urged people to stay home and follow social distancing norms. Many cities have maintained their 7 p.m.-to-7 a.m. curfews.

And in the Indian city of Lucknow, which is known for its kebabs, butcher shops are closed amid a restriction on meat sales that took effect in March. Mohammed Raees Qureshi, who owns two butcher shops in Lucknow, said he had hoped — to no avail — that local officials would allow him to open for at least a couple of days around Eid.

“If they would give us some guidelines, we would make sure to follow them,” he said. “But right now there is only silence.”

Some White House officials suggest that deaths are overcounted. Experts disagree.

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Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

As the United States approaches 100,000 coronavirus deaths, President Trump and members of his administration have been questioning the official coronavirus death toll, suggesting that the numbers are inflated.

On Friday, Mr. Trump told reporters that he accepted the current death toll but that the figures could be “lower than” the official count, which is now above 95,000.

Most statisticians and public health experts say the death toll is probably far higher than what is publicly known. People are dying in their homes and in nursing homes without being tested, they say, and deaths early this year were probably misidentified as influenza or described only as pneumonia.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, has said that the U.S. health care system incorporates a generous definition of a death caused by Covid-19.

“There are other countries that if you had a pre-existing condition, and let’s say the virus caused you to go to the I.C.U., and then have a heart or kidney problem — some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a Covid-19 death,” she said at a White House news conference last month.

In a brief interview on Thursday, Dr. Birx said there had been no pressure to alter data. But concerns about official statistics are not limited to the death toll, or to administration officials.

A British utility will pay its customers to keep the lights on.

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Credit…Tim Keeton/EPA, via Shutterstock

The pandemic has played havoc with energy markets. Last month, the price of benchmark American crude oil fell below zero as the economy shut down and demand plunged.

And this weekend, a British utility will pay some of its residential consumers to use electricity — to plug in appliances and run them full blast.

These negative electricity prices usually show up in wholesale power markets, when a big electricity user like a factory or a water treatment plant is paid to consume more power. Having too much power on the line could lead to damaged equipment or even blackouts.

Negative prices were once relatively rare, but during the pandemic they have become almost routine in Britain, Germany and elsewhere in Europe. The reason is similar to what caused the price of oil to plunge: oversupply meeting a collapse in demand.

In Britain, Octopus Energy is offering to pay some customers 2 pence to 5 pence per kilowatt-hour for electricity that they consume in periods of slack demand, such as are expected on Sunday.

“This needs to become the normal,” said Greg Jackson, the company’s and chief executive, who said the pandemic was offering a preview of “what the future is going to look like.”

In recent weeks, renewable energy sources have played an increasingly large role in the European power system, and the burning of coal has decreased.

Some coronavirus patients in Portugal recognized their doctor from the soccer field.

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Credit…Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

He swapped his blazer and tie for the uncomfortable fit of personal protective equipment and left the boardroom for the emergency room at Lisbon’s military hospital.

There, as a doctor pressed into service in the coronavirus pandemic, he faced feverish, coughing patients and helped line up their care. Some of them, though, had a curious question.

“From just looking at my eyes they would say, ‘Hey, are you not the Sporting president? Can I have a selfie?’”

Frederico Varandas is indeed the president of Sporting Clube de Portugal, one of the country’s biggest soccer teams. He is also Dr. Frederico Varandas, a reserve military physician who completed a tour in Afghanistan a decade ago before switching his career.

Dr. Varandas, 40, was recently on call at the hospital for about six weeks, working 12-hour shifts treating military staff members and their families. His primary task was to test and evaluate the patients as they arrived, before handing off the more serious ones to his colleagues in the intensive care unit.

He is not the only sports figure pressed into medical service in the global fight against the virus. In Canada, for instance, Hayley Wickenheiser, a four-time Olympic gold medalist in hockey turned medical student, has been gathering protective equipment for workers and also helping with efforts to track the spread of the virus.

Though unexpected, Dr. Varandas found his medical service fulfilling.

“Sports had stopped in Portugal and I thought that I am more important to the country working as a doctor,” he said.

South Korea is closing bars and karaoke parlors after new infections.

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Credit…Yonhap, via Agence France-Presse-Getty Images

The authorities in South Korea’s major cities have shuttered thousands of bars, nightclubs and karaoke parlors after identifying them as new sources of infection.

The measures are a response to a new coronavirus cluster — 215 cases as of Friday — traced to nightlife facilities this month. The outbreak is believed to have started in Itaewon, a popular nightclub district in Seoul.

Anyone who visits the venues, as well as the owners who accept them, can face fines, and the government can also sue them for damages amid an outbreak. And unlike other patients, those who contract the virus in these facilities while they are barred must pay their own coronavirus-related medical bills.

South Korea is not the only the place in the region to crack down on nightlife in the pandemic.

