Aid Checks, Cruise Contagion, and Restaurant Woes: Weekend Reads

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The money is flowing to shield U.S. companies and workers from the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus, but basically nobody is keeping watch over who it goes to and, for many families, it’s too little to make a dent in their bills.

Following the heated dispute over Wisconsin’s election earlier this month, Republicans and Democrats are already squaring off over the terms of presidential balloting in November. Meanwhile, the pandemic is reshaping the global political landscape and will probably change the way governments use their powers for decades to come.

The effects of the virus are also showing up across societies in everything from a drop in road fatalities to restaurant owners redrawing layouts as they try to stay afloat. And questions are emerging about when the world’s biggest cruise operator knew about the virus and what it did to halt the contagion.

31,905 in U.S.Most new cases today

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

-1.​091 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

We hope you enjoy these and more of our in-depth coverage from the past seven days in this edition of Weekend Reads.

As $2 Trillion Relief Flows Almost Nobody Is Watching for Abuse
Nobody has been appointed to oversee the $2 trillion U.S. coronavirus relief package. And as Todd Shields, Jason Grotto and Saleha Mohsin explain, there's little progress on naming overseers as the money begins to flow.

At Kitchen Tables, Agonizing Over $1,200 That Won’t Be Enough
As millions of Americans get stimulus checks, many are asking how to spend a one-time payment that won’t be enough. Bloomberg reporters spoke to people across the country about what one described as “chump change in the long run.”

The Partisan Showdown Over Mail-In Voting Has Only Just Begun
The lines of masked voters in Wisconsin’s April 7 election could repeat across the U.S. in November. Margaret Newkirk reports about Republicans’ efforts to counter intensifying Democratic consensus to hold the vote mainly by mail if the Covid-19 crisis persists.

One Legacy of Coronavirus Is a Return to Activist Government
Today’s leaders are in agreement that the fight against the coronavirus is a challenge unique since 1945. Yet, as Alan Crawford explains, even after the disease peaks, they’ll find an altered political landscape that may reshape government for years to come.

America’s Empty Roads: Fewer Deaths But a Blow to State Budgets
With Americans under lockdown the number of car accidents and fatalities has plummeted. So have tax and toll revenue related to driving, and as Ryan Beene explains, state budget officers are fretting.

Carnival Executives Knew They Had a Virus Problem, But Kept the Party Going
Carnival cruises is a testament to the viciousness of the virus and, with more than 1,500 passengers ill and dozens dead, questions about corporate negligence are emerging. Austin Carr and Chris Palmeri take a deep dive into what the operator knew and when.

Migrant Workers in India May Shun Cities After Lockdown
Migrant workers fled India’s cities last month after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lockdown left them suddenly unemployed. As Archana Chaudhary and Anurag Kotoky report, companies may need to offer big incentives to lure them back.

Wuhan's 11 Million People are Free to Dine Out. But They Aren't
After more than two months of being confined to their homes, most of Wuhan’s 11 million residents are now free to go out. But for restaurant owners, the end of the lockdown hasn’t brought relief.

  • Leslie Patton and Edward Ludlow also look into how restaurants, among the hardest-hit businesses by the coronavirus, are asking how to lure back skittish diners.

Backpackers Battle for Farm Work With Australia’s New Jobless
Australia, which depends on foreign backpackers to harvest crops, is facing a dilemma. Sybilla Gross writes how lockdown measures are pitting 118,000 holiday visa holders against thousands of Australians who are looking for work with restaurants and cafes shut.

Tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at [email protected]

And finally … How to find purpose in this low-employment future in which erstwhile workers have almost unlimited free time? Ivan Levingston reports how some researchers suggest looking at one of the world’s most traditional communities: the ultra-Orthodox, or Haredim, of Israel.


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