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.
- MAPS: Confirmed cases in the U.S. and worldwide, confirmed deaths in the U.S. and globally.
- Reopening America: See what states across the U.S. are starting to reopen.
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NRA cutting staff and salaries
The Associated Press
The National Rifle Association has laid off dozens of employees, canceled its national convention and scuttled fundraising, membership and shooting events that normally would be key to rallying its base in an election year.
The coronavirus pandemic has upended the gun-rights organization during what should be heady times for the group, in the middle of presidential election and with gun owners riled up over what they see as an effort by authorities to trample on their Second Amendment rights.
The NRA, which boasts about 5 million members, in recent weeks laid off or furloughed dozens of employees, imposed a four-day workweek for some employees and cut salaries across the board, including for CEO Wayne LaPierre. The financial issues, combined with the cancellation of fundraisers and the national convention, which would have surely drawn a visit from President Donald Trump, have complicated its ability to influence the 2020 election.
Cambridge police apologize for 'liberal jerk' comment
Police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, apologized on Sunday after one of their own went off on a profanity-laced social-media rant against U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III.
The department's verified Twitter feed called Kennedy "another f------ liberal jerk" in response Boston ABC affiliate WCVB's story about the congressman calling the nation's struggle to distribute personal protective equipment to healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic an "embarrassment."
The police tweet was removed and the department apologized: "Earlier this afternoon, a member of the Cambridge Police, who has access to the Department’s Twitter account, inadvertently posted political commentary on the department account rather than their personal account, that was inappropriate, unprofessional and disrespectful."
The same department, in 2009, received national attention after one of its officers arrested noted Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. as the academic was opening the door to his own house. Gates and the officer were later invited to the White House and they had a beer with then-President Barack Obama.
Earlier this afternoon, a member of the Cambridge Police, who has access to the Department’s Twitter account, inadvertently posted political commentary on the department account rather than their personal account, that was inappropriate, unprofessional and disrespectful.— Cambridge Police👮🏽 (@CambridgePolice) May 3, 2020
Seeking relief from lockdowns, people head outside across U.S.
With the weather warming across the U.S., people sought relief over the weekend after weeks of coronavirus restrictions. In some states, their governors had begun easing those rules, even as confirmed cases and deaths attributed to the virus continued to rise. In others, lockdown orders remained in place.
In Texas, the state recorded nearly 31,000 cases on Saturday, an increase of roughly 7,000 from the previous week, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Federal guidelines say that states should only ease their stay-at-home restrictions after 14 days of declining cases, but Gov. Greg Abbott began opening stores, restaurants and movie theaters at limited capacity last week. Restrictions on beaches were also lifted.
In Florida, where the number of cases rose from 30,000 on April 25 to 35,000 on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a partial reopening of the state’s economy last week. Restaurants and retail stores will be allowed to open their doors at 25 percent capacity starting Monday.
As lockdowns ease, some countries report new infection peaks
The Associated Press
ROME — From the United States to Europe to Asia, the easing of some coronavirus lockdowns brought millions out of their homes to enjoy the outdoors. Yet the global pandemic is still slicing through the defenses of other nations, causing infections and deaths to march relentlessly higher.
India on Sunday reported more than 2,600 infections, its biggest single-day jump, and new coronavirus cases in Russia exceed 10,000 for the first time. The confirmed virus death toll in Britain was creeping up near that of Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak, even though the U.K. population is younger than Italy's and Britain had more time than Italy to prepare before the pandemic hit.
There was also worrying news from Afghanistan, where nearly a third tested positive in a random test of 500 people in Kabul, the capital city.
Health experts warn that a second wave of infections could hit unless testing is expanded dramatically after lockdowns are eased. But there are enormous pressures to reopen economies, since the weeks-long shutdown of businesses around the world has plunged the global economy into its deepest slump since the 1930s and has wiped out millions of jobs.
