Monday Sunrise Briefing: A gradual, global reopening

REUTERS/Vincent West
Egoitz Bijueska, 9, grinds a rail on a skateboard near the Guggenheim Museum, on his first day outside in six weeks after restrictions were partially lifted for children in Bilbao, Spain, April 26, 2020.

The sounds of children playing outside returned to Spain on Sunday for the first time in six weeks. Across Europe, and in a few U.S. states, a shift is underway. Some businesses and churches are beginning to cautiously, partially reopen. In the U.S., many stay-at-home orders expire this week. But tensions are rising between some mayors and state governors with different views on the pace of safely reopening. Public health officials warn that most states lack sufficient testing or coordinated contact tracing to prevent a recurrence of an outbreak. 

In Wuhan, China, hospitals reported no COVID-19 patients at all, but a stricter quarantine was declared in Harbin, China, a city of 10 million. In India, neighborhood stores were allowed to reopen in selected areas. As cases declined in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to work Monday.

2. An unscheduled adventure. They didn’t plan to sail home. But a group of 25 Dutch teenagers arrived safely home Sunday after the coronavirus lockdowns turned their educational cruise of the Caribbean into an epic  five-week voyage. On the trip, the teens ticked off three bucket list items: A trans-Atlantic crossing, a mid-ocean swim, and surviving the Bermuda Triangle. The teens hugged and chanted each other’s names as they walked off the ship and into the arms of their families, who drove their cars alongside the 200-foot schooner one by one to adhere to social distancing rules. One lesson 17-year-old Floor Hurkmans learned: “Being flexible, because everything is changing all the time.” 

AP Photo/Peter Dejong
A schooner sailed by 25 Dutch teens arrived at the port of Harlingen,The Netherlands, Sunday, April 26, 2020. They sailed home from the Caribbean across the Atlantic when coronavirus lockdowns prevented them flying home.

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, April 27, 2020, sunrise briefing.

Here are two news events from this past weekend (while you may have been mulching, hiking, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

Look Ahead

Monday, April 27

Monday’s with Michelle: Former first lady Michelle Obama is reading children’s books at 12 pm ET for four consecutive Mondays. Today, it’s "There's a Dragon in Your Book" by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Greg Abbott.

Tuesday, April 28

Vote-by-mail democracy. Ohio holds its presidential primary today without any in-person voting due to the pandemic. All mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Monday or dropped off at county offices by 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. At least six states have postponed their primaries from today until June 2. 

Wednesday, April 29

Fed wisdom? The Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell is scheduled to speak with the media. Two weeks ago, Mr. Powell warned of a “false start” if states reopened for business too soon, but could expect a “robust” recovery if states wait.

Independence Day: Israel marks the 72nd anniversary of statehood.

Thursday, April 30

'Parks and Rec' reunion: Leslie Knope and company return for a 30-minute Pawnee reunion. The scripted, social distancing-themed episode on NBC (8:30 p.m. ET) will raise money for Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks.

Goodnight with Dolly: Singer and actor Dolly Parton reads children’s bedtime stories every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Since 1995, Ms. Parton has given millions of books away free to children through her “Imagination Library.

Friday, May 1

A labor rights digital celebration. The traditional May Day - a celebration of labor unions and workers' rights - goes online around the world this year.

Saturday, May 2

2020 campaign carries on. Kansas and Guam finish their primary voting today. The Kansas primary has been open since the end of March, but switched to mail-in only ballots. Guam is scheduled to hold a caucus.

Generosity Watch

Stephanie Nicole via Facebook
Stephanie Nicole stands behind her sister's, Shana Poole-Jones', give-away table outside her home in Maplewood, Missouri.

A crisis often brings out the best in humanity. These days, the acts of kindness and generosity are bursting out everywhere. Here are three this week that caught my eye.

  • Shana Poole-Jones of Maplewood, Missouri, has lost eight family members to COVID-19. They all live in Georgia, where she was “born and raised.” She can’t travel to support them, so she’s spreading kindness from her front yard in Missouri. She set up a “grab & go” table with canned goods, bag lunches, toiletries, and cleaning products. The items are all free to anyone who drives by. Some people are stopping by to donate. “It’s hard, I can not go down there to see my family so right now. I’m doing this to take it off my mind,” Ms. Jones told KTVI Fox News in St. Louis.
  • In Calgary, Canada, a group of high school kids are telling jokes to seniors. The Joy 4 All Project is a hotline (1-877-JOY-4ALL or 1-877-569-4255), where callers can hear pre-recorded jokes, stories, motivational passages, and poems targeted to the elderly and isolated. “Through this project, we will be able to show our appreciation to people that are self-isolating and give them something they can always look forward to in their day. Hopefully, it can lighten the mood and help save lives,” 16-year-old Ali Ahmad, told LiveWireCalgary.
  • Finally, here’s one senior who is probably telling jokes to high school kids. This is Gertrude Larson’s second pandemic (she remembers the 1918-19 flu epidemic). And at 104, she’s still giving back to her community. In recent weeks, the nimble Fergus Falls, Minn., resident has been climbing the stairs to her second-floor sun-filled sewing room where she operates a Singer machine purchased in 1939. The retired nurse is churning out masks for a local nursing home's staff and residents. As she told WDAY-TV in Fargo, N.D., she’s simply is doing what her ancestors from Norway did: Taking care of each other. There's a lot of that going around these days. 

Hidden gem

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor readers:

In lockdown, they found someone – with four legs – to love (video)

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about Sweden's no-lockdown, individual responsibility approach to dealing with the pandemic. Is it working?

Finally, check out the Monitor’s selected stories from Friday's subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. After shooting, Nova Scotia finds ways to comfort under lockdown
  2. Where does an oil crisis hit first? Not where you might expect.
  3. ‘Land of fraternity’: In Portugal, a revolution’s values withstand pandemic
  4. Boston’s car-free streets offer glimpse of low-carbon future
  5. In lockdown, they found someone – with four legs – to love

Editor’s note: As a public service, all our coronavirus coverage is free. No paywall.

This is a beta test - an experiment with an early Monday morning news update. Please give us your feedback via the link below and let us know what you think. Thank you!


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