China’s Factory Outlook Slips in May Amid Slow Recovery

A gauge of China’s manufacturing activity slipped in May, underlining the slow pace of recovery from the first quarter slump.

The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index declined to a worse-than-expected 50.6 from 50.8 a month earlier, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Sunday. The non-manufacturing gauge rose to 53.6. Readings above 50 indicate improving conditions.

The data indicate that China’s recovery from the pandemic shutdowns risks faltering after an initial rebound supported by pent-up demand. While industrial firms are mostly back at work and output is rising again, a collapse in orders has sent a shock-wave through the sector.

“Global demand is still weak even when lockdowns are relaxed in some major cities around the world,” said Iris Pang, greater China chief economist with ING Bank NV in Hong Kong. “The employment level was in contraction again in May, and that highlights the layoff of factory workers after factories have faced continual withdrawal of export orders.”

The sub-index of new export orders climbed to 35.3, manufacturing employment softened to 49.4, while non-manufacturing employment was at 48.5.

The government unveiled its stimulus package for the year at the National People’s Congress meeting which concluded last week, and scrapped a hard growth target in light of the uncertain global economy, while pledging targeted monetary easing and trillions of yuan in extra infrastructure spending.

Domestic factories have brought some workers back to staff production lines after the shutdowns in the first quarter and are increasing production, but many are facing a build up in inventories and uncertain orders. Others have not recovered, meaning bankruptcies and unemployment are expected to rise.

“The current global epidemic situation and the world economic situation are still grim and complex, and foreign market demand continues to shrink,” Zhao Qinghe, an economist with the statistics bureau, said in a statement accompanying the data release. Despite small increases in the manufacturing new export order index and import index this month, they “remain at historically low levels,” he said.

— With assistance by Sharon Chen, Yinan Zhao, and Lin Zhu

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Pentagon Puts Military Police on Alert to Go to Minneapolis

Delray Beach, Fla. (AP) — As unrest spread across dozens of American cities on Friday, the Pentagon took the rare step of ordering the Army to put several active-duty U.S. military police units on the ready to deploy to Minneapolis, where the police killing of George Floyd sparked the widespread protests.

Soldiers from Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Drum in New York have been ordered to be ready to deploy within four hours if called, according to three people with direct knowledge of the orders. Soldiers in Fort Carson, in Colorado, and Fort Riley in Kansas have been told to be ready within 24 hours. The people did not want their names used because they were not authorized to discuss the preparations.

The get-ready orders were sent verbally on Friday, after President Donald Trump asked Defense Secretary Mark Esper for military options to help quell the unrest in Minneapolis after protests descended into looting and arson in some parts of the city.

Trump made the request on a phone call from the Oval Office on Thursday night that included Esper, National Security Advisor Robert O’ Brien and several others. The president asked Esper for rapid deployment options if the Minneapolis protests continued to spiral out of control, according to one of the people, a senior Pentagon official who was on the call.

”When the White House asks for options, someone opens the drawer and pulls them out so to speak.” the official said.

The person said the military units would be deployed under the Insurrection Act of 1807, which was last used in 1992 during the riots in Los Angeles that followed the Rodney King trial.

“If this is where the president is headed response-wise, it would represent a significant escalation and a determination that the various state and local authorities are not up to the task of responding to the growing unrest,” said Brad Moss, a Washington D.C.-based attorney, who specializes in national security.

Members of the police units were on a 30-minute recall alert early Saturday, meaning they would have to return to their bases inside that time limit in preparation for deployment to Minneapolis inside of four hours. Units at Fort Drum are slated to head to Minneapolis first, according to the three people, including two Defense Department officials. Roughly 800 U.S. soldiers would deploy to the city if called.

Protests erupted in Minneapolis this week after video emerged showing a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck. Floyd later died of his injuries and the officer, Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday.

The protests turned violent and on Thursday rioters torched the Minneapolis Third Police Precinct near where Floyd was arrested. Mayor Jacob Frey ordered a citywide curfew at 8 p.m. local time, beginning on Friday. In that city, peaceful protests picked up steam as darkness fell, with thousands of people ignoring the curfew to walk streets in the southern part of the city. Some cars were set on fire in scattered neighborhoods, business break-ins began and eventually there were larger fires.

The unrest has since spread across the country, with protests, some violent, erupting in cities including Washington DC, Atlanta, Phoenix, Denver and Los Angelas.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz ordered 500 of his National Guard troops into Minneapolis, St. Paul, and surrounding communities.

But a Pentagon spokesman said Walz did not ask for the Army to be deployed to his state.

“The Department has been in touch with the Governor and there is no request for Title 10 forces to support the Minnesota National Guard or state law enforcement,” the spokesman said, Title 10 is the U.S. law that governs the armed forces, and would authorize active duty military to operate within the U.S.

Alyssa Farah, the White House director of strategic communications, said the deployment of active-duty military police is untrue.