Brazil's Bolsonaro headlines anti-democratic rally amid alarm over handling of virus
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attacked Congress and the courts in a speech to hundreds of supporters on Sunday as the number of coronavirus cases blew past 100,000 in his country, underlining the former army captain's increasing isolation as he downplays the impacts of the pandemic.
Right-wing Bolsonaro has drawn widespread criticism from across the political spectrum for dismissing the threat of the virus in Brazil, which has registered 101,147 confirmed cases and 7,025 deaths, according to the most recent data from the Health Ministry.
On Sunday, dozens of public figures signed an open letter to the Brazilian government calling on officials to protect the nation's indigenous people, who often live in remote locations with limited access to healthcare.
Bikes emerge as a post-lockdown commuter option
The Associated Press
MADRID — As countries seek to get their economies back on track after the devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, bicycle use is being encouraged as a way to avoid unsafe crowding on trains and buses.
Cycling activists from Germany to Peru are trying to use the moment to get more bike lanes, or widen existing ones, even if it's just a temporary measure to make space for commuters on two wheels.
The transition to more bike-friendly urban environments “is necessary if we want our cities to work,” said Morton Kabell, who co-chairs the European Cyclists’ Federation. “A lot of people will be afraid of going on public transportation, but we have to get back to work someday. Very few of our cities can handle more car traffic,” he said.
The benchmarks are Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, where half of the daily commuters are cyclists, and the Netherlands, with its vast network of bike lanes.
Birx says protesters not practicing social distancing are 'devastatingly worrisome'
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said Sunday that anti-lockdown protests are "devastatingly worrisome" because demonstrators who do not practice social distancing measures could contract the illness and pass it on to others back home.
"It's devastatingly worrisome to me personally, because if they go home and infect their grandmother or their grandfather who has a comorbid condition and they have a serious or a very ... unfortunate outcome, they will feel guilty for the rest of [their] lives," Birx said. "So we need to protect each other at the same time we're voicing our discontent."
Protests against coronavirus restrictions took place in at least 10 states Friday. Many of the demonstrations were sparsely attended, but others, like one in Huntington Beach, California, drew large crowds.
Photo: A special delivery in Long Island
Quarantine brings a surge of TV and movie reunions
With the entertainment industry on pause because of the coronavirus, casts from some beloved TV shows and movies are getting together (virtually) to take a look back at past work.
But why, of all times, are these actors getting back together during a global health crisis?
“I don’t have an excuse to say no because there’s nowhere else to go and nothing else to do,” joked Daniel Davis who played the endlessly-witty Niles the Butler on CBS’ hit 1990s sitcom “The Nanny.”
Despite optimism, Britain's coronavirus numbers tell a different story
To hear Prime Minister Boris Johnson tell it, his government has valiantly fought and is now conquering the coronavirus pandemic in Britain.
The country had managed to "avoid the tragedy that engulfed other parts of the world," the prime minister said as he held a Lazarus-like briefing Thursday, his first since he left the hospital after being treated for the disease himself.
The reality is that the United Kingdom now has the world's third-highest death toll from COVID-19 and is on course to be the worst-hit in Europe. Its 66 million people make up less than 0.01 percent of the world's population, but they have had more than 10 percent of recorded coronavirus deaths.
Seven Northeast states team up to buy PPE, medical supplies
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced a regional partnership that would increase seven Northeastern states' purchasing power as they work to secure adequate medical supplies and avoid price gouging.
The states — New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts — are banding together to "jointly procure PPE, tests, ventilators, and other medical equipment to increase market power and bring down prices," Cuomo told reporters during his daily news conference.
Cuomo was joined via videoconference by other Northeast governors who said this will be a win for the region.
"Sign me up, and sign New Jersey up," the state's governor, Phil Murphy, said. "This makes so much sense."
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont added, "We're much stronger together, and I wouldn't mind having some of that New York purchasing power."
