US briefing: Trump under pressure, senator tests positive and Olympics in doubt

Molly Blackall
Photograph: Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Good morning, I’m Molly Blackall with today’s key stories.

Trump promises greater support as New York launches searing criticism

Donald Trump pledged on Sunday night that help was on the way for states with critical shortages of medical supplies, as the US death toll from Covid-19 reached 471. The promise came after Bill de Blasio, the New York mayor, warned that the city’s supply of essential medical equipment including ventilators and masks would run out within 10 days. There are 15,000 confirmed cases in the city - half of the US total and 5% of the world’s total.

  • The New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, was praised for his leadership as he called on the federal government to do more, warning that 80% of the state were at risk of contracting coronavirus.

  • US cases exceed 35,000. Track developments in the US with our interactive map of coronavirus cases.

First senator tests positive for coronavirus

Rand Paul says he’s ‘feeling fine’. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

The Kentucky senator Rand Paul has tested positive for Covid-19, making him the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the Senate. A post from his Twitter account said he was asymptomatic and “feeling fine”, and was now in quarantine. He was tested “out of an abundance of caution” because of his “extensive travel and events” and was not aware of any direct contact with an infected person, according to the tweet.

  • Harvey Weinstein. The disgraced Hollywood producer who was recently convicted of sexual assault and rape has tested positive for coronavirus. The 68-year-old has been moved to an isolation unit in Wende correctional facility, New York.

  • Angela Merkel. The German chancellor is in quarantine after her doctor tested positive for coronavirus.

Olympics in question as Canada pulls out

A man wearing a face mask walks past the Olympic countdown clock outside Tokyo station. Photograph: Behrouz Mehri/AFP via Getty Images

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been cast into doubt after Canada became the first team to announce it would not send athletes unless the Games were postponed until next year. The Canadian Olympic Committee said holding the event as planned “runs counter to the public health advice”. Australia and New Zealand have expressed similar concerns.

Panic buying threatens US food supply

Panic buying is more damaging to the US food supply chain than the pandemic, experts interviewed by the Guardian have said. The practice is causing a shift in buying practices that the grocery supply has not yet adapted to, with working from home and social distancing perhaps to blame for the stockpiling trend.

  • Germany. Experts have speculated as to why the country has a relatively low coronavirus mortality rate. The rate in Germany is just 0.3%, compared with 9% in Italy and 4.6% in the UK, with 84 deaths out of 22,364 cases as of Sunday.

And in other news…

  • An earthquake has caused widespread damage to Croatia’s capital of Zagreb, after hitting the city shortly after 6am local time on Sunday. The 5.3-magnitude quake, which was followed by a series of tremors, was the biggest in Zagreb in 140 years, according to the prime minister, Andrej Plenković, and brought many residents on to the streetsdespite social distancing measures.

  • The Hungarian parliament will consider a bill to give prime minister Viktor Orbán emergency powers to rule by decree during the coronavirus outbreak this week. Critics warn the measures could easily be abused, and the bill’s proposal to jail those considered to be sharing fake news has caused alarm among independent journalists who have often been accused by the government of spreading misinformation.

  • European clean energy initiatives experienced a significant slowdown last year due to lack of state support, a report suggests. The findings follow warnings that the coronavirus outbreak could stall the development of clean energy initiatives.

  • In other energy news, RuPaul caused a social media uproar after appearing to announce that he conducts fracking on his land. In an interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, the RuPaul’s Drag Race host revealed that he leases the mineral and water rights of 60 acres of land he owns in Wyoming to oil companies.

Must-reads

A sika deer crosses a road in Nara, Japan. Photograph: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Wild animals reclaim locked-down cities

With cities around the world in quarantine, wild animals including deers and turkeys have been spotted wandering in empty streets and subway stations from Nara in Japan to California. As people stay indoors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the animals appear to be emboldened to search further for food.

How to manage Covid-19 anxiety

The brain finds uncertainty notoriously difficult to handle, so experiencing high levels of anxiety during the enormous social upheaval caused by coronavirus is perfectly normal. Emine Saner gets tips on managing it from leading psychologists.

Isolated tribes at risk of virus from missionaries

As coronavirus spreads to more than 340,000 people around the world, officials and doctors have warned of the risks posed to isolated tribes. It came after an evangelical Christian missionary group landed its helicopter outside a Brazilian reserve, which is home to the world’s highest concentration of isolated indigenous groups.

The mission to save rare African wildlife

With just 10,000 left, African manatees have been classified as a vulnerable species and placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. Annika Hammerschlag joins researchers fighting to save the manatees in Senegal.

Opinion

Homeless people have been forgotten in coronavirus measures, argues Mustafa Santiago Ali. Homeless children in the US reportedly suffer from asthma at six times the national average, making them more at risk from the virus, while handwashing is inaccessible for those without access to water and soap.

If we want to mitigate the impacts of this highly contagious and deadly virus, it is imperative that we ensure that vulnerable communities have access to clean water and address this long-standing environmental injustice.”

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