Hong Kong closed its night clubs and karaoke establishments in April after a “bar and band” cluster was identified in a popular nightlife district. They are scheduled to reopen next week.

And in Japan, an association representing entertainment workers issued guidelines on Friday that cover nightclubs and hostess bars. The guidelines suggest that hostesses tie up their hair and avoid sitting directly in front of customers.

The association, Nihon Mizushobai Kyokai, also said that microphones in karaoke parlors should be disinfected regularly and that customers should keep their masks on while singing.

Separated by Plexiglas: A correspondent tells us about the new normal for nursing home visits in France.

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Credit…Lydie Peltier

Elian Peltier covered the coronavirus pandemic in Spain before returning to his home country, France. We asked him to tell us about a visit to his grandparents.

When France went under lockdown in March, my mother was relieved. Her parents were in a nursing home, and with travel restrictions suddenly in place, she and her sister could no longer drive the 80 miles south of Paris every weekend to visit them.

At least in the home, my grandparents would get the care they needed.

Then the virus slipped inside nursing homes, and relief turned to alarm. Had a move to protect my grandparents instead condemned them?

So began a long vigil of daily calls, weekly video chats and customized postcards created online.

When I told my grandfather about reporting in Spain, I omitted mention of the bodies taken out of apartment buildings in Barcelona and of health care workers in hazmat suits disinfecting nursing homes in isolated villages. It felt better to update him on the uncertain fate of European soccer leagues, and to reminisce about our penalty-kick practices in his garden in Beaugency, where I spent my summers as a child.

The coronavirus has killed about 14,000 residents of France’s nursing homes — half of the country’s death toll. We are lucky that, so far, none of those deaths occurred at my grandparents’ home, where the caregivers were vigilant about social distancing.

As France began easing its lockdown last week, we were finally able to visit, or rather sit outside the home, as my grandparents sat inside, a few feet away. To allow us to hear each other, the staff opened the door, but placed a table with a Plexiglas partition in the doorway.

We could see my grandparents only one at a time, since they are in different parts of the home that can no longer socially mix. My grandfather, a former stone mason, misses many things that we cannot yet deliver, like shorts, because of the home’s strict rules. It is my grandmother’s company he misses most.

My grandmother, once a wonderful cook known for her poulet basquaise and cherry cakes, has Alzheimer’s. When she struggled to recognize me, I broke the rules and took down my mask for a second. A nurse gently caressed her hair as we spoke. My mother and I were a little envious that the nurse could do what we could not.

For now, I plan to finally read my grandfather’s journals of his military service in Chad when he was around my age. He gave them to me at Christmas; I thought I had plenty of time to read them. That was before he had a stroke, and before the pandemic created a new normal.

Trump orders U.S. states to open houses of worship. Governors say it’s their decision.

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Credit…Joseph Rushmore for The New York Times

It was not clear what authority President Trump was invoking on Friday when he marched into the White House briefing room and called for states “to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now.” He threatened to “override” any governors who did not.

Declaring places of worship “essential” operations, Mr. Trump said they should be permitted to hold services in person this weekend, regardless of state quarantine orders stemming from the coronavirus pandemic that has killed nearly 96,000 people in the United States.

“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important, essential places of faith to open right now for this weekend,” Mr. Trump said, reading from a prepared text before leaving after just about a minute without taking questions. “If they don’t do it, I will override the governors. In America, we need more prayer, not less.”

The White House could not explain what power the president actually has to override the governors, and legal experts said he did not have such authority, but he could take states to court on religious freedom grounds, which could be time-consuming. Attorney General William P. Barr, a strong advocate of religious rights, already has been threatening legal action against California.

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transcript

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‘We Need More Prayer,’ Trump Says, Calling Houses of Worship ‘Essential’

President Trump urged governors to reopen houses of worship immediately, saying he would override them if they did not. His authority to do so is unclear.

Today, I’m identifying houses of worship, churches, synagogues and mosques as essential places that provide essential services. Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right. So I’m correcting this injustice, and calling houses of worship “essential.” I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now. These are places that hold our society together, and keep our people united. The people are demanding to go to church and synagogue, go to their mosque. Many millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life. The ministers, pastors, rabbis, imams and other faith leaders will make sure that their congregations are safe as they gather and pray. I know them well, they love their congregations. They love their people. They don’t want anything bad to happen to them or to anybody else. The governors need to do the right thing, and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors. In America, we need more prayer, not less.

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President Trump urged governors to reopen houses of worship immediately, saying he would override them if they did not. His authority to do so is unclear.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

In California, more than 1,200 pastors signed a declaration protesting the state’s restrictions on in-person services and pledged to reopen their churches by May 31 even if the restrictions are not lifted. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said Friday that the state was working with faith leaders on guidelines to reopen in “a safe and responsible manner,” which he said would be released by Monday at t

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