You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

First Thing: Covid claims 500,000 American lives

The Guardian logo The Guardian 4 days ago Molly Blackall
a person wearing a costume: Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Good morning.

More than 500,000 people in the US have now died from coronavirus, just over a year since the country detected its first case. That is more than the population of Miami, Colorado Springs or Minneapolis. It’s also more than the number of Americans who died in the second world war, Korea and Vietnam. In a primetime address to the nation last night, Joe Biden urged people “to resist becoming numb to the sorrow”, before a holding a moment of silence and candle lighting ceremony at the White House.

It’s not Democrats or Republicans who are dying from the virus. It’s our fellow Americans, it’s our neighbors. It’s our friends, our mothers, our fathers, our daughters, husbands, wives. We have to fight this together as one people, as the United States of America.

For each of the more than 500,000 American lives lost to coronavirus, there is a “bereavement multiplier”, a network of relatives who are left to cope with the loss. A recent study found that for each Covid-19 death, around nine close family members are left grieving totalling more than 4.5 million people - and the study doesn’t account for the huge volumes of friends left grieving. Michael Sainto spoke to one family who lost a father and brother to Covid-19 within 24 hours.

According to an investigation by the Guardian and KHN, 3,448 healthcare workers in the US are thought to have died from the virus as they put their lives on the line to care for others. But historian Andrew Gawthorpe argues that the high death toll was preventable, and spiralled because the “Republican response has been based on a characteristically narrow definition of which Americans are worthy of saving”.

  • China did “little” to investigate the origins of coronavirus in the first eight months of the pandemic, according to an internal World Health Organization document seen by the Guardian. The document, dated August 2020, also said that the WHO team received little new information, including no documents or written data, during an investigation at that time.

  • A skateboarding world champion has been charged after hosting large parities during the pandemic, which were possible super-spreader events. Nyjah Huston repeatedly organised parties in southern California as Covid rates soared, leading authorities to cut off water and power to the house.

a person wearing a costume: Chaplain Kevin Deegan hugs registered nurse Connie Carrillo (R) at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills neighborhood in Los Angeles, California. © Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images Chaplain Kevin Deegan hugs registered nurse Connie Carrillo (R) at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills neighborhood in Los Angeles, California.

The supreme court has allowed prosecutors to see Trump’s tax returns

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: The supreme court rejected the former president’s bid to block his tax records from prosecutors. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP © Provided by The Guardian The supreme court rejected the former president’s bid to block his tax records from prosecutors. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

The supreme court has declined to stop Donald Trump’s tax returns being handed over to a prosecutor in New York City, marking a significant defeat for the former president who has long sought to keep them hidden. When he ran for president in 2016, Trump broke with tradition and refused to release his tax returns. Now he has left the White House, Trump has lost the legal protections of being in office, and is being investigated on a number of fronts.

The former president is on a losing streak, writes Washington Bureau chief David Smith, but this could be his costliest defeat yet. The Manhattan district attorney’s office won’t release the tax returns publicly and hasn’t said why it wants them, only that they were justified in seeking them because of of public reports of “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization”.

  • Trump won Texas because of Covid and a Republican voter drive, a postmortem of the state’s result presidential election from state Democrats has found. They found that Republicans turned out in greater numbers, and Democratic party get-out-the-vote efforts were limited by the pandemic.

Nasa has released a video of its rover landing on Mars

Nasa has released a video of its space rover Perseverance landing on Mars, and the first audio recorded on the surface of the red planet. The video was shared days after the spacecraft descended on to the Martian surface, after travelling through space for nearly seven months.

Scientists have given Perseverance - nicknamed Percy - 5,000 instructions to investigate on Mars, and it completed them all with flying colours. The rover, which cost an eye-watering $2.7bn, is aiming to search for ancient signs of life on the planet.

These videos and these images are the stuff of our dreams,” said Al Chen, who was in charge of the landing team.

The battle between Facebook and the Australian government appears to have ended in truce

The botched news ban resulted in the suspension of government accounts. Photograph: Dado Ruvić/Reuters © Provided by The Guardian The botched news ban resulted in the suspension of government accounts. Photograph: Dado Ruvić/Reuters

Facebook will restore news to its platform in Australia in coming days, after the government agreed to alter its landmark media bargaining code that was designed to force the social media site to pay news outlets to display their content. In response to the proposed law, Facebook attempted to block all news for its Australian users, but inadvertently also banned the pages of charities and government, including health and emergency services. The ban was widely viewed as a warning to the rest of the world not to try and regulate the tech giant.

On Tuesday, Facebook’s treasurer and the Australian communications minister announced that a deal had been reached which would result in news being restored. The agreement might meant that the government will let Facebook be exempt from the code, providing it can show that it has signed enough deals with media outlets to pay them for the content.

In other news…

a group of people standing in front of a building: Protesters gather for a rally to call for justice for Elijah McClain in Denver, 21 November 2020. Photograph: Kevin Mohatt/Reuters © Provided by The Guardian Protesters gather for a rally to call for justice for Elijah McClain in Denver, 21 November 2020. Photograph: Kevin Mohatt/Reuters
  • Police didn’t have the legal basis to stop and use a chokehold on Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old black man who died after being restrained by officers and paramedics in a Denver suburb in August 2019, according to an independent investigation.

  • The engine failure of a Boeing jet over Denver might have been caused by metal fatigue in the fan blades, according to the US National Transportation Safety Board. The engine caught fire shortly after takeoff, and rained debris down on Denver. The incident led Boeing to ground dozens of its planes while investigations took place.

  • Jeep should stop using Cherokee as a car name, the chief of the Oklahoma-based tribe has said. Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr said that corporations and sports teams should stop the practice of using Native American names and iconography, saying: “It does not honor us by having our name plastered on the side of a car.”

Stat of the day: 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since it won its World Cup bid

An average of 12 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died each week in Qatar, since it won the right to host the World Cup 10 years ago, a Guardian investigation has found. In the last decade, Qatar has launched an unprecedented building programme, largely to prepare for the football tournament. According to experts, it is likely that these deaths occurred on the World Cup projects.

Don’t miss this: Amazon workers are unionising in a historic workers rights push

In Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, a storm is brewing. Workers there are pushing for a union, the first attempt to organise an entire Amazon warehouse in the US, and the biggest private-sector union drive in the south in years. Steven Greenhouse speaks to workers and experts about the working conditions for Amazon staff, and what the future holds.

Last thing: Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen launch a podcast

a group of people sitting at a table: Bruce Springsteen with former president Barack Obama during their podcast of conversations recorded at Springsteen’s home studio in New Jersey. Photograph: Rob DeMartin/AP © Provided by The Guardian Bruce Springsteen with former president Barack Obama during their podcast of conversations recorded at Springsteen’s home studio in New Jersey. Photograph: Rob DeMartin/AP

In terms of US celebrity status, it doesn’t get much more star-studded that this; Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen have teamed up to produce a podcast. The podcast, called: “Renegades: Born in the USA” features the pair discussing their backgrounds, masculinity, and “enduring love of America”, according to Spotify.

Sign up

First Thing is delivered to thousands of inboxes every weekday. If you’re not already signed up, subscribe now.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Guardian

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon