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Number of U.S. cases reaches 1.1 million as misinformation crosses social divides

Here are the latest updates on the global pandemic.
Image: TOPSHOT-PAKISTAN-HEALTH-VIRUS
People sit maintaining social distancing as Frontier Corps (FC) personnel distribute food on a street during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown in Quetta, Pakistan on May 2, 2020.Banaras Khan / AFP - Getty Images

As the coronavirus pandemic lingers in the U.S., its social implications are just starting to emerge, but the spread of misinformation has crossed divides on social media, unexpectedly gaining traction with both white conservatives and black liberals.

Meanwhile, scientists are working to find a vaccine for the virus, which has infected more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. and killed nearly 65,000. There are 14 potential coronavirus vaccines under development in the Trump administration's program to fast-track one for use as early as January, according to senior administration officials.

But the personal toll of coronavirus might never be recouped for million of Americans. Aging grandparents are being robbed of spending precious time with their families while millions of people are forced to adjust to life without a stable income for the foreseeable future.

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

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This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading May 3 coronavirus news.

837d ago / 10:36 PM UTC

Violence erupts when ICE detainees refuse testing

Image: C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center
C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center in Dartmouth, Mass.WBTS

An altercation over coronavirus tests broke out between federal immigration detainees and officers at a detention center in Massachusetts, authorities said Saturday.

The incident Friday ended with three detainees hospitalized and $25,000 in damage to the C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center in Bristol County. Immigrant rights advocates called for an investigation.

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said Friday that 10 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees refused to go to the center's medical unit for testing even though each had symptoms.

Read the full story.

837d ago / 10:29 PM UTC

At National Mall flyover, concept of social distancing went over some heads

Image: Blue Angels Thunderbirds Flyover DC
A large crowd gathers on the National Mall to watch the Navy's Blue Angels and the Air Force's Thunderbirds conduct a flyover of Washington, D.C., to honor essential workers and health care providers who are confronting the COVID-19 pandemic on May 2, 2020.Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Some people who gathered at the National Mall in Washington on Saturday to watch a Blue Angels and Thunderbirds flyover appeared to ignore social distancing.

Social media photos of the festivities showed large crowds standing on the grass as they watched the event.

"Not wearing masks. Not social distancing," tweeted NBC News correspondent Leigh Ann Caldwell, who covered the flyover.

Read the full story.

837d ago / 9:53 PM UTC

Oklahoma mayor ends face mask rule after store employees are threatened

The mayor of an Oklahoma city amended an emergency declaration requiring customers to wear face masks while inside businesses after store employees were threatened with violence.

Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce announced the change Friday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the declaration took effect.

“In the short time beginning on May 1, 2020, that face coverings have been required for entry into stores/restaurants, store employees have been threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse," City Manager Norman McNickle said in a statement. "In addition, there has been one threat of violence using a firearm."

Joyce said in a series of tweets that he expected some pushback on requiring face masks but did not think there would be physical confrontations with employees and threatening phone calls to City Hall.

Read the full story here

837d ago / 9:47 PM UTC
837d ago / 8:07 PM UTC

Senate, House decline White House offer for rapid coronavirus testing

WASHINGTON — The Senate and the House declined the White House's offer to provide lawmakers with rapid coronavirus testing capabilities on Saturday, just two days before the Senate plans to reconvene and as the House considers coming back to Washington the following week

“Congress is grateful for the Administration’s generous offer to deploy rapid COVID-19 testing capabilities to Capitol Hill, but we respectfully decline the offer at this time," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a joint statement.

"Our country’s testing capacities are continuing to scale up nationwide and Congress wants to keep directing resources to the front-line facilities where they can do the most good the most quickly," they added. 

President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that he would offer rapid tests to Congress after the Capitol physician had initially informed senators that there were not enough tests for everyone; only lawmakers and staffers who displayed symptoms would be tested, and that they did not have the tools for rapid testing. 

837d ago / 7:21 PM UTC

Virginia photographer captures high school seniors' images at unprecedented time

A photo project in Virginia seeks to capture the images of a school's high school seniors who, like most of their counterparts across the U.S., have missed many of the usual milestone events of graduates due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

Matt Mendelsohn plans to photograph the entire senior class at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia, this year in a photo series project called "Not Forgotten: The Yorktown Seniors of 2020."

Read the full story here

837d ago / 6:42 PM UTC

New Jersey coronavirus deaths climb to 7,742 with more than 123,000 cases

The governor of New Jersey announced an additional 205 deaths from COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 7,742.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases jumped to 123,717, Phil Murphy said at a news conference on Saturday. 

