US briefing: Cuomo’s virus warning, business reacts and age risk study | US news

Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.

US cases almost double China’s as deaths top 3,000

The US has suffered its deadliest day so far during the coronavirus pandemic, with the death toll passing 3,000 and the number of confirmed cases almost double those in China, where the disease first emerged. New York is the centre of the country’s outbreak, but governor Andrew Cuomo warned on Monday that his state’s experience was only a harbinger of what was to come across the US. “There is no American that is immune,” he said.

Trump plugs his corporate allies as workers bear the brunt

Trump uses White House coronavirus briefing to promote corporate allies – video

Donald Trump has been accused of using his daily coronavirus press briefing as a promotional opportunity for his business allies, after bosses from companies including Honeywell, Procter & Gamble and United Technologies were given a platform to speak at the White House in the midst of the crisis. Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, which has started manufacturing face masks, returned the favour by praising Trump in a speech better suited to a campaign rally.

  • Amazon walkout. More than 100 Amazon warehouse workers in New York staged a walkout on Monday, demanding increased protective gear and hazard pay after reports that multiple employees had tested positive for the virus.

  • WeWork cleaners. Cleaning staff at WeWork, the troubled office rental firm, have been told to work through the pandemic and use their paid vacation or limited sick leave if they get ill.

  • Farm workers. California’s 400,000 agricultural workers are considered essential during the crisis, but many say they have seen no safety measures or guaranteed benefits.

New Covid-19 study highlights increased risk in middle age

Community volunteers escort an elderly resident home in Wuhan earlier this month.

Community volunteers escort an elderly resident home in Wuhan earlier this month. Photograph: AFP via Getty Images

The first comprehensive study of coronavirus hospitalisations and deaths in China has confirmed the sharp escalation in risk from the disease as the age of patients increases. The analysis, published by the Lancet medical journal, showed only 0.04% of teens required hospital care, compared with more than 18% of those over 80. The differences in middle age were stark, too, with 4% of patients in their 40s being hospitalised, compared with 8% of those in their 50s. The overall death rate for confirmed cases was 1.38%.

World Bank: pandemic causing ‘unprecedented global shock’

Commuters in Tokyo on Tuesday morning.

Commuters in Tokyo on Tuesday morning. Photograph: Kimimasa Mayama/EPA

A World Bank economist has said the coronavirus is causing “an unprecedented global shock, which could bring growth to a halt,” and is likely to drive 11 million more people in East Asia into poverty. Despite early successes in halting its spread, the epidemic in the region is far from over, the WHO has warned. In Japan, which has so far avoided the worst of the outbreak, the governor of Tokyo has told residents to quit karaoke and avoid bars and restaurants.

  • Hidden outbreak. Health experts focused on the Middle East have expressed fears that the scale of the Covid-19 outbreak in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq may far exceed the official figures.

  • Amlo ignores advice. The Mexican president has ignored official coronavirus advice by visiting the hometown of Luis “El Chapo” Guzman – the country’s most notorious drug lord – and greeting Guzman’s 92-year-old mother with a handshake.

  • ‘Immunity passports’. UK politicians and scientists have suggested introducing immunity passports” for key workers who have recovered from the virus, allowing them to return to work.

Cheat sheet

A detail from Van Gogh’s 1884 painting, stolen on the artist’s birthday.

A detail from Van Gogh’s 1884 painting, stolen on the artist’s birthday. Photograph: Marten de Leeuw/ANP/AFP via Getty Images
  • Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring, a Vincent van Gogh painting worth an estimated $6m, has been stolen from a Dutch museum closed due to the coronavirus, on the 167th anniversary of the artist’s birth.

  • A new blood test developed by researchers at Harvard medical school can detect more than 50 types of cancer, according to a study that offers hope for early diagnosis and treatment.

  • Donald Trump has dismissed Democratic calls for electoral reforms that would make voting safer amid the coronavirus crisis, saying if it were easier to vote: “You’d never have a Republican elected in this country again”.

  • The Florida megachurch leader Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne has turned himself into authorities after holding two Sunday services with hundreds of people that violated the state’s safer-at-home order.


Will the world emerge better or worse from the pandemic?

Will the world emerge better or worse from the pandemic? Illustration: Nathalie Lees/The Guardian

How will the world emerge from the coronavirus crisis?

A catastrophe like the Covid-19 pandemic throws new light on the world as it is, but also offers glimpses of other worlds that might be possible, writes Peter C Baker. Is this a once-in-a-generation chance to build a better future, or will it just make existing injustices worse?

Why a global slowdown should shock us out of complacency

Danny Dorling, author of the new book Slowdown, says global growth was already on the wane when the crisis hit. He asks whether the shock of the coronavirus might in fact be the wake-up call the world needed, to save us from a far greater future disaster.

An unprecedented heatwave in Antarctica

This summer broke all records in Antarctica, where an unprecedented heatwave is likely the harbinger for patterns of climate change around the globe. The southernmost continent may be isolated from its neighbours, say scientists, but its weather has worldwide impacts.

The Syrian refugee who developed virus-resistant seeds

Plant virologist Safaa Kumari had made a breakthrough in her search for seeds resistant to virus epidemics that were devastating crops from the Middle East to Ethiopia. But she had to return to war-torn Aleppo to rescue them, she tells Nathanaël Chouraqui.


Events such as the coronavirus pandemic, 9/11 and the 2008 crash are thought of as “black swans” that no one could have seen coming. But they were predictable, writes Jeffrey Frankel, and our leaders should have been prepared.

Although the precise nature and timing of these events were not predictable with high probability, the severity of the consequences were. Had policymakers considered the risks and taken more preventive steps in advance, they might have averted or mitigated disaster.

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