… and welcome to another day of coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, and the politics around it. Bryan Armen Graham will be here to take you through the day later, but for now, I’m your guide.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, the US has now recorded 1,601,260 cases and 96,002 deaths.
Rates are slowing in some states hard-hit in the first part of the outbreak, New York notably among them, and increasing elsewhere. Nonetheless, most states are attempting some form of economic reopening – nearly 40m Americans have filed for unemployment under lockdown, after all – and debate is raging over whether those states moving fastest are moving too fast for safety.
It’s Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the American summer, and the title of this piece by Amanda Holpuch, Nina Lakhani and Khushbu Shah rather sums up the question: America begins to unlock for summer – but is it inviting a disastrous second wave?
Donald Trump doesn’t think so, and on Friday at the White House he invoked powers he doesn’t have to say governors should reopen all places of worship and if they didn’t, he would. Once again, he can’t, or couldn’t if it came to it, do that. Tenth amendment, etc. As for the motivation behind Trump’s curt announcement, there are reports that his support among evangelicals is slipping.
That would be intensely worrying for Trump in a re-election year already marked by economic meltdown. On the upside for the president, on Friday a gaffe by his notoriously gaffe-prone opponent, Joe Biden (if he were a British football manager, he would’ve earned the standard honorific “the Gaffer” many years ago), showed how swiftly and ferociously the Trump campaign machine still runs.
Some say Biden needs only to stay in his Delaware basement to beat Trump. But on Friday, from his basement, the former vice-president told an African American radio host if you “have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black”. Biden apologised as the Trump campaign pounced – and liberals too.
So there’s that, and any resultant fallout, to consider along with all things coronavirus-related.
In the meantime, some further reading. Khushbuh Shah reports from Georgia, a Republican state turning slightly more Democratic, on how one’s view of how soon to reopen depends largely on the way one votes: