White House to wind down task force

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: How Royal Papworth Hospital Adapted To Battle A Pandemic
Clinical staff wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as they care for a patient at the Intensive Care unit at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, England on May 5, 2020.Neil Hall / Pool via Getty Images

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President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force is in the early stages of winding down, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Drs. Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci are still expected to be at the White House on a daily basis, but other members of the task force may be less physically present.

Speculation about the task force's ongoing presence emerged as Trump was traveling outside the D.C. area for the first time in more than a month to visit a Honeywell mask manufacturing facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

The U.S. coronavirus death toll passed 70,000 Tuesday, with at least 70,972 deaths linked to the illness across the country, according to an NBC News count of reports. Globally, there have been more than 257,000 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, businesses in several states including Florida and California, have reopened their doors, hopeful to bring back customers while managing expectations and safety. But fears continue to mount about America's food supply chain. At a Tyson meat factory in Iowa, 58 percent of workers tested positive for COVID-19.

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

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Australian PM says origin of coronavirus most likely a wildlife wet market

The coronavirus most likely originated in a wildlife wet market in China, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Tuesday at a press conference.

Morrison said while they "can’t rule out" alternative causes, an independent review into the causes of the virus is needed. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday on ABC that "there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan." But he declined to detail the evidence.

Australia has been pushing for a review into the causes of the virus for weeks, and Morrison said that he had written to G-20 leaders to advocate for a review so that the "world can learn lessons" from the coronavirus.

WHO encourages countries to check records for early COVID-19 cases

The World Health Organization encouraged countries to check records for cases of COVID-19 in late 2019, saying this would give the world a "new and clearer picture" of the outbreak.

The comments by WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier came after a French hospital retested old samples from pneumonia patients and discovered that it treated a man who had COVID-19 on Dec. 27, nearly a month before the French government confirmed its first cases.

"It's also possible there are more early cases to be found," Lindmeier told the U.N. briefing in Geneva, saying it was "not surprising" that the report had emerged from France.

U.K.'s death toll could be highest in Europe, new figures suggest

The United Kingdom could have the highest death toll related to the coronavirus outbreak of any European nation, according to data published Tuesday.

The Office for National Statistics, which is independent and releases figures separately to the U.K. government, said there had been 29,648 deaths related to COVID-19 in England and Wales in the week to April 24 — compared to the official figure for the same period of 21,399.

When figures are included for Scotland and Northern Ireland, the total provisional figure rises to 32,313 — higher than that of Italy, so far the worst affected country in Europe, which had reported 29,079 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Read the full story.

Robots to stand in for students at virtual graduation ceremony

The Thunderbird School of Global Management will use remote controlled robots to allow students to walk into their graduation ceremony, seen here in a practice run.Thunderbird School of Global Management

As graduation season approaches, students around the world face missing the opportunity to attend ceremonies that celebrate years of hard work. However, the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University has come up with an innovative solution to allow graduates to virtually walk during a public ceremony with the dean on May 11.

The school, located in Glendale, Arizona, is using mobile robots to stand in students' places. The remote controlled machines then use tablets to provide live audio and video to allow the students to not only see and hear the ceremony remotely, but walk in too. 

"We are awed by the flexibility and resilience this year's graduates have shown as our university community adapted to the realities of COVID-19," a Thunderbird spokesperson said. "The virtual commencement is our way of honoring them and their accomplishments."

Russia now second-fastest growing outbreak in the world

For three days in a row, Russia has reported over 10,000 new cases of the coronavirus — making it the world's second-fastest growing outbreak behind the U.S.

However, compared to the U.S., Russia's total case number is relatively low, with 155,370 cases reported since the start of the outbreak. So, too, are Russia's officially confirmed fatalities, which stand at just 1,451. Russia is experiencing the world's seventh-largest outbreak as measured by raw confirmed case numbers. If current dynamics hold, it will likely overtake France and Germany this week to enter the top five.

Last week, President Vladimir Putin extended a nationwide stay at home order from April 30 to May 11, as officials predicted the peak of the outbreak could arrive by May 12.

Empty stadium marks baseball opening day in South Korea

The Korean Baseball Organization League played its opening game between SK Wyverns and Hanwha Eagles in an empty ballpark in Incheon, South Korea on Tuesday after the season got off to a delayed start.Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images file

Spanish soccer league to begin training this week

The Spanish soccer league, La Liga, will begin training this week, with the objective to restart matches in June.

Players will have to go through a medical exam by the club prior to training, and they will initially train on their own before group practices are reintroduced. The health minister approved the decision to restart training, and guidelines for how to train safely were drawn up and approved by medical professionals, the organization said in a statement.

Soccer teams in Spain have not been able to train in nearly two months since the country’s lockdown was initially put in place. The president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, said that the aim is to finish the 2019-2020 season this year.

Miami Beach park closed after nearly 7,500 warned about masks

A popular park in Miami Beach was closed Monday after authorities issued thousands of warnings over the weekend to people who weren’t following coronavirus prevention rules, authorities said.

The city of Miami Beach tweeted that South Pointe Park was closed until further notice. Between Friday and Sunday, park rangers gave 7,329 verbal warnings to people in the city, most of them at the park, according to the city.

“Friendly reminder that you MUST wear a face cover when enjoying any one of our” parks, the city tweeted.

Florida’s statewide stay-at-home order expired Thursday, and many businesses, beaches and parks have reopened with social distancing and other rules in place.

Read the full story here

Mississippi relaxes some orders days after governor delayed idea

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on Monday said he is allowing in-room and outdoor dining at restaurants and relaxing rules about outside gatherings put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus illness COVID-19.

The announcement comes days after Reeves said he was delaying further steps after the state saw its highest single-day reporting of cases and deaths, although at the time he noted some of the newly reported deaths happened previously but were newly classified as related to the disease.

Outdoor and in-room dining will be allowed at restaurants, with restrictions like social distancing and 50 percent capacity. Outdoor gatherings of up to 20 people will be allowed.

"It is not a dive into the deep end," the governor said.

The state health department on Monday reported 327 new cases and seven deaths. On Friday when the state saw its highest single-day reported increase there were 397 new cases and 20 deaths, which included 11 people who had previously died.