Although the numbers of cases are continuing to climb, Muprhy noted that hospitalizations have dropped by more than 1,000 patients over the last week. 

"Even with the positive trends that we are seeing, we continue to lose too many of our precious brothers, sisters, residents to COVID-19," he said. 

Murphy also said Saturday that 53 hospitals in New Jersey will receive a $1.7 billion in federal aid for fighting the pandemic. 

837d ago / 6:33 PM UTC

China mocks U.S. in 'Once upon a virus' online video

China appeared released a short animated video on Saturday titled "Once upon a virus" that appeared to mock the "contradictory" U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In the video, a masked terracotta warrior representing China and a Statue of Liberty figurine talk to each other. The Chinese warrior tells the U.S., "we discovered a new virus," to which the Liberty statue shrugs, "So what?" It goes on to outline a series of time periods where China alerts the WHO and a seemingly unbothered U.S. about the coronavirus.

The move is the latest in a war of words between the two powers, each criticizing the other's handling of the outbreak that has so far killed more than 239,000 people around the globe, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

837d ago / 5:59 PM UTC

New Mexico blocks all roads into city of Gallup over 'frightful' coronavirus spread

Image: Gallup New Mexico
Signs inside the Walmart to advise shoppers that non-essential items aren't available for purchase in Gallup, N.M., on May 1, 2020.Patrick Sandoval / AP

New Mexico blocked roads into the city of Gallup, with the state's governor saying tougher measures were needed in a county where "the virus is running amok."

The state police and the New Mexico National Guard have put a stop to traffic on all roads into Gallup, which borders the Navajo Nation, where at least 44 people have died of coronavirus. The American Indian territory has the the third-highest infection rate in the country behind the states of New York and New Jersey.

The spread of this virus in McKinley County is frightful,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham upon issuing the order Friday under New Mexico's Riot Control Act. “It shows that physical distancing has not occurred and is not occurring."

"The virus is running amok there," she said. "It must be stopped, and stricter measures are necessary. A problem in one part of our state, with a virus this dangerous and this contagious, is a problem for our entire state."

Read the full story here. 

838d ago / 4:59 PM UTC
838d ago / 4:32 PM UTC

'Extraordinary' effort to disinfect NYC subways includes workers in hazmat suits

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Metropolitan Transit Authority leaders spoke in Queens on Saturday about the unprecedented decision to shut down the New York City subway system each night as an effort to disinfect trains every 24 hours.

Due to the pandemic, ridership is at its lowest in a century, Cuomo said, which gives the state an opportunity to shut down subways between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. when the fewest number of people ride in order to deep-clean each car. A team of 900 cleaners are working each night, and additional contractors are being hired to help. 

"I just viewed the operations on how they’re doing it," Cuomo said. "It’s smart, it’s labor intensive. People have to wear hazmat suits; they have a number of chemicals that disinfect. You have to go through the whole train with a misting device."

"This has never been done before, and it's an extraordinary effort," the governor said in a tweet.

Cuomo has received some criticism for the decision because homeless people at times find refuge on subway cars, but the governor said an "unprecedented" amount of funding has been directed to help the homeless population. 

“You do not help the homeless by letting them stay on a subway car and sleep on a subway car in the middle of a global pandemic," he said.

838d ago / 4:25 PM UTC

Photo: New York City hospital workers and NYPD pose with American flag

Image: Lenox Hill Hospital
Masked medical staff from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City pose holding an American flag with members of the NYPD Mounted Unit during the nightly #ClapBecauseWeCare event honoring coronavirus responders on May 1, 2020.Cindy Ord / Getty Images
838d ago / 3:44 PM UTC

Number of deaths in New York remains fairly steady

The number of coronavirus deaths in New York state remains fairly steady, with 299 on Friday compared to 289 the day before, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.

But he said 299 deaths is still an "obnoxiously and terrifyingly high" number.

The state is also seeing about 900 new coronavirus cases each day, which Cuomo said is still "unacceptably high."  

The governor said New York is attempting to collect more data via antibody testing and by asking hospitals to provide more demographic data on those who are seeking treatment, which will allow the state to specifically address the needs of communities seeing high rates of infection. 

Antibody tests are meanwhile showing an infection rate of 19.9 percent among New York City residents, and 12.3 percent statewide. Experts say it is too early to come to any strong conclusions based on antibody testing, particularly when making decisions about easing the state's lockdown. 

838d ago / 3:08 PM UTC

A curse for most, a 'blessing' for some. How unemployed Americans are getting by during pandemic

First, the coronavirus took her job, and then breast cancer threatened to take her mother. In less than a month, Naomi Jaramillo's entire world changed.

