COVID-19 testing sites forced to suspend operations as U.S. protests continue

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: A protester wears a surgical mask with "Black Lives Matter" written on the front while protesters gather outside the Seattle Office of Emergency Management to protest against police brutality and the death in police custody of George Floyd
A protester wears a surgical mask with "Black Lives Matter" written on it at a rally in Seattle on Tuesday over the death of George Floyd./Lindsey Wasson / Reuters

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As the U.S. remains in the grip of protests over the death of George Floyd, some COVID-19 testing sites have been forced to suspend operations because of violence and unrest in recent days.

The temporary closures — from California to Florida — are sure to hamper efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus, particularly as social distancing has given way to mass gatherings of potentially contagious people who don't know they're infected.

As protests sweep nation, research finds social distancing most effective at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

There are now more than 1.8 million coronavirus infections in the U.S. and more than 106,000 deaths, according to NBC News' tally. Worldwide, nearly 6.4 million people have been sickened by the virus, with more than 380,000 deaths.

Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

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Opera returns to Vienna with hotel 'window concert'

Guests of Zeitgeist Hotel in Vienna, Austria listen from their rooms to singers Monika Medek and Dagmar Dekanovsky and the Camerata Carnutum orchestra, during a "window concert."Joe Klamar / AFP - Getty Images

COVID-19 patients among 100,000 evacuated as cyclone slams Mumbai

Dark clouds hang over the city ahead of cyclone Nisarga making landfall in Mumbai, India on Tuesday.Rajanish Kakade / AP

100,000 people — including COVID-19 patients — have been evacuated from low-lying areas as a powerful cyclone hit the west-coast Indian states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. 

In Maharashtra's largest city Mumbai, home to some 18 million people, 200 coronavirus patients had to be evacuated from a field hospital built beneath a tent as strong winds and torrential rain blew in. 

Bidisha Pillai, chief executive of Save the Children in India expressed fears that damage to clinics and hospitals will complicate the fight against the virus by making it "virtually impossible" to follow social distancing measures.

Maharashtra is home to a third of India's 200,000 recorded infections. 

Read the full story here.

Italy re-opens its airports, allows movement between regions

Andrea Monti from Italy and Katharina Scherf from Germany hug upon her arrival at Fiumicino Airport in Rome on Wednesday, as Italy eases travel restrictions. Yara Nardi / Reuters

After more than two months of strict lockdown and more than 33,500 coronavirus deaths, Italians are once again free to travel from one region to another as of Wednesday.

The country's airports have also re-opened their doors, with passengers subjected to temperature checks. 

In a move that's expected to, at least partially, help save this year's tourism season, all passengers travelling within Europe's 26-nation Schengen zone will not be required to quarantine themselves upon arrival. 

"It's an important message, of reassurance, that we are giving as Italy to the whole world," Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said in a Facebook post Wednesday. "The total opening of the country enables us to show foreign states a united and compact Italy, inside which it is possible to move freely."

Fears of outbreak as first Rohingya refugee dies from coronavirus in Bangladesh

An elderly Rohingya man has become the first person to die from COVID-19 in the refugee camps in southern Bangladesh, the U.N. Refugee Agency confirmed on Twitter Tuesday.

The death has raised fears of a serious outbreak in refugee camps that house over a million Rohingya, a mostly Muslim ethnic minority group that were forced to flee a brutal military crackdown in neighbouring Myanmar. 

"We are all working round the clock to ensure that testing is available to those refugees," said Louise Donovan, the refugee agency spokesperson. 

The camps are overcrowded, with shared water sources and communal toilets and washing facilities.

At least 29 Rohingya have tested positive for the virus so far since the first case was detected in the camps on May 14. Bangladesh has so far reported 52,445 coronavirus cases and 709 deaths.

