Late last month, foreign officials in army regalia toasted their hosts in Naypyidaw, the bunkered capital built by Myanmar’s military. Ice clinked in frosted glasses. A lavish spread had been laid out for the foreign dignitaries in honor of Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day.
That very day, the military, which had seized power on Feb. 1, gunned down more than 100 of its own citizens. Far from publicly condemning the brutality, the military representatives from neighboring countries — India, China, Thailand and Vietnam among them — posed grinning with the generals, legitimizing their putsch.
The coup in Myanmar feels like a relic of a Southeast Asian past, when men in uniform roamed a vast dictators’ playground. But it also brings home how a region once celebrated for its transformative “people power” revolutions — against Suharto of Indonesia and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines — has been sliding back into autocracy.
From Cambodia and the Philippines to Malaysia and Thailand, democracy is languishing. Electoral politics and civil liberties have eroded. Obedient judiciaries have hobbled opposition forces. Entire political classes are in exile or in prison. Independent media are being silenced by leaders who want only one voice heard: their own.
alliance of democracies.” With China and Russia involved, the United Nations Security Council has done nothing to punish Myanmar’s generals.
Covid-19 with them.
A scheduled special meeting on Myanmar by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations offers little hope of action. That consensus-driven group avoids delving into members’ internal affairs. Earlier negotiations among regional foreign ministers didn’t result in a single policy that would deter Myanmar’s coup-makers.
Besides, many of the region’s leaders have no wish to uphold democratic ideals. They have used the courts to silence their critics and met protest movements with force.
But if authoritarians are looking out for one another, so, too, are protesters. In Thailand, students have stood up to a government born of a coup, using a three-fingered salute from the “Hunger Games” films to express defiance. The same gesture was adopted after the putsch in Myanmar, the leitmotif of a protest movement millions strong.
its first commoner president, and Malaysia would shunt aside a governing party bloated by decades of graft and patronage. Thailand’s generals had managed to go years without a coup. Even in Vietnam, the Communist leadership was pushing forward with liberalization.
The most significant transformation seemed to be in Myanmar. The military had led the country since a 1962 coup, driving it into penury. In 2015, the generals struck a power-sharing agreement with a civilian leadership fronted by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate who spent 15 years under house arrest. President Barack Obama went to Myanmar to sanctify the start of a peaceful political transition.
Now Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is again locked in her villa, facing possible life imprisonment. Her supporters have been arrested and tormented. Soldiers picked up one of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s followers and burned a tattoo of her face off his arm.
Much of the rest of Southeast Asia is in full-fledged democratic retreat. The leader of Thailand’s last coup, Prayuth Chan-ocha, is still the prime minister. His government has charged dozens of student protesters, some in their teens, with obscure crimes that can carry long sentences. Thai dissidents in exile have turned up dead.
After a brief interlude out of government, Malaysia’s old establishment is back in power, including people associated with one of the largest heists of state funds the world has seen in a generation. Vietnam’s crackdown on dissent is in high gear. In Cambodia, Hun Sen, Asia’s longest-ruling leader, has dismantled all opposition and set in place the makings of a family political dynasty.
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines may enjoy enduring popularity, but he has presided over thousands of extrajudicial killings. He has also cozied up to China, presenting it as a more constant friend than the United States, which once colonized the Philippines.
Protesters in Thailand, who gathered by the hundreds of thousands last year, have resumed their rallies, even though most of their young leaders are now in prison.
As the riot police fired rubber bullets near the Grand Palace in Bangkok last month, Thip Tarranitikul said she wanted to erase the military from politics.
army chief, appears to have underestimated the people’s commitment to democratic change. Millions have marched against him. Millions have also joined nationwide strikes meant to stop his government from functioning.
There is little reason to believe the military will back down, given its decades in power. Over the past two months, it has killed more than 700 civilians, according to a monitoring group. Thousands have been arrested, including medics, reporters, a model, a comedian and a beauty blogger.
But the resistance has demographics on its side.
Southeast Asia may be ruled by old men, but more than half its population is under 30. Myanmar’s reforms over the past decade benefited young people who eagerly connected to the world. In Thailand, this same cohort is confronting the old hierarchies of military and monarchy.
Regional defenders of democracy, including the besieged dissidents of nearby Hong Kong, have formed what they call the Milk Tea Alliance online, referring to a shared affinity for the sweet brew. (Twitter recently gave the movement its own emoji.) On encrypted apps, they trade tips for protecting themselves from tear gas and bullets. They have also bonded over the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on young workers, in countries where income inequality is growing wider.
“The youth of Southeast Asia, these young digital natives, they inherently despise authoritarianism because it doesn’t jibe with their democratic lifestyle. They aren’t going to give up fighting back,” said Mr. Thitinan of Chulalongkorn University. “That’s why, as bad as things may seem now, authoritarianism in the region is not a permanent condition.”
In Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, protesters have faced the military’s rifles with a sense of an existential mission.
“I’m not afraid to die,” said Ko Nay Myo Htet, a high school student manning one of the barricades built to defend neighborhoods. “I want a better life for the future generation.”
Two reports published on Friday in a leading medical journal help to explain how AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine can, in rare cases, cause serious and sometimes fatal blood clots.
Scientific teams from Germany and Norway found that people who developed the clots after vaccination had produced antibodies that activated their platelets, a blood component involved in clotting. The new reports add extensive details to what the researchers have already stated publicly about the blood disorder.
Why the rare reaction occurred is not known. Younger people appear more susceptible than older ones, but researchers say no pre-existing health conditions are known to predispose people to the problem, so there is no way to tell if an individual is at high risk.
Reports of the clots have already led a number of countries to limit AstraZeneca’s vaccine to older people, or to stop using it entirely. The cases have dealt a crushing blow to global efforts to halt the pandemic, because the AstraZeneca shot — easy to store and relatively cheap — has been a mainstay of vaccination programs in more than 100 countries.
statement on its website, AstraZeneca said it was “actively collaborating with the regulators to implement these changes to the product information and is already working to understand the individual cases, epidemiology and possible mechanisms that could explain these extremely rare events.”