The eyebrow stylist spent February traveling from New Mexico to New York for fashion week and then visiting Washington state to help open a brow bar outside Seattle. Shortly after returning to her native Las Cruces, the 31-year-old visited her brother and her sister in Austin, Texas.

While Jaramillo was crisscrossing the Southwest, the coronavirus was shutting down states and infecting thousands of people. Businesses were being forced to close, including the brow bar where she worked. The bad news didn’t stop there. Her 57-year-old mother was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in March. “It was really hard to hear it,” she said. “My mom is my everything.”

With Jaramillo out of work, life is now divided between taking care of her mother and figuring out how to pay her own bills. She is just one of 30 million Americans who have found themselves suddenly unemployed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the full story here.

838d ago / 3:06 PM UTC

Africa surpasses 40,000 reported cases

The number of reported coronavirus cases on the continent of Africa surpassed 40,000 on Saturday, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The reported death toll is 1,689, and more than 13,000 people have recovered from COVID-19 as of Saturday.

South Africa has the continent’s highest number of coronavirus cases — 6,000, the Africa CDC report showed, followed by three North African countries, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria.

Only one African country has no reported cases as of Saturday — the small kingdom of Lesotho, which is surrounded by South Africa.

838d ago / 3:03 PM UTC

Dressing up and staying in: Coronavirus' effect on fashion is more than skin deep

Matthew von Nida lives to get dressed up. So when he turned 27 in quarantine last month, there was no question that he would get dolled up with his roommate to celebrate the big day.

“I dress up a lot in general, and it’s not particularly a new thing for this moment in quarantine. I think it’s something that brings more of a sense of normalcy,” von Nida said.

Although he knew he couldn’t leave his Brooklyn home, he dressed as if he were going out on the town. His look consisted of an olive-colored bodysuit from Alice and Olivia paired with leather pants, heels and a matching olive bandana tied neatly around his neck. On his eyes, he wore glimmering ochre eyeshadow.

Read the full story here.

838d ago / 3:01 PM UTC

Spain's death toll surpasses 25,000 as lockdown restrictions lifted

Image: Spain
People exercise in Seville, Spain on Saturday for the first time since the beginning of a national lockdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease.Cristina Quicler / AFP - Getty Images

Spain's coronavirus death toll surpassed 25,000 on Saturday after 276 people died overnight, the health ministry said. The total number of coronavirus cases rose to 216,582 on Saturday from 215,216 the day before.

Spain has had one of the worst outbreaks in the world, but appears to be past its peak and gradually easing strict lockdown restrictions.

Also on Saturday, the Spanish government allowed citizens to do outdoor exercise once a day for the first time in seven weeks. This comes after children under the age of 14 were permitted to do so last weekend. 

838d ago / 2:13 PM UTC

China's Hubei province, where virus was first detected, eases lockdown

China’s central province of Hubei, where the coronavirus was first detected, lowered its emergency response level on Saturday in the latest relaxation of lockdowns.

The level was dropped from the highest to the second-highest on Saturday at midnight, the province’s government said. Hubei is the last province to lower its provincial emergency response level, a major milestone in China’s fight against the pandemic, according to Reuters.

This comes a week after Chinese health officials said that the city of Wuhan had no remaining coronavirus cases in its hospitals after months of strict lockdown. 

838d ago / 2:05 PM UTC

Malls to reopen around the U.S. as some state lockdowns lifted

838d ago / 1:49 PM UTC

Pakistan records highest single day increase of new infections

Pakistan recorded its highest single day increase in new infections on Saturday with 1,297 new cases reported, bringing the total in the country of 220 million people to 18,114. The increase also coincides with a growing number of daily tests being carried out.

Even as the number of new cases grows in the country, pictures in local newspapers show large numbers of the faithful attending some of Pakistan’s mosques with only sporadic signs of the social distancing rules imposed by the government when it refused to shut down mosques during Ramadan — Islam’s fasting month.

Doctors in several parts of the country have pleaded for stricter lockdowns, warning an explosion of infections would overwhelm the country’s struggling health care facilities that count barely 3,000 intensive care beds countrywide.

838d ago / 1:48 PM UTC

White House says rapid tests will be available for returning Senate

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Saturday that the "5 minute Abbott Test will be used" for senators returning to Washington on Monday and encouraged the House, which canceled plans to come back to the Capitol due the coronavirus threat, to return as well. 

