First Thing: Trump ‘spooked’ by White House Covid-19 cases

Good morning,

Donald Trump may be projecting confidence about the coronavirus crisis, but privately the president is said to be “spooked” by news that two White House workers tested positive for Covid-19, including a valet who sometimes serves him food. Dr Anthony Fauci is one of three top health officials to have entered two weeks of self-imposed quarantine, while Mike Pence is physically distancing from his West Wing co-workers after his press spokeswoman, Katie Miller, tested positive.

Donald Trump reveals name of White House staff member with Covid-19 – video

In an interview with the Guardian, the radical intellectual Noam Chomsky said Trump was culpable in the deaths of thousands of Americans. He also accused the president of using the pandemic to improve his election prospects and line the pockets of big business, while blaming other nations for his own failures:

To try and cover up his criminal attacks against the American people, which have been going on all of this time, he’s flailing about to try and find scapegoats.

A vaccine in 2020 would be ‘an amazingly ambitious goal’

Texas has started reopening for business. UFC staged America’s first major live sporting event in weeks. Many in the US are clearly itching for a return to normal, but Lamar Alexander, the Republican chairman of the Senate health committee, has cast doubt on White House predictions that a coronavirus vaccine could be rolled out from the autumn and allow the economy to reopen fully. He called it an “amazingly ambitious goal”.

Researchers in London, meanwhile, have expressed concern that the virus could be mutating, adapting to humans in a way that would hinder the quest for a vaccine.

Cases are back on the rise in China, South Korea and Germany

China recorded 17 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, its highest number in nearly two weeks. Several of the infections were in provinces that border Russia or North Korea, but five were in Wuhan, the city where the outbreak originated last year. Wuhan has eased its strict lockdown in recent weeks. Fears of a second wave have also caused unease in Germany and South Korea, where infections have risen slightly after lifting restrictions.

Several European countries have announced a relaxation of their stay-at-home rules, but the UK’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, was criticised for his lack of clarity about the way ahead.

How the crisis is affecting the world’s workers

The coronavirus crisis has fuelled the debate over migrant farm workers in Europe. Some communities are desperate for foreign labour to return, while in others tensions are rising over whether such workers should be allowed back during the pandemic and under what conditions, as the Guardian’s correspondents report from across the continent.

Outbreaks of the virus at slaughterhouses in the US and around the world have raised awareness of the crowded and chaotic conditions for meat plant workers, many of whom have been forced to continue working through the crisis. And as Karen McVeigh writes, cargo ship crews are keeping the world’s trade afloat while trapped at sea, blocked from going ashore for a walk, or even medical treatment.

In other news …

  • The mayor of Atlanta has called Ahmaud Arbery’s death a lynching. Keisha Lance Bottoms also accused Trump of inciting overt acts of racism, as Georgia’s attorney general formally requested the DoJ investigate the handling of the killing of the 25-year-old black jogger by two white men.

  • At least 19 Iranians have died in a friendly fire incident during a naval training exercise in the Gulf of Oman, after a missile struck a support vessel close to its target.

  • A five-star Athens hotel must demolish its top two floors, to the joy of many local residents, following a ruling by the Greek central archaeological council, which said the Coco-Mat hotel was blocking a famous view of the Acropolis.

Great reads

The real Lord of the Flies

It was the Guardian’s most read story of the weekend. The historian Rutger Bregman uncovered a real-life case of schoolboys being stranded for months on a desert island – and learned that it turned out very differently to William Golding’s classic novel.

How soaring drug prices could stifle Covid-19 treatment

Several existing drugs may prove to be somewhat effective coronavirus treatments over the months and years while we wait for a vaccine, but as Mona Chalabi writes, big pharma’s high pricing may keep them out of the hands of those who need them most.

Opinion: Coronawashing is the new greenwashing

Big brands from Uber to HSBC are busy pushing out PR initiatives to seem caring during the pandemic. Oscar Rickett argues that these are the same businesses that benefited from the weaknesses in the public sphere that the outbreak has served to expose.

A Who’s Who of polluters, tax dodgers and outsource vultures are urging us to #StaySafe, pumping out soft-focus branded content that makes Forrest Gump look like an episode of Chernobyl.

Last Thing: An 11-year-old achieves skating’s holy grail

Skateboarding prodigy makes history with first 1080 on vertical ramp – video

Gui Khury, an 11-year-old skateboarding prodigy, has used his lockdown time productively during Brazil’s coronavirus school closures. He’s now the first person ever to land a 1080-degree turn on a vertical ramp, more than two decades after the skating legend Tony Hawk completed the first 900-degree turn.

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