“False: off the record – title 10 not under discussion,” said Farah in an email response. No off-record agreement was negotiated with The Associated Press.

The 16th Military Police Brigade forwarded the AP’s questions to the Defense Department.

The three officials with direct knowledge of the potential deployment say the orders are on a classified system, known as the Secret Internet Protocol Router or SIPR for short.

Active-duty forces are normally prohibited from acting as a domestic law enforcement agency. But the Insurrection Act offers an exception.

The Act would allow the military to take up a policing authority it otherwise would not be allowed to do, enforcing state and federal laws, said Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas School of Law professor who specializes in constitutional and national security law.

The statute “is deliberately vague” when it comes to the instances in which the Insurrection Act could be used, he said. The state’s governor could ask President Donald Trump to take action or Trump could act on his own authority if he’s determined that the local authorities are so overwhelmed that they can’t adequately enforce the law, Vladeck said.

“It is a very, very broad grant of authority for the president,” he added.

——

Associated Press reporters Lolita Baldor, Michael Balsamo, and Zeke Miller contributed to this story.

Contact AP’s global investigative team at [email protected]

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NYC Is Set to Be State’s Only Region on Lockdown After Next Week

New York City is set to be the only region of the state on lockdown after next week.

Long Island and the Mid-Hudson regions are on a trajectory to reopen, provided they see deaths continue to decline and meet contact-tracing targets, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday at a virus briefing. In anticipation, construction preparation can begin in those two regions.

With those areas, nine of 10 New York regions will have begun phased-in restarts, after more than seven weeks on lockdown. New York City still has met only four of the state’s seven reopening metrics, due largely to a lack of capacity at the city’s hospitals. It also must continue to build up its number of tracers, according to state data.

“We said deliberately at the beginning of this, it’s going to be one standard that is data driven, there’s no politics here, and safe is safe,” Cuomo said. “What’s safe for your health in New York City. I’m not going to put your life at more risk or less risk than a life in Buffalo. It doesn’t work that way.”

New York state had 356,458 cases of the new coronavirus as of May 20, with more than half from New York City. Both the state and city are on a path to recovery, with fewer hospitalizations, but some metrics in the city have been slower to improve than those in regions less hit by Covid-19.

Saying the city had made major progress in its fight, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday unveiled a new set of metrics, in the form of charts showing the decrease in the city’s numbers of respiratory-illness patients hospitalized and in public hospital intensive care units. The city is moving toward a first phase of reopening, focusing on construction, wholesale distribution and curbside retail by the middle of June, the mayor said.

While de Blasio’s metrics are in line with Cuomo’s, it’s the state metrics that New York City must meet before reopening, the governor said. New York City had 27% of total hospital beds and 28% of intensive-care beds available as of May 21, below the 30% state thresholds, which are based on guidelines by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s not up to the local officials, it’s a statewide decision across the board,” Cuomo said.

New York state reported 109 deaths on May 21, for a total of 23,192. At the outbreak’s peak in April, the state was reporting more than 700 fatalities daily.

— With assistance by Henry Goldman

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Hong Kong Police Arrest Eight People in Shopping Mall Protest

Hong Kong police arrested eight people protesting in a mall in the New Territories, one of four anti-government demonstrations in shopping centers across the city on Saturday.

The protesters were held for unlawful assembly, assaulting officers or obstructing them in the Tseung Kwan O mall, police said in a post on their Facebook page. The demonstrations at the different shopping centers took place amid a heavy police presence.

Protesters have returned to the city in recent weeks, mainly in smaller groups at malls, after a lull for more than three months because of the coronavirus outbreak and restrictions linked to the pandemic. The arrests last month of prominent pro-democracy figures has raised the ire of resurgent activists, who are demanding among other things greater democracy and an independent inquiry into police conduct.

On Friday, the Independent Police Complaints Council, an agency whose members are appointed by the city’s leader, issued a four-volume report Friday that mainly defended the police force’s response to the often-violent unrest that rocked the Asian financial hub last year.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam called the report “comprehensive, objective and based on facts.”

The government will address some issues raised in the report but would stop short of setting up an independent inquiry, Lam said. The Independent Commission Against Corruption, the city’s anti-graft body, is looking into 28 cases related to the protests, 26 of which involve police officers, she said.

A City at Boiling Point Needs Cool Heads: Clara Ferreira Marques

About 100 protesters congregated on Saturday in the Tseung Kwan O mall before police dispersed them, Radio Television Hong Kong reported. Plainclothes officers arrested some, handcuffing them and making them lie on the ground, according to RTHK.

In a shopping center in Sha Tin, police had to separate two clashing groups and some shops shuttered as tensions rose, it said.

Last month, police arrested 15 people, including prominent pro-democracy activists and a lawmaker, for organizing and participating in unauthorized assemblies in the city.

