The go-to vaccine outfit? Dolly Parton set the style with a cold-shoulder top.

Look out, Zoom shirt. Here comes the vaccine top.

As millions of more Americans become eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, fashion-minded folks are giving extra consideration to what they will wear for their coveted appointments, and the emerging vaccine-ready top seems to be the cold-shoulder top, thanks to Dolly Parton.

On March 2, the 75-year-old country music star posted a four-minute video across her social media channels, getting her first shot of the Moderna vaccine at Vanderbilt Health in Tennessee.

“Dolly gets a dose of her own medicine,” she wrote on Instagram, a reference to the $1 million she donated last year for coronavirus vaccine research to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which worked with Moderna.

For the occasion, she wore a sparkly navy blue knit top with cold-shoulder cutouts that was custom designed by her creative director, Steve Summers. “I even have a little cutout in my shirt — I matched it over here,” she told the doctor who administered the shot, pointing to her other shoulder.

Donna Karan sent Linda Evangelista down a fall 1991 runway wearing a white one under a matching jacket. Women’s Wear Daily called it “silly,” but when Liza Minnelli wore a black version to the 1992 Oscars, followed by Candice Bergen to the Emmys (and then Hillary Clinton, in one of her early looks as the first lady), it struck a glamorously accessible chord. During the early 2000s, it was a staple of the so-called going-out-top trend, when night life held sway over fashion.

These days, the cold-shoulder has less to do with “going out” than the ease with which it allows wearers to be vaccinated. Lyst, the fashion search and shopping platform, has seen searches for cold-shoulder tops increase 21 percent since the start of March, according to a company spokeswoman.

When Wendy Brande, 53, a jewelry designer and activist in New York City, went to get vaccinated at the Javits Convention Center in New York City on March 5, she wore a black cold-shoulder sweater that she bought on eBay around 2005. “I just about fell over when I saw Dolly wearing one,” she said. “I knew I kept it for this moment.”

Apparently, she was not the only one. As she was receiving her Pfizer shot, the nurse told her: “Everyone’s wearing these tops.”

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The Most Valuable Democrat

The structure of the Senate has not always favored Republicans. But in recent decades, heavily white and rural communities have moved to the political right. Because these communities dominate many small states, and because small states enjoy a lot of power in the Senate, it now has a large pro-Republican bias.

So how have Democrats nonetheless won control of the Senate, allowing them to pass an ambitious bill last week that will reduce poverty, lift middle-class incomes, cut the cost of health insurance and more? There are two main answers.

First, the Democratic Party has been the more popular political party nationwide for most of the past three decades, and this national edge sometimes allows it to overcome the Senate’s built-in bias. Last year, Joe Biden won the popular vote by 4.4 percentage points. That was enough for him to win exactly half of the country’s 50 states and for Democratic Senate candidates to flip seats in Arizona and Georgia.

The second answer is more succinct: Joe Manchin and Jon Tester.

Manchin, a Democratic senator from West Virginia, and Tester, a Democratic senator from Montana, have managed a remarkable feat in today’s polarized political atmosphere. They have won elections in states that usually vote by wide margins for the other party. The only other current politician with a similar track record is Susan Collins, a Republican senator from Maine.

defeated and how successful the president would be at putting federal judges on the bench.

Manchin, who is 73, is a frequent subject of criticism from the political left. A recent example involved his insistence that the relief bill increase unemployment benefits by less than most Democrats favored — a stance that will hurt some of Manchin’s own constituents, as critics noted. Another example, as Bloomberg’s Joshua Green recently recalled: “His 2010 Senate victory was powered by a memorable television ad in which the NRA-endorsed Manchin pulled out a rifle and shot Barack Obama’s climate bill, vowing, ‘I’ll always defend West Virginia.’”

occasional, high-profile breaks with the Democratic Party allow him to overcome the party’s terrible image there and win elections. He often does not even demand large policy changes: The final virus relief bill was nearly identical in size to Biden’s initial proposal.

addressing progressives: “If you don’t want your governing agenda perpetually held hostage to Joe Manchin (or for a majority to be out of reach if Manchin retires in 2024), then you need to win Senate races in right-of-center states like Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, Texas and Florida that just aren’t as right-wing as West Virginia.”

How Democrats might do so — or how Republicans might replicate Collins — is a complex subject. But it’s one of the most fascinating, consequential questions in politics, and it will be an occasional theme in this newsletter over coming months.

What’s next? Climate, in part. Slate’s Nitish Pahwa argues that the decline of coal may make Manchin more open to climate legislation than he used to be. And Manchin told Mike Allen of Axios that he would push for tax increases on corporations and the wealthy to help pay for Biden’s clean-energy and infrastructure initiatives.