The two new reports were published by The New England Journal of Medicine. One from Germany describes 11 patients, including nine women ages 22 to 49. Five to 16 days after vaccination, they were found to have one or more clots. Nine had cerebral venous thrombosis, a clot blocking a vein that drains blood from the brain. Some had clots in their lungs, abdomen or other areas. Six of the 11 died, one from a brain hemorrhage.
One patient had pre-existing conditions that affected clotting, but during a news briefing on Friday, Dr. Andreas Greinacher, an author of the report, said those conditions most likely played only a minor role in the disorder that occurred after vaccination.
second report, from Norway, described five patients, one male and four female health care workers ages 32 to 54, who had clots and bleeding from seven to 10 days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. Four had severe clots in the brain, and three died. Severe headaches were among their early symptoms. Like the German patients, all had high levels of antibodies that could activate platelets.
The team from Norway also recommended treatment with intravenous immune globulin. The researchers said the disorder was rare, but “a new phenomenon with devastating effects for otherwise healthy young adults,” and they suggested that it may be more common than previous studies of the AstraZeneca vaccine had indicated.
On Friday, European regulators also said they were reviewing reports of a few blood clot cases that occurred in people who had received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. In the United States, federal agencies are investigating reports of a different type of unusual blood disorder involving a precipitous drop in platelets that emerged in a few people who had received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.
The two-person submersible piloted by Mr. Vescovo “has no operating depth limitation,” allowing it to go farther than the vehicle used in 2019, according to Caladan Oceanic.
The others on the mission were Parks Stephenson, a retired lieutenant commander with the U.S. Navy; and Shane Eigler, a senior submarine technician.
Last month, Mr. Vescovo and his team came up empty-handed on two dives. But on a third attempt, something new emerged: “the very sharp pointy end of the bow of the ship,” Mr. Vescovo said during a telephone interview this week from his home in Dallas. “We were just stunned at how intact it was.”
Mr. Vescovo, who was with Mr. Eigler on the dive, slowly steered his submersible to the side of the ship, and, “There it was, bright white numbers, on the hull: 557,” he said. “I turned to my co-pilot, because I was very busy piloting the sub and making sure that we were safe, and I said, ‘Get a picture! Get a picture!’”
It was, he later wrote on Twitter, “an extremely intense experience.”
On their fourth dive, they took more pictures and video, which showed two five-inch gun turrets, twin torpedo racks and several gun mounts on the ship. And, of course, the giant 557. “Imagery from the site clearly shows the ship’s hull number 557 confirming the identity of the wreck,” the Naval History and Heritage Command said in a statement on April 1.
The trip to the wreckage of the Johnston was not Mr. Vescovo’s first headline-making dive. In 2019, he declared that he had made the deepest-ever dive by a human being, after piloting a submersible into Challenger Deep, a spot nearly seven miles down in a long fissure in the western Pacific.
(That claim was disputed by James Cameron, the Hollywood director of “The Abyss” and “Titanic,” who is also a diving devotee and explored the Challenger Deep during a 2012 expedition.)
finally over rare, but sometimes fatal, blood clots reported in some recipients.
Those concerns led several European countries to first restrict the use of AstraZeneca in older age groups, then suspend it over reports of blood clots, only to roll it out again last month after the European Medicines Agency issued a preliminary opinion that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks.
As doctors reported a higher incidence of serious blood clots in younger people, some countries decided to stop administering the shot to anyone younger than 55.
Europe’s concerns over the vaccine’s side effects are also likely to threaten global inoculation efforts, with much of the developing world depending on the AstraZeneca vaccine to tackle the pandemic. The shot is the cornerstone of Covax, a program designed to make vaccine access more equitable worldwide.
The vaccine appeared to be causing an immune reaction in which antibodies bind to platelets, activating them, German doctors and the European Medicines Agency have said. Those platelets, in turn, were causing the formation of dangerous clots in certain parts of the body, including in veins that drain blood from the brain, leading in some cases to a rare type of stroke.
Why the antibodies develop in these people is not known, doctors have said. Some component of the vaccine, or excessive immune reaction — or both — could be the cause, they said.
No pre-existing conditions are known to make patients more vulnerable to this clotting disorder after a vaccination, European regulators said.
Nearly 80 percent of school staff and child care workers in the United States have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.
The announcement comes as the Biden administration has made an ambitious push to reopen schools and return to in-person instruction by the president’s 100th day in office. That goal has been tempered by dangerous virus variants, protests from teachers’ unions, and the fears and frustrations of students and parents.
The push to reopen schools has gathered momentum as evidence mounted that proper safety measures limited virus transmission in schools and coronavirus cases fell sharply from their January peak. Education officials and experts have cited the urgency of getting students back in classrooms before the academic year ends.
About eight million teachers, school staff and child care workers received their first vaccine dose by the end of March, according to the C.D.C., with about two million receiving their shot through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
President Biden announced the program in March, urging nationwide access to vaccines for school employees and child care workers. But a hodgepodge of eligibility guidelines followed, as some states chose not to deviate from their rollout plans. By the end of March, however, K-12 educators in all states had become eligible to receive the vaccine.
While the acceleration of vaccinations among educators and staff has reduced the resistance from teachers’ unions to reopening classrooms, school systems with powerful unions, especially on the West Coast, have been slower to revert to in-person instruction.
Union resistance has led a bipartisan group of governors in several states to prod, and sometimes force, school districts to open. The result has been a major increase in the number of students who now have the option of attending school in-person, or will soon.
According to a school reopening tracker created by the American Enterprise Institute, 7 percent of the more than 8,000 districts being tracked were fully remote on March 22, the lowest percentage since the tracker was started in November. Forty-one percent of districts were offering full-time in-person instruction, the highest percentage in that time. Those findings have been echoed by other surveys.