Second city in China to test all city residents for coronavirus

Another city in China will test all of its residents for the coronavirus after Wuhan, the original center of the pandemic, finished mass testing of its population

Municipal government in Mudanjiang, a city in Heilongjiang province in northeast China, said it will carry out nucleic acid testing of all of the city's 2.5 million residents. 

China spent 900 million yuan ($127 million) and tested almost 10 million people in Wuhan, finding no new cases and 300 asymptomatic carriers of the virus, officials said on Tuesday. Authorities launched the vast testing campaign on May 14, and reached 9.9 million out of 11 million people, after a cluster of new cases raised fears of a second wave of infections.

More than 4,600 people have died from the virus in mainland China, according to the country's health officials, with more than 83,000 confirmed cases.

British Vogue devotes July cover to essential workers

The British edition of fashion magazine Vogue has, for the first time, devoted its July cover to the nation's essential workers. 

The story features three key workers from London who have kept working in key roles throughout the pandemic. They are Narguis Horsford, a train driver on London's rail network, Rachel Millar, a midwife, and Anisa Omar, a grocery store worker. 

"The July 2020 cover story celebrates the millions of people in the U.K. who, at the height of the pandemic, and in the face of danger, put on their uniforms and went to work," the magazine said. 

"As our nation perseveres against COVID-19, we find ourselves leaning not on the powers that be, but on ordinary people and their extraordinary strength and kindness," it added. 

Russia begins re-opening churches as lockdown eases

A woman wearing a face mask comes out of Christ-the-Savior cathedral, the main Russian Orthodox church in central Moscow, on Tuesday as Moscow authorities started re-opening churches, mosques and synagogues.Alexander Nemenov / AFP - Getty Images

White House coronavirus task force fades further as fear of second wave emerges

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the White House task force that President Donald Trump assembled to manage the health crisis met every day. But in recent weeks, as the virus continues to spread and health experts warn of a potential surge in cases across the country this summer, the group has met formally just three times.

And in a new sign that the task force's work may be nearing an end, its members have begun drafting a final after-action report highlighting the president's response that’s expected to be completed in the coming weeks, according to two senior administration officials.

At the same time, the White House’s effort to reshape the task force to more closely align with Trump’s optimism about possible vaccines and treatments for the virus has been rocky. Just days after the White House announced Dr. Peter Marks as a new member the task force, Marks quietly left because of concerns that his participation could present a conflict of interest with his current job at the Food and Drug Administration, according to a person familiar with the move.

Read the full story here. 

Trump says he's yanking RNC from North Carolina over potential pandemic restrictions

President Donald Trump said Tuesday said that he will be seeking another state to host the Republican National Convention because the North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper had refused to guarantee that coronavirus restrictions wouldn’t affect the party’s nominating convention.

“Governor Cooper is still in Shelter-in-Place Mode, and not allowing us to occupy the arena as originally anticipated and promised,” he wrote in a string of tweets. “We are now forced to seek another state to host the 2020 Republican National Convention.”

Earlier today, Cooper said he would not provide the president and his party with a "guarantee" that the party could hold a full-scale convention in Charlotte this summer, citing public health concerns.

Read the full story here. 

Fauci asked about mass gatherings, protests

Dr. Anthony Fauci — arguably the most well-known and well-respected U.S. public health figure in the COVID-19 pandemic — spoke out Tuesday afternoon about large public gatherings across the country, stopping short of specifically addressing protesters taking a stand against the death of George Floyd.

"Pictures, photos and TV clips of people very much congregated, no masks together, very closely congregated on a boardwalk, on a beach, in a pool, has been and continues to be a concern to me," Fauci said.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, made the comment during an interview with Dr. Howard Bauchner, the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The interview was posted on the journal's YouTube account.  

Bauchner touched on the the death of Floyd and mass protests across the country in the interview, but Fauci did not specifically speak about those demonstrations, which have occurred in hundreds of cities.

Fauci added that it won't be known for several more weeks whether the impact of large public gatherings of people will fuel the spread of COVID-19