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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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

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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.

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As lockdowns ease, some countries report new infection peaks

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

The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro is lit up as if wearing a protective mask amid the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday. The message "Mask saves" is written in Portuguese.Leo Correa / AP

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

A mother and her child wait to collect their lunch in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on Saturday, May 2. Countries across the world seek to get their economies back on track after COVID-19 coronavirus lockdowns are over, some people are encouraging the use of bicycles as a way to avoid unsafe crowding on trains and buses.Peter Dejong / AP

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.

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Photo: A special delivery in Long Island

Golden retrievers Buddy and Barley deliver beer to Lisa Fascilla and her children in Huntington Village, N.Y., on Sunday. The two dogs were trained to deliver beer by owners Mark and Karen Heuwetter, who own the Six Harbors Brewery, to help practice social distancing.Al Bello / Getty Images