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A curated guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.


President Biden affirmed yesterday that he would not immediately extend an Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan, citing terror threats. In making the decision, Biden agreed with a Pentagon recommendation to stick to the deadline, according to two people with knowledge of his decision. In an address yesterday afternoon, Biden stressed the threat to U.S. troops, noting that “each day of operations brings added risk to our troops” and pointed directly to the growing threat of an attack by the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province (ISIS-K). Lara Seligman, Andrew Desiderio and Quint Forgey report for POLITICO.

Biden has said that the U.S. is still poised to complete the evacuations by the withdrawal deadline of Aug. 31. Speaking to reporters Biden said that “we are currently on pace to finish by Aug. 31.” “The sooner we can finish, the better. Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops,” he added. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said in a statement that Biden had told his counterparts at the Group of Seven (G7) meeting that the “mission in Kabul will end based on the achievement of our objectives. He confirmed we are currently on pace to finish by Aug. 31.” Michael D. Shear, Annie Karni and Eric Schmitt report for the New York Times.

Biden has left open the possibility of extending the deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw and has asked the Pentagon and State Department to prepare contingency plans in case it becomes necessary to stay longer. In his remarks at the White House yesterday, Biden also expressed nervousness about relying on assurances from the Taliban. “Thus far, the Taliban have been taking steps to work with us so we can get our people out,” he said. “But it’s a tenuous situation. We’ve already had some gun fighting break out. We run a serious risk of it breaking down, as time goes on.” Mark Landler and Michael D. Shear report for the New York Times.

Biden has reiterated that the completion of the evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies and the withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of the month hinges on cooperation from the Taliban. Biden told allies at the G7 meeting that “completion of the mission by Aug. 31 depends on continued coordination with the Taliban, including continued access for evacuees to the airport,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. Elena Moore and Domenico Montanaro report for NPR.

The U.S. military has begun reducing its presence in Kabul with several hundred U.S. troops having left Afghanistan yesterday as Biden announced his decision to not extend the Aug. 31 evacuation deadline. “These troops represent a mix of headquarters staff, maintenance and other enabling functions that were scheduled to leave and whose mission at the airport was complete. Their departure represents prudent and efficient force management. It will have no impact on the mission at hand,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement, confirming earlier reports from defense officials to CNN. Oren Liebermann and Paul LeBlanc report for CNN.

Biden rejected pleas of domestic and international allies, including at the G7 meeting yesterday, in refusing to extend the deadline for U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan. “During the virtual meeting, the G7 countries debated the withdrawal date, with the meeting ending “in bitter disappointment for those seeking to persuade Biden to extend the end date. Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, said: ‘several leaders during the G7 meeting expressed concerns about this timing, August 31, and we have also had the opportunity to express our opinion on that,’” David Smith reports for the Guardian.

The U.K.’s evacuation from Kabul is to end within “24 to 36 hours.” U.K. defense sources have said. “After the G7, U.K. defense sources told the Guardian that the U.S. military is believed to need two to three days to close down its operations at Kabul airport, and British troops want to be at least 24 hours ahead of that – leaving a small window for RAF flights evacuating those at risk from the Taliban’s takeover. All western forces are set to leave within days,” Dan Sabbagh, Peter Walker, Aubrey Allegretti and Daniel Boffey report for the Guardian.

It is “very probable” that France’s evacuation operations to evacuate its citizens and partners from Afghanistan will end this Thursday, French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune has told C News TV. Reuters reporting.

Lawmakers from both Republican and Democratic parties have called on Biden to push back his Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops. “There has been and remains an overwhelming bipartisan consensus that this cannot be done by Aug. 31,” Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said following a classified briefing for House lawmakers. Laura Kelly, Rebecca Beitsch and Scott Wong report for The Hill.

In his speech yesterday afternoon, Biden made clear that despite an exit from Afghanistan being likely to leave thousands of Afghans eligible for passage to the U.S., along with potentially some Americans, trapped under Taliban rule, he believes the priorities of Americans and his own political prospects are ultimately elsewhere. During the televised statement, Biden celebrated the latest House votes on his $3.5 trillion jobs, social spending, family leave and health care blueprint. “We are a step closer to truly investing in the American people, positioning our economy for long term growth and building an America that outcompetes the rest of the world,” Biden said. Analysis of why Biden is ending the final U.S. mission in Afghanistan over the next week is provided by Stephen Collinson reporting for CNN.


