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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58 percent of workers at Tyson meat factory in Iowa test positive for coronavirus
More than 700 employees at a Tyson Foods meat factory in Perry, Iowa, have tested positive for coronavirus as the nation braces for a possible meat shortage due to the pandemic.
An Iowa Department of Public Health report released Tuesday showed that 58 percent of the factory’s workforce had tested positive for the virus, according to NBC affiliate WHO. The news comes just days after nearly 900 workers were confirmed to have the virus at a Tyson Foods plant in Indiana.
Tyson Foods said in a statement that the pandemic has forced the company to slow production and close plants in Dakota City, Nebraska, and Pasco, Washington, and the Perry plant as well.
"We have and expect to continue to face slowdowns and temporary idling of production facilities from team member shortages or choices we make to ensure operational safety," the statement said.
Coronavirus pandemic strains LGBTQ health clinics
Lyon-Martin Health Services in San Francisco has served the health needs of lesbians, transgender women and other underserved women in the Bay Area since 1979. Named after pioneering lesbian activists Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, the clinic had until recently been seeing 3,000 patients a year for such needs as physical exams, gynecologic services and consultations for gender-affirming surgeries.
Now, however, it is fighting to keep its doors open amid the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to emergency funding from the city and private donors, it will be able to operate until July 1 without deep cuts to its services — which now include screening for COVID-19 — but its future is uncertain after that.
“The city needs to see how long COVID is going to play out,” J.M. Jaffe, the transgender health manager at Lyon-Martin, told NBC News. “They wanted to do a short-term contract so that we could re-evaluate what the situation will be in two months. I think they were just wary to make a commitment to continue to support us, but we did get kind of like a wink and a nod that they would like to support us to the end of the calendar year.”
Lyon-Martin Health Services is one of over 200 LGBTQ health clinics across the United States that provide affirming and competent care to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer patients. And like Lyon-Martin, a number of these centers are struggling to adjust to — and in some cases survive — the new normal spawned by the global pandemic.
Cybercriminals seeking to exploit COVID-19, U.K. foreign secretary says
Cybercriminals, often linked with other state actors, are seeking to exploit COVID-19 with tactics such as fraud and espionage, the U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Tuesday.
Teams from the U.K. National Cyber Security Centre and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency have identified campaigns targeting health care bodies, pharmaceutical companies, research organizations and various different arms of local government, he said.
“There are various objectives and motivations that lie behind these attacks from fraud on the one hand to espionage, but they tend to be designed to steal bulk personal data, intellectual property and wider information that supports those aims, and they’re often linked with other state actors,” Raab said during Britain’s daily coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.
Raab warned that he expected this “predatory criminal behavior” to continue to evolve over the weeks and months ahead and added that the government would share advice to help citizens and businesses defend themselves against cyberattacks from “hostile states” to “criminal gangs.”
Beyoncé's BeyGood foundation, Tina Knowles to provide free coronavirus testing in Houston
Beyoncé’s BeyGood foundation is teaming up with the singer's mother, Tina Knowles Lawson, to provide free mobile testing to their home city of Houston.
The initiative will kick off on Friday and continue Saturday with 1,000 available test kits.
"The virus is wreaking havoc on the Black community so we need a movement to prioritize our health," Knowles Lawson said in a statement. "We are all in this together. But we have to look at what is happening in our Black and Brown communities and how they are being decimated by COVID-19."
BeyGood and Knowles Lawson will provide face masks, gloves, essential vitamins and household supplies, according to a press release. Participants will also receive a grocery gift card, a hot meal voucher for two local restaurants and information on how to stay safe during the pandemic. Medical staff administering the tests will also get the meal voucher.
Actor and producer Tyler Perry will be hosting a similar initiative in Atlanta.
Norwegian Cruise Line says it may not survive the coronavirus
Norwegian Cruise Line warned investors Tuesday that the economic impact of the coronavirus "raised substantial doubt" about the company's ability to continue operations.
The troubled company, which halted all sailings in mid-March as part of an industrywide shutdown, secured a $400 million investment, but said it does not have sufficient liquidity to meet its obligations over the next 12 months without additional financing.
“Even after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, we could still experience long-term impacts on our operating costs as a result of attempts to counteract future outbreaks of COVID-19 or other viruses,” the company said.
Latino small business owners work to keep businesses running during coronavirus
When the coronavirus hit, small business owners were forced to navigate new territory and make difficult decisions—fully moving operations online, reducing staff or quickly creating new revenue streams. Latino entrepreneurs are among the majority of small business owners directly impacted by the economic fallout from COVID-19.
According to a survey conducted online in late March by the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, 86 percent of Latino small business owners reported significant negative impact on their businesses by the pandemic. Nearly two-thirds said they will not be able to continue operating beyond six months if current conditions continue.
Many small businesses owners are still waiting for government relief in the form of Payroll Protection Program loans, after funding from the initial $349 billion authorization ran out and a second small business loan program was rolled out this week, but immediately ran into technical issues. In all, the federal government has authorized over $650 billion in loans for small businesses.
Trump says he doesn't want Fauci testifying in front of House 'Trump haters'
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he doesn’t want to let Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of his top advisers on the coronavirus crisis, testify in the House because he said its members are "a bunch of Trump haters."
"The House is a setup, the House is a bunch of Trump haters. They put every Trump hater on the committee, the same old stuff. They frankly want our situation to be unsuccessful which means death, which means death. And our situation's going to be very successful," Trump told reporters outside the White House as he departed for Arizona.
The White House is blocking Fauci from testifying before the House on May 6 about the administration's coronavirus response. White House spokesman Judd Deere last week called the timing of the hearing "inappropriate" and said it would be "counterproductive" to have Fauci testify amid his work with the coronavirus task force.
Photo: Museums reopen in Germany
WHO urges countries to investigate early COVID-19 cases
The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that a report that COVID-19 had emerged in December in France, sooner than previously thought, was "not surprising", and urged countries to investigate any other early suspicious cases.
The disease later identified as COVID-19 was first reported by Chinese authorities to the WHO on Dec. 31 and was not previously believed to have spread to Europe until January.
"This gives a whole new picture on everything," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a U.N. briefing in Geneva, referring to the French report.
New York state hospitalizations decrease while deaths rise slightly
New York state has a total of 9,600 hospitalizations from COVID-19, a slight decrease from the previous day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference on Tuesday.
He also announced an additional 230 deaths, higher than the 226 new deaths reported Monday but down from the 280 on Saturday. “It’s painful, painful news for New Yorkers," Cuomo said of the fatalities, urging residents to continue to wear masks.
"It's the smart thing to do. It's also the right thing to do," he said.