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After Four Antibody Tests, I’m Still Not Sure I’ve Had Covid-19

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Central London was deserted when I arrived at the clinic for my first test for antibodies to the novel coronavirus. After more than a month stuck at home under lockdown, I’d anxiously donned a mask and ventured into the city’s financial district, where a doctor was offering a test.

Like many struggling through the pandemic, I suspected that I might have been infected with Covid-19 a while back and was eager to find out for sure. The doctor took a small lancet, pricked my finger and pipetted a drop of blood into a plastic cassette. As the weak control line began forming in the results window, I nervously waited to see if I’d had it.

It was the first of what turned into a series of maddening, discomfiting, nerve-wracking tests with conflicting results that left me even more anxious—and with more questions than at the start. Countless people such as me have been having “I think I might have had it” conversations around virtual watercoolers during the lockdown. Antibody testing has been trumpeted by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other world leaders as a potential game changer to reopen economies and lift lockdowns. Officials around the world have floated the idea of immunity passports for those who have recovered from Covid-19.

But scientists have cast doubt on the accuracy of rapid antibody test kits available on the market. If the tests aren’t accurate, they can’t be used to let people safely go back to their workplaces. So I plunged myself into the world of antibody testing to figure out if these kits are reliable or not.

Surely if I took enough tests, I’d figure out if I’d most likely had it. Finding the tests wasn’t easy. I tracked down a clinic that was offering one for £195 ($242). I bought other tests for just £6.80 directly from the company after telling them I was doing a story and promising I would have a medical professional oversee the process. But my limited, unscientific experiment confirmed what experts have been cautioning: The tests that many hope might get us back to some sense of normalcy seem to be alarmingly contradictory.

I thought I might have picked up Covid-19 during a mid-February family vacation in the French Alps. We’d spent a day skiing in Courmayeur just over the Italian border. At the time, Covid-19 was mushrooming in northern Italy, though the Aosta region around Courmayeur reported its first cases much later.

Back in London, I started feeling unwell: headaches, chills, mild fever, a minor upset stomach, and extreme exhaustion. Still, a doctor from the U.K.’s National Health Service refused to test me because I didn’t have a cough, telling me it couldn’t be Covid-19. I recovered fairly quickly, and no one else in my family got ill, but as infections surged across Europe, especially among skiers returning home, my hunch that I’d had Covid-19 grew stronger.

My suspicions couldn’t be confirmed with a standard test for the virus, which works only when people have the pathogen active in their bodies. To determine if you’ve ever been infected in the past, you need a test for the antibodies that persist long after the virus is gone, standing ready to repel it if it returns.

Scientists say lab-based antibody testing can be more sensitive than the rapid test kits and can also measure your levels of the antibody. (Lab tests can also sometimes produce varying results, depending on what antibodies they’re targeting.) But dozens of companies around the world have started making rapid Covid-19 antibody tests that can give yes or no answers in as little as 10 minutes. The tests are simple to use, though they need to be administered by a medical professional. They resemble pregnancy tests but use blood instead of urine. None has been authorized for home use.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration has given emergency use authorizations to about a dozen companies to market Covid-19 antibody tests, but it’s also allowing dozens of additional companies to distribute tests without the agency itself having reviewed them. Roche Holding AG became the latest to win emergency use authorization for its antibody test, which it says is more accurate than the rapid kits because it uses an intravenous blood draw instead of a finger-prick sample.

Critics say the FDA should be doing more to police the tests that are flooding the market. That hasn’t stopped employers around the world from talking about testing staff as a way of getting people back to work, even though we don’t know for certain whether having antibodies makes you immune for months or years—if at all.

Widespread antibody testing on populations could produce false positive results and lead some people to unwittingly spread the virus thinking they’re immune, says Rosanna Peeling, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. That’s because it isn’t easy to make sure that tests are specific to the novel coronavirus and not to coronaviruses that cause the common cold, she says. “The false positives could lead you to believe the population is more immune than the reality,” she says.

It didn’t take long for me to find out what she meant. At the London clinic for my first test, I impatiently watched for lines to appear on the testing device window. One line, next to IgM for immunoglobulin M, would tell whether I had the first wave of antibodies the body makes after an infection. The other, for IgG, indicates longer-lasting antibodies generated in the weeks following recovery.

Ten minutes later, nothing had appeared. I was negative. I should have felt happy that I’d escaped the virus that’s killing hundreds of thousands worldwide, but I wasn’t. I just wished I’d had it.

I looked into the test, made by Germany’s Nal Von Minden GmbH, which sells diagnostic kits for everything from influenza to sexually transmitted diseases. Its Covid-19 test is 99.2% specific, meaning it can reliably detect antibodies to Covid-19, rather than coronaviruses that cause the common cold. But its sensitivity to antibodies produced to fight the virus is just 91.8%. Almost 1 in 10 negative tests is wrong. And I’d had a negative test.