The Taliban said yesterday that they were “not allowing the evacuation of Afghans anymore” and “are not happy with it either,” as they want qualified Afghans to stay in Afghanistan. The doctors and academics of Afghanistan “should not leave this country, they should work in their own specialist areas,” Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid told a press conference. “They should not go to other countries, to those Western countries,” he added. Mujahid told the press conference “that while foreign nationals could continue traveling to the airport, the huge crowds of Afghans that have gathered there in recent days should return home and would not face reprisals from the country’s new rulers,” Nick Paton Walsh, Brad Lendon, Sheena McKenzie and Ivana Kottasová report for CNN.

The Taliban have closed the Kabul airport road to Afghans to block their evacuation from the country. The Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said: that “the road that ends at Kabul airport has been blocked. Foreigners can go through it but Afghans are not allowed to take the road.” “The decision is likely to leave tens of thousands of Afghans who had been hoping to escape trapped under Taliban control,” Peter Beaumont reports for the Guardian.

The Biden administration has said that it expects that some Afghans who qualify for special visas will not be barred from going to Kabul airport to evacuate in coming days, even as the Taliban asks the U.S. to stop helping them leave, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday. Psaki said that the Taliban’s statement should not impact Afghans who were prioritized by the U.S. to leave the country. “No. That is not how you should read it,” she said. “Our expectation, which we have also conveyed to the Taliban, is that they should be able to get to the airport,” Psaki later added. Reuters reporting.

Terrorist threats from ISIS-K are jeopardizing the Afghanistan evacuation effort, Pentagon officials relayed to lawmakers yesterday, according to three congressional aides and another source familiar with the intelligence. “The security situation on the ground in Kabul significantly worsened on Tuesday day due to new terrorist threats from the Islamic State branch in Afghanistan, known as ISIS-K. The group is targeting airport gates and military and commercial aircraft evacuating people from the capital city, the sources said,” Lara Seligman, Andrew Desiderio And Alexander Ward report for POLITICO.

Kabul airport could be a “very attractive target” for terrorists, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said during a news briefing on Monday. Schiff said the threat to Kabul airport has been a concern of his “for some days now.” Jordan Williams reports for The Hill.


The U.S. military has increased the number of flights leaving Kabul airport, but bottlenecks in the system and President Biden’s insistence that all troops leave Afghanistan by the end of the month could prevent the military from keeping up their pace. “The race against time means that the 5,800 Marines and soldiers at Hamid Karzai International Airport must try to evacuate thousands more Americans and Afghan allies, and then get themselves out, somehow erasing the detritus of 20 years of war in Afghanistan in the next seven days,” Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt report for the New York Times.

It is becoming increasingly clear that thousands of Afghans who helped the U.S. during the 20-year war in Afghanistan will not be evacuated, a scenario that has engendered deep frustration inside U.S. national security agencies. “People are furious and disgusted,” said a former U.S. intelligence official said, while a defense official described how he felt nauseated thinking about the situation and former CIA Director John Brennan said that at the CIA, “officers feel a real sense of obligation, moral obligation and personal obligation” to the Afghans they supported and trained. Ken Dilanian, Courtney Kube, Julia Ainsley and Abigail Williams report for NBC News.

U.K. foreign secretary Dominic Raab has said that it is unclear how many people will be left behind in Afghanistan once British troops withdraw. Raab said the figure depends on “the window” left in terms of timing and how many people they manage to process over the next few days. “Raab also declined to comment on whether British troops would return to Afghanistan in the future,” the Guardian reports.

Spain will not be able to rescue all Afghans who served alongside its troops in Afghanistan because of the “dramatic” situation on the ground, Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said yesterday. “We will evacuate as many people as possible but there are those who will stay behind for reasons that don’t depend on us but on the situation there,” Robles told Cadena Ser radio. “Even for those who reach Kabul, access to the airport is very complicated,” she said, describing the situation as “dramatic” as aggression from the Taliban increases. The Guardian reporting.

A leaked email has described the “living hell” of the living conditions for Afghan evacuees at an American air base in Qatar, where the Biden administration is housing thousands of Afghan evacuees. The air base was awash with loose feces and urine and a rat infestation, according to internal emails shared with Axios. The email by supervisory special agent Colin Sullivan went to officials at the State Department and the Pentagon. It described “a life-threatening humanitarian disaster … that I want to make sure all of you are fully tracking.” Jonathan Swan, Hans Nichols, Glen Johnson report for Axios.

The U.S. is rushing to improve the “terrible” conditions at the American air base in Qatar that is serving as a temporary hub for many Afghan evacuees. U.S. officials are working to provide additional air conditioners and supplies to the base, according to a statement from the State Department. “We are aware of and as concerned as anybody about what have been some terrible sanitation conditions at Qatar,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters yesterday. “Nobody’s making excuses, nobody’s ducking from this.” Andrew Jeong reports for the Washington Post.

The Department of Homeland Security is to allow some Afghans to enter the U.S. without formal visas. “Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is using his parole authority to allow some Afghan evacuees to enter the U.S. while they wait for their applications to be processed, a senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday,” Morgan Chalfant and Rebecca Beitsch report for The Hill.

Russia has begun evacuating more than 500 people from Afghanistan, including Russians and citizens of Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. At the same time Russia is continuing to hold a month of military exercises for its tank forces in neighboring Tajikistan and has reinforced its base there. Reuters reporting.

Russia has allowed around 1,000 Afghans to enter the country from Afghanistan after its rapid takeover by the Taliban, RIA news agency has reported, citing a Moscow-based organization of Afghani expatriates. “Among those who received permission to travel are holders of Russian passports or those with permanent residence rights and students of Russian universities, it said,” Reuters reports.

Germany will try to help Afghans who worked with its soldiers and aid organizations who wish to leave Afghanistan even after the Aug. 31 deadline for troops to withdraw, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said today. “We are working intensively at all levels to find how we can protect those who helped us, including through the civilian operation of the airport in Kabul,” Merkel said. Reuters reporting.


About 19,000 people were evacuated from Kabul on Tuesday, with 42 U.S. military flights and 48 coalition flights flying people out of the capital over the past 24 hours, the White House has said today. Karine Jean-Pierre, White House principal deputy press secretary tweeted that “from 3:00 AM EDT yesterday to 3:00 AM EDT today, a total of approximately 19,000 people were evacuated from Kabul.” The total number airlifted out of Afghanistan since Aug. 14 is now 82,300 the White House has said. Reuters reporting.

The U.S. military flew roughly 12,700 people on 37 flights out of Afghanistan on Monday, the largest single day of airlifts out of the country. “In total, approximately 21,600 people were evacuated from Afghanistan during the 24-hour period between early Monday and early Tuesday, a White House official said, including 8,900 people who were transported on 57 coalition flights,” Morgan Chalfant reports for The Hill.

The U.S. has evacuated approximately 4,000 American passport holders and families from Kabul, the Pentagon confirmed yesterday. “Several thousand more Americans are estimated to still be in Afghanistan, though administration officials have not released an official number,” Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.

The U.K. foreign secretary has confirmed that 9,000 British nationals and Afghans who worked for Britain have now been evacuated from Afghanistan since Aug. 15. The Guardian reports.


The leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations who met yesterday have said that the Taliban is responsible for preventing terrorism, respecting human rights and working toward a peaceful solution in Afghanistan. In a joint release following the emergency meeting the leaders sought to project unity in their approach to Afghanistan and the Taliban. “In particular, we reaffirm that the Taliban will be held accountable for their actions on preventing terrorism, on human rights in particular those of women, girls and minorities and on pursuing an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan,” the statement read. Laura Kelly reports for The Hill.

The G7 has demanded that the Taliban guarantee the safe passage for evacuees following the Aug. 31 deadline for western forces to withdraw. “British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday the G7 had agreed a plan to deal with the Taliban, with the No. 1 condition being that militants must allow safe passage to Afghans wanting to leave the country even after an Aug. 31 deadline,” Reuters reports.

The G7 joint statement has emphasized that “Afghanistan must never again become a safe haven for terrorism, nor a source of terrorist attacks on others.” “Working with partners, in particular NATO allies, we will continue to fight terrorism with resolve and solidarity, wherever it is found. Any future Afghan government must adhere to Afghanistan’s international obligations and commitment to protect against terrorism,” the statement says.

Italy’s prime minister Mario Draghi has said G20 countries like Russia, China and India can help the G7 on Afghanistan. Reactions of other country leaders following the virtual G7 meeting yesterday are provided by BBC News.


Reps. Seth Moulton, (D-MA) and Peter Meijer (R-MI) traveled to Kabul “in secret” yesterday on an unauthorized oversight mission of the evacuation efforts, drawing criticism from officials in President Biden’s administration. Moulton and Meijer have both defended their travel to Afghanistan, “as Members of Congress, we have a duty to provide oversight on the executive branch. There is no place in the world right now where oversight matters more,” they both said in a joint statement yesterday. Both congressmen also emphasized that they sought “to ensure that nobody who needed a seat would lose one because of our presence.” Alana Wise reports for NPR.

In a joint statement Moulton and Meijer have heavily criticized the evacuation effort saying that “Washington should be ashamed.” “After talking with commanders on the ground and seeing the situation here, it is obvious that because we started the evacuation so late, that no matter what we do, we won’t get everyone out on time, even by September 11,” the lawmakers, both of whom are veterans, said in a joint statement. “Sadly and frustratingly, getting our people out depends on maintaining the current, bizarre relationship with the Taliban.” Ginger Gibson reports for NBC News.

