What did you do next?

I quickly made my exit, because I remembered reading an article about two Chinese health care workers and one sentence stuck out to me — that one of the women lost her sense of taste and smell. I went home, got my godmother on FaceTime, opened my spice cupboard and tried sniffing all of the spices. I sliced fresh ginger and practically put it up my nose and couldn’t smell it.

Is anosmia your only symptom?

I don’t have a cough or a fever, but I’m exhausted. And because I can’t smell, food is bland. Eggplant Parmesan tastes like a hot wet book.

Has your sense of smell returned?

Since I can’t smell, I don’t really have an appetite, but I’m still trying to eat nutritiously. After several days, my sense of smell briefly came back: I was making myself what I would normally make, a kale salad, and surprisingly, it did not taste like serrated paper. But shortly after that it went away again.

How would you describe anosmia to others?

It’s deeply unsettling. It’s a constant reminder that something is deeply wrong with your body. You can perk up and have a good moment or two, but then you eat your Cheerios and your heart misses a beat.

A correction: Tuesday’s briefing cited an article that misstated the regulatory status of the drug thalidomide. It was approved in the 1990s for leprosy and, later, cancer treatment; it is not the case that it was never approved in the U.S.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Capital of Vietnam (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
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Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

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