"There is tremendous CoronaVirus testing capacity in Washington for the Senators returning to Capital Hill on Monday. Likewise the House, which should return but isn’t because of Crazy Nancy P. The 5 minute Abbott Test will be used. Please inform Dr. Brian P. Monahan," Trump tweeted.

Monahan, the Capitol physician, had initially informed senators that there were not enough tests for everyone; only lawmakers and staffers who displayed symptoms would be tested. Monahan also told lawmakers that the Capitol did not have the tools for rapid testing. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., confirmed that more tests, including rapid tests, would be made available and pointed to a Friday night tweet from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar noting that the Senate would receive "3 Abbott point of care testing machines and 1,000 tests for their use."

838d ago / 1:00 PM UTC

South Korea reports six new cases, continuing month-long downturn

South Korea reported six new cases of the virus on Saturday, continuing a month-long streak of daily cases below 100. 

The figures brought national totals to 10,780 cases and 250 virus-related deaths, according to South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The country has largely managed to bring its epidemic under control due to an extensive testing campaign and intensive contact tracing, earning praise from the World Health Organization and other nations.

With its caseload slowing, government officials have been relaxing social distancing guidelines and shifting focus to ease the shock on the economy.

During the first three months of the year, the economy saw its worst contraction since late 2008 as the pandemic hit both domestic consumption and exports, according to the Associated Press.

838d ago / 12:32 PM UTC
838d ago / 11:54 AM UTC

China reports one new virus case, but no deaths for fifth consecutive day

China reported just one new infection and no deaths for the fifth day in a row on Saturday, marking a continued downturn in the virus outbreak in the country where the virus originated.

The country has reported a total of 82,875 confirmed cases and 4,633 deaths.

Forty-three people were released from hospitals on Friday after being declared recovered, China's National Health Commission said, raising the total recovered to 77,685. This means there are 557 people still hospitalized on the mainland.

838d ago / 11:31 AM UTC

Malaysia rounds up migrants to contain virus, U.N. warns of detention risks

Malaysian authorities are rounding up undocumented migrants as part of efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, officials said, after hundreds of migrants and refugees were detained in the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Authorities said 586 undocumented migrants were arrested during a Friday raid in a downtown area where many foreigners live. Those detained included young children and ethnic Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, rights groups said. 

Security minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob refuted criticism of the arrests on Saturday, saying that all of those detained had been screened and found to have tested negative for COVID-19. "Even though the migrants were living under lockdown, their presence here is still illegal," Ismail Sabri told reporters Saturday. Malaysia — which has reported a total of 6,176 cases as of Saturday — does not formally recognize refugees, regarding them as illegal migrants.

However, the United Nations urged Malaysia to avoid detaining migrants and release all children and their caregivers.

838d ago / 10:35 AM UTC

Oprah Winfrey and Julia Roberts among celebrities participating in virus relief livestream

The Call to Unite 24-hour livestream global relief event kicked off on Friday evening, which featured Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts, Bill Clinton and 200 other star-studded participants. The event was inspired to "invite the world to recognize our shared humanity and offer one another support" in the time of the pandemic.

Quincy Jones, Jennifer Garner, Common, Maria Shriver, Yo-Yo Ma, Eva Longoria, Naomi Campbell and Alanis Morissette are among those who have joined, or are expected to participate, in the event later today. All participants will be "give, serve and share their story," through song, poetry, dance, sermon, or a call to action.

The event will be livestreamed until Saturday at 10 p.m. ET at unite.us and on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

838d ago / 9:30 AM UTC
838d ago / 8:51 AM UTC

Singapore to ease some restrictions as it reports lowest daily rise in two weeks

and

Singapore will begin to ease measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus over the next few weeks, authorities said on Saturday, as the city-state takes the first tentative steps towards reopening its economy.

Select activities such as home-based businesses, laundry services and barbers will be allowed to operate from May 12. Some students will be allowed to go back to schools in small groups from May 19, the Ministry of Health said in a press release.

 "We are preparing for the safe and gradual resumption of economic and community activities after the end of the circuit breaker period on 1 June 2020," the statement said. 

Singapore is facing the deepest recession in its 55-year history compounded by virus restrictions called 'circuit breakers' due to last until June 1, which included the closure of most workplaces and shops.

Also on Saturday, the country confirmed 447 new infections — the smallest daily rise in two weeks — taking the total to 17,548 with 16 deaths. Most of the new cases were among migrant workers, the health ministry said. Singapore has among the highest number of infections in Asia, mainly due to outbreaks in cramped migrant-worker dormitories.

838d ago / 8:17 AM UTC

India makes government tracing app mandatory for all workers

India has mandated that all public and private sector employees use a government-backed Bluetooth tracing app and maintain social distancing in offices, as the country's capital New Delhi begins easing some of its lockdown measures in lower-risk areas.