Moulton and Meijer have faced heavy criticism for their unauthorized trip to Kabul. “Three officials familiar with the flight said that State Department, Defense Department and White House officials were furious about the incident because it was done without coordination with diplomats or military commanders directing the evacuation,” Lolita C. Baldor reports for AP.

House Speak Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has warned House members not to travel to Afghanistan after Moulton and Meijer made their unauthorized trip. In a letter sent to House members yesterday afternoon Pelosi said that she was writing “to reiterate that the Departments of Defense and State have requested that Members not travel to Afghanistan and the region during this time of danger.” Annie Linskey, Tyler Pager, John Hudson and Sean Sullivan report for the Washington Post.


The Taliban have overtaken and ransacked multiple U.N. compounds in Afghanistan, reportedly forcing one office to provide food to fighters, according to an internal U.N. report. “We have also been advised by the Taliban to remain in our compound ‘for our safety’ which equates to ‘ask permission before thinking about leaving.’” the Department for Safety and Security wrote in the Aug 21 risk assessment report. The report also said that the Taliban has been inconsistent in dealing with U.N. staff and that some Afghan personnel had been prevented from entering some U.N. premises. Ned Parker and Michelle Nichols report for Reuters.

A Taliban spokesman has urged Afghan women to stay home because fighters have not been trained to respect them. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid called it a “temporary” policy intended to protect women until the Taliban could ensure their safety. Maggie Astor, Sharif Hassan and Norimitsu Onishi report for the New York Times.

The Taliban have ordered former male officials do not panic and “get back to work.” According to officials in Afghanistan’s finance ministry and central bank who Reuters have spoken to, they have been told by the Taliban to return to work, as the country faces economic upheaval and a shortage of cash. Rupam Jain reports for Reuters.


The World Bank is suspending funding for projects in Afghanistan because of concerns about the impact of Taliban rule, particularly on women and girls. The bank has committed more than $5.3 billion for development projects in the war-torn country over the last two decades. “We have paused disbursements in our operations in Afghanistan and we are closely monitoring and assessing the situation in line with our internal policies and procedures,” a World Bank spokesperson said in a statement. “Together with our partners we are exploring ways we can remain engaged to preserve hard-won development gains and continue to support the people of Afghanistan.” Rachell Pannett reports for the Washington Post.

Germany is prepared to talk to the Taliban to “safeguard” the gains of the past 20 years, but will not offer the militants any unconditional agreements, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said in addressing the German Parliament today. “This new reality is a bitter reality but we must engage with it,” Merkel said of the Taliban takeover and the increased risk of terrorism. “What we absolutely underestimated was how breathtakingly fast the Afghan troops would give up against the Taliban, or that such resistance would not even be attempted,” she said. BBC News reports.


Prosecutors have been told by a federal judge that they must clarify why the Justice Department’s new limits on pursuing journalists shouldn’t apply to a far-right talk-show host charged in Jan. 6 attack. In an order made public yesterday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui, the federal judge overseeing a criminal case against said talk-show host Owen Shroyer, said that prosecutors refused to answer on the record whether they had complied with the department’s updated media policy when seeking a warrant to arrest Shroyer, for his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Aruna Viswanatha and Rebecca Ballhaus report for the Wall Street Journal.

Tech leaders, including the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and IBM, will be meeting with president Biden at the White House today to discuss cybersecurity. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that addressing cybersecurity threats requires a “whole-of-nation effort,” noting that a wide array of government and industry leaders would be involved in the meeting. “The president, members of the Cabinet and his national security team, and private sector and education leaders are going to be meeting to discuss how we can work together to collectively improve the nation’s cybersecurity,” Psaki told reporters. Maggie Miller reports for The Hill.

An Oklahoma man, Benjamen Scott Burlew, on Friday was arrested and charged with assault and act of physical violence in connection to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. “According to federal prosecutors, Burlew engaged in the physical assault of a credentialed photographer for The Associated Press,” Mychel Schnell reports for The Hill.


Vice President Harris’s trip from Singapore to Vietnam was delayed by more than three hours yesterday after her staff was made aware of “a recent possible anomalous health incident,” known as Havana Syndrome, in Hanoi, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam. The “anomalous health incident” affected embassy staff in Vietnam but not anyone from the vice president’s staff. Michele Kelemen and Deepa Shivaram report for NPR.

