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:

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

This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading May 6 coronavirus news.

Doctor sews clear masks to help hearing-impaired patients

As face masks become a part of everyday life amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a North Carolina doctor is sewing and distributing clear masks to help her hearing-impaired patients.

Dr. Sheri Mello, an audiologist at the Raleigh Hearing and Tinnitus Center, told NBC affiliate WRAL that traditional face masks made treatments with her hearing-impaired clients very difficult as the mask muffles her voice and blocks lip reading. 

“The traffic noise was getting to be a bit much,” Mello told WRAL. “We went out to service our clients who had hearing aids that weren't working, but when we came up to them with the covered masks, they had difficulty hearing us.”

Wanting to help her patients and also keep everyone safe, Mello began researching sewing patterns for clear masks. With the help of clients and other volunteers, she has been able to produce and distribute clear face masks to anyone in need, free of charge. 

"If you don't have hearing loss, it's very difficult to relate to, so you don't realize the struggles sometimes that somebody might have in understanding what you're saying,” a hearing-impaired client Doug Dieter told WRAL. “I think it's a great way to help a lot of people out.”

Obama to deliver commencement address for 2020 high school graduates

Former President Barack Obama will deliver a commencement message for high school seniors during a televised event, “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020.”

Obama is expected to address how the coronavirus pandemic has forced students across the country to adjust to online classroom learning and miss out on critical rites of passage like graduation. 

The commencement special is hosted by XQ Institute, The LeBron James Family Foundation, and The Entertainment Industry Foundation and will feature special guests, including LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, and the Jonas Brothers.

It will simultaneously air on NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX at 8 p.m. ET on May 16, along with more than 20 other broadcast and digital streaming partners.

The future of dining out?

Lillian Suwanrumpha / AFP - Getty Images
Patrons eat in between plastic partitions set up to contain the spread of COVID-19 at the Penguin Eat Shabu hotpot restaurant in Bangkok on Tuesday.Lillian Suwanrumpha / AFP - Getty Images

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."

Read the full story here.

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.

Read the full story here.

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.”

Designer Egle Ona Ziemyte.Go Vilnius

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.