To complicate matters, the company altered the test to improve its accuracy after I’d taken mine, Thomas Zander, Nal Von Minden’s chief executive officer, tells me. My negative test was likely correct, he says, but “there’s always a chance it’s wrong. It’s possible.”

Later that day, I took another test with the help of two London surgeons: Evangelos Efthimiou and his wife, Romana Kuchai, arriving at their home in west London with my mask and gloves at the ready. Efthimiou had suffered from Covid-19 symptoms at the beginning of April—a mild fever, exhaustion, sore throat, chills, and anosmia (the loss of smell and taste that has been identified as Covid-19’s calling card). He never got a swab test to confirm Covid-19 but stayed home for two weeks and later tested positive for coronavirus antibodies at his hospital.

I brought with me a box of tests from Biopanda Reagents Ltd., a maker of rapid kits that’s based in Belfast. The company has sold more than 300,000 Covid-19 antibody tests to countries including Bahrain and the Czech and Slovak republics, and it’s allowed to sell them in the U.K. for use by medical professionals. Sitting at their kitchen table, Efthimiou and Kuchai helped me take the Biopanda test, squeezing blood out of my finger onto the cassette, just as I had done in central London. A pair of lines appeared beside the IgG and IgM. Now I was positive. How could that be?

I asked the two doctors to take the Biopanda test as a kind of unscientific cross-check. It showed that Efthimiou had antibodies, but his lines were a bit darker than mine—likely meaning he had a more recent infection or a stronger immune response. His wife, who never had symptoms, was negative, even though they were living in the same house when he was ill. “I know quite a few people where one of the couple was negative and they weren’t isolating from each other in their home,” Kuchai says. “We still don’t fully understand this virus.”

There’s a reason why Biopanda’s test might be more sensitive. When the immune system discovers an invader, it makes antibodies against a variety of the pathogen’s proteins. The German kit tests only for antibodies to one protein, the so-called spike that enables the virus to enter cells. Biopanda also tests for antibodies to the nucleocapsid, a kind of viral shell, which is more abundant and easier to detect. (Roche’s much vaunted new antibody test only targets nucleocapsid protein.) Biopanda says its test has a 98.3% specificity for IgG, the long-lasting antibodies, indicating a high accuracy for detecting Covid-19 antibodies without any cross-reactivity with the common cold coronaviruses. It says its studies have shown sensitivity to IgG at 99.9% as long as the blood sample is taken more than 21 days after the onset of symptoms.

That same day, I took a test by a Chinese company called Beijing Kewei Clinical Diagnostic Reagent Inc., which says it has validated its test and has notified the FDA of its intention to distribute kits in the U.S. I was also positive on that test and felt relieved. I figured the German test was an outlier.

Three of the votes had been counted, and I was feeling good: I had a simple majority in the positive column. After suspecting for weeks that I’d had Covid-19, I was starting to believe it. But another test arrived a few days later. It was made by Hangzhou Realy Tech Co., a Chinese company that has also notified the FDA of its intention to distribute tests in the U.S. I thought I would again test positive, but no lines appeared. I was negative—and totally frustrated.

The conflicting results could come down to companies sometimes using different targets to test. Some target specifically the spike protein, the nucleocapsid protein, or both, Peeling says. “And whether they use the whole of the spiked protein or parts of the protein, we don’t know,” she says. “When you have a positive result for Covid-19, it could be that there’s a cross reaction with common coronaviruses that may be circulating now”—that is, I merely had a cold—“or you had it in the past.”

On the final leg of my unscientific experiment, I tracked down a pediatric intensive care nurse, Deborah Lees, who lives around the corner from me. A mother of three, Lees had relatively mild symptoms—a cough, fatigue, and low-grade fever—and took a positive swab test for Covid-19 on March 24. More than two weeks later, her hospital performed a lab-based test that showed she had IgG antibodies but no IgM.

Sitting on her sofa, she pricked her finger to drop blood into the Biopanda test cassette—the one in which I’d tested positive. Her results were negative. We were baffled. “It’s very confusing,” she said. “I thought I had antibodies, which takes away at least some of the fear, that at least you’re protected to some extent.”

A representative of Biopanda, Han Yan, says: “She may have had a weak antibody response, and our test wasn’t sensitive enough to detect it.”

After four tests and conflicting cross-checks, I’m still not sure if I’ve had Covid-19. I’d like to think the Biopanda test is right, but if it couldn’t pick up the nurse’s antibodies, I wonder why it picked up mine. I worry that many of the tests on the market might give people a false sense that they have some immunity. Until we know more about this virus—how it’s transmitted and why some people are dodging it, despite being exposed—I will continue to work from home, wear my mask and gloves in the supermarket, and try to stay 6 feet away from people when I venture outdoors.