Related: Democrats hope that the popularity of the virus relief bill will help them avoid the losses that a president’s party usually suffers in midterm elections, The Times’s Jonathan Martin writes.

save a main road from rising seas.

  • Shelters in Mexico are struggling to house migrants expelled from the U.S., as more people seek to cross. And the U.S. is scrambling to manage the increase of children crossing the border alone. Neither crisis is abating.

  • Law enforcement agencies dismissed violence linked to the Proud Boys as street brawling without a strategy — until the attack on the Capitol.

  • Voting-rights advocates are waging the most consequential political struggle over access to the ballot in decades. Can it succeed?

  • Women in Britain are demanding safety from male violence after the disappearance and death of Sarah Everard, 33, in London. A social movement has sprung up, which “feels different this time,” The Times’s Amanda Taub writes.

  • Morning Reads

    A Morning read: How the sale of a Fifth Avenue townhouse became an international debacle.

    Lives Lived: Marvelous Marvin Hagler was one of boxing’s great middleweight champions. His awesome punching power helped him win 62 bouts — 52 by knockouts. He died at 66.

    Here are more tips from Victor.)

  • Ed Feng at FiveThirtyEight has found that preseason polls, which gauge a team’s raw potential, predict a team’s success in the tournament better than some end-of-season rankings.

  • Josh Katz and Kevin Quealy of The Times suggest looking for games on which the public and the experts disagree. “If you think the nerds know something the public doesn’t, those kinds of outcomes represent good opportunities,” Kevin told us.

  • Here’s a link to a printable version of the bracket. The N.C.A.A. will release the bracket for the women’s tournament tonight (we’ll have a link in tomorrow’s newsletter).

    For more: Alan looks at the tournament changes that the N.C.A.A. has made to cope with the pandemic.

    What did they learn?

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    More countries pause the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, despite its support among global health authorities.

    China and India are already giving away vaccine shots to curry favor with neighbors, and more than 50 countries from Latin America to Asia have ordered 1.2 billion doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. But Mr. Biden would face a political uproar if he sent doses abroad while they are still scarce in the United States.

    Mr. Biden is taking steps to ramp up vaccine production so that there will be as many as a billion doses available by the end of this year — far more than are necessary to vaccinate the roughly 260 million American adults.

    A deal the administration brokered to have the pharmaceutical giant Merck manufacture Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, which Mr. Biden celebrated at the White House on Wednesday, will help advance that goal. Also Wednesday, Mr. Biden directed federal health officials to secure an additional 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

    The administration has said those efforts are aimed at having enough vaccine for children, booster doses and unforeseen events, like infectious new variants. But Jeffrey D. Zients, Mr. Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters Friday that the deal between Johnson & Johnson and Merck would also “help expand capacity and ultimately benefits the world.”

    At the same time, tens of millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine made by the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca are sitting idly in American manufacturing facilities, awaiting results from its U.S. clinical trial while countries that have authorized its use beg for access.

    The fate of those doses is the subject of an intense debate among White House and federal health officials, with some arguing the administration should let them go abroad where they are desperately needed while others are not ready to relinquish them, according to the senior administration officials.

    The financing agreement the administration will unveil at Friday’s Quad Summit is aimed at creating capacity to make and deliver as many as an additional billion doses in 2022 to support global demand, the officials said.

    The administration has recently been in talks with international partners, including those backing a World Health Organization vaccine program, known as Covax, about various ways to boost global vaccine supply, including by paying for companies to manufacture more doses that can then be released overseas, according to one participant in those discussions, who insisted on anonymity to describe private conversations.

    Testing of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Oxford, England, in November.
    Credit…Andrew Testa for The New York Times

    The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been authorized for use in more than 70 countries, but the United States is not yet one of them. And as American officials wait for results from the company’s U.S. trial and then emergency clearance, tens of millions of doses sit idly in American manufacturing facilities — even as other countries beg for access.

    The doses’ fate is the subject of an intense debate among White House and federal health officials. Some argue that the administration should let them go abroad where they are desperately needed, while others are not ready to relinquish them.

    AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company, is involved in those conversations.

    In a prime-time speech to the nation on Thursday, President Biden said the government had made major gains in securing vaccines for the United States. By the end of May, he said, there will be enough for all adults in the country, and promised that by May 1 every adult will be eligible for one.

    But other countries are grappling with serious supply issues, and a shortfall in the supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine has fueled tensions with European officials.

    AstraZeneca has asked the Biden administration to let it send the American doses to the European Union. The administration, for now, has denied the request, one official said.

