Coronavirus Politics Daily: African Americans and COVID-19, EU agrees to rescue package, coronavirus vs crime

Coronavirus Politics Daily: African Americans and COVID-19, EU agrees to rescue package, coronavirus vs crime

Why are African Americans disproportionately suffering from COVID-19? In principle, we are all equal before pandemics, but in practice, COVID-19 is hitting some people much harder than others. An abundance of research out of the US in recent weeks shows that COVID-19 is ravaging African American – and to a lesser extent Latino – communities at disproportionately high rates. Not only are African-Americans more likely to contract the disease, they're also more likely to die from it. In Louisiana, a coronavirus hotspot, some 70 percent of virus-related deaths were among African Americans, although they make up just 32 percent of the population. In Michigan, blacks are 133 percent more likely to be infected by the disease. Similar stories are emerging in New York, where the COVID-19 death rate for Black and Latino New Yorkers is around twice that of whites. Why? Many health experts attribute this to long-existing structural inequalities in health and healthcare that put African American communities at higher risk of falling seriously ill from the disease. Black Americans are also more likely to live in densely populated urban areas, while immigrants from Latin America sometimes live in inter-generational homes, complicating efforts to socially distance. But another huge – and often overlooked – factor contributing to this gap is that Black and Latino Americans make-up a much bigger part of the COVID-19 essential workforce, working as food service workers, cleaners, and public transport operators. Home quarantine and work from home arrangements are a luxury that many of them don't have, resulting in their over-exposure to the deadly virus.


Coronavirus fights crime: Coronavirus-related lockdowns have already helped clean up the environment in countries around the world, now there's evidence that by keeping people off the streets, they are cleaning up crime too — for now. In New York City, crime plummeted 20 percent in the second half of March. Murders in Los Angeles were down 43 percent. In the gang-plagued central American nation of El Salvador, which has the highest murder rate in the world, murders fell from 114 in February to just 65 in March, the lowest figure on record, as quarantines (enforced, ironically, by gangs) kept people indoors. Colombian authorities have seen killings fall more than 50 percent as a result of lockdowns. But there are two big caveats to the good news. The first is that the economic devastation left behind by the coronavirus lockdowns could cause crime to rise again sharply as quarantines are eased and governments have fewer resources to dedicate to security. The second is that while violence on the streets may be falling, violence within the home is on the rise, as reports of domestic violence surge around the world.

EU agrees on an anti-viral aid package: The coronavirus may be the toughest challenge the EU has ever faced, but the Union has at least agreed to throw some serious money at it. After a 14-hour marathon meeting, the bloc's finance ministers reached a deal on 500 billion Euros worth of credit lines and unemployment insurance for member states. Getting to yes required the usual wrangling over lending conditions between northern member states — which on the whole have more balanced budgets and insist on strict economic reforms in exchange for loans — and their generally more indebted southern counterparts, who are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. The rescue package will help get EU members through the worst of the crisis, but the bigger question of what the post-crisis economic reconstruction looks like, or who will pay for it, remains unanswered.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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28: The UK and the EU have again failed to agree on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. In a 28-page document, the British government had suggested further changes to trade rules that were already negotiated as part of the Brexit settlement, but Brussels was not having any of it.

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