Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

Western leaders are starting to find their voice in addressing the coronavirus outbreak, but the U.S. is not playing its traditional conductor role, our London bureau chief writes in a news analysis.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said on Wednesday that about two-thirds of the country’s population could become infected, according to a “consensus of experts.” The estimate is not wildly out of line with those of officials outside Germany.

“The Daily”: Today’s episode is about what China and South Korea have done right in their efforts to contain the virus.

Another angle: Following President Trump’s lead, many commentators on conservative media outlets have played down fears about the virus. “Sadly, these viruses pop up time to time,” the Fox New host Sean Hannity said this week. “Pandemics happen, time to time.”

Senator Bernie Sanders said on Wednesday that he was “losing the debate over electability” to Joe Biden but stopped short of accepting defeat in the Democratic presidential race, as he challenged the former vice president to address a list of policy issues, including health care and income inequality.

News analysis: “Despite Mr. Biden’s success during the last two weeks of primaries, he will need to make gains with some key Sanders constituencies — not only younger liberals but also Latinos across several age brackets — to build the most formidable coalition possible,” our reporters write. “He will almost certainly need Mr. Sanders’s help to get there.”

The details: If Mr. Sanders were to have any chance at winning a majority of delegates before the Democratic convention, he would need to perform much better than he has so far. Here are some possible outcomes for the remaining primaries.

Another angle: President Trump’s re-election campaign was counting on a strong economy and an opponent in Mr. Sanders, who is easily portrayed as too far left. But the coronavirus outbreak and Mr. Biden’s surge have shifted the political landscape.

The Times Magazine’s annual music issue is here, featuring artists including Lil Nas X, above.

The songs range from the overwhelmingly popular to the fairly obscure, but they almost all have something in common: the willingness to simply be what they are, and to let things fall where they may. Listen for yourself.

Harvey Weinstein sentencing: The movie producer who dominated Hollywood for decades could spend the rest of his life behind bars, after being sentenced to 23 years in prison for sex crimes. “Although this is a first conviction, it is not a first offense,” the judge said.

Snapshot: Above, a skull — suspended in amber — from the smallest dinosaur ever discovered. Not even the size of a fingertip, the 99-million-year-old fossil, which was found in a mine in northern Myanmar, raises questions about how birds evolved.

Late-night comedy: “It’s only March, and 2020 has done the impossible: made me nostalgic for 2019,” Stephen Colbert said. The hosts announced that they would be audience-free starting next week because of the coronavirus outbreak.

What we’re reading: This How I Get It Done column from “The Cut.” “Our colleague Parul Sehgal haunts me since she apparently can read a book in one sitting?” writes Taffy Brodesser-Akner, a writer for The Times Magazine.

Cook: This Campari and olive oil cake is best served on the same day that it’s baked.

Watch: The new season of HBO’s Westworld” mostly abandons the Western setting. But will sleek new scenery and a new star, Aaron Paul, win back those put off by a convoluted story?

Read: “John Adams Under Fire,” about the second U.S. president’s time as a defense lawyer, is new this week on our hardcover nonfiction and combined print and e-book nonfiction best-seller lists.

Smarter Living: Want to get on top of your to-do list? Try our seven-day productivity challenge.

An infographic showing two possible outcomes for the coronavirus pandemic — one dire, one less so — has quickly become a defining image of the crisis.

“This graph is changing minds, and by changing minds, it is saving lives,” tweeted Carl Bergstrom, a professor of biology at the University of Washington.

The first version of the graph was created at the end of February by Rosamund Pearce, a visual-data journalist for The Economist, drawing from a C.D.C. paper titled “Community Mitigation Guidelines to Prevent Pandemic Influenza.”

It shows two curves for the epidemic over time: A steep peak, if no protective measures are taken, and a flatter slope if people wash their hands, limit travel and practice “social distancing” techniques.

A few days after seeing the Economist infographic, Drew Harris, a population health analyst at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, added a crucial component: a dotted line indicating the capacity of the health care system to care for people with the virus. He posted it on Twitter and LinkedIn, where it quickly took off.

“Now I know what going viral means,” Dr. Harris told our colleague Siobhan Roberts.

Flattening the curve with mitigation “reduces the number of cases that are active at any given time, which in turn gives doctors, hospitals, police, schools and vaccine manufacturers time to prepare and respond, without becoming overwhelmed,” he said.

Dr. Harris added: “Some commentators have argued for getting the outbreak over with quickly. That is a recipe for panic, unnecessary suffering and death. Slowing and spreading out the tidal wave of cases will save lives. Flattening the curve keeps society going.”

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Chris Harcum provided the break from the news. Adam Pasick, on the Briefings team, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach us at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about the global response to the coronavirus outbreak.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Not silent (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Climate desk welcomes Catrin Einhorn, a journalist with experience in film, audio and visual storytelling who will cover wildlife and extinction.

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