U.S. deaths top 66,000 as pandemic takes its toll on ordinary Americans

Here are the latest updates on the global pandemic.
Image: California's Huntington Beach pier is closed on May 2, 2020. Orange County beaches will remain closed after a judge rejected bids by Dana Point and Huntington Beach officials to lift Governor Gavin Newsom's temporary closure to curb the spread of c
California's Huntington Beach pier is closed to visitors on Saturday. Orange County beaches will remain closed after a judge rejected bids by Dana Point and Huntington Beach officials to lift Governor Gavin Newsom's temporary closure to curb the spread of coronavirus.Apu Gomes / AFP - Getty Images

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As the U.S. death toll tops 66,000, the strain the coronavirus pandemic is placing on ordinary Americans has started to emerge. 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.

As the number of confirmed U.S. cases hit 1.1 million, stores, restaurants and movie theaters began to reopen in Texas, despite a rise in cases, while in New York police dispatched 1,000 officers this weekend to enforce social distancing and a ban on congregating in public spaces. Beaches were also closed in California.

Meanwhile, as scientists work to find a vaccine for the virus, British scientists said Sunday that the potential vaccine they're developing could yield evidence to its efficacy by June.

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

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Spain reports lowest daily death toll in nearly seven weeks

Spain has reported its lowest number of deaths in almost seven weeks, with 164 recorded on Sunday by the country's Health Ministry. While it was the lowest single-day increase since March 18, it nonetheless brought the total number to 25,264. 

The ministry also reported 838 new cases on Sunday, marking the first time the daily figure has dipped below 1,000. Spain has a total of 217,466 cases, the highest number in Europe and second only in the world to the United States.

“Experts say a vaccine for coronavirus could be available by the end of the year. We know that towards the end of 2020, we’ll have a very low transmission rate. But we could have a COVID-19 resurgence in October,” Fernando Simon, the head of Spain's Emergency Coordination Centre, said in a press briefing Sunday.

The declining death rate is an encouraging sign for Spain, which on Saturday took a large step towards loosening its lockdown by allowing adults to exercise outdoors for the first time in seven weeks.

U.K.'s Boris Johnson says doctors prepared to announce his death as he fought COVID-19

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson displaying his Get Well Soon cards sent in by children while he was ill with COVID-19, at his office in central London last Tuesday.Andrew Parsons / AFP - Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed that doctors prepared to announce his death as he battled coronavirus, ending up in intensive care, last month.

Johnson said that he was given “litres and litres of oxygen” to keep him alive as he recounted his life-or-death experience with the virus.

“It was a tough old moment, I won’t deny it,” the prime minister, who only days ago announced the birth of his son with partner Carrie Symonds, said in an emotional interview to Britain’s The Sun on Sunday newspaper. “They had a strategy.”

Read the whole story here.

Travel in China surges as residents flock to tourist sites during 5-day holiday

Chinese people are flocking to tourist sites — many of which have recently reopened — during a five-day holiday that runs through Tuesday. 

Nearly 1.7 million people visited Beijing parks on the first two days of the holiday that began on May 1, and Shanghai’s main tourist spots welcomed more than a million visitors, according to Chinese media reports.

The surge comes after a relaxation of domestic travel restrictions as the outbreak slows in mainland China and the government tries to reboot the economy. The country reported just two new cases as of Sunday and no new deaths. The number of confirmed cases stands at 82,877. Most of the patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals.

The number of people traveling and visiting sites remains lower than an average year. Many sites are requiring advance reservations and limiting the number of daily visitors to 30 percent of capacity or less. Popular destinations such as the Forbidden City, the ancient imperial palace in Beijing, are sold out.

Visitors wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus walk through the Forbidden City in Beijing on Friday.Mark Schiefelbein / AP

South Korea reports no new deaths as social distancing rules to be relaxed

South Korea reported no new deaths for the first time since February on Sunday.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the death toll remained at 250. It also reported just 13 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total 10,793. In total, 9,183 of those cases have recovered, the KCDC said. 

As infections continue to wane, South Korea will further relax social distancing rules starting on May 6, allowing a phased reopening of businesses, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun confirmed Sunday.

The government "will allow businesses to resume at facilities in phases that had remained closed up until now, and also allow gatherings and events to take place assuming they follow disinfection guidelines," he told a televised meeting of government officials.

Indian Air Force showers flower petals to thank health workers

The Indian Air Force showered flower petals on hospitals across different cities including the national capital of New Delhi in a series of flypasts on Sunday, as part of the Armed Forces’ efforts to thank doctors, nurses and police who have been at the forefront of the country’s battle against the pandemic.

Almost 40,000 cases have been recorded in the the country of 1.3 billion as it enters the 40th day of a nationwide lockdown to contain the virus. The country’s official death toll has reached 1,301.

The almost six-week lockdown, which was scheduled to end Monday, has been extended another two weeks with a few relaxations. The lockdown has slowed the spread of the virus, but has come at the enormous cost of upending lives and millions of lost jobs across the country.

Russia reports record daily rise of more than 10,000 cases

Russia recorded 10,633 new cases on Sunday — its highest ever daily rise in confirmed virus infections —bringing the total to 134,686, according to government authorities. This topped Saturday's record daily rise of 9,623.

More than half of the new cases were reported in the country's capital, Moscow. The mortality rate has slowed in recent days, however, and the country has so far recorded far fewer deaths than many of the most hard-hit countries. The nationwide death toll rose by 58 to 1,280 on Sunday. 

It comes after Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said he tested positive for virus last week.

Eurostar train passengers could be refused services if they do not wear face masks

Passengers traveling on the Eurostar train could be refused service unless they wear face masks, the company said in a statement Saturday.  

The high-speed train international rail service is operating at significantly reduced times between London, Paris and Brussels, with only four trains per day because of the pandemic. 

In line with rules from the French and Belgian governments, the company said passengers would be required to wear “a face mask or face covering” that “effectively covers your nose and mouth. If passengers don’t wear masks, they may be refused service or fined in their destination countries.

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway reports nearly $50 billion loss

OMAHA, Neb. — Warren Buffett’s company reported a nearly $50 billion loss on Saturday because of a huge drop in the paper value of its investments, though it is still sitting on a big pile of cash.

The biggest factor in the loss was a $54.5 billion loss on the value of Berkshire's investment portfolio as the stock market declined sharply after the coronavirus outbreak began. The year before, Berkshire's investments added $15.5 billion to the company's profits.

Read the full story.

Woman holds sign with Nazi slogan at reopen rally in Chicago

An unidentified woman at a reopen Chicago rally held a sign emblazoned with an infamous Nazi slogan linked to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

Dennis Kosuth, a 43-year-old registered nurse in Chicago, snapped a photo of the disturbing sign Friday and said the woman and her companions confronted him.

“They were not respecting our space," he said. "They would come up to us and get in our faces." 

The sign read "Arbeit macht frei," which translates to "work sets you free." It appeared over the gates of Auschwitz and other concentration camps where millions of people were killed by the Third Reich. 

"'Arbeit macht frei' was a false, cynical illusion the SS gave to prisoners of #Auschwitz. Those words became one of the icons of human hatred. It's painful to see this symbol instrumentalized & used again to spread hate. It's a symptom of moral & intellectual degeneration," the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum tweeted.