In February, the C.D.C. issued guidelines that said K-12 schools could reopen safely as long as they followed basic health protocols like masking or distancing.
More recently, it said that elementary students and some middle and high schoolers could be spaced three feet apart in classrooms, instead of six feet, as long as everyone was wearing a mask. Unions had used the six-foot guidance to oppose bringing children back for normal schedules.
“Our push to ensure that teachers, school staff, and child care workers were vaccinated during March has paid off and paved the way for safer in-person learning,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the center’s director, said in a statement released on Tuesday.
Mr. Biden touted the C.D.C.’s newly released benchmark while visiting a vaccination site in Alexandra, Va., on Tuesday.
“That is great progress protecting our educators and our essential workers,” Mr. Biden said of the new estimate. “And because our vaccine program is in overdrive, we are making it easier to get a vaccination shot.”
The American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teacher’s union, on Tuesday released a survey that reported over 80 percent of association members had been vaccinated or had made a vaccine appointment. About 85 percent of members said their school was “operating on at least a part-time basis,” according to the survey.
Randi Weingarten, the federation’s president, said in a statement on Tuesday that “A.F.T. members have embraced vaccines as vital to getting back in the classroom.”
“They want to return, the road map to reopening is robust, and if we instill trust and meet fear with facts we can finally end this national nightmare,” Ms. Weingarten said.
Around the United States, businesses, schools and politicians are considering “vaccine passports” — digital proof of vaccination against the coronavirus — as a path to reviving the economy and getting Americans back to work and play.
New York has rolled out “Excelsior Pass,” billed by the state as “a free, fast and secure way to present digital proof of Covid-19 vaccination” in case reopening sports and entertainment venues require proof of attendees’ status.
Walmart is offering electronic verification apps to patients vaccinated in its stores so they “can easily access their vaccine status as needed,” the company said.
But the idea is raising charged legal and ethical questions: Can businesses require employees or customers to provide proof of vaccination against the coronavirus when the vaccine is ostensibly voluntary?
Can schools require that students prove they have been injected with what is still officially an experimental prophylaxis the same way they require long-approved vaccines for measles and polio? And finally, can governments mandate vaccinations — or stand in the way of businesses or educational institutions that demand proof?
Legal experts say the answer to all of these questions is generally yes, though in a society so divided, politicians are girding for a fight. Government entities like school boards and the Army can require vaccinations for entry, service and travel — practices that flow from a 1905 Supreme Court ruling that said states could require residents to be vaccinated against smallpox or pay a fine.
Backers of digital vaccination cards are pressing the Biden administration to become involved, at least by setting standards for privacy and for verifying the accuracy of the records.
The White House is clearly skittish.
“The government is not now nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday.
Republican critics say vaccine passports raise the specter of centralized databases of vaccinated people, which they view as a government intrusion on privacy.
“A vaccine passport — a unified, centralized system for providing or denying access to everyday activities like shopping and dining — would be a nightmare for civil liberties and privacy,” Justin Amash, a former Republican congressman who is now a libertarian, wrote on Twitter last week.
But, in fact, every state already has a database, or an “immunization registry.” And under “data use agreements,” the states are required to share their registries with the C.D.C., though the agency de-identifies the information and not all states have agreed to provide it.
Three weeks after suspending its vaccination campaign, Nepal has started administering shots again thanks to a gift of doses from China.
Nepal, a poor Himalayan nation, had been depending on vaccines manufactured in neighboring India, but last month India began cutting vaccine exports as the country experienced a surge in coronavirus cases. Nepal’s vaccination effort ground to a halt, even as infections began to rise again.
Last week, Nepal’s other giant neighbor, China, stepped in with a donation of 800,000 doses of the vaccine developed by Sinopharm, a state-owned company.
The vaccines will be administered to essential workers, Nepali students preparing to travel to China to study and those living in districts along the Nepal-China border, health officials said. Taranath Pokhrel, a senior official in Nepal’s health department, said that the Chinese government asked Nepal to give priority to the students and to people involved in cross-border trade, presumably to reduce the risk of infected people crossing into China.
Thousands of Nepali students study at Chinese universities under Chinese government scholarships. China, to increase the appeal of its vaccines, has said that foreigners who are inoculated with Chinese-made vaccines may face fewer bureaucratic hurdles entering the country.
Nepal, a nation of 30 million people, has vaccinated more than 1.7 million and slowly begun reopening to visitors, including to a few hundred climbers attempting to scale Mount Everest. The country reported very few infections in January, but new cases have surpassed 300 in recent days, part of a worrying resurgence in new cases across South Asia. India, which shares a porous border with Nepal, recorded more than 115,000 new infections on Wednesday, by far its highest daily total since the pandemic began.
The future of Nepal’s vaccination campaign remains uncertain because the Chinese donation falls short of the two million vaccine doses Nepal was due to receive under an agreement with the Indian manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India. Nepal officials said that they had paid the company 80 percent of the contract price but received only half of the doses. Serum’s chief executive said this week that he hoped to restart exports by June if new infections in India subsided.
“Our entire diplomatic channels are mobilized to get vaccines, but none has assured us of providing vaccines when we tried to procure them,” Dr. Pokhrel said.
In other news from around the world:
In Japan, officials in Osaka canceled public Olympic torch relay events scheduled for next week and declared a medical emergency as a surge in coronavirus cases strains the hospital system. The prefecture’s 8.8 million residents were asked not to leave their homes except for essential matters. Olympic organizers said the ceremonial relay would be held at a park without spectators — the latest sign of trouble with the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to open in less than four months.
The Moderna vaccine is now being administered in Britain, with a 24-year-old woman in Wales who is a caregiver for her grandmother the first person in the country to receive that vaccine on Wednesday. The Pfizer and AstraZeneca shots are already being used in the country. Vaccinations in Britain have slumped this month, reaching their lowest level since the inoculation campaign started. In a Twitter post, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to “get your jab as soon as you are contacted.”