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This Southern Road Trip Is Close Enough on the Horizon I Can Taste It

At the moment, all of our plans are on hold. But that doesn’t mean we here at Bloomberg Pursuits aren’t planning the experiences we’ll rush out to enjoy when it’s safe to do so. We’re sharing our ideas with you in the hopes that they will help inspire you—and we’d love to hear what you are daydreaming about, too. Send us your ideas at [email protected], and we’ll flesh some of them out for this column.

It’s still too early to say when it’ll be safe enough to responsibly visit Georgia and South Carolina. But with social distancing restrictions easing, Kathryn O’Shea-Evans’s dream of a food-and-charm-filled road trip is closer to becoming a reality than most. 

There’s comfort, and then there’s Southern comfort. The latter is what I crave at home in Denver, where—quarantined or not—people simply aren’t as prone to saying hello to one another on the street. So when Covid-19 is just a speck in the world’s rearview mirror, I’m taking my family on a road trip to Charleston and Savannah. Just two hours apart, these gumdrop-hued cities are my happy places: capitals of friendliness where it’ll take mere seconds to thaw from months of isolation.

These are historically resilient cities. Over the centuries, Charleston has endured multiple wars, the horrors of human enslavement, devastating hurricanes, and previous pandemics—including the deadly yellow fever outbreak of 1699 and a swell of smallpox cases that wiped out 7% of the city’s population in 1760. Savannah bore much of the same; yet both cities still stand as strong and sturdy as the whale bones in an antebellum Southern belle’s crinoline.

22,412 in U.S.Most new cases today

-16% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​12 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-0.​5% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), March


With that in mind, I’ll spend my days eating, sleeping, and playing in places that have shown decades if not centuries of fortitude. And I’ll do so knowing that I, my loved ones, and everyone sharing the pavement will have successfully weathered another storm.

Rev Your Engines

I’ll start in Charleston, founded in 1670 as Charles Town after King Charles II. This is a city where even the people at the car rental counter are affable: My last time there, they upgraded me from a boring sedan to a 2020 Ford Mustang V-8 convertible that projected a pony onto the pavement every time I opened my door. It made me feel like a Kardashian on the lam; it’s been a year, and I still miss that car.

I’ve found driving in Charleston to be a relative breeze, as there’s often more traffic from horse-drawn carriage tours than cars. For me, the only place to stay in the city is the 19-room John Rutledge House Inn, the 1763 home of South Carolina’s first governor, who helped draft and later signed the U.S. Constitution. The rates (from $319) include cooked-to-order breakfasts in a dining room that once hosted George Washington, afternoon tea, hors d’oeuvres, and a nightly “brandy hour.”

Considering her history, it’s no surprise the hotel has had subtle face-lifts through the years. (The second-floor veranda was partially toppled by a Union cannonball during the Civil War.) But the glories of her 18th and 19th century architecture remain: Italian marble fireplace mantels carved with rosebuds and snakes, inlaid floors as intricately designed as quilts, and gracious balconies that allow you to sip your evening sherry as the world languidly strolls by. Wise travelers will splurge, as I have, on Mrs. Rutledge’s former suite; the Main House Deluxe Room has 12-foot ceilings, a gas fireplace, and a canopied and curtained four-post bed.

We’re here to get out and not to stay in, so we’ll stroll Charleston’s cobblestoned streets until we hit the leafy inner courtyard of a 1688 home, 82 Queen. Its Lowcountry lunches include Carolina crab cakes, barrel-aged Old-Fashioneds, and fried green tomatoes topped with stone-ground grits and tomato-bacon jam. The next day it’s Circa 1886, a locavore spot in the pine-floored carriage house of the five-star Wentworth Mansion hotel. My go-to dish: a maple-poached red apple salad, served with soursop, cress, and hominy crunch.

Because design and American history are my love languages, we’ll spend far too long ogling the architecture on tour at the 1808 Nathaniel Russell House, where the staircase is—as I call it—actually a stare-case. It’s a cantilevered, three-story, snake of an architectural marvel that will drop your jaw upon sight. I haven’t yet made it to the ghostly Aiken-Rhett House, an 1820 home that was preserved for tours exactly how it was found, flaking paint and all, including the bone-chilling quarters of the enslaved.

Hit the Road





The drive from Charleston to Savannah is less than two hours via Interstate 95, which means you can take time for a detour in the wrong direction. Just north of Charleston you’ll find Brookgreen Gardens. Founded in 1931 by railroad tycoon Archer Milton Huntington and his wife, artist Anna Hyatt Huntington, the 9,100-acre grounds—set where four former rice plantations once stood—are now a pristine place to stroll alongside nearly 1,500 figurative sculptures.

This trip, I might prefer to slink along the smaller coastal roads instead of the highway. That route will take us through the dreamy vacationlands of Kiawah Island, Beaufort, and Hilton Head Island. I’ll be driven by my stomach as much as anything else: My husband, James, and I once had the best seafood of our lives in Hilton Head at the dockside Hudson’s, a former 1912 oyster factory that sits on Port Royal Sound. The place feels like a scene from Dawson’s Creek, with its tables atop a jetty set along a wide expanse of glimmering water. Its coconut shrimp—caught by the restaurant’s own fishing fleet in local waters—and hush puppies are worth the side trip alone.