The two U.S. diplomats affected by Havana Syndrome in Vietnam will be medically evacuated from the country, according to two senior U.S. officials. The two diplomats had “experienced anomalous acoustic incidents here in Hanoi” over the weekend, according to the officials. The U.S. chargé d’affaires in Vietnam, Christopher Klein, informed U.S. personnel in Hanoi of the incidents just hours before Harris arrived in the country. Klein also told the staff that the health unit and regional security officer are following up the incidents. Josh Lederman and Andrea Mitchell report for NBC News.

Harris met Vietnam’s top leaders today and has offered U.S. support in several key areas including the enhancement of Vietnam’s maritime security in an effort to counter Beijing’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea. Harris offered more visits by U.S. warships to the area during her talks with Vietnam’s President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, according to a White House official. Nandita Bose reports for Reuters.

Humanitarian and advocacy groups have said that President Biden should end the travel ban to North Korea. The restriction on travel from former President Trump’s era was implemented in 2017 following the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student who traveled to the totalitarian country and was arrested and detained on charges of stealing a propaganda poster. The travel ban is set to expire on Sept. 1, after being renewed every year since it took effect, and humanitarian groups and other advocate groups, including Korean American groups representing separated families, have “argued that ending the ban would allow families to reunite with their aging loved ones, bring medical and humanitarian aid to those who need it the most, and help ordinary North Koreans and Americans to learn more about one another beyond what’s reported in the news,” Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports for the Washington Post.

“A University of Kansas professor has accused the FBI of misleading a federal judge while seeking search warrants in a case charging the professor with failing to disclose his ties to a Chinese university and a Chinese government recruitment program,” Ellen Nakashima reports for the Washington Post.


Hamas-backed Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip have launched a new wave of incendiary balloons into Israel, following a night of airstrikes from Israel into Gaza. The two sides this week have engaged in their heaviest cross-border fighting since the 11-day wat in May. Wafaa Shurafa report for AP.

A Palestinian man has died today from a bullet wound suffered during clashes with Israeli forces last week along Gaza’s border fence over the weekend, Palestinian health officials have said. “Osama Dueij, 32, was shot in the leg on Saturday during a violent demonstration on the border. The Israeli military said demonstrators approached one area of the fence in northern Gaza and tried to climb over while throwing explosives at troops. In response, it said that troops fired tear gas and live rounds toward the protesters. Israeli gunfire wounded 41 Palestinians, including a 13-year-old boy who was shot in the head, the Hamas-run health ministry said,” AP reports.

In an interview before his upcoming meeting with President Biden, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said that he opposes U.S. efforts to restore a nuclear deal with Iran and has ruled out peace talks with the Palestinians. Bennett also said that “he would expand West Bank settlements that Biden opposes, declined to back American plans to reopen a consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem and ruled out reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians under his watch,” Patrick Kingsley and Isabel Kershner report for the New York Times.


Syrian opposition activists have said that an explosion at the base of an al-Qaida-linked group in northern Syria has killed eight fighters and wounded others. It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion at the base of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in the northwestern province of Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in the country, however, there have been reports that it was caused by a shell that exploded as fighters trained. Bassem Mroue reports for AP.

The U.S. and E.U. are warnings about the recent influx of Eritrean troops into Ethiopia’s Tigray region. “The United States is concerned that large numbers of (Eritrean Defence Forces) have re-entered Ethiopia, after withdrawing in June,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Monday. Al Jazeera reports.

Authorities are investigating a potential poisoning after seven people at a university in western Germany have received medical treatment, with prosecutors opening an investigation into suspicions of attempted murder. “The employees and students at the Technical University in Darmstadt, south of Frankfurt, experienced medical problems on Monday. Police say that milk cartons and water containers in one of the buildings on the campus appear to have been contaminated with a harmful substance between Friday and Monday,” AP reports.


The coronavirus has infected over 38.0 million and has now killed over 630,800 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 213.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 4.45 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.

U.S. intelligence agencies have delivered an inconclusive report to President Biden on the origins of Covid-19. The classified report, which follows Biden’s ask to intelligence agencies in May to produce a report “that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion” on the origins of a virus, falls short of concluding whether the virus jumped from animal to human, or might have accidentally escaped from a lab in China, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter. The officials also said that the intelligence community will seek within days to declassify elements of the report for potential public release. Ellen Nakashima, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Joel Achenbach report for the Washington Post.

A map and analysis of the vaccine roll out across the U.S. is available at the New York Times.

A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. is available at the New York Times.

U.S. and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.

A state-by-state guide to lockdown measures and reopenings is provided by the New York Times.

Latest updates on the pandemic at the Guardian.