Regulators in South Korea granted final approval to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, making it the third vaccine authorized for use in the country amid growing concerns about the pace of its inoculation campaign. Officials reported 668 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the highest tally in three months, with most of the cases found in Seoul and other major cities.
Germany’s troubled vaccine rollout may face another hurdle after a shipment of up to 880,000 Moderna vaccines that had been promised for the end April was canceled, the news site Business Insider reported. Separately on Wednesday, state and federal health ministers were meeting to discuss how to handle cases of people who have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine after that shot use was discouraged for use in people under 60.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has called for a short and strict nationwide lockdown to bring down the number of new coronavirus infections in the country, according to her spokeswoman, but will meet with local officials next week to discuss potential regulations.
A year after the first lockdown was successful in tamping down cases, the country’s 16 governors are finding it harder than ever to agree on a unified plan to stem new infections. And with only months left in office, Ms. Merkel has found it increasingly difficult to rally support for a national lockdown as fatigue from prolonged restrictions looms large even as cases rise.
The governors and Ms. Merkel are scheduled to meet on Monday to hammer out new regulations.
While Armin Laschet, the governor of the country’s most populous state and a potential successor to Ms. Merkel, has made similar calls for a two- to three-week hard lockdown to bring down infections, other governors are pushing back. The governor of one small state even began a pilot program on Tuesday to reopen theaters, gyms and restaurant patios.
“A common nationwide approach would also be important here,” Ulrike Demmer, the deputy government spokeswoman, said during a daily news conference, referring to the confusing and often contradictory rules set by state governors. Ms. Demmer also pointed to the rising number of coronavirus patients in intensive care wards as a cause for concern.
According to Ms. Demmer, the goal is to get the infection rate below 100 new cases per 100,000 before the authorities should consider easing restrictions.
On Tuesday, the German health authorities recorded an average of 110 infections per 100,000 people over the previous 7 days, but warned that because fewer people were tested over the Easter holiday weekend, the number was likely to be much higher.
According to a New York Times database, Germany is averaging 15,562 new infections daily and since the pandemic began. More than 77,000 have died with the disease in the country since the pandemic began.
A 28-year-old man has died in the Philippines after the police forced him to do 300 squats as punishment after he was caught violating coronavirus lockdown rules.
The man, Darren Manaog Peñaredondo, was detained on Thursday in General Trias city, a Manila suburb, over a curfew violation. Officials have struggled to contain infections in the southeast Asian nation and have increasingly resorted to harsh tactics to enforce restrictions, rights groups say.
He was released the following day, but first was forced to complete 300 squats, his relatives said.
It is not the first time that the authorities have been accused of using aggressive tactics against civilians during the pandemic. President Rodrigo Duterte told the police last year not to be afraid to shoot anyone who “causes commotion,” after 20 people protesting restrictions were arrested. Last year, a former soldier suffering from mental health issues was gunned down by the police as he tried to cross a coronavirus checkpoint.
Mr. Peñaredondo’s partner, Reichelyn Balce, said that when he returned home on Friday after being detained, he had shown signs of fatigue.
“He told me that he fell when doing the exercises,” she said. “He struggled to walk when he got home. When he went to relieve himself, he turned blue and convulsed.”
She said that Mr. Peñaredondo was revived but he later died.
Two police officers who imposed the harsh punishment have been suspended pending the results of an investigation into their actions, said Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, a national police spokesman.
The local police had initially denied the events, but two men who were detained with Mr. Peñaredondo signed a sworn statement about the ordeal.
Cristina Palabay, who leads a local rights group called Karapatan, said that the police punishment amounted to “a form of torture that is cruel and inhuman” and signaled that the local police had adopted a “strongman approach.”
Ms. Palabay’s group aids families of the thousands of citizens killed in the president’s aggressive war on drugs.
The country’s Commission on Human Rights was critical of what it called an “overreach of the enforcement of quarantine rules and regulations,” according to the body’s spokeswoman, Jacqueline Ann de Guia.
Ms. de Guia said that curfew violations called for community service or a fine, rather than harsh physical punishment.
Kenna Tanner and her team can list the cases from memory: There was the woman who got tired and did not feel like finishing her hike; the campers, in shorts during a blizzard; the base jumper, misjudging his leap from a treacherous granite cliff face; the ill-equipped snowmobiler, buried up to his neck in an avalanche.
All of them were pulled by Ms. Tanner and the Tip Top Search and Rescue crew from the rugged Wind River mountain range — the Winds, as the range is known locally — in the past year in a sprawling, remote pocket of western Wyoming. And all of them, their rescuers said, were wildly unprepared for the brutal backcountry in which they were traveling.
“It is super frustrating,” said Ms. Tanner, Tip Top’s director. “We just wish that people respected the risk.”
In the throes of a pandemic that has made the indoors inherently dangerous, tens of thousands more Americans than usual have flocked outdoors, fleeing crowded cities for national parks and the public lands around them. But as these hordes of inexperienced adventurers explore the treacherous terrain of the backcountry, many inevitably call for help. It has strained the patchwork, volunteer-based search-and-rescue system in America’s West.
Where places like Canada or Switzerland have professional, full-time teams that manage everything from lost tourists to fatal mountaineering accidents, most operations in the United States are handled by a loose network of volunteer organizations like Tip Top, which are overseen by local sheriffs.
For much of the country’s history, this patchwork system met demand. But that trend has shifted in the past decade — and rapidly, over the past year — as less experienced recreationalists push further into treacherous places.
No one expects the eventual end of the pandemic to stem the flood of newcomers to the Winds, which people grudgingly admit have been discovered. Property values continue to soar in Sublette County, and even this winter, locals say out-of-state plates were more common than Wyoming plates in trailhead parking lots.
“You can’t stop it,” said Chris Hayes, who works at an outdoor retailer in Pinedale and also runs a fishing guide service. “There’s no secret place anymore. They’re all gone.”
