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Good evening. Here’s the latest.
1. The Trump administration’s coronavirus testing czar offered a sober assessment of rapid testing in the U.S.
Adm. Brett Giroir, above, told Congress that getting all coronavirus test results back between 48 and 72 hours, which many health officials say is critical, “is not a possible benchmark we can achieve today given the demand and the supply.”
Dr. Giroir said the nation is now averaging about 820,000 tests each day, up from 550,000 earlier this month, and that most results were coming back quickly. But that doesn’t reflect what many public health experts are seeing on the ground. One consequence of delayed testing: contact tracing is failing in many states.
At the same hearing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the U.S. would most likely have a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2020 or early in 2021.
2. How risky will in-person education be this fall?
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have new estimates that provide a rough gauge of the risk that students and teachers could encounter in each county in the U.S.
More than 80 percent of Americans live in a county where, if school started today, at least one infected person could be expected to show up to a school of 500 students and staff members in the first week of classes. (One big caveat: The researchers’ analysis treats adults and children as equally likely to be infected.)
And should you travel this year? A new interactive tool from our Travel desk helps you evaluate your risk and make the best decision.
3. Microsoft is in talks to buy TikTok, the Chinese-owned video app, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions, as the Trump Administration threatens to force its parent company, ByteDance, to divest its U.S. operations.
U.S. officials have questioned whether TikTok is susceptible to influence from the Chinese government and poses a national security threat. India banned TikTok and several other Chinese apps earlier this summer.
4. Joe Biden is getting closer to choosing a running mate. He’s likely to announce his selection during the second week of August.
As lobbying for the position intensifies, two women who had gotten scant early attention are now in the top tier: Representative Karen Bass of California, above left, and Susan Rice, the former national security adviser under former President Barack Obama, right.
One possible advantage for Ms. Bass: She has assured Democratic officials that she has no interest in seeking the presidency herself, according to lawmakers.
5. A day after the U.S. announced its staggering economic downturn, Europe appears to have fared no better.
But unlike in the U.S., there are signs that a tentative recovery is gaining some traction after European governments unleashed enormous stimulus spending — and began to get a handle on the spread of the coronavirus.
In another sign of hope, Italy has gone from being a global pariah to a model of viral containment that holds lessons for its neighbors (and the U.S.). Above, Naples last month.
6. Hong Kong delayed its September election by a year, citing the pandemic. Pro-democracy politicians called it an effort to sideline them.
Opposition politicians had hoped to ride to victory in the fall, propelled by a wave of deep-seated dissatisfaction with the government and concerns about a sweeping new national security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong.
In the last week alone, the authorities have ousted a pro-democracy leader, arrested four activists and barred a dozen candidates. The breadth of the actions reflect Beijing’s intentions to not only intimidate, but to crush Hong Kong’s opposition.
And in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe’s successor is clamping down by arresting opposition activists — including an author just nominated for the Booker Prize.
7. We’re monitoring the possible departure of federal agents from Portland, Ore., pictured above on Wednesday.
Gov. Kate Brown said the teams would begin to withdraw on Thursday, yesterday, but federal officials cautioned that they would withdraw only when they were confident that the federal courthouse could be secured.
Tear gas, burning fires and federal agents in riot gear have spurred debate over the authority of the federal government to respond to demonstrations. We broke down how many recent nights of protest and confrontation have unfolded.
8. When Beyoncé took a speaking role in the 2019 remake of “The Lion King,” she decided to delve beyond Disney’s Hollywood version of Africa.
The result is “Black Is King,” a visual album on Disney+ meant to accompany her full-length album, “The Lion King: The Gift.”
“Beauty is a reason this film exists,” Wesley Morris writes. The fashion — an overwhelming feast — is “dazzling, but also carefully calculated,” says Vanessa Friedman, our fashion critic. And Gia Kourlas, our dance critic, calls it a “celebration of the Black Body” with “music worthy of a thousand dances.”
9. New month, new books.
Tomorrow is the first day of August, and with it comes a slew of new titles: novels from Akwaeke Emezi and Daisy Johnson; a timely re-examination of William Faulkner by Michael Gora; and an astrophysicist’s (surprisingly soothing) guide to the end of the universe as we know it. Here are 13 books to watch for.
Our reviewer Dwight Garner is especially excited about Isabel Wilkerson’s new book, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” about how brutal misperceptions about race have disfigured the American experiment. He calls it “an instant American classic” and “one of the most powerful nonfiction books” he’s ever encountered.
10. And finally, lizard Popsicles, anyone?
Many members of the reptilian genus Liolaemus can supercool their bodies, tolerate full-body freezing and live farther south and at higher elevations than any other known lizard species. Scientists are still figuring how they survive such cold climates, but one thing is clear: The lizards are indisputably the coolest on the planet.
Scientists found some species of the lizard can withstand temperatures as low as 21.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Most Liolaemus are found in Argentina and Chile, although one researcher has even heard stories of them walking on a glacier in Patagonia.
Hope this blueberry Popsicle recipe helps keep you cool tonight.
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