Georgia on My Mind

My heart will undoubtedly skip a few beats as we pull into Savannah, a compact city where exquisitely planned streets abut 22 square parks shaded by live oak trees. It’s a place I love so much that I try to return to it annually, even if it’s just by reading John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. If I had any sense I’d pack up my horde of pastel and silk dresses and move there full time.

It’s my firm conviction that when you’re traveling south of the Mason-Dixon Line, you have to stay with ghosts. No newly built mass-market luxury hotel could ever do justice to a place like Savannah, where Spanish moss hangs like poetry in the magnolia-scented air. The 1896 Foley House Inn, by contrast, is so haunted, I can swear my lipstick moved around our room on its own accord when I last spent the night. Set on Chippewa Square, where Forrest Gump sat musing on boxes of chocolate, and within walking distance of almost everything you’d care to see, it also has the best food I’ve ever had at a B&B (and I’ve stayed in my fair share of Relais & Châteaux). Don’t miss the gratis afternoon tea in the parlor, where dishes like praline bundt cake and almond florentines are so bounteous you won’t be hungry for dinner. Another perk: Foley House also has a dog-friendly policy that allowed us to curl up by a gas fireplace with our road-warrior papillon, Huckleberry.

Before we leave never-never Land, we’ll drive to Wormsloe State Historic Site, an 822-acre former plantation whose entrance road is an almost 2-mile-long allée of 400 live oak trees. Back downtown, we’ll eat note-perfect fried chicken and too, too, too many sides from the communal tables at 1943 boarding house Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room; blackened oysters with green tomato chow chow at the 1771 Olde Pink House; then we’ll walk it all off on the way to Gryphon, a stained-glass-lined restaurant where we’ll order a round of Atlanta peach spritzers and bourbon banana pudding cake. By nightfall we might only have room for Pink Elephant cocktails at the Grey. (The signature drinks are made with gin, lemon, and strawberry shrub.) But no doubt we’ll get sucked into some of chef Mashama Bailey’s modern soul food before rolling out the door of her iconic restaurant, set in a deco-era formerly segregated Greyhound bus station.

Eventually we’ll wander the streets in a contented dream. Did I mention Savannah’s historic district has an open-container law? It’s a real carpe diem kind of place. And now more than ever, I’m a carpe diem kind of woman.

Channel your travel urges into charity: The Historic Charleston Foundation, which runs so many of the city’s amazing house tours, is accepting donations to stay afloat until visitors can return once again.

Have a daydream of your own? Let us know, and it may feature in a future column. 

For more road trips and charming inspiration, check out:

  • Here’s One More Reason to Visit Charleston This Fall
  • Luxury Homes for Sale in Savannah
  • Where to Go in 2019: Savannah, Georgia
  • The Most Luxurious (and Delicious) Road Trips to Take This Season
  • The 10 Best Global Road Trips to Try This Summer
  • Wisconsin Is the Best Golfing Road Trip You Can Take Right Now
  • The Best Places to Eat Along California’s Highway 1

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Trump Ties Virus Aid for States to Action on ‘Sanctuary’ Cities

President Donald Trump indicated he wouldn’t allow federal aid for states facing budget deficits from the coronavirus outbreak unless they take action against “sanctuary cities” — municipalities that prevent their police from cooperating with immigration authorities.

“We would want certain things” as part of a deal with House Democrats to aid states, he said at a White House event on Tuesday, “including sanctuary city adjustments, because we have so many people in sanctuary cities.”

“What’s happening is people are being protected that shouldn’t be protected and a lot of bad things are happening with sanctuary cities,” he added.

Trump has long complained about the cities and has previously sought to cut off their federal funding unless they end the policies.

22,412 in U.S.Most new cases today

-16% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​12 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-0.​5% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), March


Democrats have said the next round of federal stimulus must include aid for states. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has indicating he’d be in favor of aiding states, but not helping those burden by pension obligations to bail out old debts. He said those states should be allowed to declare bankruptcy, which they can’t currently do.

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More Covid Testing for Minorities Is Key to Opening U.S. Economy

In many ways, Tanya Fields’s attempt to get testing for Covid-19 is the by-now-familiar American tale of an ill-equipped health-care system. But to her, it’s more like a black American tale.

In March, the 39-year-old began experiencing classic symptoms of the virus, including a fever, body aches, no sense of smell, and shortness of breath. Fields, who lives in the Bronx, in the lowest-income congressional district in the country, decided not to go to the local hospitals she figured would be overwhelmed with patients. She traveled instead to the academic Montefiore Medical Center, waiting for hours in the cold before the facility sent her home without a test. 

