbulent and, for many, sorrowful year. It has been a psychiatrist’s couch, a road map to a more hopeful future, a chance to pour out intimate feelings about loneliness and injustice.

In response to a request from The New York Times, more than 900 seniors submitted the personal essays they wrote for their college applications. Reading them is like a taking a trip through two of the biggest news events of recent decades: the devastation wrought by the coronavirus, and the rise of a new civil rights movement.

In the wake of the high-profile deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police officers, students shared how they had wrestled with racism in their own lives. Many dipped their feet into the politics of protest.

And in the midst of the most far-reaching pandemic in a century, they described the isolation and loss that have pervaded every aspect of their lives since schools suddenly shut down a year ago. They sought to articulate how they have managed while cut off from friends and activities.

The coronavirus was the most common theme in the essays submitted to The Times, appearing in 393 essays, more than 40 percent. Next was the value of family, coming up in 351 essays, but often in the context of other issues, like the pandemic and race. Racial justice and protest figured in 342 essays.

Family was not the only eternal verity to appear. Love came up in 286 essays; science in 128; art in 110; music in 109; and honor in 32. Personal tragedy also loomed large, with 30 essays about cancer alone.

Some students resisted the lure of current events and wrote quirky essays about captaining a fishing boat on Cape Cod or hosting dinner parties. A few wrote poetry. Perhaps surprisingly, politics and the 2020 election were not of great interest.

After his wife died from Covid-19 complications, John Lancos joined social media groups that offered support for people who had lost loved ones in the pandemic.
Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times

Pamela Addison is, in her own words, “one of the shyest people in this world.” Certainly not the sort of person who would submit an opinion essay to a newspaper, start a support group for strangers or ask a U.S. senator to vote for $1.9 trillion legislation.

But in the past five months, she has done all of those things.

Her husband, Martin Addison, a 44-year-old health care worker in New Jersey, died from the coronavirus in April after a month of illness. The last time she saw him was when he was loaded into an ambulance. At 37, Ms. Addison was left to care for a 2-year-old daughter and an infant son, and to make ends meet on her own.

“Seeing the impact my story has had on people — it has been very therapeutic and healing for me,” she said. “And knowing that I’m doing it to honor my husband gives me the greatest joy, because I’m doing it for him.”

With the United States’ coronavirus death toll — over 530,000 people — come thousands of stories like hers. Many people who have lost loved ones, or whose lives have been upended by long-haul symptoms, have turned to political action.

There are Marjorie Roberts, who got sick while managing a hospital gift shop in Atlanta and now has lung scarring; Mary Wilson-Snipes, still on oxygen more than two months after coming home from the hospital; and John Lancos, who lost his wife of 41 years on April 23.

In January, they and dozens of others participated in an advocacy training session over Zoom, run by a group called Covid Survivors for Change. This month, the group organized virtual meetings with the offices of 16 senators, and more than 50 group members lobbied for the coronavirus relief package.

The immediate purpose of the training session was to teach people how to do things like lobby a senator. The longer-term purpose was to confront the problem of numbers.

Numbers are dehumanizing, as activists like to say. In sufficient quantities — 535,227, for instance — they are also numbing. This is why converting numbers into people is so often the job of activists seeking policy change after tragedy.

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Mississippi Opens Covid Vaccine Eligibility to Everyone

Everyone who lives in Mississippi will be eligible to receive a Covid vaccination starting Tuesday, Gov. Tate Reeves announced on Twitter.

“Get your shots, friends,” Mr. Reeves wrote. “And let’s get back to normal!”

Though the governor referred to “all Mississippians,” no vaccine has yet been authorized for use in children in the United States, so the change in eligibility presumably extends only to adults.

Last week, President Biden called on all states to open eligibility completely by May 1, and Mississippi is the second state to do so. Alaska opened its vaccination doors last week to anybody 16 or older who lives or works in the state.

Although Mississippi lags most other states in the share of its population that has been vaccinated so far, it is doing better than all of its neighbors except Louisiana, according to a New York Times tracker. As of Sunday, about 20 percent of Mississippians have received at least one shot, and 11 percent have been fully vaccinated.

The state had already opened eligibility further than most states, to cover everyone 50 or over. Governor Reeves urged older residents to book appointments as soon as possible.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan has said that her state will drop its restrictions on eligibility by April 5, about a month before Mr. Biden’s deadline.

Officials in Washington, D.C., said on Monday that they would do the same by May 1, allowing anyone 16 or older who lives in the city to be inoculated.

In New York, where the minimum eligible age was recently lowered to 60, the state will open three new mass vaccination sites on Long Island at the end of the week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday at a news conference. The sites will be on college campuses in Old Westbury, Brentwood and Southampton.

More categories of public-facing workers will become eligible in the state on Wednesday, including government employees, building services workers and employees of nonprofit groups. Mr. Cuomo has yet to announce how or when the state would open eligibility to all adults.

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