A group of nine leading scientists who advised President Barack Obama has warned that the US has just three months to rebuild its stockpile of emergency medical equipment if it wants to be prepared for a second wave of coronavirus in the fall. In a seven-page report, whose lead author was the White House science adviser for both Obama terms, the experts fault the Trump administration for failing to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile in preparation for a pandemic just like the one we’re living through now.
The EU’s coronavirus chief has also warned Europe to brace for a second wave, while another top US scientist, the groundbreaking cancer and HIV researcher William Haseltine, has said countries must work to contain the disease, not count on the possibility of a vaccine being developed, which is “not a slam-dunk by any means”.
- Apple and Google have released a tracking app. The two tech firms have developed smartphone technology that can automatically notify people if they may have been exposed to coronavirus, to help track and contain its spread.
There is a staggering racial divide in Covid-19 deaths
Black Americans are dying from coronavirus at three times the rate of white people, according to figures compiled by the non-partisan APM Research Lab. In certain states the racial divide is even more stark: in Kansas, for instance, black people are dying at seven times the rate of whites. More than 20,000 African Americans have died from the disease – that’s almost one in 2,000 of the entire black population in the US.
As Lois Beckett writes, the government’s pandemic response has been warped by racism, with the health secretary, Alex Azar, apparently blaming the disease’s victims for their ill health:
Someone had to be held responsible for an American death toll approaching 100,000 people, worse than any other country’s reported deaths. In order for the Trump administration to remain blameless, someone else had to be blamed, and the administration was now blaming the dead.
Trump threatened states for trying to make voting easier
Nevada and Michigan are trying to make it easier for people to vote safely and by mail during the pandemic. So Donald Trump has falsely accused both states of facilitating election fraud, and threatened illegally to withhold critical election funding. Trump voted by mail in Florida this year.
Meanwhile, the US supreme court has temporarily blocked the House from obtaining secret grand jury testimony from the Mueller investigation, potentially keeping previously undisclosed details of the Trump-Russia investigation out of Democrats’ hands until after the November election. And Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen has been released to serve the rest of his prison sentence at home amid concerns over the spread of Covid-19 in prisons.
- Ukraine has announced an investigation into calls between Joe Biden and its ex-president when both were in office. Heavily edited recordings of the calls were published by a Ukrainian associate of Rudy Giuliani, in an apparent effort to embarrass Trump’s 2020 opponent.
- Trump is considering an in-person G7 meeting. The president, this year’s G7 leader, had previously moved the June summit to a video conference, but now says he wants to host foreign leaders at Camp David despite the pandemic.
Did a frontline Florida nurse take his own life?
William Coddington, a 32-year-old nurse who volunteered to treat Covid-19 patients on the frontline of the pandemic in Florida, was recently found dead in his car close to the hospital where he worked in West Palm Beach. Coddington battled opioid addiction for years and possibly succumbed to an overdose. But his family said he was also struggling with the fear, trauma and isolation of the coronavirus crisis, and may have killed himself as a result.
- More than 85% of American nurses are forced to reuse PPE, according to a survey conducted by a healthcare workers’ union, which also found that 84% of nurses had not been tested for Covid-19.
In other news…
- A Michigan community faces the threat of toxic pollution after dam failures led to catastrophic flooding near the town of Midland on Wednesday. The floods could release pollutants from a nearby site contaminated by industrial giant Dow Chemical.
- The only man convicted for 9/11 is renouncing terrorism. Zacarias Moussaoui, who lied to the FBI about his knowledge of al-Qaida’s plans when he was arrested in August 2001, wrote in a court motion that he would “proclaim unequivocally my opposition to any terrorist action” against the US.
- The US should expect an unusually fierce hurricane season this year, with experts estimating there will be about 20 named storms from 1 June to 30 November – eight more than the 30-year average.