Corona: US Health System Unprepared, 500 Virus Cases in Timbuktu

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The U.S. public health system has been starved for decades and it lacks the resources to confront the worst health crisis in a century.

An investigation by the AP and KHN finds that since 2010, spending for state public health departments has dropped by 16% per capita and by 18% per capita for local health departments.

At least 38,000 public health jobs have disappeared, leaving a skeletal workforce for what was once viewed as one of the world’s top public health systems. It’s left the U.S. unprepared to deal with a virus that’s sickened at least 2.6 million people and killed more than 126,000. This exclusive report is from Lauren Weber, Laura Ungar, Michelle R. Smith, Hannah Recht and Anna Maria Barry-Jester.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said America is “going in the wrong direction” with cases surging in some regions, putting the entire country at risk. With about 40,000 new cases being reported a day, Fauci said he wouldn’t be surprised if the daily count reaches 100,000 if things don’t improve.

US Virus Spread: Coronavirus first spread in the U.S. as a mostly coastal and big-city scourge, sparing many rural areas, small towns and even small cities. Translated into U.S. political geography: The virus hit Democratic areas first. But that has changed. An AP analysis of case data shows the virus has moved — and is spreading quickly — into Republican areas, a new path with broad potential political ramifications, report Bill Barrow, Kevin Vineys and Angelki Kastanis.

Nursing Homes: A report from U.S. Senate Democrats finds that the Trump administration was slow to comprehend the scale of COVID-19’s impact on nursing homes and a disjointed federal response only compounded the devastating toll, writes Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. A copy of the report, due to be released today, was provided to the AP.

  • The European Union has announced it will reopen its borders to travelers from 14 countries and possibly China soon. Most Americans, however, have been refused entry for at least another two weeks due to soaring coronavirus infections in the U.S.
  • Australia’s second-largest city Melbourne is bracing itself as more than 300,000 residents prepare to be locked down for a month starting tonight.
  • Thailand has further eased restrictions, allowing the reopening of schools and high-risk entertainment venues such as pubs and massage parlors. Foreign visitors are now being allowed to enter Thailand on a controlled basis.
  • The Philippine president has retained a strict lockdown in the central Cebu city he described as a new hot spot.
  • Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea have reopened with hundreds of visitors applauding as they were let in.

The Ends of the Earth: COVID-19 has made its way to Timbuktu, whose name has long been synonymous with the farthest flung place on Earth. There are now more than 500 cases, and at least nine people have died, in this isolated town in northern Mali that lacks even a single ventilator for patients with the disease, reports Baba Ahmed from Timbuktu.

Lebanon’s Expats: With Beirut’s airport partially reopening, the government is hoping thousands of expatriates will return for the summer — and bring dollars desperately needed to prop up the cratering economy. But Lebanon’s far-flung diaspora, renowned as entrepreneurs who for years sent their cash home, may no longer be willing to do that as the nation undergoes multiple crises, reports Zeina Karam from Beirut.
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