    The company’s Covid-19 vaccine has meanwhile hit some headwinds this week after health authorities in three European countries suspended its use as a precaution while European drug regulators investigate the possibility that it might increase the risk of blood clots. The countries — Denmark, Iceland and Norway — emphasized that there was no evidence of any causal link. Bulgaria and Thailand suspended use of the vaccine on Friday.

    Denmark acted after a 60-year-old woman who received a shot developed a blood clot and died. Several other European countries had stopped using doses from the same vaccine batch after some reports of severe blood clots, and European drug regulators are investigating.

    Public health experts expect medical conditions to turn up by chance in some people after receiving any vaccine. In the vast majority of cases, such illnesses have nothing to do with the shots. Most other countries where the AstraZeneca vaccine has been given to many millions of people have not reported similar red flags.

    The Biden administration’s hesitation in letting go of the vaccine doses is at least partly related to uncertainties with supply before a benchmark of late May laid down by the president. Vaccine production is notoriously complex and delicate, and problems like mold growth can interrupt a plant’s progress.

    The administration’s moves to order more supply of the three vaccines authorized by the F.D.A. has further sidelined AstraZeneca’s candidate. The United States may only briefly, or never, need the AstraZeneca doses.

    In Atany, Hungary, administering a coronavirus vaccine produced by Sinopharm, a state-owned Chinese company.
    Credit…Peter Komka/EPA, via Shutterstock

    Hungary has agreed to pay about $36 a dose for the Covid-19 vaccine made by Sinopharm, a Chinese state-owned company, according to contracts made public by a senior Hungarian official on Thursday. That appears to make the Sinopharm shot among the most expensive in the world.

    Hungary has agreed to buy five million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, priced at 30 euros ($36) each, according to contracts that Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, uploaded to his Facebook page. The contract is between the Hungarian government and a third-party vendor, and that price far surpasses what the European Union has agreed to pay for vaccines from Western manufacturers.

    The European Union has said it would pay 15.50 per dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to Reuters, which cited an internal E.U. document. For AstraZeneca, it agreed to pay $2.15 per dose, according to Belgium’s budget secretary.

    The contracts that Mr. Gulyas published also show that Hungary, which has recorded nearly half a million coronavirus cases and more than 16,000 deaths, has agreed to pay $9.95 per dose for the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine.

    The company from which Hungary is buying the vaccine underwent a change in ownership two months before the transaction, was awarded the contract after the government exempted it from having to take part in an open public procurement process, said Miklos Ligeti, legal director for Transparency International Hungary, an anticorruption group. (Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated which company had changed ownership.)

    Such arrangements raise red flags for anticorruption watchdogs, who warn that the involvement of third parties increases the risk of price gouging. “We don’t know how much this company actually paid for this vaccine,” Mr. Ligeti said.

    Given publicly available data on this company, Mr. Ligeti pointed to figures that he described as worrying. “The government of Hungary assigned a contract with a net value of 150 million euros” — $179 million — “to a company with registered capital of €9,000” ($10,700), he said.

    Hungary is one of the few European countries to sign a deal with Sinopharm, which has promoted itself to developing countries at a time when many richer nations are hoarding doses by Western drugmakers like Pfizer and Moderna. A major selling point has been Sinopharm’s manufacturing capacity: It has said it can make up to three billion doses by the end of this year.

    The Sinopharm price is extraordinary in part because the company, unlike the Western vaccine makers, has not published detailed data from Phase 3 trials.

    Sinopharm is mass-producing two vaccines. It says that the first, made in conjunction with the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, has an efficacy rate of 79 percent, and that the second, made with the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, is 72.5 percent effective.

    Adam Liptak contributed reporting.

    The Obamas, the Bushes and the Clintons at the inauguration of President Biden. They appear together in a new ad campaign.
    Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

    Four former U.S. presidents and their first ladies appear in a new public service campaign with one single plea to Americans: Get vaccinated.

    The ads feature former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, getting vaccine jabs. Their wives — Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama — also appear.

    The two ads urge all Americans to get their shots when the opportunity arrives.

    “This vaccine means hope,” Mr. Obama says. “It will protect you and those you love from this dangerous and deadly disease.”

    “In order to get rid of this pandemic it’s important for our fellow citizens to get vaccinated,” says Mr. Bush.

    They spoke of the longing so many feel to get back to normal.

    “I want to be able to go back to work and to move around,” says Mr. Clinton.

    “To visit with Michelle’s mom,” says Mr. Obama. “To hug her, and see her on her birthday.”

    Mr. Bush says he is “really looking forward to going to opening day in Texas Ranger Stadium with a full stadium.”

