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.
- 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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Michigan Gov. Whitmer: Protestors 'carried nooses and Confederate flags and swastikas'
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Tuesday that the protestors who demonstrated at the state Capitol building last week “carried nooses and Confederate flags and swastikas.”
“Unfortunately, right now in Michigan, we see a small number of people ... it looks large on television, but when you think about this is a state of 10 million people, this is a small contingent that came out and made political statements. They carried nooses and Confederate flags and swastikas,” she said in an interview on NBC’s "TODAY" show when asked why some of the protestors weren’t arrested.
Everyone is focused on the fact that some of the protestors were carrying firearms, she said, adding, "The fact of the matter is, that kind of rhetoric, that kind of ugly political rallying is only making it harder for us to re-engage, which is the sad irony, is that demonstrations like that create the need to continue this aggressive stance that we've had to take to save lives."
Another 1,700 coronavirus deaths reported in NY nursing homes
New York state is reporting more than 1,700 previously undisclosed deaths at nursing homes and adult care facilities as the state faces scrutiny over how it has protected vulnerable residents during the coronavirus pandemic.
At least 4,813 people have died from COVID-19 in the state’s nursing homes since March 1, according to a tally released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration late Monday that, for the first time, includes people believed to have been killed by the coronavirus before their diagnoses could be confirmed by a lab test.
Exactly how many nursing home residents have died remains uncertain despite the state’s latest disclosure, as the list doesn’t include nursing home residents who were transferred to hospitals before dying.
The revised list shows that 22 nursing homes, largely in New York City and Long Island, have reported at least 40 deaths. Parker Jewish Institute in Queens and Isabella Geriatric Center — one of New York City’s largest nursing homes with 705 beds — have reported the highest number of deaths: 71 and 64, respectively.
Video shows man who was told to wear mask wiping nose on Dollar Tree employee's shirt
Police in Michigan have arrested a man they said used a Dollar Tree employee's shirt to wipe his nose after being advised that he had to wear a mask in the store.
The man entered a Dollar Tree store in Holly, about 55 miles northwest of Detroit, at approximately 1:30 p.m. Saturday, police said.
The employee told the man that customers must wear a mask to enter the store to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, a rule posted on signs on the entry doors, according to police.
The man walked over to the employee and wiped his nose and face on her shirt, saying: "Here, I will use this as a mask," police said.
NYC mayor rips Trump for 'stabbing his hometown in the back'
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday railed against President Donald Trump for saying it would be unfair to Republicans if Congress passes coronavirus bailouts for states because he said the states that would benefit from that funding are run by Democrats.
"The president is playing politics while people are suffering," de Blasio said.
“Who cares who runs the states? The people need help! There are American that need help right now," the mayor said. "Do you not care about that firefighter, that EMT, that paramedic, that police officer, that health care worker because they live in a state run by a democrat, or a city run by a democrat? Does that make them less American in your view Mr. President?"
De Blasio said Trump "seems to enjoy stabbing his hometown in the back," and added that it was hypocritical that the president is against bailouts "given how much money he’s put in the hands of the corporations and the wealthy."
Trump said in his interview with the New York Post Monday that "Florida is doing phenomenal, Texas is doing phenomenal, the Midwest is, you know, fantastic." But de Blasio on Tuesday held up a letter signed by 111 Democrat and Republican Texas mayors asking for more federal coronavirus aid.
Face mask fashion exhibit kicks off in Lithuania
Lithuania opened an outdoor face mask fashion week Tuesday. People in Vilnius, the country’s capitol, can walk, bike or drive to see the 21 face mask designs.
“People were walking around and laughing,” said co-organizer and designer Julija Janus of opening day. “People are really longing for some cultural events and something more than just talking about COVID-19.”
The open-air experience was inspired by a Facebook group Mask Your Fashion that Janus created inviting “people to get their creativity out.” Instead of in-person models, the masks are on display in high resolution images around the city to ensure residents can enjoy the fashion and follow social distancing guidelines, Janus said. Even the mayor agreed to model a mask.
The exhibit is up until May 10. The city website reminds residents to wear their own masks and stay socially distant while enjoying the fashion.
Elite hackers are trying to steal COVID-19 research, U.S. and U.K. warn
Hackers affiliated with foreign governments are currently engaged in widespread campaigns to steal American and U.K. medical research related to COVID-19, those countries' governments announced Tuesday.
The two countries "are currently investigating a number of incidents in which threat actors are targeting pharmaceutical companies, medical research organizations and universities," according to a U.S. alert.