A week later, a city hotline got her an appointment at a drive-through testing site in the Bronx. Fields said she’s lucky she has a car, something many of her neighbors lack, but nevertheless it was “scary to go get tested,” because of the heavy police and military presence. A member of the National Reserve yelled at her while she waited, she said. Two days later, more than two weeks after she started feeling sick, her results came back positive for Covid-19.

People of color, like Fields, face barriers to testing that others don’t, and what data exist on racial testing disparities point to less access in black and Latino neighborhoods. Illinois, one of few states to release demographic information on testing, found white people got almost twice as many tests as black people. Both groups make up around the same share of confirmed cases. In New York City, whiter and wealthier neighborhoods have had more per capita testing, an analysis by the New York Post found.

“It may not out and out be, ‘Oh you’re black, we’re going to make it so you can’t get a test,’” Fields said. “It doesn’t always show up that way.” 

Given the disparities, there’s a growing consensus that getting testing to minorities will be an important part of getting America back to work. Many people of color work in essential jobs, putting them at risk of contracting and spreading the virus. In New York City, over 50% of public transit and grocery, convenience, and drug store workers are black or Hispanic.

Those groups have also made up a disproportionate number of cases and deaths in the state, as well in other cities and states. Guidelines for states issued by the White House last week call for more screening for the at-risk, including lower-income Americans, racial minorities and American Indians, saying it’s a core responsibility for state preparedness.

Some cities and states have introduced more testing in black and Latino neighborhoods. Detroit opened a new site for essential workers, including those who don’t have a prescription from a doctor or even have symptoms. New Orleans will begin offering walk-up testing in the city’s hot spots, which include many predominantly black areas. And on Monday New York City opened a similar clinic in Washington Heights, where there’s a hard-hit Latino community. 

Wayne Frederick, a surgeon and the president of Howard University, worries that won’t be enough. “While testing is a nationwide issue and we haven’t been doing a great job of it, it is even worse in these underserved communities,” he said. “Unfortunately, we think of them the least. We don’t try to build a different model for them. We do what’s easiest.” 

Black and Hispanic Americans are less likely to have insurance and a primary care provider than white Americans, according to a recent report from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. Because of those factors, they may not know where to seek testing or avoid doing so fearing high out-of-pocket costs.

People of color also face bias from health-care providers even when they can access services. One survey of health insurance data from seven states by medical research firm Rubix found that doctors were less likely to refer African American and Hispanic patients for testing when they showed up with symptoms. A group of University of California Berkeley researchers determined that bias in an algorithm used by hospitals to guide health decisions reduces the number of black patients identified for extra care by half.

Testing sites that have a heavy police presence may also deter patients from minority backgrounds who fear law enforcement, Frederick said. And contact tracing, which involves asking those who have tested positive for Covid-19 who they have been in touch with in the previous two weeks, “can be seen as an intrusion,” he added. In addition, testing won’t do much if those who test positive can’t take a day off without losing income or don’t have a place to self-isolate. 

Howard University is looking to convert a mobile van it uses for prostate and mammogram screenings for testing in Washington D.C.’s majority African American neighborhoods, Frederick said. It’s also looking to form a coalition with experts across its different departments, community leaders and health department officials to look at how to best bring testing “to a community that may be suspicious of it.”

Minorities aren’t the only priority, said Consuelo Wilkins, vice president for health equity at Vanderbilt University Medical Centers. “You’re more likely to be black or brown and have to go into work right now,” she said. “But you should be prioritized because you have to go to work, not because you’re black or brown.” 

To effectively open the economy, the testing ramp-up will have to reach people of all races or ethnicities. Experts estimate the U.S. will have to run at least 500,000 tests daily by May 1 to start to get people back to work. That’s more than three times what the country is doing now. 

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Trump-Backed Drug to Be Tested on Thousands in Mumbai Slums

India’s financial capital Mumbai is fine-tuning a plan to administer an unproven but much touted anti-malarial drug in neighborhoods including Asia’s most crowded slum, the first-of-its-kind mass experiment to ward off the coronavirus.

The city officials are identifying a target group which will receive hydroxychloroquine, according to Suresh Kakani, additional commissioner at Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. Medical experts are being consulted on the duration of dosage, he said, adding that a decision was expected in a couple of days.

The move underscores the desperation and mounting pressure on health care officials for solutions against a novel pathogen which has infected over 2.1 million people globally and killed over 146,000. It also explains the frenzied excitement over a decades-old drug — U.S. President Donald Trump called it a “game changer” in the fight against the virus –despite a patchy efficacy record in some small studies and a documented list of side effects.

“This is a one-time window available to us and may give answers for the pandemic the world is struggling with,” Kakani said. “We are taking utmost care to understand the side effects before implementing this.”