Cuomo also said Sunday that COVID-19 hospitalizations have fallen below 10,000 for the first time since mid-March, and numbers are continuing to trend down, but the state is in no way "out of the woods."
Italy reaches lowest coronavirus death toll since March 10
ROME — Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 174 on Sunday, from 474 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, posting the smallest daily toll of fatalities since March 10.
The daily number of new cases also declined sharply Sunday to 1,389 from 1,900.
In recent weeks of the epidemic that emerged in Italy on Feb. 21, the daily death count has tended to fall on Sundays only to rise again the following day.
Nonetheless, the latest data still offers encouragement to the country as it prepares to gradually ease its eight-week-old lockdown — the longest in Europe — from Monday.
Italy's total death toll since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 now stands at 28,884, the Civil Protection Agency said, the second highest in the world after the United States.
Can dogs sniff out COVID-19? Researchers to study possibility
Dogs have been trained to detect a range of illnesses, from ovarian cancer to bacterial infections, and now scientists are hoping they can be used to sniff out COVID-19.
Using a process called odor imprinting, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine is aiming to train dogs to discern the differences between COVID-19 positive and COVID-19 negative patients, the school said in a news release.
Dr. Cynthia Otto of the @PennVetWDC will lead a study to see if scent detection dogs can tell the difference between #COVID19 + and - patients. Drs. Ronald Harty and Andrew Vaughan are also conducting COVID research at Penn Vet. Read about the study at https://t.co/VTK0RQfpLn pic.twitter.com/0hNbbJPlET— Penn Vet (@pennvet) April 29, 2020
"The potential impact of these dogs and their capacity to detect COVID-19 could be substantial," Dr. Cynthia Otto, a professor of Working Dog Sciences and Sports Medicine who is leading the study, said.
Over a three-week period, which researchers hope to begin as early as July, eight dogs will be exposed to COVID-19 positive saliva and urine samples in a laboratory setting. Once they become familiar with the odor, scientists will see if the dogs can distinguish between COVID-19 positive and negative samples in the laboratory setting. If the dogs are able to differentiate between the samples, researchers hope that means the dogs will be able to identify COVID-19 infected people.
VA patient COVID-19 deaths top 500, testing numbers double in past two weeks
The number of veterans receiving care at VA medical centers who have died has now passed 500, with the VA reporting a total of 513 deaths as of Friday.
Facilities in New York City had the highest number of deaths, with 115. VA facilities in New Jersey were second, with 54, and those in New Orleans were third with 35.
The number of patients who have testified positive as of Friday was 9,139, for a death rate of 5.6 percent.
VA press secretary Christina Noel said 23 VA employees working in its healthcare system have died of COVID-19 and that 2,259 VA employees working in its healthcare system have tested positive.
As of Friday, the VA had administered at least 107,178 COVID-19 tests, more than double its reported total two weeks ago.
'I don't want to die': A mother and daughter battle together
Glenda Johnson sat on her mother's hospital bed, took her hand and told her it was OK to go.
But Linda Hopkins, her face tensed against the smothering pain of coronavirus-related pneumonia, was not ready.
"I don't want to die," Linda, 83, replied, her daughter later recalled.
The two of them had a wonderful life in Detroit: They lived together, traveled together, shopped together, worshipped together, partied together. When they both fell ill in late March, they drove together to Beaumont Hospital in nearby Royal Oak, where they tested positive for COVID-19.
Then they ended up in the same room, where they battled the disease together.
Photo: Showers of thanks in India
For LGBTQ youth, home might not be a safe place to self-isolate
For Fabliha Anbar, 20, her LGBTQ identity is an important part of her social and academic life. She's out to friends, on social media and at her progressive university, where she founded the South Asian Queer and Trans Collective.
But last month, when her campus closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Anbar returned home — and back to the proverbial closet.
