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.
- 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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Photo: Churches open in Munich
Worshippers attend an evening Mass at Munich's Frauenkirche on Monday, the first day churches and other houses of worship were allowed to hold services again in Bavaria. Nationwide state and local governments are easing lockdown measures in a careful attempt to bring normalcy back to public life in Germany.
Kroger to offer free COVID-19 testing to workers
Grocery giant Kroger will begin offering COVID-19 testing to workers, according to a release issued this morning.
The company will also provide testing to associates based on symptoms and medical need. It already hosts public drive-thru testing sites in 12 states.
“At Kroger, the safety and health of our associates and customers remains our top priority during this unprecedented time,” said Tim Massa, Kroger’s senior vice president and chief people officer, in a statement released to NBC News. “Our associates have worked tirelessly to provide communities continued access to fresh, affordable food. We are dedicated to providing support and gratitude to our associates across the country.”
Kroger will be distributing tests to workers across its family of brands, including Ralphs, Food 4 Less, and Dillon’s, among others.
Members of UFCW Local 770 in the Los Angeles area have been protesting at Ralphs and Food 4 Less locations for over a week. Members have been calling for testing, more cleaning, and response protocol following a COVID-19 positive test in stores.
“That UFCW members successfully compelled Kroger to provide testing is a significant victory for the public’s health,”said John Grant, president of UFCW Local 770, in a release. “Grocery corporations like Kroger have been doubling and tripling their profits while other businesses are shuttering, yet they have been slow to implement safety measures and share profits with essential workers on the frontline.”
Fact check: Trump falsely claims U.S. is testing more than every other country 'combined'
President Donald Trump boasted again about coronavirus testing, tweeting Monday that the U.S. has "performed 6.5 million tests, which is more than every country in the world, combined!”
This is not true.
America has performed the most tests — as a large country with an ongoing pandemic — of any country, but the U.S. has not tested more people than the rest of the world combined.
According to one global data compilation, the U.S. has tested more people than Trump says — 6.8 million tests. But according to the same tracker, Russia has performed 4.1 million tests, Italy has done 2.1 million tests and Canada has conduced another 862,000. That’s more than 7 million tests in just three countries. More than 200 other countries are also fighting this pandemic, as well.
Top FEMA official announces he's departing the office in July
William Roy, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Response Operations Division, is departing his position at the end of July, a senior administration official told NBC News.
Roy, a retired Army major general, has served as director of the division since July 2017. As part of that role, Roy oversees multiple departments, including the FEMA Operations Center and the National Response Coordination Center.
Roy has been deeply involved in the coronavirus response effort and is a member of the interagency leadership group that works with the White House and its task forces.
FEMA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.
Pro baseball from Korea headed to American TV
ESPN announced Monday it struck a deal with South Korean baseball officials, and plans to televise six games per week to sports-starved American viewers.
The pact, made with the Korean Baseball Organization's (KBO) international rights holder Eclat Media Group, calls one game to air each day, Tuesday through Sunday, on an ESPN channel and its digital platform.
The first game, to be played in an empty stadium, will feature the Samsung Lions and NC Dinos. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. in Korea and 1 a.m. ET on Tuesday.
Virtually all sports around the world have been put on hold, due to the coronavirus pandemic. South Korea and Taiwan have been widely praised for their aggressive fight against the pandemic — and now both have professional baseball up and running.
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.
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.