As part of its efforts to fight the deadly virus, India last month launched the app Aarogya Setu — meaning Health Bridge — a Bluetooth and GPS-based system developed by the country’s National Informatics Centre. The app alerts users who may have come in contact with people later found to be positive for COVID-19 or deemed to be at high risk. India has reported over 37,000 cases from the virus as of Saturday.

“Use of Aarogya Setu shall be made mandatory for all employees, both private and public,” India’s Ministry of Home Affairs said in a notification late on Friday. "It will the responsibility of the heads of companies and organizations “to ensure 100 percent coverage of this app among the employees."

The app’s compulsory use is raising concerns among privacy advocates, who say it is unclear how the data will be used and who stress that India lacks privacy laws to govern the app. New Delhi has said the app will not infringe on privacy as all data is collected anonymously.

838d ago / 6:40 AM UTC

Texas park ranger shoved into water after social-distance reminder

A Texas park ranger advising revelers at a lake to practice social distancing because of the coronavirus pandemic was shoved into the water.

The ranger, identified in an Austin police report as Cassidy Zukeran Stillwell, was telling a group of parkgoers at Lake Austin to spread apart when he was pushed. Thursday's scene was captured on video and shared on social media.

Brandon James Hicks, 25, was arrested on suspicion of assault on a public servant and damaging city property, the ranger's emergency radio. Officials said he could have "caused the Ranger to strike his head on the dock as he was falling, and render himself unconscious in at least three feet of water where he could have drowned to death," according to a police report obtained by NBC affiliate KXAN.

Read the full story here

838d ago / 6:21 AM UTC

NYC nursing home reports 98 deaths linked to coronavirus

A New York City nursing home on Friday reported the deaths of 98 residents believed to have had the coronavirus — a staggering death toll that shocked public officials.

“It’s absolutely horrifying,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “It’s inestimable loss, and it’s just impossible to imagine so many people lost in one place.”

It is hard to say whether the spate of deaths at the Isabella Geriatric Center, in Manhattan, is the worst nursing home outbreak yet in the U.S., because even within the city facilities have chosen to report fatalities in different ways. A state tally of nursing home deaths released Friday listed only 13 at the home.

But officials at the 705-bed center confirmed that through Wednesday 46 residents who tested positive for COVID-19 had died as well as an additional 52 people “suspected” to have the virus. Some died at the nursing home and some died after being treated at hospitals.

The number of bodies became so overwhelming the home ordered a refrigerator truck to store them because funeral homes have been taking days to pick up the deceased.

838d ago / 6:15 AM UTC

Photo: A police officer talks to a protestor at a demonstration in Huntington Beach

Image: Protest To Reopen California Businesses, Beaches, And Parks Held In Huntington Beach
A Police officer talks to a protestor at a demonstration in Huntington Beach, California on May 1, 2020.Apu Gomes / Getty Images
838d ago / 5:35 AM UTC

107-year-old Missouri man celebrates beating COVID-19

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — A resident of a suburban St. Louis nursing home is believed to be one of the oldest people in the world to survive the coronavirus.

Rudi Heider had two reasons to celebrate on Thursday — he turned 107 and he beat COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Relatives couldn’t come into his room at Friendship Village in Chesterfield, Missouri, but gathered outside his window while Heider enjoyed a slice of his favorite dessert, lemon meringue pie.

Heider said he looks forward to being able to be with family and friends again.

Heider’s granddaughter, Janet Heider of Seattle, called her grandfather “amazing.”

“I had to tell him that he’s lived through the Spanish Flu, two World Wars, a stroke at 100 years old, and a fractured vertebra at 104 years old that he would not to lose to COVID-19, and he ended up beating it,” she said.

838d ago / 5:08 AM UTC
838d ago / 4:52 AM UTC

New Mexico governor seals off roads to help control virus

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The governor of New Mexico invoked the state’s Riot Control Act on Friday as she sealed off all roads to nonessential traffic in the city of Gallup to help control a surging coronavirus outbreak in the former trading post city on the outskirts of the Navajo Nation.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also announced a ban on routine outings and required that businesses close from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. in the city of about 70,000 people.

COVID-19 infection rates in Gallup and surrounding McKinley County make it one of the worst U.S. hotspots for the pandemic as patients overwhelm intensive care facilities.

Lujan Grisham said the virus has run amok in McKinley County and physical distancing is not being maintained among residents.

“A problem in one part of our state, with a virus this contagious, is a problem for our entire state,” she said.