    Mr. Carter says, “I’m getting vaccinated because we want this pandemic to end as soon as possible.”

    The only ex-presidential couple not in the ad campaign is Donald and Melania Trump.

    Mr. and Mrs. Trump quietly received their vaccines in January before leaving the White House. Later that month, Mr. Trump appeared at the CPAC political conference in Orlando, Fla., where he encouraged people to go get vaccinated.

    Mr. Trump’s private approach came as a number of his supporters have expressed resistance to the vaccine. Many other prominent figures have tried setting an example by getting the shot in public. Last week, Andy Slavitt, a senior White House pandemic adviser, dodged a question from a reporter about whether the Biden White House would ask Mr. Trump to do a public service announcement to encourage hesitant supporters to get vaccinated. Mr. Slavitt said that many people, including Republican politicians, have spoken up about the importance of getting vaccinated.

    “I particularly liked the Dolly Parton song myself,” Mr. Slavitt said, referring to the country music star breaking into song when she received her first dose of the vaccine. “That’s one of my favorites.”

    The two ads are part of a broad promotional effort to combat Covid-19 vaccine skepticism that launched in February, backed by the nonprofit adverting group Ad Council and a coalition of experts known as the Covid Collaborative. Public service announcements will appear in English and Spanish on television, social media and other platforms.

    More than 300 companies, community groups and public figures contributed to the $52 million push, as did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    “We urge you to get vaccinated when it’s available to you,” says Mr. Obama.

    “So roll up your sleeve and do your part,” says Mr. Bush.

    “This is our shot,” says Mr. Clinton.

    “Now it’s up to you,” concludes Mr. Carter.

    Eileen Sullivan contributed reporting.

    Dr. Zhang Wenhong, an infectious-disease specialist, may be China’s closest analogue to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.
    Credit…TPG/Getty Images

    China imposed some of the world’s toughest lockdowns to stop the coronavirus. One city sealed apartment doors, leaving residents with dwindling food and medicine. One village tied a local man to a tree after he left home to buy cigarettes.

    Few officials spoke up against the measures, given the central government’s obsession with its anti-coronavirus campaign. That hasn’t stopped Dr. Zhang Wenhong.

    Dr. Zhang, an infectious-disease specialist and perhaps China’s most trusted voice on Covid-19, has spoken out publicly against the strictest lockdowns. Fighting the pandemic, he likes to say, is like “catching mice in a china shop.”

    He may be China’s closest analogue to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the American infectious-disease specialist who became the public face of the response to the virus in the United States.

    A consummate technocrat, Dr. Zhang comes across as neither political nor ideological. Yet by offering his expert opinions straight, he pushes back against the authoritarian instinct in a system that often turns to draconian measures.

    A top academic at Fudan University in Shanghai and a member of the Communist Party, Dr. Zhang led Shanghai’s expert panel on Covid-19, giving him considerable authority over the city’s response.

    But unlike Dr. Fauci, who urged the Trump administration to do more, Dr. Zhang championed a more strategic approach for a country that didn’t take coronavirus half-measures. In doing so, he spoke to the Chinese public with respect, a refreshing change from the way others in authority often carry themselves.

    Dr. Zhang is especially popular among professionals and technocrats who admire him for his sincerity in a society plagued by propaganda, conspiracy theories and crude nationalism.

    “At this moment, rumors are more terrifying than the virus,” he said at the beginning of the outbreak. “We need to explain the epidemic to the public with rational data and professional knowledge.”

    In today’s China, getting ahead often means speaking in the language of the Communist Party. Those who refuse to ride the ideological tide keep their independence by keeping quiet.

    By contrast, Dr. Zhang has earned an ability to speak freely. Shanghai, a city of 24 million people, has had only 371 local infections and seven deaths.

    His forecasts have been on the mark. He predicted early on that the pandemic could last at least one to two years. A year ago this month, when China was still virtually shut down, he said China had left its toughest hours behind.

    Journalists began to seek him out, and some of his responses became internet memes. A few examples:

    “Influenza is not a cold, just like a tiger is not a cat.”

    “You’re bored to death at home, so the virus will be bored to death, too.”

    Testing samples from the Novavax Phase 3 clinical trial in Seattle last month.
    Credit…Karen Ducey/Getty Images

    The drug company Novavax said on Thursday that its coronavirus vaccine candidate had an efficacy rate of 96.4 percent in a Phase 3 trial in Britain, a clinical result on par with that of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech shots.

    But the Novavax candidate was only 48.6 percent effective in a Phase 2 trial in South Africa, where most cases are linked to an emerging variant, the company said.

