Good morning. Thousands of angry conservatives broke the taboo regarding mass gatherings to converge on Michigan’s statehouse in Lansing on Wednesday, in protest at the state’s coronavirus lockdown, which its Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, has extended until 30 April. Amid chants of “lock her up”, some demonstrators said they were distressed by the economic impact of the lockdown, while others just wanted to go to the hairdressers.
Michigan deaths. Ninety miles away in Detroit, hospitals are being overwhelmed with patients suffering the effects of Covid-19, which has killed close to 2,000 people in the state to date. Worldwide, the number of confirmed cases has now passed 2 million.
Trump carries on pointing the finger at China
In Washington, Donald Trump waxed optimistic about reopening the US, as the country recorded 2,400 deaths, the highest one-day total for any nation. At his daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, the president once again pointed the finger at China, casting doubt on Beijing’s official case numbers, and lending credence to the unproven theory that the virus came not from a Wuhan wet market, but from a virology lab – a theory on which the Pentagon’s top general threw cold water earlier this week.
Global health leaders – Bill Gates among them – continue to condemn Trump’s decision to cut US funding for the World Health Organization, pending a review of its dealings with China. It is “an act of international vandalism”, says Andrew Gawthorpe:
The fact that Trump’s decisions are being driven so transparently by his petty domestic political problems suggests that the world shouldn’t look to Washington to provide responsible leadership any time soon.
‘Shut down Congress’. Trump threatened to take the unprecedented step of adjourning both houses of Congress, so he can keep filling administration vacancies with his nominees during the shutdown.
Nuclear test. As if relations with Beijing weren’t already bad enough, the US state department said on Wednesday it believes China may have secretly conducted a low-yield underground nuclear test.
The virus is exposing America’s broken healthcare system
A dying Covid-19 patient’s final words as he was put on a ventilator in New York City: “Who’s going to pay for it?” As Amanda Holpuch reports, the pandemic has laid bare the flaws in an American health system that has spent decades prioritising cost over care. On Wednesday, nurses in New York led a candlelit vigil in memory of the medics dying on the virus frontline across the US. Miranda Bryant hears from some of the healthcare workers whose own lives have been upended by the crisis.
The pandemic is not a great leveller, after all
It may have infected prime ministers and princes, but the coronavirus is not the great social leveller it was cracked up to be. The world’s richest man, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, just got a lot richer, increasing his vast fortune by some $24bn during (and, indeed, owing to) the pandemic. Meanwhile, a non-partisan committee has said millionaires and billionaires will reap more than 80% of the benefits from a change to tax law included by Republicans in the congressional coronavirus relief package.
Miami’s unequal testing. At Miami’s Hard Rock stadium, hundreds of potential Covid-19 patients wait in line for hours for a limited number of tests. But on nearby Fisher Island, an enclave for the city’s super-rich, everyone has access to instant testing. Richard Luscombe reports.
Has France really found a cure?
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has demanded clinical trials of a controversial drug cocktail, which infection specialist Didier Raoult claims could be a cure for coronavirus. Raoult’s combination of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic, azithromycin, has been hailed by populist leaders, including Trump. But as Julia Carrie Wong explains on the Today in Focus podcast, hydroxychloroquine is not just an unproven Covid-19 treatment – it might also be harmful.
In other news…
Warren threw her hat into the running mate ring. The Massachusetts senator gave Joe Biden his third major endorsement in as many days – and said that, if asked, she would accept an offer to be his vice-presidential candidate.
Moon won a coronavirus landslide. The South Korean president and his ruling party have been rewarded for their competent handling of the crisis with the biggest election majority since the country’s transition to democracy in 1987.
But in Israel, the political stalemate goes on. Opposition leader Benny Gantz has missed his deadline to form a coalition government – again – which means the country could be headed for an unprecedented fourth round of elections.
Why the Golden Girls are Instagram icons, 35 years on
The classic sitcom about four elderly women living together in Miami still enjoys cult status, almost three decades after the end of its run. And thanks to a substantial Instagram following, its four fashion plate stars remain style leaders in 2020, writes Malcolm MacKenzie.
How Islamic extremists are reacting to coronavirus
Isis and other extremist groups are planning to use the cover of the coronavirus crisis to launch new attacks and bolster their credentials in the Islamic world. But as Jason Burke reports, they also acknowledge the disease poses as much of a threat to their followers as to anyone else.
Opinion: prepare to help the world’s poor face Covid-19
Some developed countries already see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. But in Africa and the developing world, the Covid-19 crisis is just beginning. The international community must act now to avert a catastrophe, says Mohamed El-Erian.
Sub-Saharan Africa may be about to confront a human tragedy so profound that it could leave a generation adrift in some countries, with consequences that extend far beyond the region’s borders.
Last thing: Banksy works from home
The elusive British street artist Banksy is stuck in lockdown like the rest of us. Fortunately, he’s managing to work from home, and he just posted his latest artwork on Instagram – apparently created in his own bathroom. Unfortunately, his wife hates it.
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