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Armed anti-lockdown protesters in Michigan, beaches closed in California

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Seattle
A physician administers a test for COVID-19 at a mobile testing site Wednesday in Seattle. David Ryder / Reuters

As states around the U.S. consider reopening, the country's death toll topped 61,000, according to an NBC News tally. Globally, there have been more than 232,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Protesters, some armed, demonstrated on Thursday against the Michigan lockdown on the steps of the state capitol building. And in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom shut down beaches in Orange County after seeing what he called "disturbing" images of crowds from over the weekend.

Florida on Wednesday announced that it would slowly reopen. Gov. Ron DeSantis said the plan to lift restrictions "in a very measured, thoughtful and data-driven way," will go into effect Monday in every county except the three where most of the state's COVID-19 cases have been reported.

Meanwhile, South Korea recorded no new domestic COVID-19 cases for the first time in 72 days. The country dealt with the first major outbreak outside China, but brought the crisis under control with a massive testing campaign and intensive contact tracing.

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

This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading May 1 coronavirus news.

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1009d ago / 3:11 PM UTC

Vaccine by January is 'doable,' Fauci says

Dr. Anthony Fauci says it's not out of the question that the U.S. could have a viable coronavirus vaccine by January.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the "TODAY" show on Thursday that the government is determining whether a vaccine is effective before beginning to manufacture hundreds of millions of doses.

"We want to go quickly, but we want to make sure it's safe and it's effective," Fauci said. "I think that is doable if things fall in the right place."

In January, Fauci estimated that a vaccine against the coronavirus could be developed in a year to 18 months.

Read the full story here

1009d ago / 3:00 PM UTC

NYC Mayor says funeral home storing bodies in U-Haul was 'absolutely unacceptable'

Image:
Workers move a body near the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home in Brooklyn, New York, on April 29, 2020.Craig Ruttle / AP

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it is "absolutely unacceptable" that a funeral home in Brooklyn stored bodies in moving trucks after running out of space

Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Services was issued two citations this week after police found 50 bodies had been stored in four trucks, including rentals from U-Haul. The owner, who was not criminally charged, told officials that he had an overflow of bodies and was trying to do his best.

"This horrible situation that occurred with the funeral home in Brooklyn, absolutely unacceptable," the mayor said at his news conference on Thursday. "They have an obligation to the people they serve to treat them with dignity. I have no idea in the world how any funeral home can let this happen." 

Funeral homes are regulated by the state and not the city, but de Blasio said the owner should have reached out for help if the were having issues with storage. "It's unconscionable to me," he said. 

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said he would be convening a bereavement committee on Monday to address the incident and demand the city do better, NBC New York reported. De Blasio said he supports Adams' plan. 

1009d ago / 2:47 PM UTC

U.S. Intelligence Community examining whether outbreak came from animals or laboratory accident

The United States Intelligence Community agrees with the scientific consensus that COVID-19 was "not manmade or genetically modified," according to a statement by the office of the Director of National Intelligence published Thursday morning.

The U.S. Intelligence Community is comprised of 17 federal government intelligence-gathering agencies and offices. Together, they have been providing national policymakers and responders with information about the virus by "surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to U.S. national security."

The community is continuing to examine "whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” according to the DNI statement.

1009d ago / 2:36 PM UTC

Not taking public transit during the pandemic? France offers 50 euro to fix up your bike

In an effort to encourage socially distant forms of transportation in the COVID-19 era, the French Ministry of Ecological and Inclusive Transition announced Thursday that it would be putting forward a 20 million euro ($21.7 million) plan to improve bicycle infrastructure, but notably would also include a one-time 50 euro ($54) subsidy that cyclists can use toward bike repair.

In a news release, Minister Elisabeth Borne said that 60 percent of trips in France during the pre-pandemic era are under 5 kilometers (3.1 miles). “The weeks to come represent an opportunity for many French people, whether they are already cyclists or not, to choose their bike to get to work or to get around nearby,” she said.

The Ministry is calling it a “bike repair boost” that will cover many minor bike repairs, including a new chain installation, new brakes, tires, derailleur and more. It can be used only among the network of 3,000 bike mechanics who are members of a French bike advocacy group known as FUB. The French government agency also intends to use the funds to improve bike parking and bike lanes, and to set up bike training classes nationwide.

1009d ago / 2:34 PM UTC

Germany warns of second or third virus wave in the fall

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Germany is still at the  “beginning of a marathon” when it comes to the outbreak, according to Lothar Wieler, the president of Germany’s public health institute. He stressed that some experts expect a second or even a third wave of coronavirus infections in the country — particularly in the fall.

Wieler said Thursday that recent developments are “pleasant” given that daily new cases in Germany this week stand at around 1,000 (compared to around 2,000 daily cases last week), but he asked citizens to continue to adhere to all social distancing measures.

The comments come a week after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the campaign against the outbreakwas in its early stages and warned that Germany was still on "thin ice." Germany has fared better than most European nations in terms of its death toll, but it has the fifth-highest caseload in Europe with almost 160,000 confirmed as of Thursday.

1009d ago / 2:33 PM UTC

Surge of masks and gowns coming to New York City, de Blasio says

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference on Thursday that a factory in Vietnam is producing a mass supply of surgical gowns. 

One million gowns are on the way to the city with 900,000 more being loaded onto a plane, he said. The city has purchased an additional 3 million gowns that are in production. 

"We are now confident that we will have enough surgical gowns to get us through the middle of May," he said. 

De Blasio also said Thursday that 100,000 face masks will be distributed this week free-of-charge in parks. He said they will focus on communities that have been hard-hit by the virus and parks where there is heavy traffic. 

Hundreds of thousands of masks have been donated to the city, de Blasio said. American Eagle donated 175,000 surgical masks and the NBA contributed 35,000 masks, including N95 respirators. The Consulate General of Egypt donated 200,000 masks and 5,000 protective gowns and suits. 

De Blasio said he was "very appreciative" of all of the donations. 

1009d ago / 2:05 PM UTC

Photo: Masked monks pray in South Korea

Image: Buddhist monks
Buddhist monks pray during the Buddha's birthday at the Gwanghwamun Plaza in Seoul on Thursday.Ahn Young-joon / AP
1009d ago / 1:58 PM UTC

Iraqi government will fine citizens for not wearing masks

Iraq tightened restriction measures to contain the spread of the virus by expanding its curfew on Wednesday evening, warning it may re-impose a full curfew as many citizens have failed to abide by the measures, according to government officials. 

Iraq’s Higher Committee for Health and National Safety will also impose a fine of 10,000 Iraqi dinars (around $8) on those who refrain from wearing masks or ignore social distancing measures.

The committee also ordered the health authorities to assess the extent of compliance with the measures by the citizens and report on that within seven days. Iraq has reported more than 2,000 virus cases and 92 deaths as of Thursday.

1009d ago / 1:06 PM UTC

Cleaner air in Europe leads to 11,000 fewer deaths, study shows

An improvement in air quality from coronavirus lockdowns over the past month avoided 11,000 deaths from pollution across Europe, a study showed Thursday.

The measures to combat the virus have led to an approximately 40 percent reduction in average level of nitrogen dioxide pollution and a 10 percent reduction in average level of particle matter pollution across Europe over the past 30 days, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air said in a briefing. These pollution reductions have led to the substantial depletion in deaths caused by asthma, strokes and other pre-existing conditions.

The decrease in air pollution resulted from unprecedented reductions in coal and oil burning in Europe, the study said. This has also helped to generally alleviate pressure on the health care system during this crisis, it said, noting the analysis highlighted “the tremendous benefits for public health” that could be achieved by “rapidly reducing fossil fuels in a sustained and sustainable way."

1009d ago / 1:06 PM UTC

NYC man stole over $12,000 in stimulus checks from mailboxes, prosecutors say

A New York City man was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly stealing nine coronavirus stimulus checks worth more than $12,000 from mailboxes, federal prosecutors say.

Feng Chen, 31, was spotted by police early Tuesday morning looking inside mailboxes in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Chen was seen searching a medical-collection bin and looking at mail left at a door, according to the complaint and court statements. After leaving a different building with what appeared to be mail, Chen saw the police officers and “tossed the mail on the sidewalk,” prosecutors say.

Read the full story here.

1009d ago / 12:40 PM UTC

Jobless claims top 30 million as coronavirus continues to devastate economy

Around 3.8 million more workers filed for first-time employment benefits last week, bringing the national jobless total to a staggering 30 million — or around 18 percent of the workforce.

Nationwide lockdowns led to the abrupt shutdown of the economy in mid-March, leaving millions of people scrambling to file for unemployment insurance. The sheer volume of applicants has overwhelmed the system, with many states reporting website outages and hourslong delays on telephone helplines.