    The 96.4 percent rate measured the drug’s efficacy in Britain against mild, moderate and severe disease caused by the “original” strain of the coronavirus, Novavax said in a statement. The rate declined to 86.3 percent in cases caused by the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant, which was first detected in Britain.

    The 48.6 percent rate in the South Africa trial applied to “predominantly variant strains” of the virus, Novavax said, although it noted that the vaccine still offered 100 percent protection against severe disease and death in both trials.

    Most of the cases circulating in South Africa are linked to the B.1.351 variant. Scientists are concerned, because clinical trials tend to show that vaccines offer less protection against it than other variants.

    The findings released on Thursday are not a huge departure from interim results, released by Novavax in January, that showed an efficacy rate of nearly 90 percent in Britain and just under 50 percent in South Africa.

    Novavax, a little-known company based in Maryland, has never brought a vaccine to market. It is working on one of six vaccine candidates supported by the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed and has been running trials in Britain, Mexico, South Africa and the United States.

    The company said in January that it had started working on a new version of the vaccine to address the more contagious variants.

    Global roundup

    A vaccination center in Mumbai on Wednesday.
    Credit…Rajanish Kakade/Associated Press

    NEW DELHI — India has recorded one of its worst single-day increases in coronavirus cases since late December, owing largely to a resurgence in the western state of Maharashtra. More than 60 percent of the country’s 23,285 cases on Thursday were reported from the state, according to data from the health ministry.

    This month the government of Maharashtra, where the country’s financial capital, Mumbai, is located, imposed a lockdown in some areas after cases surged to over 8,000 in a single day. On Friday, officials announced fresh restrictions in other parts of the state.

    A strict lockdown was imposed for a week in the city of Nagpur beginning on Monday, the central and state governments said.

    Until last month, India had been experiencing somewhat of a breather in its outbreak. During the peak of its outbreak last fall, the country was registering more than 90,000 cases a day, but cases fell rapidly over the next few months to just about 9,000 a day, according to a New York Times database.

    “We are very worried about Maharashtra,” Vinod K. Paul, one of the country’s top health officials, said at a news conference on Thursday. “In all the states where the virus is seemingly on the rise in a significant way, the vaccination eligibility in those areas should be intensified,” he said.

    As of Friday morning, India had vaccinated 26 million people against the coronavirus. The government has set a target of 300 million inoculations by July.

    In other news from around the world:

    Anna Schaverien and Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting.

    A healthcare worker checking a man's blood pressure in a mountain village in Bulgaria last month before giving him a dose of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine. Bulgaria has joined four other countries in halting use of the vaccine while regulators examine reports of blood clots in some recipients. 
    Credit…Nikolay Doychinov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Countries continued to shy away from using the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday, a day after Demark, Norway and Iceland said they would halt its use while European drug regulators examine the possibility of a link to blood-clotting issues. The moves come despite continued support for the vaccine from global health authorities.

    Bulgaria joined those countries on Friday, saying it would temporarily suspend inoculations with the AstraZeneca vaccine after the death of a woman a day after she received a shot. And Thailand delayed its rollout of the vaccine, which was to begin Friday.

    Both countries said they were acting out of an abundance of caution, and Bulgaria said an autopsy of the woman did not find any traces of blood clots.

    Margaret Harris, a W.H.O. spokeswoman, said at a briefing on Friday that AstraZeneca was an “excellent vaccine,” Reuters reported, and that no causal relationship had been shown between the vaccine and reports of blood coagulation. Health officials worry the suspensions will cause more hesitancy about taking vaccines, a crucial tool in combating the pandemic.

    Italy and Romania also paused shots on Thursday, but only from a single batch of the vaccine that Italy is investigating. That batch is different from the one that set off alarms in Denmark and several other countries starting last weekend.

    Bulgaria — which is experiencing a third wave of the virus — ordered the temporary suspension on Friday after the death of the woman, who was 57, the country’s health minister, Kostadin Angelov, told reporters. There is no indication that the death is related to the vaccination, but the health authorities are investigating.

    Mr. Angelov said the woman had several pre-existing conditions, including a history of heart disease.

    “I do not expect to find any correlation even in this case” between the death and vaccine, Mr. Angelov said. “However, having the people’s health and well-being in mind, we decided to take action as a precaution.”

    The move could further hinder Bulgaria’s efforts in a vaccination campaign that has been marred by a slow rollout and vaccine hesitancy. The country relies heavily on the AstraZeneca vaccine, and has ordered 4.5 million doses.

    In an effort to speed up its inoculation campaign, Bulgaria introduced a walk-in vaccination program last month under which anyone wanting to be inoculated would receive an AstraZeneca shot. Since then, those “green corridors” have been switched on and off amid a shortage of doses.

