US briefing: Trump denounces WHO, NY Covid-19 deaths, Wuhan lifts lockdown

A man waves from the first outbound train leaving Hubei province since the lockdown was ended

A man waves from the first outbound train leaving Hubei province since the lockdown was ended. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock
Good morning, I’m Mattha Busby with today’s essential stories.

First Thing: your new-look US morning briefing

Next week this briefing will look a little bit different, and be called First Thing. You don’t need to do anything: it will still contain everything you need to know as you wake up, and be delivered every weekday morning. But now spring is here, we thought it was a good time to freshen it up, and we hope you like the changes as much as we do.

Trump claims WHO has China bias as Covid-19 memos emerge

 Donald TrumpBut we will look at ending funding [to the WHO], because ... everything seems to be very biased toward China,’ said Trump at the White House on Tuesday. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Donald Trump has been desperately attempting to find a new scapegoat and shift blame from his role in initially downplaying the dangers of Covid-19 as the US death toll rose above 12,000. At the daily White House coronavirus taskforce briefing on Tuesday the president vowed to put a “very powerful hold” on funding for the World Health Organization, which he claimed was biased towards China, before almost immediately backtracking and claiming he only said his administration would “look at ending funding”.
  • Navarro memos. Americans would be left defenceless in the event of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak, which left unchecked could kill more than 1 million people in the US, warned Trump’s economic adviser, Peter Navarro, privately in January and February.
  • Tough break. Trump lost an estimated $1bn from his paper fortune as the global lockdown brought his real estate-dominated empire to a near standstill and left his hotels, golf courses and shopping centres empty.

Largest single-day rise in coronavirus deaths in New York state

The New York city skyline pictured behind Calvary cemetery in Queens
 The New York City skyline pictured behind Calvary cemetery in Queens, as officials warn temporary burial grounds could be established in parks. Photograph: Marcus Santos/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock
Deaths from coronavirus in New York state now number 5,489 people, up 731 from a day earlier in the highest 24-hour increase since the crisis began in the hardest-hit state. The death toll in New York City has passed the 2,753 killed in the city during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, said the state was “reaching a plateau in the total number of hospitalizations” and that officials would look ahead to restarting the economy, but stressed the need for continued physical distancing.
  • The curve. California officials have described a “slow and steady increase” in confirmed infections and predicted the state’s outbreak would peak in the latter half of May, telling residents they should expect to stay indoors until June.
  • Mourning. John Prine, the folk and country singer, has died aged 73 due to complications from Covid-19, with Bruce Springsteen leading tributes to “a true national treasure and a songwriter for the ages”.

First train in 11 weeks from Wuhan as 195m jobs lost globally

Wuhan pays tribute to key workers with light show as lockdown is lifted – video
Healthy residents of Wuhan are now allowed to travel in and out of the sprawling central Chinese city after outbound movement restrictions were lifted and trains began to depart once again on Wednesday morning from what had been the centre of the outbreak. Wuhan’s unprecedented lockdown has been used as a model to battle coronavirus for other countries and attention will now turn to whether ordinary life can resume without a dramatic increase in new cases.
  • Jobs. The disruption wrought to the world’s economies by the pandemic is expected to wipe out 6.7% of working hours globally in the second quarter of this year – the equivalent of 195m jobs, according to the UN’s labour body.
  • ICU. The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, has spent a third night in intensive care at a hospital in London, where he has required oxygen for breathing problems after contracting coronavirus.
  • Masked. The World Health Organization has held off from recommending people wear face masks in public, saying there is no evidence that doing so prevents healthy people from contracting coronavirus.

Cheat sheet

  • Voters in Wisconsin cast ballots in person on Tuesday in Democratic and local elections, after the governor tried to cancel in-person voting but was overruled by the state supreme court.
  • The former Republican congressman Paul Broun promised to give away an AR-15 rifle, which he described as a “liberty machine”, “to one lucky person” who signs up for his email updates as he vies for a return to Congress.
  • Trump signed an executive order encouraging the US to mine the moon in a move that noted the US never signed a 1979 international agreement known as the moon treaty – raising the prospect of unilateral American moon drilling.
  • A record-sized hole has opened up in the ozone layer above the Arctic in what is believed to be the result of unusually low temperatures in the atmosphere above the north pole, which are unrelated to Covid-19 and improved air quality.
A mother and her son arrive from Hubei province at a checkpoint at the Jiujiang Yangtze River Bridge in January.
A mother and her son arrive from Hubei province at a checkpoint at the Jiujiang Yangtze River Bridge in January. Composite: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Coronavirus: 100 days that changed the world
It started with a warning on New Year’s Eve when a Chinese government website announced the detection of a “pneumonia of unknown cause” around a wholesale seafood market in Wuhan, and it soon turned into a pandemic that has transformed life as we know it.
Is meditation the key to surviving quarantine?
The ancient practice has been touted as being able to improve immune responses and decrease stress and depression, and Google searches for information are at an all-time high during the lockdown. So why not take a moment to connect with your breath?
Inside a rural hospital on the frontline of a pandemic
St James parish hospital outside New Orleans is used to enduring more than its fair share of disasters and it is now serving one of the hardest-hit counties nationwide for Covid-19 cases per capita: out of its 22,000 residents there have already been 175 confirmed cases and six deaths.
Twin Peaks at 30: the weird and wonderful show that changed television
For cinephiles of a certain generation, the premiere of Twin Peaks on 8 April 1990 was a seismic event in popular culture, writes Scott Tobias, who describes viewing the first episode as an experience where you remember exactly where you were.


A short-term collapse in global output is already under way and could exceed that of any recession in the last 150 years, writes the Harvard economics pro
Now that the US has failed miserably to contain the outbreak despite having the world’s most-advanced health system, Americans will find it exceedingly difficult to return to economic normality until a vaccine becomes widely available, which could be a year or more away.

Follow us on twitter ( or on Instagram (ajuedeman) for details of the global situation presently.


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