First Thing: US has three months to prepare for second Covid-19 wave, say scientists | US news

Good morning.

A group of nine leading scientists who advised President Barack Obama has warned that the US has just three months to rebuild its stockpile of emergency medical equipment if it wants to be prepared for a second wave of coronavirus in the fall. In a seven-page report, whose lead author was the White House science adviser for both Obama terms, the experts fault the Trump administration for failing to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile in preparation for a pandemic just like the one we’re living through now.

The EU’s coronavirus chief has also warned Europe to brace for a second wave, while another top US scientist, the groundbreaking cancer and HIV researcher William Haseltine, has said countries must work to contain the disease, not count on the possibility of a vaccine being developed, which is “not a slam-dunk by any means”.

There is a staggering racial divide in Covid-19 deaths

People wait in line at a food bank in Harlem, New York.

People wait in line at a food bank in Harlem, New York. Photograph: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Black Americans are dying from coronavirus at three times the rate of white people, according to figures compiled by the non-partisan APM Research Lab. In certain states the racial divide is even more stark: in Kansas, for instance, black people are dying at seven times the rate of whites. More than 20,000 African Americans have died from the disease – that’s almost one in 2,000 of the entire black population in the US.

As Lois Beckett writes, the government’s pandemic response has been warped by racism, with the health secretary, Alex Azar, apparently blaming the disease’s victims for their ill health:

Someone had to be held responsible for an American death toll approaching 100,000 people, worse than any other country’s reported deaths. In order for the Trump administration to remain blameless, someone else had to be blamed, and the administration was now blaming the dead.

Trump threatened states for trying to make voting easier

Trump at the White House on Wednesday.

Trump at the White House on Wednesday. Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters

Nevada and Michigan are trying to make it easier for people to vote safely and by mail during the pandemic. So Donald Trump has falsely accused both states of facilitating election fraud, and threatened illegally to withhold critical election funding. Trump voted by mail in Florida this year.

Meanwhile, the US supreme court has temporarily blocked the House from obtaining secret grand jury testimony from the Mueller investigation, potentially keeping previously undisclosed details of the Trump-Russia investigation out of Democrats’ hands until after the November election. And Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen has been released to serve the rest of his prison sentence at home amid concerns over the spread of Covid-19 in prisons.

  • Ukraine has announced an investigation into calls between Joe Biden and its ex-president when both were in office. Heavily edited recordings of the calls were published by a Ukrainian associate of Rudy Giuliani, in an apparent effort to embarrass Trump’s 2020 opponent.

  • Trump is considering an in-person G7 meeting. The president, this year’s G7 leader, had previously moved the June summit to a video conference, but now says he wants to host foreign leaders at Camp David despite the pandemic.

Did a frontline Florida nurse take his own life?

William Coddington at work in the JFK Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.

William Coddington at work in the JFK Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Photograph: Ronald Coddington/Reuters

William Coddington, a 32-year-old nurse who volunteered to treat Covid-19 patients on the frontline of the pandemic in Florida, was recently found dead in his car close to the hospital where he worked in West Palm Beach. Coddington battled opioid addiction for years and possibly succumbed to an overdose. But his family said he was also struggling with the fear, trauma and isolation of the coronavirus crisis, and may have killed himself as a result.

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Great reads

Malkovich in the new comedy series Space Force.

Malkovich in the new comedy series Space Force. Photograph: Aaron Epstein/Netflix

John Malkovich: ‘Nobody who knew me would consider me cold’

John Malkovich has been in more than 90 movies, but he’s still working as hard as ever – including in Space Force, the new Netflix comedy series. It could have something to with his having lost millions to the fraudster Bernie Madoff. Fortunately, he tells Simon Hattenstone, “I always love working.”

Kim Kardashian’s controversial face masks

The reality TV star is just the latest celebrity to capitalise on the coronavirus crisis, with a line of non-medical face masks to match various skin tones, which led to accusations of “casual racism”. The line between public health necessity and fashion statement is starting to blur, writes Morwenna Ferrier.

Opinion: Africa’s virus successes are being overlooked

Many African countries saw the coronavirus coming and developed innovative strategies for testing, tracing and containment. But the rest of the world, accustomed to patronising Africa, has all but ignored its successes, says Afua Hirsch.

A patronising attitude towards east Asia is what allowed European countries to be caught by such surprise at the spread of this disease. Now a similar mindset seems set to ensure we don’t learn the lessons Africa has to offer in overcoming it.

Last Thing: Invite a real party animal to your Zoom call

A Scottish alpaca farm is offering up its animals as Zoom party-crashers.

A Scottish alpaca farm is offering up its animals as Zoom party-crashers. Photograph: Ronald Wittek/EPA

If you’re fed up with the monotony of Zoom meetings, why not invite an alpaca to crash the party? Jessica Murray reports on the animal breeds you book to liven up your video conference call.

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