The U.K.'s counterpart noted that: "The pandemic has likely raised additional requirements for APT actors to gather information related to COVID-19," referring to the term Advanced Persistent Threat, a designation given to skilled and devoted hacker groups aligned with particular government intelligence agencies. "For example, actors may seek to obtain intelligence on national and international healthcare policy or acquire sensitive data on COVID-19 related research."
The alerts don't specify any countries as the culprit in their alerts. The U.S. Justice Department has previously charged hackers working for Chinese and Iranian intelligence for allegedly stealing sensitive research.
Play ball! South Korea's season gets underway behind closed doors
The group representing global airlines came out against leaving middle seats empty on aircraft on Tuesday, as debate intensifies over how to get airlines flying while respecting social-distancing rules in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Brian Pearce, chief economist at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said most airlines would have been unable to make money last year if a third of the seats had been removed on the industry’s most-flown models.
In April, IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac said leaving the middle seat empty was among the likely conditions for a resumption of air travel to be discussed with governments around the world.
Singapore sees rising number of cases, majority in foreign workers
Singapore reported 573 new coronavirus cases Monday, of which 560 were foreign workers living in dormitories, its health ministry said. Only eight cases were found in foreign workers living elsewhere.
Last Friday, 932 new cases were recorded, with 905 coming from foreign workers living in dormitories and only 16 cases in foreign workers living elsewhere.
At 18,778 infections, the city-state has among the highest caseloads in Asia, because of mass outbreaks in migrant-worker dormitories.
U.K. trials coronavirus tracking app on island off England's south coast
Epidemiologist believes coronavirus may have been in Sweden as early as November
Sweden’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said he believes it is likely that there were cases of coronavirus in the country as far back as November.
In an interview with Swedish news agency TT, Tegnell said "it would not be strange" to see cases of travelers from the Wuhan area in Sweden who were carrying the virus in November or December.
This comes after reports that a man with pneumonia in Paris had the coronavirus on Dec. 27, four days before the first case was confirmed in Wuhan. Testing and tracing those who may have had the virus in 2019 would not be relevant at the moment, according to Tegnell, who said that would be an unnecessary burden on Sweden’s health care system.
'The new normal': Ex-FDA chief warns U.S. may not be able to lower coronavirus infection rate
As states begin to reopen their economies, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned Tuesday that the U.S. might not be able to lower transmission of the coronavirus much more than the current rate, which has resulted in about 30,000 new cases a day.
“I think that we need to understand this may be the new normal," Gottlieb said in an interview with Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s “TODAY” show. "We may not be able to get transmission down much more. I hope we can.”
"The most likely scenario is that cases go up, not down," Gottlieb added. "And so we need to think about what it looks like in the country if we have transmission of this virus and we try to get back to some sense of normalcy.”
Gottlieb's comments come after a new Trump administration report obtained by The New York Times projected that deaths from the coronavirus could reach 3,000 a day on June 1. The document said that the administration’s forecast could reach 200,000 new COVID-19 cases a day by the end of the month.
Irish donations flood in to help Native Americans hit by coronavirus
Donations from Ireland have flowed in to a GoFundMe fundraiser to support the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation communities hit hard by coronavirus.
Grateful donors in Ireland wrote on the site that it was "their turn" to repay the kindness Native Americans showed Ireland during the Great Famine in the 1840s, when members of the Choctaw Nation donated $170 to Irish famine relief. The fundraiser has raised over a million dollars already, with thousands coming from Ireland bearing messages of thanks and hope.
"Once upon a time you helped us as much as you could with what little you had. An island far away and apparently unrelated. Now it's our turn. Thank you," wrote donor Carol Conway from Cork, Ireland. Organizers of the GoFundMe thanked Ireland for the "solidarity" and recognized the "acts of kindness from indigenous ancestors passed being reciprocated nearly 200 years later."
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.
Robots to stand in for students at virtual graduation ceremony
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
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.
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.
South Korea readying for second wave by setting up 1,000 clinics
South Korea's government will set up 1,000 clinics to treat potential coronavirus patients in the coming months in preparation for a possible second wave of COVID-19 this fall and winter, the vice health minister said.
"Clinics dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients will open so that we can detect and treat the patients early on," Kim Gang-lip, the vice health minister in charge of the government response to the COVID-19 crisis, said in a briefing. "Five hundred clinics using the public healthcare centers will open first, then private clinics will join them.”
There have been more than 10,800 confirmed cases in the country with 252 deaths, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. More than 9,200 of people with confirmed cases have been discharged from isolation.
South Korea on Monday announced plans to reopen schools starting next week, the Yonhap news agency reported. The education minister warned that the school reopening should not be considered as "the end of the coronavirus," and that teachers, parents and students should closely follow guidelines.