That has led to inaccurate accounting of the jobless, as many people report waits of six weeks or more to even file their claim. States are working to correct this, by adding thousands more workers to process applications.

Data to be released May 8 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is likely to elucidate the full number of unemployed in America.

Read the full story here.

1009d ago / 12:34 PM UTC

Swedish town uses chicken manure to deter gatherings

Image: Garden workers fertilise lawns in Stadsparken in an attempt to prevent residents from gathering there to mark the Walpurgis Night, in Lund
Garden workers fertilize lawns in an attempt to prevent residents from gathering to mark Walpurgis Night amid the spread of the coronavirus disease in Lund, Sweden on Thursday.Johan Nilsson / Reuters

A town in southern Sweden has turned to chicken manure in order to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus during an annual festive event on Thursday.

The manure bought from a local farm will serve dual purpose: “It will both fertilize the lawn of the park for the summer, at the same time, it will stink,” Lund's Mayor Phillip Sandberg said. The town council on Thursday morning used one ton of the fertilizer in the university town's central park that often hosts “Sweden’s largest picnic” of about 30,000 people on April 30 each year.

Walpurgis Night is typically celebrated with picnics, parties and bonfires across the country, and regularly attracts thousands of students. As it’s an informal event without any formal organizing part, it cannot be cancelled based on the current national recommendations banning official gatherings over 50 people.

1009d ago / 12:04 PM UTC

Drug dealers using food delivery services to traffic substances, police say

Criminals have been using food delivery services to transport and distribute drugs in several countries worldwide amid coronavirus lockdowns, Interpol warned on Thursday.

The France-based police agency said it received reports from Ireland, Malaysia, Spain and the United Kingdom about delivery drivers transporting illicit substances including cocaine, marijuana, ketamine and ecstasy. 

In one incident, Irish Gardai officers recovered nearly 18 pounds of cocaine and two handguns hidden in pizza boxes. In another, a Malaysian food delivery rider contacted police after being tasked to deliver a single order of Indian flatbread that suspiciously weighed 24 pounds. Interpol has issued the notice to its 194 member countries to increase cooperation between police agencies and better tackle the drug trade during the global health crisis. 

1009d ago / 12:02 PM UTC

Fauci warns states against reopening too soon

WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that states that are reopening their economies or states that are considering taking that action soon “can’t just leap over things” and get into a situation where the coronavirus makes a rebound in that region.

In an interview on the “TODAY” show, Savannah Guthrie asked Fauci whether the states that are beginning to reopen have the capability to conduct the contact tracing needed if an outbreak starts again. Fauci said that he can’t go state by state but urged states that don’t have the capability to “go very slowly.”

“You can't just leap over things and get into a situation where you're really tempting a rebound. That's the thing I get concerned about,” he said. “I hope they don't do that.”

1009d ago / 11:16 AM UTC

Serbians protests against strict lockdown measures with pans and horns

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A cacophony of tin pans, drums, whistles, and horns has reverberated through much of Serbia on Wednesday as stuck-at-home citizens vented their anger at the government and its strict containment measures to curb the coronavirus.

For the fourth night in a row on Wednesday evening, people across Serbia responded to the call by the Don’t Let Belgrade Drown Initiative to protest by making noise against what they called dictatorship in the country, local news reported. The noise starts at 8:05 p.m. after the applause for medical staff. Later in the evening on Wednesday, supporters of the ruling Serbian party organized a counter-noise protest, lighting torches and cheering President Aleksandar Vucic.

Serbia, which has reported 8,497 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 173 deaths from the virus, introduced stringent measures last month, including a state of emergency, closure of borders, daily curfew from 4 p.m. local time, and total lockdowns all weekend, including all four days of the Easter holiday. While the government has started to lift restrictions as the rate of infections slows, it said that a lockdown during the Labor Day holiday on May 1 — a important celebration in Serbia — should remain in place.

1009d ago / 11:05 AM UTC

1009d ago / 10:39 AM UTC

Britain likely to miss virus testing target, minister admits

Britain will more than likely miss its target of carrying out 100,000 virus tests a day by the end of April, Justice Minister Robert Buckland said on Thursday. Around 52,000 tests were carried out on Wednesday, according health officials.