Before the pandemic, I found comfort in the routine of my life and the rhythms of my family — what Nora Ephron once called the “peanut-butter-and-jellyness” of days with children. I liked the morning thunderdome of getting the children dressed and fed, dropping them at school and taking the 20-minute walk to the subway.
At this point my commute is the five feet from my bed to my desk, and I am somehow both tired and agitated when I start work each day. My kids never leave the house, except when we go to the same three parks in our neighborhood. Sometimes when I go running outside, I fantasize about just … not stopping, my eyes thirsty for some new horizon.
In other words, I’m so freaking bored.
Here’s how one boredom researcher — yes, there are boredom researchers — has defined the emotion. “‘Feeling unchallenged’ and perceiving one’s ‘activities as meaningless’ is central to boredom,” concluded a study by Wijnand Van Tilburg, an experimental social psychologist at the University of Essex in England.
Even in normal times, boredom is a very common emotion — a study of almost 4,000 American adults found that 63 percent felt bored at least once in a 10-day sampling period. The causes of boredom are multifaceted, but a lack of control over your situation is a common one. He added, “There’s research that shows when you’re limited in your control over the situation — that intensifies boredom.”
Knowing that many of us may not be able to have much control over our movements for at least the next few months, how do we try to alleviate our boredom? First, the researchers I spoke to said it’s important to acknowledge there’s no easy fix for our doldrums — so much of what is happening right now is beyond our control, and the vaccines are just beginning to be tested in children under 12, so we may not be able to make big moves just yet.
This weekend, we saw relatives I adore for an outdoor Easter egg hunt. Just 90 minutes of warm interaction with these beloved adults made me feel so happy and alive that I was smiling for the rest of the day.
As the weather gets warmer and more of my peers are inoculated, I am planning more get-togethers. Whenever I drop back into the doldrums, I will think about all the walks and dinners and hugs on the horizon.
Stress-baking and panic shopping. Vegetable regrowing and crafting. Now we can add another hobby to a year of quarantine trends: backyard maple sugaring.
Among the many indicators that it’s on the rise: a run on at-home evaporators and other syrup-making accouterments. A surge in traffic and subscriptions to syrup-making websites and trade publications. And, of course, lots of documentation on social media. (The Facebook group Backyard Maple Syrup Makers added some 5,000 members, almost doubling the its community, in the past year.)
Tapping maple trees and boiling the sap into syrup — known as sugaring — isn’t a new hobby. What’s unique about this year is the influx of suburban and urban backyard adventurers fueling these maple sugaring highs.
Claire and Thomas Gallagher, for example, tapped a tree behind their home in New Rochelle, N.Y., for the first time three weeks ago.
“It’s such a fun thing to do with the kids, it gets us outside, it’s educational,” Ms. Gallagher, 37, said. And with everyone at home all winter and probably the spring as well, the Gallaghers decided there would never be a better year to try it.
Because sugaring is a sticky business — and boiling sap indoors can mean resin all over the walls — many backyard amateurs turn to small-scale, hobby-size evaporators like the ones sold by Vermont Evaporator Company in Montpelier, Vt.
“When we started our company five years ago, our customers used to look just like us: rural homeowners with five to 10 acres of land,” said Kate Whelley McCabe, the chief executive. “Now we sell to people all over the country and to a growing number of suburban and urban customers.”
The governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, is a dedicated sugarer. His 8-year old son, Leo, is his tree tapping assistant, and his two teenagers, Edie and Calvin, “do the heavy lifting.”
Governor Sununu said that when the tree sap begins to flow, it’s the official signal that spring has arrived. “It’s been a long winter and a long year. The sun is coming up, the days are getting warmer, and when the sap ran this year, we knew we were really coming out of winter with a lot of optimism,” he said in an interview.
At the start of the year, Shay Fan felt relief: Vaccinations were on their way. Her relief turned to joy when her parents and in-laws got their shots.
Three months later, Ms. Fan, a 36-year-old freelance marketer and writer in Los Angeles, is still waiting for hers, and that joy is gone.
“I want to be patient,” she said.
But scrolling through Instagram and seeing photos of people, she said, “in Miami with no masks spraying Champagne into another person’s mouth,” while she sits in her apartment, having not had a haircut or been to a restaurant in more than a year, has made patience hard to practice. “It’s like when every friend is getting engaged before you, and you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m happy for them, but when is it my turn?’”
For much of the pandemic, the same rules applied: Stay at home, wear a mask, wash your hands.
But now, with vaccine distribution ramping up in some areas while others face a shortage, amid a third wave of coronavirus cases, or even warnings of a fourth, the rules are diverging around the world, and even within the same country.
and 47 percent of the population has had at least one vaccine dose. In New York, where at least 34 percent of people in the state have had at least one vaccine dose, there is talk about life feeling almost normal.
However, France, where only 14 percent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, just entered its third lockdown. And Brazil, which has given at least one dose to 8 percent of the population, is reporting some of the world’s highest numbers of new cases and deaths per day. There are dozens of countries — including Japan, Afghanistan, Kenya, the Philippines — that have given only a single dose to less than 2 percent of their populations.
or racial lines. Older people, who make up the majority of those vaccinated, have been dining indoors, hugging grandchildren and throwing parties, while many younger people are still ineligible or repeatedly finding the “no appointments” message when they have tried to book.
Dr. Lynn Bufka, a psychologist and senior director at the American Psychological Association, said the pandemic has weighed heavily on teenagers, and a long wait for vaccines to be distributed to them could add to the stress.
“Children are in many ways those individuals whose lives have been disrupted as much as anyone but with less life experience on how to adapt to these kinds of disruptions,” Dr. Bufka said.
For American adults, at least, the fear of missing out should not last for much longer. President Biden has promised enough doses by the end of next month to immunize all of the nation’s roughly 260 million adults. In fact, the pace of vaccinations is quickening to such an extent that Biden administration officials anticipate the supply of coronavirus vaccines to outstrip demand by the middle of next month if not sooner.
