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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

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.

Airbnb to lay off 25 percent of its workforce

Airbnb will lay off 25 percent of its workforce, or 1,900 employees, the home-sharing company confirmed on Tuesday.

“We are collectively living through the most harrowing crisis of our lifetime," CEO Brian Chesky told employees on a group call. 

Chesky said revenue for 2020 is expected to be less than half of what it was in 2019, with no clear idea when travel will return, nor what it will look like.

"Travel in this new world will look different, and we need to evolve Airbnb accordingly," Chesky said.

The travel industry as a whole has been pummeled by the viral outbreak, with airlines, hotels and resorts, and cruise lines ground to a halt.

Airbnb had been hoping to start the process this spring to go public, either by direct listing or via IPO.

Workers, community in the dark about COVID-19 cases at Pennsylvania meat facilities

While a recent CDC report suggests Pennsylvania has the highest number of meat facilities affected by COVID-19, there are no state requirements for facilities to report cases or deaths publicly.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 2,032 positive cases for workers within the food industry at 120 facilities statewide Tuesday. These include processing and manufacturing facilities, retail facilities, warehouse and distribution facilities, restaurants and farms, according to the state.

But the specific facilities with COVID-19 cases have not been publicly identified. As a result, workers and members of the community are ignorant to the risk of potential exposure. There also isn’t regulation that a plant needs to shut down if positive cases are discovered. The CDC referred an inquiry from NBC News to the state health department, which refused to release a full list of 22 affected plants with cases or clusters of cases, adding, “There are no requirements that this information be reported to the public, but we would expect facilities to inform employees.” The state also declined to provide a list of counties in which the plants are located.

Wendell Young of UFCW Local 1776 has been working with several plants that reported cases to members. The plants have followed a range of measures including shutting down for sanitization and reopening with new additions like Plexiglas dividers, temperature checks, and additional seating or spacing in areas like lunchrooms.

“We have employers not doing the right thing right now that are concealing the cases, not informing workers, not implementing the right protocols, and nobody's prosecuting them. No one's holding them responsible for how they're putting people at risk, and possibly killing people. And that's our federal government's fault. That's our presidents fault,” Young said.

Ousted HHS official files whistleblower complaint on coronavirus response

A top Health and Human Services official who says he was shoved out of his key coronavirus response job for pushing back on "efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections" filed a whistleblower complaint Tuesday charging "an abuse of authority or gross mismanagement" at the agency.

In his complaint, Dr. Rick Bright, who until last month was deputy assistant secretary of Health and Human Services for preparedness and response and director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, described a chaotic response the virus at HHS.

The chaos was fueled largely by "pressure from HHS leadership to ignore scientific merit and expert recommendations and instead to award lucrative contracts based on political connections and cronyism," the complaint says.

Read the full story here.

Fact check: Sen. Rand Paul claims 'immunity' to COVID-19 to defend not wearing a mask

Sen. Rand Paul, the only senator known to have contracted COVID-19, defended his decision not to wear a mask on Capitol Hill Tuesday, citing his recovery from the disease. 

“I have immunity. I’ve already had the virus, so I can’t get it again and I can’t give it to anybody,” Paul, R-Ky., told reporters, referring to his March diagnosis. “I can’t get it again, nor can I transmit. So of all the people you’ll meet here, I’m about the only safe person in Washington.”

Paul's claims are unproven. Medical experts do not yet know what kind of immunity recovered patients have to COVID-19.

Broadly speaking, some infections result in lifelong immunity (think chicken pox) while other infections will produce short-term immunity in recovered patients. And while many experts do believe some kind of immunity will come with recovery, there are reports of recovered COVID patients who have tested positive again after testing negative.

58 percent of workers at Tyson meat factory in Iowa test positive for coronavirus

Image:
A truck leaves the Tyson Foods pork plant on April 22, 2020, in Perry, Iowa.Charlie Neibergall / AP file

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.

Read the full story here.

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.

Read the full story here.

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.

Read the full story here.

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.

Read more here.

Photo: Museums reopen in Germany

Image: Museums Reopen As Lockdown Measures Ease
Visitors wearing protective face masks look at sculptures at the Zwinger Palace complex in Dresden Tuesday as it reopened to the public. Museums across Germany are reopening as authorities ease lockdown measures.Matthias Rietschel / Getty Images

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.

Read the full story here.

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. 

Two iconic NJ beaches to partially reopen

Two of New Jersey's iconic beaches -- Avalon and Stone Harbor -- will reopen Friday for people to run, walk, fish and surf as long as they follow social distancing rules, the boroughs said in a joint memo.

No “stationary” activities like sitting and lying down or large groups will be allowed on the stretch known as 7 Mile Beach. All other public areas, including the boardwalk, playground, and recreation centers, will remain closed. Beaches will be patrolled to enforce social distancing measures.

The neighboring Avalon and Stone Harbor are both located in Cape May County in southern New Jersey.

Fact check: Trump falsely claims death toll model doesn't account for mitigation efforts

Asked about a White House-touted coronavirus model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) that had been revised to dramatically hike the likely death toll, President Donald Trump claimed the model doesn’t account for mitigation efforts.

“That assumes no mitigation and we're going to have mitigation,” Trump told reporters. 

That’s false. The researchers said they upped the death toll because states are reopening and relaxing social distancing restrictions, and cell phone data had indicated that many people were moving around more. The initial model planned for longer stay-at-home orders, lasting through the end of May.

15 children in N.Y.C. identified with rare COVID-linked condition. More cases are likely out there.

At least 15 children in New York City have been hospitalized with a mysterious illness believed to be linked to COVID-19.

The children, who range in age from 2 to 15 years old, have shown symptoms consistent with other inflammatory illnesses, such as Kawasaki disease and toxic shock-like syndrome, which affect the heart and blood vessels.

Read more here.

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?

Image:
Lillian Suwanrumpha / AFP - Getty Images
Image:
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.
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.

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.

Read the full story.

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.

Read the full story.

Robots to stand in for students at virtual graduation ceremony

Image: 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.
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

Image: 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.
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.

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.