"Even if it isn't met, we are well on our way to ramping this up," Buckland told a BBC morning show on Thursday. "Even if we don't meet the target today, the effort that's been put in to increase these numbers is remarkable," he said.

The original target was set by the U.K.'s health minister earlier this month. The government has faced growing criticism over low levels of virus testing, as well as complaints from health workers over a lack of sufficient protective gear.

1009d ago / 10:23 AM UTC

1009d ago / 10:17 AM UTC

British doctors warn some Chinese ventilators could kill if used in hospitals

Image: Ventilators arrive at a military logistics hub in Shropshire from China earlier this month.
Ventilators arrive at a military logistics hub in Shropshire from China earlier this month.Sgt Ben Beale/MoD / PA file

Senior British doctors have warned that 250 ventilators the United Kingdom bought from China risk causing "significant patient harm, including death," if they are used in hospitals, according to a letter seen by NBC News.

The doctors said the machines had a problematic oxygen supply, could not be cleaned properly, had an unfamiliar design and a confusing instruction manual, and were built for use in ambulances, not hospitals.

The British case is not an isolated one, and it comes as a stark example of a procurement problem that has plagued many countries as the coronavirus has spread throughout the world.

Read the full story here.

1009d ago / 10:07 AM UTC

Nearly half of global workers at risk of losing their livelihoods, data shows

Nearly half of the world's workforce is at immediate risk of losing their livelihood because of coronavirus, the International Labour Organization warned on Wednesday. 

The continued sharp decline in working hours, as well as lockdown measures due to the outbreak means that 1.6 billion informal economy workers around the world “stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed,” according to the organization's analysis.

“For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future. As the pandemic and the jobs crisis evolve, the need to protect the most vulnerable becomes even more urgent," the U.N. agency’s director general, Guy Ryder, told a briefing on Wednesday.

1009d ago / 9:50 AM UTC

Shell slashes dividend for the first time since World War II

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday cut its dividend to shareholders for the first time since World War II, following a dramatic slide in oil prices amid the coronavirus crisis.

The board at Shell said it had decided to reduce the oil major’s first-quarter dividend to $0.16 per share, down from $0.47 at the end of 2019. That’s a reduction of 66 percent.

“Shareholder returns are a fundamental part of Shell’s financial framework,” Chad Holliday, chair of the board of Royal Dutch Shell, said in a statement.

Read the full story.

1009d ago / 9:45 AM UTC

Vending machines in France dish out face masks, gloves and hand gel

Image: A vending machine in a square in the French city of Jeumont sells protective face masks, hand sanitizer and gloves on Wednesday.
A vending machine in a square in the French city of Jeumont sells protective face masks, hand sanitizer and gloves on Wednesday.Pascal Rossignol / Reuters
1009d ago / 9:39 AM UTC

South Korea records no new domestic cases for first time since February

South Korea reported no new domestic virus cases on Thursday for the first time since February, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The country reported four new infections that were all imported, taking the national tally to 10,765. The death toll rose by one to 247 on Thursday, while 9,059 have been discharged.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in thanked the public on the news of zero reported domestic cases saying in a message, “This is the strength of South Korea and the power of the people.”

The health authorities also concluded no local transmission occurred from a parliamentary election earlier this month, according to Reuters, where authorities took safety measures like requiring voters to wear masks and plastic gloves when casting ballots.

1009d ago / 9:29 AM UTC

1009d ago / 9:24 AM UTC

Russia sees record rise in recorded coronavirus infections

Russia passed several coronavirus milestones on Thursday, reporting a record 7,099 new confirmed infections, bringing the total number of cases to more than 100,000.

According to data published by Russia’s Coronavirus Crisis Response Center, Russia also saw 101 deaths in the past day, bringing the total fatalities to 1,073.

About 50 percent of Russia’s cases are in Moscow, but the share of new confirmed cases has shifted outside the city and into regions less prepared to manage an outbreak. President Vladimir Putin this week extended stay-at-home restrictions through May 11, claiming Russia has not yet reached its peak — and will not get there until at least mid-May. 

1009d ago / 9:21 AM UTC

Flight bookings in China surge for May 1 holiday

Image: Travelers wear face masks while waiting to check in at the Beijing Capital International Airport on Thursday.
Travelers wear face masks while waiting to check in at the Beijing Capital International Airport on Thursday.Martin Pollard / Reuters

Flight bookings in China have spiked ahead of its upcoming five-day May 1 celebrations, with passenger numbers expected to increase by around 43 percent, the Chinese Ministry of Transport said on Thursday.