Ms. Fan, the freelance writer and marketer in Los Angeles, will be eligible to book a vaccine appointment in mid-April. She does not plan to do anything wild — the basics are what she is looking forward to most. “I just need a haircut,” she said.
NEW DELHI — As a new wave of coronavirus infections grips the densely populated region of South Asia, home to a quarter of the world’s population, Bangladesh on Saturday announced a second lockdown and officials in Mumbai, India’s largest city, said they were on the verge of declaring one.
The authorities in Bangladesh said the nation of 165 million people would go into a weeklong lockdown beginning on Monday to curb the spread of the virus. The country shut down for two months starting in March last year.
Bangladesh on Friday registered nearly 7,000 cases in 24 hours, the highest since the spread of the virus in the country last year. The daily death toll has been around 50 for the past week, but what has particularly alarmed officials is the high test positivity rate, with 24 percent of virus tests conducted coming back positive.
Farhad Hossain, Bangladesh’s state minister for public administration, told the local news media that “industries and factories will remain open,” but would operate in shifts and follow strict health protocols. The exceptions appeared to be aimed at reducing the economic impact and avoiding the kind of exodus of laborers that led to a humanitarian crisis in India last year.
sharply in Pakistan, which has struggled to source vaccines for its population, and in India, where a vaccination drive is only now picking up pace — despite the country being home to one of the world’s largest suppliers of vaccines.
Just a few weeks ago, India was a major exporter of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and it was using that to exert influence in South Asia and around the world. But as infections soared, the country decided to cut back on exports and is now holding back nearly all of the 2.4 million doses that the Serum Institute of India, the private company that is one of the world’s largest producers of the AstraZeneca vaccine, makes each day.
India on Saturday recorded its biggest single-day spike in cases since September, with government officials reporting nearly 90,000 cases and 714 deaths over the past 24 hours. Single-day figures sometimes contain anomalies, but the country’s seven-day average of new cases, a more reliable gauge, has been rising sharply since early March.
Nearly half of deaths and new infections in recent weeks have been traced to the state of Maharashtra, home to Mumbai, the country’s financial hub.
large rallies in several states where local elections are underway.
The government has also allowed a huge monthlong Hindu festival to go ahead on the banks of Ganges River. One million to five million people are expected to participate in the festivities in the city of Haridwar each day, officials say.
In other virus news from around the world:
Britain said it would ban international arrivals from four more countries — Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and the Philippines — amid concerns over virus variants. The move, which takes effect on April 9, will bring the number of countries on Britain’s travel “red list” to 39.
San Marino, a microstate surrounded by Italy, feared being left behind in Europe’s inoculation campaign. Now it has jumped ahead, with the Sputnik vaccine sent by an unlikely, faraway friend.
Turkey began administering Pfizer-BioNTech shots. With coronavirus infections surging and Ramadan approaching, the government also recently moved to reimpose strict social distancing measures, including a prohibition on the large gatherings for meals before sunrise and after sunset that are traditional during the Muslim holy month.
The Chinese ships settled in like unwanted guests who wouldn’t leave.
As the days passed, more appeared. They were simply fishing boats, China said, though they did not appear to be fishing. Dozens even lashed themselves together in neat rows, seeking shelter, it was claimed, from storms that never came.
Not long ago, China asserted its claims on the South China Sea by building and fortifying artificial islands in waters also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. Its strategy now is to reinforce those outposts by swarming the disputed waters with vessels, effectively defying the other countries to expel them.
The goal is to accomplish by overwhelming presence what it has been unable to do through diplomacy or international law. And to an extent, it appears to be working.
“Beijing pretty clearly thinks that if it uses enough coercion and pressure over a long enough period of time, it will squeeze the Southeast Asians out,” said Greg Poling, the director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, which tracks developments in the South China Sea. “It’s insidious.”
called their presence “a clear provocation.” Vietnam’s foreign ministry accused China of violating the country’s sovereignty and demanded that the ships leave.
By this week, some had left but many remained, according to satellite photographs taken by Maxar Technologies, a company based in Colorado. Others moved to another reef only a few miles away, while a new swarm of 45 Chinese ships was spotted 100 miles northeast at another island controlled by the Philippines, Thitu, according to the satellite photos and Philippine officials.
intensifying confrontation between China and the United States.
Although the United States has not taken a position on disputes in the South China Sea, it has criticized China’s aggressive tactics there, including the militarization of its bases. For years, the United States has sent Navy warships on routine patrols to challenge China’s asserted right to restrict any military activity there — three times just since President Biden took office in January.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken expressed support for the Philippines over the presence of the Chinese vessels. “We will always stand by our allies and stand up for the rules-based international order,” he wrote on Twitter.
The buildup has highlighted the further erosion of the Philippines’ control of the disputed waters, which could become a problem for the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte.
The country’s defense department dispatched two aircraft and one ship to Whitsun Reef to document the buildup but did not otherwise intervene. It is not known whether Vietnamese forces responded.
ruled in 2016 that China’s expansive claim to almost all of the South China Sea had no legal basis, though it stopped short of dividing the territory among its various claimants. China has based its claims on a “nine-dash line” drawn on maps before the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
A Philippine patrol first reported the large number of ships at Whitsun Reef on March 7. According to Mr. Poling, satellite photographs have shown a regular, though smaller, Chinese presence over the past year at the reef.
civilian force that has become an integral instrument of China’s new maritime strategy. Many of these boats, while unarmed, are operated by reservists or others who carry out the orders of the Coast Guard and People’s Liberation Army.
“They may be doing illicit activities at night and their lingering (swarming) presence may cause irreparable damage to the marine environment,” the task force’s statement said.
The presence of so many Chinese ships is meant to intimidate. “By having them there, and spreading them out across these expanses of water around the reefs the others occupy, or around oil and gas fields or fishing grounds, you are steadily pushing the Filipinos and the Vietnamese out,” Mr. Poling said.
