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The Virus Is a Marathon

EntertainmentThe Virus Is a Marathon

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The pandemic, he adds, is like a marathon with staggered start times.

The virus began spreading widely in Europe earlier than in North America. Much of Europe failed to contain it at first and suffered terrible death tolls. The per capita toll in a few countries, like Britain, Italy and Spain, remains somewhat higher than in the U.S. But those countries managed to get the virus under control by the late spring. Their caseloads plummeted.

In the U.S., the virus erupted later — yet caseloads never plummeted. Almost every day for the past six months, at least 20,000 Americans have been diagnosed with the virus. “Europe learned the hard lesson and applied remedies,” as Donald says. “We did not, even though we had more warning.”

This chart makes the point:

For now, the simplest summary seems to be this: Adjusting for time, there is no large, rich country that has suffered as much as the U.S.

The N.B.A. playoffs — despite being played in two fan-less arenas at a Walt Disney World “bubble”— have been gloriously entertaining so far. (Tonight brings a much-anticipated deciding seventh game between the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors.)

Why has the quality of play been so high? One reason seems to be that players are less tired than they normally are for the playoffs. The pandemic forced the league to take a four-month break in the middle of the regular season. And since the league restarted, teams have not had to endure frequent airplane trips. Stuck in the bubble, players also can’t go out on the town after games.

All of which has some people wondering whether the N.B.A. should make some changes after the pandemic is over. Sopan Deb, who covers the N.B.A. for The Times, says that this experience could increase calls to shorten the regular season from its usual 82 games. And Dennis Lindsey, a Utah Jazz executive, has suggested that the league consider scheduling back-to-back games in the same city between the same teams, as baseball already does.

“The players feel better,” Lindsey said, about the current playoffs, “and frankly, we need to listen to the players.”

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