    Thailand’s announcement came hours before Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was scheduled to be the first person in the country to be inoculated with a shot of AstraZeneca, and the move does not affect Thailand’s rollout of the Sinovac vaccine.

    Dr. Yong Poovorawan, a virologist at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, told reporters that the country’s delay would probably last a week or two. “We’re not saying the vaccine is bad,” he said of the AstraZeneca vaccine. “We’re postponing it to see if the deaths are related to the vaccine or not.”

    Patrons at a bar in Texas on March 10, after Gov. Greg Abbott rescinded Covid restrictions.
    Credit…Justin Hamel for The New York Times

    One year ago, New Yorkers were told to keep their hands away from their faces — and from people and banisters and elevator buttons. When the hands failed to obey, they were scrubbed to the bone.

    For all of the uncertainty and terror that greeted the arrival of the coronavirus, there was a certain clarity to the early protocols.

    Now, after so much tragedy, the city finds itself closer to the point of normalcy. By the end of this week, more than 2.4 million doses of the Covid vaccines will have been administered in New York City, which was once the global epicenter of the pandemic.

    This period in the aftermath of lockdown and before a complete reversion to ordinary routines is rife with its own confusion and conflicts.

    “It is clear from walking around the city that people are giving in and relaxing rules, probably because of progression in vaccinations and because people are experiencing extreme fatigue,” Emanuela Taioli, the director of Translational Epidemiology at Mount Sinai, told me.

    “The reality is that the positivity rates in the city are not going down,” she said. “They are at a plateau and staying there. This has been true for the last two weeks. This means that we have to keep going with the precautions until we are all vaccinated, and that may take another couple of months or more.”

    Who wants to hear this? Probably no one.

    In Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott recently lifted a mask mandate, a bar called Shenanigans and Confetti’s Beach Club, in the town of Huntsville, advertised a “Masks Off” party for this past Tuesday night with “100 percent capacity.’’



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    On Tuesday, the journal Science reported that the United States, by contracting with multiple pharmaceutical companies out of precaution, had essentially over-ordered vaccine doses. This whiplash notion of scarcity and abundance has led many people to rationalize being vaccinated even if they don’t technically meet eligibility requirements.

    It may seem morally reprehensible that a wealthy Brooklynite — claiming asthma or A.D.H.D. as a developmental disability, for example — will travel to a poorer neighborhood to get vaccinated. But epidemiologists turn out to be not in the castigation business when it comes to immunization. They say the point is to get as many people jabbed as possible.

    How will we look at this precarious time a year from now? How will we regard the choices we make to jump-start regular life or to wait our turn to hit the piñata? It will depend on the outcome, the worst one being that the powerful go on living as always have, and the vulnerable become even more so.

    The semi-deserted Galleria Umberto I in Naples, Italy, on Saturday.
    Credit…Cesare Abbate/EPA, via Shutterstock

    Italy’s government said Friday that coronavirus restrictions would be severely tightened across much of the country starting Monday and that the entire country would be under lockdown over Easter weekend to beat back surging infections amid a slow vaccine rollout.

    The office of Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Draghi, announced the measures, which will force more than half of Italy’s population into lockdown. Starting Monday, health authorities will shut down schools, restaurants and many shops in most northern regions as well as the regions of Rome and Naples. People will also be restricted from leaving their homes except for work, health care visits and emergencies.

    For Easter weekend, April 3-5, which is usually celebrated with large family gatherings, a lockdown will limit movement to one trip a day out of the home.

    The measures are among the strongest since last March, when Italy became the first Western country to impose a lockdown in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

    “I am aware that today’s measures will have an impact on children’s education, on the economy and also on the psychological state of us all,” Mr. Draghi said during a televised visit Friday to a vaccination hub near Rome. “But they are necessary to avoid a worsening that will make even more stringent measures inevitable.”

    “The memory of what happened last spring is still vivid. We will do anything that we can to prevent it from happening again.”

    Also Friday, Italy’s Health Ministry applied new criteria to determine when regions are shut down. The restrictions would take effect when the virus caseload surpasses 250 cases per 100,000 residents. Many of the country’s 20 regions are expected to be subjected to the measures.

    Italy surpassed 100,000 coronavirus deaths this week, with a current death rate of about 300 per day. The country registered over 25,000 new infections and 373 deaths on Thursday.

    Some health officials attribute the rise in contagions and death, especially in central and northern Italy, to the now widespread presence of a more contagious variant first reported in Britain. Italy’s vaccine rollout, as in other European countries, remains slow compared with the United States and Britain. About 7 percent of Italy’s population has been vaccinated.

