Senators return to Washington, Supreme Court justices are streamed live

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: People wearing face masks arrive at the Cadorna railway station, as Italy begins a staged end to a nationwide lockdown due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Milan,
People wearing face masks arrive at the Cadorna railway station in Milan, Italy as the country begins a staged end to a nationwide coronavirus lockdown on Monday.Flavio Lo Scalzo / Reuters

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With new measures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Senators returned to Washington on Monday. Soda machines were taped off, tables were spread out and basketball-size circles painted on the ground reminded visitors how far apart six feet is. Lawmakers were scheduled to take their first vote Monday night.

At the U.S. Supreme Court, justices conducted their first-ever oral argument by conference call. The audio was streamed live — also a first — on news sites and is available on CSPAN.

A report by the Department of Homeland Security's intelligence service details China's efforts to cover up the depth of its coronavirus outbreak while stockpiling medical supplies. The details come one day after one day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said China must be held accountable for spreading the deadly virus.

More than 68,000 people have been sickened with the disease across the United States, according to an NBC News tally. New York state tops the list, with more than 25,117 deaths. More than 1 million Americans have contracted the virus.

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

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading May 5 coronavirus news.

New data suggests Americans bought roughly 4.2 million firearms in April, according to gun control group

Confronted by the coronavirus outbreak, Americans bought an estimated 4.2 million firearms in March and April, a gun control group said Monday.

The Everytown for Gun Safety group came to that conclusion after crunching the newest numbers from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and discovering that 25 percent more background checks were done in April 2020 than in April 2019.

And more guns means more danger for Americans sheltering at home during the coronavirus crisis, according to Shannon Watts of the Moms Demand Action gun control group.

“The risks are particularly high for the millions of kid in homes with unsecured guns, women sheltering in places with abusers, and anybody struggling psychologically during this crisis,” Watts said.

New Jersey schools to remain closed through the rest of the academic year, gov announces

FDA tightens rules on antibody tests after false claims, accuracy problems

WASHINGTON — U.S. regulators Monday pulled back a decision that allowed scores of coronavirus blood tests to hit the market without first providing proof that they worked.

The Food and Drug Administration said it took the action because some sellers have made false claims about the tests and their accuracy.

Read more here.

7 million face coverings will be handed out for free in NYC

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that the city will hand out 7.5 million face masks for free.

The mayor said the initiative started over the weekend to a "great response" as people spilled out of their apartments and into public spaces while temperatures soared into the 70s.

He said "people were really grateful the get them," and the city would now start distributing masks at parks, food distribution centers, public housing developments, affordable housing facilities and anywhere police and the parks department are enforcing social distancing. Five million three-ply non-medical masks and 2.5 million cloth face coverings will be handed out. 

"When you put on that face covering, you are reducing the spread of this disease, and taking one small step toward normalcy," de Blasio said. 

Amazon VP quits over firing of coronavirus whistleblowers

A vice president and engineer at Amazon said he quit on May 1 "in dismay" at the company's firing of "whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19."

Tim Bray, who announced his resignation on his personal blog, worked at Amazon for five-and-half years said the move to fire employees sounding the alarm on working conditions was "chickens---."

"At the end of the day, the big problem isn’t the specifics of Covid-19 response," Bray wrote. "It’s that Amazon treats the humans in the warehouses as fungible units of pick-and-pack potential."

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

'If they can do it, so can we'

While trains are empty, rail companies entertain on Twitter

As millions of commuters continue to stay home, Britain's rail companies are using their Twitter accounts to entertain the public with bedtime stories and cute animal photos. 

Instead of the usual updates on train delays and timetable changes, London North Eastern Railway's customer service reps are posting videos of themselves reading Thomas the Train out loud to sleepy train enthusiasts, and video updates on a mother goose who has chosen to lay her eggs in the flower bed of an almost-empty railway station in York, Yorkshire.  

Not wanting to miss out on the fun, ScotRail has been providing behind-the-scenes videos like a virtual trip through a train wash, as well as content guaranteed to please all ages: cute animal photos. "Please enjoy this picture of a very fluffy alpaca," wrote one customer service rep yesterday. "That's it. That's the Tweet."

Experts define inflammatory disorder likely linked to COVID-19 in kids

A group of experts from around the globe announced Monday a case definition for a new inflammatory disorder in children that's likely linked to COVID-19.

The group, with experts specializing in pediatric infectious disease, cardiology and intensive care management, met in a webinar on Saturday to discuss cases of what they're now calling "pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome." The syndrome appears to cause an inflammation of blood vessels, as well as a toxic shock-like response and fever. 

"This rare syndrome shares common features with other pediatric inflammatory conditions including: Kawasaki disease, staphylococcal and streptococcal toxic shock syndromes, bacterial sepsis and macrophage activation syndromes," the panel of experts wrote in its case definition.

It's unclear how many children may have this condition. A handful of cases have been reported in the New York area, as well as in the U.K. 

One German state plans to reopen restaurants to limited capacity

Lower Saxony, a state in northwest Germany, announced Monday that it will allow restaurants and cafes to reopen in a week, on May 11, but only at 50 percent capacity and for people who make reservations.

Vacation rentals and campgrounds will open, too, with reduced availability, but bars and clubs will remain closed.

The state's plan was released despite an agreement between local leaders and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that they would discuss reopening restaurants and bars later. A government spokesperson would not comment on the state’s plan.

How will colleges recover from coronavirus? Campuses that survived disasters offer clues

Before the coronavirus shut down college campuses, some had already suffered natural disasters that decreased enrollment, slowed students’ progress and deprived faculty and staff of income. 

Officials at these colleges said they can offer lessons in how institutions can respond not just to wildfires and hurricanes, but also to a pandemic. Strategies include offering additional financial and emotional support to struggling students. 

When it comes to crises that can bring a campus to a halt, said Marvin Pratt, director of environmental health and safety at California State University, Chico, which was closed for two weeks by the 2018 Camp fire, “All of us have learned that no one is immune.”

Read the full story here.