Since schools across the U.S. started to close in mid-March to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, LGBTQ advocates say a number of queer youth and young adults have lost crucial support systems and have been forced to self-isolate with unsupportive family members.
This decision to ask students to leave could be particularly disruptive for LGBTQ students -- who may lack family support or a home to return to.— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) March 17, 2020
LGBTQ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than their straight & cisgender peers. https://t.co/bRK24wQKYG
Vienna Airport to offer virus tests to avoid quarantine
Vienna Airport will offer onsite coronavirus testing starting Monday to enable passengers entering Austria to avoid having to be quarantined for 14 days, according to a news release Sunday.
Passengers arriving at the airport in the country's capital have been required to present a health certificate showing a negative COVID-19 result which is no older than four days, or go into quarantine. Beginning Monday, passengers can have a molecular biological COVID-19 test at the airport, and get the result in about three hours, the airport said.
The airport tests — which cost 190 euros, or $209 — can also be taken by passengers leaving Vienna to demonstrate their virus-free status at their destination. Austria has reported more than 15,000 cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday.
Pope says vaccine must be shared worldwide
Pope Francis called for international scientific cooperation to discover a vaccine for the coronavirus on Sunday and said any successful vaccine should be made available around the world.
In his address from the papal library, the pontiff encouraged international cooperation to deal with the crisis and combat the virus. "In fact, it is important to unite scientific capabilities, in a transparent and impartial way to find vaccines and treatments," he said.
Francis said it was also important to "guarantee universal access to essential technologies that allow each infected person, in every part of the world, to receive the necessary medical treatment."
World leaders pledged in April to accelerate work on tests, drugs and vaccines against COVID-19 and to share them around the globe, but the United States did not take part in the launch of the World Health Organization initiative.
As people get back to work, cities look for social-distancing solutions for the busy commute
Stay two meters (6.5ft) apart on a bus in Berlin? Or on the subway in Seoul? Likely to be challenging.
While many may choose to continue working from home, others will face no choice but to travel to work.
And with transit systems in major cities notoriously overcrowded, a nervous public may look for alternatives in which social distancing can be maintained.
Nearly half of British doctors forced to find their own PPE, survey shows
Isobel van Hagen
Almost half of doctors in the U.K. have relied upon donated or self-bought personal protective equipment and two-thirds still don’t feel fully protected from coronavirus, a new survey by the British Medical Association showed on Sunday.
More than 16,000 doctors answered the poll from the labor union which represents doctors in the U.K. It is believed to be the largest review of frontline National Health Service workers since the crisis began. As of Jan. 2020 there are a total of 125,308 doctors working for the country's National Health Service, according to its latest workforce statistics.
“On the one-hand it shows how resourceful they have been and how much support there has been from the general public in providing kit; but far more importantly, it is a damning indictment of the government’s abject failure to make sure healthcare workers across the country are being supplied with the life-saving kit they should be,” Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA council chair said as the data was released.
The U.K. government has faced continued criticism from health workers over a lack of sufficient protective gear, as well as complaints surrounding low levels of virus testing. Britain has so far reported more than 180,000 cases.
Spain reports lowest daily death toll in nearly seven weeks
Hernan Muñoz Ratto
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
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.”
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.
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
Isobel van Hagen
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.
The Associated Press
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway reports nearly $50 billion loss
The Associated Press
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.
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.
"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. https://t.co/ZRxja8x6eS— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) May 2, 2020
Here's how Americans rationed meat in 1942
As fears of meat shortages rise amid processing plant shutdowns and work slowdowns caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the differences between then and now are striking. In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered Americans to make do with less. In 2020, President Donald Trump has promised to keep the country's meat supply humming.
Trump signed an executive order this week compelling processing plants to remain open and giving them liability protections even as unions say the shutdowns are intended to save workers' lives.
Still, with a precipitous dive in meat production over the last month, as well as a drop in frozen pork storage, Americans may soon face a sliver of what an earlier generation grappled with not for months but for years.