White House to wind down task force

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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.

Former Olympian Jenny Thompson joins the fight against COVID-19

Jenny Thompson is best known as the record-holder for the most Olympic medals won by a female swimmer.

However, Thompson, a pediatric anesthesiologist, traded her swim goggles for a face shield and joined the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19 in Charleston, South Carolina.

As the number of cases continued to increase, Thompson became concerned about the lack of personal protective equipment needed in order to keep medical professionals safe while treating patients.

Two of her former Stanford swimming teammates, Gabrielle Rose and Lea Maurer, created a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Thompson and her colleagues; the page raised almost $11,000.

“I just was so touched by the outpouring of support, from friends and family, the swimming community, even people I didn’t know," Thompson told Team USA. "It brought me a feeling that this is a crisis, but all of these people have my back.”

Thompson won eight gold, three silver and one bronze over the course of her four Olympic appearances.

Americans divided over coronavirus pandemic stay-at-home orders

According to a new poll, 78 percent of Americans are uncomfortable with going out to eat, while 56 percent say they’re comfortable with going to a grocery story. Most believe gyms, theaters and barber shops should not yet be allowed to reopen.

'There'll be more death': Trump says it's time to reopen country despite fears of coronavirus rebound

President Donald Trump said Tuesday “there’ll be more death” related to the coronavirus pandemic as a growing number of states move to slowly relax their stay-at-home mandates in the coming months.

"It's possible there will be some because you won't be locked into an apartment or a house or whatever it is," Trump told ABC News in an exclusive interview while visiting a mask-making factory in Arizona. "But at the same time, we're going to practice social distancing, we're going to be washing hands, we're going to be doing a lot of the things that we've learned to do over the last period of time.”

Trump has faced mounting criticism, largely from Democrats, about hastily moving to reopen the country as new coronavirus cases emerge in some areas and states, such as Georgia and Texas, move to reopen as cases appear to stabilize. Public health experts have also warned that reopening too soon could lead to more death and economic damage.

In the interview, Trump claimed that the virus is going “to pass” without a vaccine.

Click here for the full story. 

Dallas salon owner gets 7 days in jail for reopening during coronavirus lockdown

Shelley Luther said desperation pushed her into her decision to open Salon A La Mode on Friday despite receiving a cease and desist order from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins' office.KXAS

A Dallas salon owner on Tuesday was sentenced to seven days behind bars for disobeying coronavirus shutdown orders, doing business well ahead of even the aggressive reopening plans in Texas.

Dallas County Judge Eric Moye held Shelley Luther, owner of Salon a la Mode and her corporate entity "Hot Mess Enterprises," for both criminal and civil contempt.

Moye cited "the refusal of the defendants to cease operation of the salon, despite the clear and unambiguous language of the order."

Read the full story here. 

Rand Paul defends not wearing mask, claims 'immunity' to COVID-19. Experts say he can't be so sure.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., arrives for the Senate Republicans lunch in the Hart Senate Office building on May 5, 2020.Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

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 "immunity" to a disease top scientists are still trying to understand.

“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 can't be so sure of any of these claims, according to individual experts and guidance provided by the Trump administration. Medical professionals, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have said that while some type of immunity for recovered patients is probably likely, the extent — including the duration of that immunity and whether a recovered person can be reinfected — isn't known.

Read the full story here. 

Pfizer, NYU working on innovative coronavirus vaccine that could be ready by end of summer

Researchers at Pfizer and New York University are working on a never-before-tried coronavirus vaccine that the pharmaceutical company believes could be available by September.

The vaccine, which carries genetic code known as “messenger RNA,” attempts to reprogram the deadly pathogen rather than manipulating the live virus.

“It is probably the fastest way of having a vaccine available to stem this pandemic, based on the data that I have seen,” said Kathrin Jansen, who leads vaccine research for Pfizer.

Read the full story here.

Trump says only blue states have budget woes. He couldn't be more wrong.

President Donald Trump thinks all the states that need Congress to provide emergency relief funding are "run by Democrats in every case" and he charged it's because they have been fiscally mismanaged.

That's not the case. Numerous Republican-led states are facing coronavirus-caused financial crises, just like the Democrats.

