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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. The U.S. is heading into Labor Day weekend averaging about 40,000 new cases per day, down from a horrifying peak in late July.

But in many ways, the country is worse off now than at the beginning of summer: On Memorial Day weekend, the U.S. averaged 22,000 cases a day.

The two holidays bookend a summer of lost opportunity. The U.S. failed to stamp out the virus before the fall, which is expected to bring new dangers with the start of school, flu season and cooler weather that will drive people indoors.

The earlier summer spike was blamed, in part, on Memorial Day gatherings. If you plan to get together with friends and family in the coming days, here’s how to do it safely.

2. The U.S. added 1.4 million jobs in August as employers brought back workers, but at a slower pace than in the spring. Millions of Americans remain out of work. Above, a job center in Pearl, Miss.

3. President Trump is under fire amid allegations that he referred to American soldiers killed, wounded, and captured in combat as “losers” and “suckers,” according to The Atlantic.

The remarks could be problematic for Mr. Trump because he is counting on strong support among the military in the general election. The president heatedly denied making the comments. “I’ve done more for the military than almost anybody else,” he said.

4. We’re following several law enforcement developments around the country.

In New York, the mayor of Rochester and senior state officials faced escalating questions about why more than five months passed before action was taken in the death of Daniel Prude. Mr. Prude, who was having a psychotic episode, suffocated after he was detained and hooded in March. Protesters took to the street overnight.

In Lacey, Wash., agents shot and killed an antifa supporter as they moved to arrest him on Thursday night. Michael Forest Reinoehl was being investigated in last week’s killing of a right-wing activist in Portland, Ore. In an interview with Vice News, Mr. Reinoehl appeared to admit to the shooting, and said he believed he had acted in self-defense.

And Mississippi dropped charges against Curtis Flowers, a Black man tried six times for the same killings. The prosecutor, who was white, was found to have excluded Black jurors.

5. Researchers are starting to pinpoint the ways in which smoking and vaping are a risk factor for catching the virus, and how they may give rise to some of Covid-19’s worst respiratory symptoms.

Several studies have found that smoking can more than double a person’s risk of severe Covid-19 symptoms, and a team of researchers recently reported that young adults who vape are five times more likely to receive a coronavirus diagnosis. But the underlying relationship between smoking, vaping and the coronavirus remains murky.

In other coronavirus developments, Russian scientists reported modest levels of antibodies in volunteers who were given a controversial Covid-19 vaccine. And in the U.S., President Trump’s vaccine chief said that it was “extremely unlikely but not impossible” that a vaccine could be available by the end of October.

6. One month after a massive explosion in Beirut’s port killed at least 190 people, a search squad from Chile and a recovery dog named Flash have the Lebanese glued to their televisions.

The dog smelled something in the rubble of a destroyed building, and the rescue team deployed a sensor that picked up a slow pulse underneath that could have been a heartbeat. It appeared extremely unlikely that anyone had survived under the rubble for a month. One of the Chilean volunteers said it was rare, but not unheard-of, for someone to survive in such conditions.

The search underscored the anger felt by many Lebanese that their government not only had failed to prevent the blast, but to properly help people in the aftermath.

7. A new law in Hong Kong takes aim at dissent, creating a challenge to free expression. We documented the changing nature of speech.

The sweeping national security law, imposed by Beijing in June, instantly altered the lives and liberties of residents of the semiautonomous Chinese city: Pro-democracy ephemera was replaced with Mao-era propaganda; publishers rewrote sections of textbooks to avoid openly criticizing the government; and libraries removed books written by democracy activists.

Others have sought more creative ways to skirt the law. They carry blank signs or play protest songs without lyrics.

8. “It is like I am one of the tennis players. It’s so exciting.”

Tamila Latif-Zade, a court attendant at the U.S. Open, is one of the lucky few enjoying an odd perk this year: Access to the matches, without the crowds. The only people allowed on the tournament grounds in Queens, which usually host about 850,000 fans, are the athletes, their limited entourages and U.S. Open employees. Here are a few of their stories.

A downside for men’s players this year: Playing best-of-five-set matches, which can last four hours or more, after a five-month break from tennis.

Further south at Churchill Downs, the horses for the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby will trot up to the starting gate on Saturday after the May race was delayed because of the coronavirus. Here are the top contenders.

9. The elusive smoky flavors and aromas of stir-fry can be achieved in your kitchen. Our food columnist J. Kenji López-Alt can show you how.

Wok hei is the Cantonese name for that aroma (literally “wok energy” or “wok breath”). Because most Chinese food in America has its earliest roots in Cantonese cuisine, American diners strongly associate good Chinese food with that finishing touch.

To capture the restaurant taste at home, Kenji narrowed it down to a few key elements, including adding soy sauce around the rim of a wok — and a blowtorch.

And it wouldn’t be September without Marian Burros’s famous plum torte. The Times published her recipe every year from 1983 until 1989.

10. And finally, up is down in this fun physics experiment.

Some visitors to a French laboratory thought it was some sort of trick: a little toy boat bobbing on the bottom side of a liquid layer in the same way that one would normally float on top. Others compared it to poetry.

Through a couple of sleights of science, a team of French scientists showed that not only could they make a layer of viscous liquid levitate through vibrations, but that objects could float along its underside, too.

Have a fascinating weekend.

We’re off for the Labor Day holiday on Monday and will return Tuesday.

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

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