First Thing: Trump blames China for the pandemic - and for his poll numbers

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The president says Beijing ‘will do anything’ to damage his re-election bid as he declines to extend social distancing guidelines. Plus, how a yoga teacher became ‘the patron saint of quarantine’

Good morning,

Donald Trump’s poll numbers have been sliding but he blames China. In an interview on Wednesday, Trump claimed China “will do anything they can” to prevent his re-election in November, suggesting Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus is part of a strategy to thwart his presidency.

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World news | The Guardian

Good morning,

Donald Trump’s poll numbers have been sliding but he blames China. In an interview on Wednesday, Trump claimed China “will do anything they can” to prevent his re-election in November, suggesting Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus is part of a strategy to thwart his presidency.

The administration, which has also pointed the finger at the World Health Organization over the pandemic, has now presented the G7 with a list of demands for reforms to the UN’s global health body before the US will agree to restore its funding.

Trump says coronavirus will be 'eradicated' as US death toll passes 60,000 – video

As the number of US deaths due to Covid-19 surpassed 60,000 on Wednesday, Jared Kushner insisted the administration’s response was “a great success story”. Trump won’t extend federal guidelines on social distancing when they expire on Thursday, leaving next steps up to states such as Georgia, where restaurants and other businesses reopened this week even as infections continue to rise.

  • Healthcare workers dying to fight the virus. The Guardian is continuing to document the individual US medical workers who have died from Covid-19 while treating other patients during the pandemic.

  • Inmate dies after giving birth on a ventilator. Thirty-year-old Andrea Circle Bear was in federal prison in Texas on a drug charge. She had given birth by C-section while on a ventilator on 1 April, but died this week after testing positive for Covid-19.

There’s some ‘quite good news’ about a possible treatment

Fauci: 'clear-cut' evidence potential Covid-19 drug remdesivir works – video

A new trial of the drug remdesivir in more than 1,000 severely ill Covid-19 patients around the world has shown promising signs that it could cut recovery time for the disease, and perhaps even increase the chances of survival. Dr Anthony Fauci said the results of the trial, which was sponsored by the US’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, were “quite good news”.

There are conflicting reports about the effectiveness of the US-developed antiviral, as Melissa Davey explains. Yet stock markets surged as news of the potential breakthrough spread. And in the absence of a vaccine, says the biologist Dr Jennifer Rohn, such treatments remain our best hope:

Although people prefer their science to be black and white, clinical reality is rarely that definitive. New therapies can fail one key trial and still go on to become a marketed drug.

South Korea has no new domestic cases of coronavirus

Worshipper’s celebrate Buddha’s birthday in Seoul. Photograph: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

For the first time since February, South Korea has reported no new domestic cases of Covid-19, health officials in Seoul announced on Thursday. The country had just four new confirmed infections, all of them imported. Another kind of tragedy struck the city of Icheon, however, where 38 construction workers died in a warehouse blaze.

Elsewhere in the world …

  • The virus is tearing through the Amazon, where the Brazilian city of Manaus is digging mass graves to deal with its soaring death toll.

  • In the absence of government help, the mafia is filling a void in the locked down Zen neighbourhood of Palermo, one of Italy’s poorest urban communities.

  • While most of their passengers have made it back to land, some 100,000 cruise workers are still trapped at sea, many of them quarantined in tiny cabins on at least 50 ships with Covid-19 infections.

  • The town of Lund in Sweden plans to dump a tonne of chicken manure in its central park, to prevent crowds gathering there for a traditional celebration on Thursday night.

Only renewables can withstand the energy shock …

The IEA says renewable electricity will be the only source resilient to the pandemic’s effects. Photograph: Michael Probst/AP

The International Energy Agency has warned that the economic collapse in energy demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic will wipe out demand for fossil fuels, leaving renewables as the only sources capable of withstanding the worst global energy shock since the second world war. The global energy watchdog urged governments to put clean energy at the heart of their economic stimulus packages, to help ensure a green recovery from the crisis.

In election news …

  • Biden is under pressure over a sexual assault claim. The former vice-president is being urged to address new reporting about an allegation made by Tara Reade, who claims Biden assaulted her in 1993 when she worked as an aide in the then-senator’s office.

  • Justin Amash is exploring a run on the libertarian ticket. The Michigan congressman, who last year quit the GOP to become an independent, has launched an exploratory committee. Daniel Strauss assesses whether his candidacy would hurt Trump or Biden more.

  • A fight is brewing over voting by mail. Trump and other top Republicans have made clear they will oppose efforts to expand mail-in voting before November, perhaps calculating that the GOP does better if fewer people vote. But if Americans have to risk their health to stand in line at polling stations, it might hurt the president and his party, anyway. Sam Levine reports.

Great reads

Adriene Mishler, ‘the most influential yoga teacher on the planet.’ Photograph: You Tube

The YouTube yoga star who’s the ‘patron saint of quarantine’

Texas yoga teacher Adriene Mishler was already a YouTube star before the pandemic hit, but the lockdown has catapulted her to a whole new level of fame, thanks to her home yoga classes for novices, runners, service industry workers, even writers. She has struck a chord in these anxious times, says Marisa Meltzer.

Mark Lanegan: ‘Heroin stopped me dying of alcoholism’

The former Screaming Trees frontman is still alive at 55, after seeing friends such as Kurt Cobain and Anthony Bourdain go too soon. Now he’s written a memoir about his early life, addiction, the Seattle grunge scene – and a scrap with Liam Gallagher. “If it’s not literature, I didn’t want to do it,” he tells Jude Rogers.

Opinion: Nobody’s mocking the preppers now

Until the pandemic hit, doomsday preppers were objects of our collective derision. But now, writes J Oliver Conroy, the rest of us might do well to learn from their example.

We’re right to be angry at the people stripping supermarkets bare and hoarding desperately needed supplies. Those people aren’t preppers, however. Preppers don’t engage in panic-buying. That’s the whole point. That’s why it is called prepping.

Last Thing: Deborah Birx, wrap star

The White House coronavirus response coordinator’s daily changing scarves have become an online hit. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

If you need a “brain break” from the dirge of Covid-19 coverage, suggests Victoria Strout, shift your focus from whatever Dr Deborah Birx is saying at the White House coronavirus briefings, to what she’s wearing around her neck. Strout is the creator of an unlikely Instagram hit, @deborahbirxscarves, a pictorial record of the White House coronavirus response director’s apparently limitless collection of fabulous silk scarves.

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