Coronavirus Politics Daily: Navajo Nation's outbreak, Wuhan's testing, Latin America's dual epidemics

Coronavirus Politics Daily: Navajo Nation's outbreak, Wuhan's testing, Latin America's dual epidemics

Navajo Nation's outbreak: The Navajo Nation, the most populous of the American Indian reservations within the US, is now reporting more COVID-19 cases per capita than any US state, with roughly 1,798 infections per 100,000 people. That surpasses New York, the country's worst-hit state. More than 100 people in the community, located in the American southwest, have died from the virus, including young people. Health professionals say that there are several reasons that the community has been so hard-hit. First, many in the Navajo Nation already suffer from diabetes, making them particularly vulnerable to serious illness if they do contract COVID-19. It's also common for Navajo to live with large families in intergenerational homes, which speeds the virus' spread. Crucially, around 1 in 3 residents lack access to running water, making it all but impossible to stop outbreaks through regular hand-washing. Doctors Without Borders, an NGO accustomed to sending medical and public health professionals to conflict zones, has now dispatched a team to the reservation to help the roughly 170,000 inhabitants deal with the surging outbreak. The Trump administration, for its part, said it will dole out $600 million in aid to help the community weather the storm.


Wuhan's "mass battle": After a cluster of new coronavirus cases was identified in Wuhan, China, this week, public health authorities have vowed to test the city's 11 million inhabitants in under two weeks, a project the government's calling "10 days of mass battle." Wuhan, where the world's first COVID-19 cases were reported back in December, has not seen any new infections since April, owing to one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. But after six new cases emerged in recent days – five of which were asymptomatic carriers – the city has told districts to come up with a mass testing program for their respective enclaves. In the absence of any new cases since April 3, schools and businesses had slowly started to reopen, and public transport in surrounding Hubei province resumed operations. The findings of this ambitious testing scheme will now either legitimize Wuhan's return to normalcy – or alternatively, could force the city to put millions of residents back into isolation.

Latin America's dual epidemics: Even as Latin American governments are struggling to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, another disease is slowly sweeping the continent: the mosquito-borne dengue fever. The disease, which resurges every 3-5 years and can be deadly, had infected 3.1 million people in the Americas in 2019 alone. But with hospital resources and medical attention across Latin America and the Caribbean now directed almost exclusively towards the coronavirus crisis, the disease is poised to spread further. Countries including Chile, Mexico and Colombia have all seen fresh spikes in dengue cases in recent months, and medical professionals there are worried that overcrowded hospitals will have to turn these people away, risking a surge in otherwise preventable deaths from the disease.

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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