“If you’re a Filipino fisherman, you’re always getting harassed by these guys,” he said. “They’re always maneuvering a little too close, blowing horns at you. At some point you just give up and stop fishing there.”
Patrols and statements aside, Mr. Duterte’s government does not seem eager to confront China. His spokesman, Harry Roque, echoed the Chinese claims that the ships were merely sheltering temporarily.
“We hope the weather clears up,” he said, “and in the spirit of friendship we are hoping that their vessels will leave the area.”
The Philippines has become increasingly dependent on Chinese trade and, as it fights the pandemic, largess.
On Monday, the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines arrived in Manila from China with great fanfare. As many as four million doses are scheduled to arrive by May, some of them donations. China’s ambassador, Huang Xilian, attended the vaccines’ arrival and later met with Mr. Duterte.
“China is encroaching on our maritime zone, but softening it by sending us vaccines,” said Antonio Carpio, an outspoken retired Supreme Court justice who is expert in the maritime dispute. “It’s part of their P.R. effort to soften the blow, but we should not fall for that.”
MANILA — When a Filipino immigrant was brutally attacked this week on a New York City sidewalk, the Philippine foreign secretary went on Twitter and advised his compatriots in the United States to fight back.
“The answer to racism has to be police/military; not understanding,” the foreign secretary, Teodoro Locsin, said in another Twitter post on the attack. “Racists understand only force.”
Mr. Locsin’s aggressive response, which echoed the bombastic populism of his boss, President Rodrigo Duterte,reflected how Philippine officials often see the welfare and interests of the country’s overseas labor migrants as a domestic issue. In thePhilippines, many people view those migrants — whose remittances account for nearly a tenth of gross domestic product — as being part of their own community even if they’ve made their home somewhere else.
“Every Filipino family has an American relative,” said Renato Cruz De Castro, a professor of international studies at De La Salle University in Manila, the Philippine capital. “The assumption here is that the Filipina who was attacked in New York still has relatives here.”
attacked with a box cutter on the subway after he confronted a stranger who had kicked his tote bag.
called on American officials to ensure their safety amid rising anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic.
told a local newspaper at the time.
Some of Mr. Duterte’s prominent critics have called his administration’s response to anti-Asian violence in the United States hypocritical, saying that his government has a long history of human rights abuses at home.
The United Nations has accused the Philippine government of systematic killings and arbitrary detentions in the service of a bloody campaign against drugs. The U.N. said last year that more than 8,000 people had died since Mr. Duterte began his antidrug campaign in 2016.
“It is just for a homeland government to condemn racist attacks on its overseas people,” Ninotchka Rosca, a Filipina novelist who lives in New York, said of this week’s attack. “It is also hollow when the same government makes it a policy to kill its own people in its own territory.”
Separately, Mr. Duterte has a spotty record on championing victims of abuse. He has joked about rape, made anti-Semitic remarks and admitted to sexually assaulting a housemaid when he was a teenager. Mr. Locsin, the foreign secretary, has used anti-Semitic language and defended Mr. Duterte’s decision to pardon an American marine who had killed a transgender woman.
A Rise in Anti-Asian Attacks
A torrent of hate and violence against people of Asian descent around the U.S. began last spring, in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Community leaders say the bigotry was spurred by the rhetoric of former President Trump, who referred to the coronavirus as the “China virus.”
In New York, a wave of xenophobia and violence has been compounded by the economic fallout of the pandemic, which has dealt a severe blow to New York’s Asian-American communities. Many community leaders say racist assaults are being overlooked by the authorities.
In January, an 84-year-old man from Thailand was violently slammed to the ground in San Francisco, resulting in his death at a hospital two days later. The attack, captured on video, has become a rallying cry.
Eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed in the Atlanta massage parlor shootings on March 16. The suspect’s motives are under investigation, but Asian communities across the United States are on alert because of a surge in attacks against Asian-Americans over the past year.
A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime in connection with a violent attack on a Filipino woman near Times Square on March 30. The attack sparked further outrage after security footage appeared to show bystanders failing to immediately come to the woman’s aid.
Richard Heydarian, a political scientist at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila, said that Mr. Locsin’s response to the New York attack is “just the latest case of arbitrary sympathy” from his administration.
a military pact with the United States, one that Mr. Duterte has previously threatened to terminate. Herman Kraft, a political scientist at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, said it was important to view Mr. Locsin’s comments against the backdrop of those geopolitics.
“Locsin probably wants to send a signal to the U.S. before President Duterte commits the Philippine government on a policy direction that would be difficult to backpedal from,” he said.
Mr. Cruz De Castro, the professor, said that Mr. Locsin’s Twitter storm was a “knee-jerk” reaction that reflected his personality more than specific policy priorities in the Philippines. But the response to the attack from people across the Philippines, he added, illustrated the country’s strong connection with its diaspora.
“It’s a reflection of our attitude of, ‘When we send people abroad, they’re still linked with us,’” he said, “ignoring the fact that they’re under private motive and have basically adopted the culture and citizenship of their host country.”
Jason Gutierrez reported from Manila and Mike Ives from Hong Kong.
LONDON — The British government said in February that everyone living in the country would be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine, free of charge, regardless of their immigration status. But many undocumented immigrants in the country are not getting inoculated.
Some are afraid that asking for a shot will get them deported. Others have been turned away at local doctors’ offices, which often ask for identification or proof of address, even though neither is required to access primary care in Britain. And many simply are in the dark about the services available to them — a lasting effect of a government policy of hobbling their access to jobs, bank accounts and free medical care in the hope of spurring them to leave the country.
“It’s all very well to say, ‘Anyone can get a vaccine,’” said Phil Murwill, head of services at Doctors of the World U.K, a humanitarian organization. “But for years, there was a deliberate policy of creating a hostile environment for undocumented immigrants that has put people off from accessing any kind of care. And we’re seeing that play out now.”
