A version of this story appeared in the April 9 edition of CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.
The World Health Organization has defended its response to the pandemic and warned that politicizing the crisis will result in “many more body bags,” countering criticisms leveled at it by President Donald Trump.
Global cases have now reached 1.5 million, and the United States had its deadliest day yet — but the White House coronavirus taskforce say there are signs social distancing is in fact working. Even as fatalities continue to increase, the nation’s top expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says there are “some glimmers of hope.”
Still, a return to normal life could be a long way off. A new study modeled on Chinese data suggests that lockdowns can’t be fully relaxed until a vaccine is available — and warns that loosening restrictions could result in a second wave of infections in mid-summer. And worrying new research from the Korean CDC indicates that the virus may “reactivate” in people previously cured of the illness, Bloomberg reports.
A day after restrictions were lifted in Wuhan — ground zero of the virus — fears of a second wave are growing: China’s President Xi Jinping has warned of “new difficulties and challenges” in the fight to prevent a resurgence.
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WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
New York cases didn’t come from China
New research shows that travelers from Europe — not Asia — brought the first cases of the virus to the New York area in mid-February, weeks before Trump enforced a travel ban for much of the continent.
US spy agencies were tracking the rise of the coronavirus as early as November, weeks before that information was included in President Donald Trump’s daily intelligence briefing, a former US military official told CNN.
Virus exposes racial divides
The virus appears to be hitting minority communities hard, laying bare America’s racial and ethnic divides. The US Surgeon General has said that black Americans are at higher risk. That disparity has been evident in early data on deaths in Louisiana, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey.
UK may be worst hit in Europe
“It’s a hideous situation.” Many of the nurses risking it all on the frontline of Britain’s outbreak are paid salaries of less than $30,000 a year. They’ve long been undervalued — the UK’s public health service has been overstretched and shedding essential nursing staff since the 2008 financial crisis — but the pandemic has put that reality into sharp relief, Ivana Kottasova writes.
Britain experienced its highest daily death toll yesterday — 939 fatalities — and those numbers could continue to worsen. A new virus model has predicted the UK would be the worst-hit European nation (though some British scientists are skeptical).
The British government will be re-evaluating its nationwide lockdown restrictions today, while the nation’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care.
Trump could tariff foreign oil
“Tariff Man” Trump is threatening to use his favorite economic weapon to protect America’s beleaguered oil industry from aggression by Saudi Arabia and Russia. Those two nations are engaged in an epic price war that, along with a historic collapse in demand, has helped send crude crashing. The goal is to force Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to reach a breakthrough at today’s highly-anticipated meeting by massively cutting production, Matt Egan writes.
ON OUR RADAR
- A hopeful development in Italy — yesterday, there was a record daily increase (2,099) in the number of people who recovered from the virus.
- Spain’s Prime Minister says the country has “reached the peak” of its coronavirus outbreak and could soon consider easing lockdown measures.
- Some rare good news amid the world’s worst humanitarian crisis: Saudi Arabia has declared a ceasefire in Yemen, citing coronavirus fears.
- With only one Covid-19 death, New Zealand isn’t just flattening the curve, it’s squashing it — but experts say it’s too early to celebrate.
- A billionaire art collector is distributing 10 million face masks via free vending machines in Hong Kong.
- Prince William and Kate made a special Easter video call to a UK school which is staying open for the children of healthcare workers. They wished they had worn their bunny ears.
- If the banana bread pics flooding social feeds hadn’t already tipped you off, baking can significantly reduce stress. These are some of the comfort foods people are turning to right now.
- It’s that time of year again: Allergy season. Respiratory inflammation caused by allergies can make you more susceptible to the virus, but there are things you can do now to help your lungs.
- Fast-approaching holidays like Passover, Easter and Ramadan have put a spotlight on the challenges of social distancing. These are some strategies to cope with the mental toll of living our lives apart.
“This virus actually is ultra-lethal for black communities because it is an epidemic jumping on top of other epidemics … (like) hypertension, high blood pressure.” — CNN Commentator Van Jones
CNN’s Chief Medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta breaks down the various factors and demographics that may make some people and communities more susceptible to the virus. Listen now.