Here’s what you need to know at the end of the day.

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

Andrew Cuomo, Tigray, March Madness: Your Friday Evening Briefing 1
Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, via Associated Press

1. The U.S. has hit a precarious point in the pandemic.

Coronavirus cases — significantly down since the U.S. peak in January — have plateaued this month at about 55,000 new ones a day, a level public health officials say is still too high. Some states, especially on the East Coast, have struggled for weeks to make any further progress in reducing cases.

At the same time, some governors are starting to relax restrictions as the pace of vaccinations accelerates. And at least 18 states have committed in recent days to growing the list of people who may get a vaccine. Above, a vaccination site at Heinz Stadium in Pittsburgh.

“I think it is a race against time,” one expert said. “Every single person that we can get vaccinated or every single person that we can get a mask on is one less opportunity that a variant has.”

Here’s a global look at who can get vaccinated right now, which is largely a factor of where you live and who you know.


Pool photo by Seth Wenig

2. An aide to Andrew Cuomo accused the New York governor of sexual harassment, adding to the accusations against him.

Alyssa McGrath described a series of unsettling interactions with the governor, telling The Times that Mr. Cuomo would ogle her body, remark on her looks and make suggestive comments to her and another executive aide. She described a pattern of flirtatious banter and a work environment in which women were persistently pitted against one another.

“He has a way of making you feel very comfortable around him, almost like you’re his friend,” Ms. McGrath said. “But then you walk away from the encounter or conversation, in your head going, ‘I can’t believe I just had that interaction with the governor of New York.’”


Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

3. In a major shift for in-person learning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said students could be three feet apart in classrooms, instead of six feet, under new guidelines designed to encourage more schools to reopen.

Responding to the change, Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City’s public schools would offer families another chance to opt back into in-person classes. Above, Samuel Smith Elementary School in Burlington, N.J., this week.

Most schools are already operating at least partly in person, and evidence suggests they are doing so relatively safely with simple safety measures such as masking, hand-washing and opening windows. Adults still must keep six feet of distance, as should students when they are in common areas, eating or during activities like singing, shouting, band practice or sports, the C.D.C. said.

Throughout the pandemic, child care workers have been taking care of children even when schools were closed, highlighting disparities in working conditions between unionized teachers and nonunionized workers who care for children.


Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

4. We’re learning more about the Atlanta shootings and the eight people killed in the rampage.

All eight victims have now been identified, including four names that the authorities had withheld for several days as they sought to notify family members. Among them are a spa owner, her employee and a patron caught in the line of fire.

A police report says the suspect asked if he was going to spend “the rest of his life” in jail. His church called this week’s attacks “the result of a sinful heart and depraved mind.” Several years ago, the police made prostitution arrests at one of the spas, raising questions about human trafficking.

“Whatever the motivation, we know this: Too many Asian-Americans have been walking up and down the streets and worrying,” President Biden said in Atlanta, adding that, “hate and violence often hide in plain site, it’s often met with silence. Our silence is complicity, and we cannot be complicit.”


Pool photo by Frederic J. Brown

5. American and Chinese diplomats in Alaska tried to salvage some common ground after a very rocky start.

The talks on Thursday began with more than an hour of cantankerous exchanges between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, which cast doubt on the prospect that their geopolitical rivalry might soften.

A lot is at stake: Conflicts have arisen recently over the Trump administration’s trade war, China’s increasingly authoritarian policies in Hong Kong, its campaign of internment and mass sterilization against Uyghur Muslims and its suspected role in cyberattacks against the U.S.


The New York Times

6. Wounded and traumatized Ethiopians have streamed into Mekelle, the biggest city in the embattled Tigray region, after the country launched a sweeping military operation to crush dissent.

Four months after Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, began the crackdown, it has degenerated into a bitter civil conflict characterized by allegations of egregious rights violations, including massacres and mutilation, sexual violence, ethnic cleansing and fears that starvation is being used a war tactic.

The majority of serious accusations have been aimed at government troops and their allies. Mr. Abiy, who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, denies responsibility for any atrocities.


Smita Sharma for The New York Times

7. “You need to focus only on the target — forget about other distractions.”

That’s advice from Chandro Tomar, 89, who is believed to be the oldest professional sharpshooter in the world.

Ms. Tomar was over 65 when she first picked up a gun — much to the disapproval of her husband. She has since become a feminist icon in India, winning dozens of medals and mentoring dozens of young women.

“I wanted to encourage young girls everywhere to get into the sport and expand their horizons,” she said.


Mike Dinovo/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

8. The men’s college basketball extravaganza is officially underway.

All of the games in the N.C.A.A. tournament are being played in Indiana because of the pandemic. Eight games wrapped up this afternoon, followed by eight more tonight and 16 on Saturday. The second-round games will occur on Sunday and Monday, and by Monday night, the Round of 16 will be set. Here’s the latest and what to watch for this weekend.

But the N.C.A.A. is facing a swell of outrage over a shortage of resources for the women’s college basketball tournament, which gets underway on Sunday. Women’s teams were given a few paltry weights to train with, while men got a lavish spread of dumbbells, barbells and squat machines. And under the tournaments’ coronavirus protocols, women’s teams are receiving cheaper, less sensitive Covid-19 tests.


Armando Rafael for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Chris Lanier.

9. You have the power to make a ham.

Rather than spend weeks curing, brining and smoking a hog’s leg, Steven Raichlen, barbecue master, shows you how to do it within days — or even hours. With a grill, some patience and some special pink curing salt, homemade ham is within reach. A project, but one well worth it.

If you’re looking for a pescatarian option, try moqueca. The vibrant seafood stew, simmered with coconut milk, red palm oil and tomatoes, is a cornerstone of Afro-Brazilian cuisine. Daniela Narcisco, a Brazilian cookbook author, described moqueca as a “comida de santo” — a dish you prepare and eat to “please the saints.”


Hisashi Murakami, Kyoto Institute of Technology; The University of Tokyo

10. And finally, if you’re reading this while walking, you may be an agent of chaos.

Moving through a crowd is sort of like doing a big dance number with the people around you. So if one person is staring down at his or her phone, lost in another world while walking, it really messes with the entire movement of the group, according to a new study out of Japan.

Researchers found that when distracted walkers were at the front of the pack, there was a drastic slowdown in the whole group’s walking pace. Distracted people also made it more difficult for passers-by to avoid them gracefully.

Hope your weekend is chaos-free.


Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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