As in much of the world, the virus has ravaged immigrant communities in Britain, which supply the bulk of frontline workers in grocery stores and domestic care. The British government has not published a count of its undocumented immigrant population since 2005, but outside estimates put the number at 800,000 to 1.2 million. It is a significant group that includes many at-risk workers, and one that epidemiologists say the nation’s vaccination effort must reach if Britain hopes to safely exit the pandemic.
prioritize vaccinating those in jobs done primarily by undocumented immigrants, like farm work. But Britain did not extend its “social care” eligibility category to include domestic workers, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson confirmed in an email.
The department has said that anyone undergoing vaccination, testing or treatment for the coronavirus would not be subject to immigration status checks. But there are still instances in which the department shares patient information with the Home Office, which is in charge of immigration. Most commonly, it occurs when undocumented immigrants have overdue secondary-care medical bills of 500 pounds, about $690, or more. (Primary care is free.)
“The government needs to suspend all charging and data-sharing operations, if they want to prioritize the widest possible access to public health,” said Zoe Gardner, a policy adviser for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.
LONDON — In early February, the government of Britain announced that every person living in the country would be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine, free of charge, regardless of their immigration status. Public health experts praised the decision, necessary to ensure the safety of everyone, while others raised alarms at the prospect of noncitizens jumping ahead of eligible Britons.
“No one will get their vaccination out of turn,” Edward Argar, a British health minister, said in an interview. The disease, he added, is “looking for victims, it’s not worried about immigration status.”
As in much of the world, the virus has ravaged immigrant communities in Britain, many of which supply the bulk of frontline workers in grocery stores and domestic care. Many immigrants also live in crowded, multigenerational housing that exposed older family members throughout the pandemic. The government’s so-called vaccine amnesty was designed to encourage even those without legal status to come forward and get vaccinated.
But more than a month after the announcement, many undocumented immigrants said they remained fearful that asking for a vaccine would risk arrest or deportation. Others said they had been denied registration at local doctors’ offices, which often ask for identification or proof of address — although neither is required to access primary care.
hostile environment” policy that aimed to force those without legal status to leave the country by blocking their access to jobs, bank accounts and free medical care.
“It’s all very well to say, ‘Anyone can get a vaccine,’” said Phil Murwill, the head of services at Doctors of the World U.K. “But for years there was a deliberate policy of creating a hostile environment for undocumented immigrants that has put people off from accessing any kind of care. And we’re seeing that play out now.”
Outside estimates put the number of undocumented immigrants in Britain somewhere between 800,000 and 1.2 million, or just under 2 percent of the population. (The British government has not estimated the size of this population since 2005, when it was said to be 430,000.) It is a significant group that includes many at-risk workers, and one that epidemiologists say the vaccination campaign — which has so far given nearly half the population at least one dose — must reach if Britain hopes to safely exit the pandemic.
This month, Ghie Ghie and Weng, two undocumented domestic workers from the Philippines, walked arm in arm to the Science Museum in London, one of more than the 1,500 vaccination sites across the country. (Like other undocumented people interviewed for this article, the women asked to be identified only by their first names for fear of arrest.) Ghie Ghie had gotten her first shot of the vaccine the previous weekend and was hoping Weng could get hers.
booked an appointment online under the category of health and social care workers, which the government defined as “doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff.” (As of last week, those age 50 and older are now eligible in England.)
prioritize vaccinating those in jobs done primarily by undocumented immigrants, like farm work. But Britain did not extend the social care worker category to include domestic workers, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson confirmed in an email.
“We are caring for children and elderly and the disabled,” said Marissa Begonia, founder of the Voice of Domestic Workers. “It’s not a lie. By our definition, we are social care workers.”
Weng works part time for two families, traveling between the households each week. “I want to get my vaccine in case the government asks, so that I can show I am not putting anyone at risk,” she said as she waited in line at the vaccine center. She re-emerged about 30 minutes later, proudly clutching the card showing she’d received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
In 2018, the Home Office, the government ministry in charge of immigration, officially withdrew a data-sharing agreement that used patient information from the National Health Service to track down people thought to be violating immigration rules. (Data sharing still exists for deportation cases involving serious crimes.) The Department of Health and Social Care has said that anyone undergoing vaccination, testing or treatment for the coronavirus would not be subject to immigration status checks.
two agencies share patient information, most commonly in cases of undocumented immigrants with an unpaid medical debt of 500 pounds (around $690) for more than two months. Primary care, including treatment by a family doctor, is free whereas secondary care — hospital visits, surgeries, maternal care — is not.
Those working on behalf of undocumented immigrants say that this hybrid health care system only adds to the confusion about what benefits undocumented immigrants are entitled to. “The government needs to suspend all charging and data sharing operations if they want to prioritize the widest possible access to public health,” said Zoe Gardner, a policy adviser for the Joint Council for The Welfare of Immigrants.
When Huseyin, a 30-year-old undocumented chef, found out that he could see a family doctor for free — and eventually be called for a vaccine — he said he immediately tried to register. That was three months ago.
He said a family clinic in London had asked for a valid passport or ID before turning him away. A few weeks later, he moved to Brighton, England, for a full-time job at a restaurant. He tried again with a local doctor there but was told — incorrectly — that he needed an N.H.S. number to register with them.
“N.H.S. guidance says nothing about documentation, but nobody teaches you when you’re in medical school about a patient’s right to access a G.P.,” said Dr. Elizabeth Bates, an associate general practitioner in the West Midlands. “That the N.H.S. is for everybody is something many British people are very intrinsically proud of, but even some doctors don’t understand that their practice may have these policies that prevent people from registering.”
Huseyin is now getting registration help from Doctors of the World U.K., a nonprofit that works to ensure access to health care for those with unclear immigration status. He’s young, though, and is unlikely to be called for a vaccine for months.
“I want the vaccine to protect myself and my community,” he said. “We are everywhere — the corner shops, restaurants, factories, hotels. Undocumented people are everywhere.”