    The country has encountered delays in vaccine deliveries from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. And the country’s own difficulties in managing vaccine distribution in the underdeveloped south and in the wealthy, hard-hit region of Lombardy have also slowed things down.

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    Court Dismisses Trump Campaign’s Defamation Suit Against New York Times

    A New York State court on Tuesday dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by the re-election campaign of Donald J. Trump against The New York Times Company, ruling that an opinion essay that argued there had been a “quid pro quo” between the candidate and Russian officials before the 2016 presidential election was protected speech.

    The Times published the Op-Ed, written by Max Frankel, a former executive editor of The Times who was not named as a defendant in the suit, in March 2019 under the headline “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo.” Mr. Frankel made the case that in “an overarching deal” before the 2016 election, Russian officials would help Mr. Trump defeat Hillary Clinton in exchange for his taking U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Russia direction.

    Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, Donald J. Trump for President Inc., filed the suit in New York State Supreme Court in February 2020, alleging defamation and accusing The Times of “extreme bias against and animosity toward” the campaign.

    In his decision on Tuesday, Judge James E. d’Auguste noted three reasons for dismissal. He wrote that Mr. Frankel’s commentary was “nonactionable opinion,” meaning it was constitutionally protected speech; that the Trump campaign did not have standing to sue for defamation; and that the campaign had failed to show that The Times had published the essay with “actual malice.”

    sued Gawker Media in 2012 over the publication of a sex video. That suit, secretly funded by the conservative tech investor Peter Thiel, resulted in a $140 million decision that prompted Gawker Media’s bankruptcy and sale.

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    They Had a Fun Pandemic. You Can Read About It in Print.

    The Drunken Canal is one of a handful of downtown media projects that have been sprouting in reaction to the dominance of giant online media, the homogenization of big social media platforms that make community feel global, not local (though they’d like it if you’d follow them on Instagram), and the overwhelming sense that nobody in media was having fun in the grim year of 2020. The Dimes Square local media include a pirate radio station, Montez Press Radio, that won’t let you listen on demand, and a “natural style” fashion email newsletter, Opulent Tips, written by a GQ staff writer, with no fancy formatting. Many of the most interesting new products are in print “because digital spaces are becoming increasingly more policed,” said Richard Turley, 44, the former creative director of Bloomberg Businessweek who founded another downtown newspaper, Civilization, in 2018.

    The Dimes Square scene caught my eye because its privileged denizens embody a broader shift toward spaces safe from social media. The new Silicon Valley social audio app Clubhouse shares some of those values. And the choice of print has a political edge. The Canal’s first issue featured a “Sorry to hear you’ve been canceled” column composed of a list of names, with no explanation, “to keep you from looking foolish at a woke gathering.” (The second issue included an apology to the actor Terry Crews, whose name had been spelled wrong in the first issue and who had, in fact, not been canceled, in the publishers’ view.) A third recent newsprint project called The New Now, created by a co-founder of the magazine Paper, announces atop its front page that it is “Free of Charge” “Free of Advertising” and “Free of the internet.”

    The downtown media rebellion often looks back to the 1990s, when the model and actress Chloë Sevigny embodied an edgy new scene in a New Yorker profile, just before her star turn in the explicit 1995 movie “Kids.” Ms. Sevigny, now 46, is a running preoccupation — The Drunken Canal has featured her stylist, Haley Wollens. Ms. Sevigny told me she’s “flattered and hoping the kids rally for all of us.” But the more recent seeds of the current scene are in the podcasts that helped put a strain of left-wing populist politics that’s as hostile to Hillary Clinton as it is to Donald Trump on the political map — in particular, one called Red Scare, whose co-host, Dasha Nekrasova, lives near Dimes Square. Ms. Nekrasova, 30, said she admired the spirit of The Drunken Canal although, like many of its admirers, she hasn’t actually been able to get her hands on a copy. She plays a crisis P.R. person in the upcoming season of “Succession” and has directed a new feature film rooted in theories about Jeffrey Epstein’s death. The new Drunken Canal includes the prediction that “DASHA will become the new and better Chloë Sevigny.”

    The unsafe sex of “Kids” scandalized 1990s New York, but the best way to get a reaction from the 2020 New York media was by bragging about having indoor parties. The writer and publicist Kaitlin Phillips, 30, who occupies a spot close to the center of a map of downtown personalities, became mildly notorious on Twitter for advertising a blasé attitude through the worst of the pandemic last spring.