Less than 24 hours after conducting an interview with The New York Post in which Trump made those remarks, the president took off to visit a mask-making plant in Arizona — a Republican-led state that by its own projections could face a shortfall ranging from $600 million to $1.6 billion by the end of the next fiscal year.

Arizona is not alone. COVID-19 has led to dramatic decreases in revenue for state governments across the country — regardless of which party has its hand on the wheel. While many states are still crunching their numbers ahead of the next fiscal year, which begins in the summer for most, a handful of GOP-led states already have made clear the budget woes that face them.

Read the full story here.

Disney takes $1.4 billion hit in Q2 due to coronavirus

The Walt Disney Company says the coronavirus pandemic cost the company as much as $1.4 billion in income during the first three months of the year, a disruption it says will only get worse in the months ahead. The most severe blow to the company came in its theme parks unit, which suffered an estimated $1 billion revenue hit.

Disney's per-share profit was down 63 percent, to 60 cents.

The losses reflect how vulnerable almost all of Disney's businesses are to social distancing measures. Its theme parks have been shuttered, cinemas have been closed and its content production has been put on hold. Its television unit, which relies heavily on ESPN's ability to broadcast live sports, has also been interrupted.

“The pandemic has hit us hard,” Disney chairman and former CEO Bob Iger said on an earnings call Tuesday afternoon. But he said he had "absolute confidence in our ability to get through this challenging period and recover successfully." 

One bright spot was Disney+, the company's new streaming service, which has signed up more than 54 million subscribers since its launch in December. Disney also announced that it will reopen Shanghai Disneyland on May 11.

2 men charged with trying to defraud small business loan program

Two men were charged in Rhode Island with fraudulently seeking more than a half-million dollars in stimulus loans created as part of federal coronavirus protections.

David A. Staveley, 53, and David Butziger, 51, are the first in the nation to be charged with stimulus fraud involving the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island. The two men allegedly conspired to obtain loans from the SBA using false information.

The investigation into the men was part of a directive to prioritize crimes related to the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Attorney Aaron L. Weisman said in a press release Tuesday.

“It is unconscionable that anyone would attempt to steal from a program intended to help hard working Americans continue to be paid so they can feed their families and pay some of their bills,” Weisman said.

Read the full article here.

NY hospital workers hold candlelight vigil to honor COVID-19 victims

Hundreds of hospital employees in New York participated in a candlelight vigil and walk to honor more than 2,200 Northwell Health patients and 19 staff members who have passed away from COVID-19.

The walk, the brainchild of hospital employees, was held Monday at Northwell Health’s New Hyde Park, Long Island campus.

Video of the vigil obtained by NBC News’ Social Newsgathering team shows hospital employees in masks holding candles in the air as songwriter Andra Day’s “Rise Up” plays in the background.

The walk spanned the entirety of the New Hyde Park campus, which is home to Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Cohen Children’s Medical Center and Zucker Hillside Hospital. After employees completed the walk, Michael Golberg, executive director of LIJ Medical Center, thanked employees for their hard work and dedication fighting on the front lines of the pandemic. 

“We have been very lucky in many ways that at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Cohen’s Childrens, Northwell Health that we have saved many many more people than have lost their lives to COVID-19,” Goldberg stated. “And that is a true testament to the care you provide.”

Students at 25 universities sue for refunds after campuses close due to coronavirus

They wanted the campus experience, but their colleges sent them home to learn online during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, students at more than 25 U.S. universities are filing lawsuits against their schools demanding partial refunds on tuition and campus fees, saying they’re not getting the caliber of education they were promised.

The suits reflect students’ growing frustration with online classes that schools scrambled to create as the coronavirus forced campuses across the nation to close last month. The suits say students should pay lower rates for the portion of the term that was offered online, arguing that the quality of instruction is far below the classroom experience.

Colleges, though, reject the idea that refunds are in order. Students are learning from the same professors who teach on campus, officials have said, and they’re still earning credits toward their degrees. Schools insist that, after being forced to close by their states, they’re still offering students a quality education.

Grainger Rickenbaker, a freshman who filed a class-action lawsuit against Drexel University in Philadelphia, said the online classes he’s been taking are poor substitutes for classroom learning. There’s little interaction with students or professors, he said, and some classes are being taught almost entirely through recorded videos, with no live lecture or discussion.

Read the full story here.