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Mumbai, which has seen more than a tenth of India’s over 13,800 cases and a quarter of its deaths, has emerged as the biggest virus hotspot in India and is racing against time to curb the contagion in several clusters.

The densely-packed slums of Dharavi are one of the two locations — Worli, the worst-hit Mumbai neighborhood is the other– where the city officials plan to start a hydroxychloroquine or HCQ-dosing drive as a prophylaxis or a preemptive medication aimed at warding off the disease.

There’s no conclusive scientific evidence that the drug works on virus patients, not to mention its use as a preventive therapy.

“For use of HCQ as prophylaxis in a hotspot, there is simply not enough evidence. No preventive studies published to say that this approach really protects people,” said Leena Menghaney, a New Delhi-based activist with Médecins Sans Frontières. “Potential risk may surpass the potential benefit of providing it widely for people without the disease.”

‘Too Many Uncertainties’

There have been reports of heart-rhythm problems in some people in France, especially if used in a larger dose or if it interacts with other drugs, according to Menghaney. “There are too many uncertainties to say if it will help or if it will be futile in the public health response” against the coronavirus outbreak, she said.

The anti-malarial drug didn’t help patients clear the virus better than standard care and was much more likely to cause side effects, according to a study in China. There were more side effects in the group who took hydroxychloroquine, but they were mostly mild, the most common being diarrhea, the study found.

Aware of the deeply divided stance on this drug, Mumbai’s city officials are being careful.

The original plan to dose 50,000 people between the ages of 18 years and 55 years, with no pre-existing liver and heart ailments, has now been scaled down as regular follow-up and surveillance of such a huge group would have been a challenge, said Kakani who is responsible for execution of this initiative.

The medicine will be given to only those people who are willing, he insists, after recording their personal and medical history, including any medication they may be on.

Spot Side Effects

As many as 4,500 health care workers in Mumbai can be roped in this initiative. Each health care worker will be alloted 25-30 houses to track during the tenure of the medication and will be well-trained to spot any side effects for three to seven weeks over which the drug may be administered.

Kakani refutes that the two locations were chosen because they are slum settlements.

“In Dharavi and Worli we have created quarantine zone with high risk patients. We are anyway monitoring that group for 14 days, so we are able to observe these people and provide medical services,” he said. “We are not going ahead just because this is a slum.”

Mumbai’s municipal authorities have completely sealed some areas, created quarantine zones, and are conducting door-to-door contact tracing of those found infected.

As the death toll mounts despite India being in a lockdown for nearly a month, local governments have begun weighing the risks and rewards of some unprecedented policy measures.

“We can try newer things if it’s permissible and advisable by relevant experts,” Kakani said. “Just because no one has tried it out yet does not mean we shouldn’t also. We can’t sit back and relax.”

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Knifeman in Southern France Kills Two in Lockdown Attack

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Paris (AP) — A man wielding a knife attacked residents of a French town while they ventured out to shop amid a coronavirus lockdown Saturday, killing two people and wounding eight others, authorities said.

Police later arrested the assailant nearby, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said, thanking shopkeepers for their help. Castaner said authorities were studying whether to qualify the attack in the town of Romans-sur-Isere as an act of terrorism.

While more investigating is needed, “it seems that all the risks have been neutralized” because of a quick police intervention, Castaner told reporters at the scene south of the city of Lyon.

Two people were killed and eight injured, he said. French media reported that three were in critical condition.

France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office told The Associated Press the attack took place at 11 a.m. on a commercial street.

Prosecutors did not identify the suspect. They said he had no identifying documents but claimed to be Sudanese and to have been born in 1987.

The prosecutor’s office did not confirm reports that the man had shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is great) as he carried out the attack.

The office said it was evaluating whether the attack was motivated by terrorism, but that it has not launched any formal proceedings to treat it as such.

Some 100 police and 45 firefighters were involved in the operation and securing the area, Castaner said.

Like the rest of France, the town’s residents are on coronavirus-linked lockdown. The victims were carrying out their weekend food shopping on the street that has bakeries and grocers, the office said. Two-meter distancing is being encouraged as in the rest of the country.

Media reported that the knifeman first attacked a Romanian resident who had just left his home for his daily walk — slitting his throat in front of his girlfriend and son.

Following that, they reported, the assailant entered a tobacco shop, stabbed the tobacconist and two customers, and then went into the local butcher’s shop. He grabbed another knife and attacked a client with the blunt end before entering a supermarket.

Some shoppers took refuge in a nearby bakery.

There have been a number of knife attacks in France in recent months. In January, French police shot and injured a man in Metz who was waving a knife and shouting “Allahu akbar.”

Two days earlier, another man was shot dead by police after he stabbed one person fatally and wounded two others in a Paris suburb.

It is unclear whether the suspect in Saturday’s attack had psychological problems or any links to extremism. Analysts say some extremist groups see the upheaval from the virus pandemic as an opportunity to win over more supporters.

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Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.

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