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    Lucky review: how Biden beat Trump – and doubters like Obama and Hillary

    Seven million votes more was almost not enough. Had 45,000 gone the other way in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin, Donald Trump would still be president. Calls to defund the police nearly cost Joe Biden victory and led to a more than a dozen-seat loss for House Democrats.

    Lucky is an apt title for Allen and Parnes’s third book.

    “In 2016, Trump had needed everything to go wrong for Hillary Clinton to win,” they write. “This time, Biden caught every imaginable break.”

    Their joint take on Biden is a prism and scorecard that gives added understanding to the seemingly never-ending war of 2020. Allen is a veteran political writer at NBC News digital, Parnes reports for the Hill. They deliver.

    Subtitled How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency, Lucky is the first full-length campaign postmortem. It makes the silent parts of the conversation audible and reminds the reader the past is always with us.

    The authors convey the cultural dimensions of Biden’s win. He was an old-time north-eastern pol who repeatedly bore witness to personal tragedy. So long in the Senate, he prided himself on his capacity to compromise and reach across the aisle, a trait that Allen and Parnes report elicited scorn from Elizabeth Warren.

    Biden also sought to maintain a “close relationship with the police and the civil rights community”, in his own words. It was no accident South Carolina emerged as Biden’s firewall in the primary, or that James Clyburn, a 15-term congressman and the most senior Black member of the House, was pivotal in digging Biden out of a deep hole.

    In the election’s aftermath, Clyburn attributed Democratic underperformance to the move to defund the police and the mantras of the left.

    “I’ve always said that these headlines can kill a political effort,” he told NBC. For good measure, Clyburn added: “Sometimes I have real problems trying to figure out what progressive means.”

    On the other hand, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama come across as out of sync. We are told that Clinton, the “vampire in the bullpen”, harbored thoughts of another run – until late 2019.

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    The fact Clinton lost in 2008 and 2016 had not totally dulled her capacity to believe she could unify party and country. Lucky captures Biden in 2016, calling the former secretary of state a “horrible candidate” who failed to communicate what she actually stood for.

    Unlike Clinton, Biden understood that simply drawing a contrast with Trump would not be sufficient. Yet Clinton did see that the 2020 Democratic nominee, whoever it was, would be in a fight for “the very soul of the nation”. Charlottesville provided that epiphany to Biden.

    Obama too does not fare too well, a fair-weather friend to his vice-president on several occasions, overly concerned with protecting his own legacy. He got some very important stuff wrong. Biden was more attractive and viable than the 44th president and his coterie thought.

    In the authors’ telling, Obama was temporarily enamored with Beto O’Rourke. Like Kamala Harris, the former Texas congressman’s candidacy was over before the first primary. For both, stardom did not translate into staying power.

    Then, at an event with Black corporate leaders in the fall of 2019, Obama amplified Warren’s chances and trash-talked Pete Buttigieg, then mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Obama reportedly said: “He’s the mayor of a small town. He’s gay, and he’s short.” Unlike Buttigieg, Warren never won a primary. She also finished third in Massachusetts – her own state.

    As for Biden, one source describes Obama’s support as “tepid at best”. Obama tacitly backed Biden just days before Super Tuesday in March. Months later, he took his time congratulating Biden on his election win.

    Biden’s so-called “brother” failed to call him “on election day, or the next day, or the next, or the next”, according to Allen and Parnes. Obama waited until Saturday 7 November, “the day the networks had finally called the election”. The audacity of caution.


    Biden and Hillary Clinton laugh during a portrait unveiling on Capitol Hill in December 2016. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

    Synchronously, the authors find room for the Biden campaign to unload on Andrew Cuomo and his capacity for fluffing his own ego. The New York governor’s five-minute convention speech devoted only its last eight seconds to the nominee.

    “They put his speech on our doorstep, lit it on fire, rang the door-bell and then ran away,” a campaign insider says. To think, in December the press reported Cuomo to be a contender for attorney general.

    Lucky is nothing if not clear-eyed. Trump roiled the nation’s waters but failed to bring a decisive shift to its politics. He energized and polarized the electorate along lines of class and education.

    Republicans, once the party of the John Cheever’s country club set, had become home to white voters without four-year degrees. In other words, 3 November delivered an outcome – not resolution.

    At Trump’s instigation, our semi-civil civil war turned hot and bloody. It wasn’t antifa but a weaponized segment of Trump’s base that stormed the US Capitol. The 6 January insurrection claimed lives, ruined others and brought the Confederate flag into the halls of Congress: a chilling first.

    Democracy and process prevailed. The constitutional architecture “held firm”. But for how long?

    As Allen and Parnes observe: “Luck, it has been said, is the residue of design. It was for Joe Biden, and for the republic.”

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