An analysis of airline passenger ticket reservations led to estimates that nearly 3 million people could fly. Though the uptick in travel is a sign that the country is starting to pick up after the coronavirus lockdown, the numbers represent a decrease of about 66 percent over the same period in 2019.

The Chinese capital had until Wednesday lived under some of the strictest coronavirus restrictions in the country, including a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving. That requirement was scrapped from Thursday for travelers from low-risk areas of China.

1009d ago / 6:58 AM UTC

Masks thrown onto California freeway cause mini-traffic jam

UNION CITY, Calif. — In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a San Francisco Bay Area freeway suffered a mini-traffic jam Wednesday when someone tossed hundreds of face masks onto the road and some motorists stopped to grab them, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Around 1:30 p.m., CHP officers received a report that a white truck had stopped on Interstate 880 in Union City and someone tossed out boxes of medical masks, the CHP reported.

Hundreds of the prized masks spread across southbound lanes, authorities said. As many as 1,000 masks may have been dumped, KPIX-TV reported.

Several motorists “stopped and stepped out of their vehicles to pick up the masks,” the CHP’s Hayward bureau said in a Facebook post.

It took about an hour before a road sweeper picked up all the masks, authorities said.

There were no reported injuries and no arrests or citations were immediately made.

1009d ago / 6:39 AM UTC

Newsom expected to close all California beaches

The California Police Chiefs Association told members in an email Wednesday that Gov. Gavin Newsom planned to announce Thursday that beaches statewide would be closed starting Friday.

The closure is also expected to include state parks.

The move appears to be designed to prevent the kind of crowding seen over the weekend, when warm weather prompted thousands to flock to the Orange County coastline.

On Monday Newsom, expressed his displeasure with the Southern California crowds, saying, "This virus doesn’t take the weekends off. This virus doesn’t go home because it’s a beautiful sunny day around our coasts."

Read the full story here.

1009d ago / 6:07 AM UTC

Should students get a tuition refund as classes move online?

1009d ago / 5:52 AM UTC

LeBron James to honor Class of 2020 with all-star event

LeBron James is putting together an all-star event to honor and celebrate the high school class of 2020, which has had its graduation season upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

The LeBron James Family Foundation, XQ Institute and The Entertainment Industry Foundation on Wednesday announced that the one-hour special, “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020,” will air simultaneously on NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox on May 16 at 8 p.m. EDT. The event will pay tribute to high schoolers graduating this year and will include appearances by James, Pharrell Williams, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Bad Bunny, Yara Shahidi, Ben Platt, Lena Waithe and H.E.R.

“I wanted to help create a show that looked and felt very different from traditional specials. Something that spoke to kids in a different way. These kids worked so hard to graduate and what is happening to them is truly unfair,” James said in a statement. 

“Graduate Together” was curated by high school students, educators and the American Federation of Teachers. It will feature commencement speeches, performances and more. It will also air on TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Complex Networks, PeopleTV and other digital platforms.

1010d ago / 12:10 AM UTC

Elon Musk compares stay-at-home orders to imprisonment in rant to Tesla investors

Image: Elon Musk
Elon Musk speaks during a news conference in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Jan. 19, 2020.John Raoux / AP file

Elon Musk used Wednesday's Tesla earnings call to rant about stay-at-home orders that have been adopted by many states across the country to limit the spread of coronavirus.

"'Shelter in place.' Frankly, I would call it forcibly imprisoning of people in their homes against all of their constitutional rights, in my opinion," said Musk, who is the CEO of Tesla. "It's breaking people's freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong and not why they came to America or built this country. What the f---. Excuse me. Outrage. Outrage.”

His comments follow a tweet on Tuesday in which he said "FREE AMERICA NOW," seemingly in response to the lockdown. The tweet was soon followed by a trending hashtag urging people to #boycottTesla. Musk also previously said panicking about the pandemic "is dumb."

Musk's Fremont-based car factory has been limited to maintaining only “minimum basic operations" since March as part of shutdown orders that have closed non-essential businesses. Initially, Tesla told employees at the factory that it would stay open, but government officials stepped in and determined the factory was not an essential business. On the call, Musk said the closure poses a "serious risk" to the company. Despite its factories being shut down, Tesla reported a surprise first-quarter profit on Wednesday.