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Coronavirus researcher fatally shot, Trump defends not wearing mask

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Mitch factory worker
Mitch oversees the Clorox Bleach production line.NBC News

President Donald Trump said “there’ll be more death” related to the coronavirus pandemic but claimed it's time to reopen the country as a growing number of states move to slowly relax their stay-at-home mandates.

“I think we're doing very well on the vaccines but, with or without a vaccine, it's going to pass, and we're going to be back to normal,” Trump told ABC News in an interview while visiting a mask-making factory in Arizona.

Trump also defended his choice not to wear a mask at the factory during a Wednesday press conference, where he said he was told he didn't have to use one. The president also claimed he wore a mask for "some period of time" during the visit.

At least 64 children in New York state have been hospitalized with an illness apparently linked to the coronavirus. The symptoms are consistent with other inflammatory illnesses, such as Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome.

As scientists around the world race to develop a potential solution, researchers at Pfizer Inc. and New York University are working on a never-before-tried coronavirus vaccine that the pharmaceutical company says could be available by September.

A medical researcher from the University of Pittsburgh was found shot to death over the weekend after what police believe to be a "lengthy dispute regarding an intimate partner." The university said Dr. Bing Liu "was on the verge of making very significant findings toward understanding the cellular mechanisms that underlie" the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the death toll in the U.S. rose to more than 72,000, according to NBC News' count, and there are more than 1.2 million confirmed cases of the virus.

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 to May 7 coronavirus news.

Frontier Airlines will drop open-seat fee that drew attacks

The Associated Press

Frontier Airlines is dropping plans to charge passengers extra to sit next to an empty middle seat after congressional Democrats accused the airline of trying to profit from fear over the new coronavirus.

“We recognize the concerns raised that we are profiting from safety and this was never our intent,” Frontier CEO Barry Biffle said late Wednesday in a letter to three lawmakers. “We simply wanted to provide our customers with an option for more space.”

Biffle said the airline will rescind the extra fee, which Frontier called More Room, and block the seats from being sold.

Earlier in the day, Democrats had railed against Frontier's plan to charge passengers at least $39 per flight to guarantee they would sit next to an empty middle seat. The offer was to begin with flights Friday and run through Aug. 31.

Read the full story here

Why small businesses are so important to America

Harry Smith

Thai elephants, out of work due to coronavirus, trudge home

The Associated Press

BANGKOK — The millions of unemployed in Thailand because of the coronavirus include elephants dependent on tourists to feed their voracious appetites. With scant numbers of foreign visitors, commercial elephant camps and sanctuaries lack funds for their upkeep and have sent more than 100 of the animals trudging as far as 100 miles back to their homes.

The Save Elephant Foundation in the northern province of Chiang Mai has been promoting the elephants’ return to the greener pastures of home. The foundation supports fundraising appeals to feed animals still housed at tourist parks, but also believes it is good for them to return to their natural habitat where they can be more self-sufficient.

The situation is critical. London-based World Animal Protection says as many as 2,000 tame elephants are at risk of starvation because their owners are unable to feed them.

Since last month, more than 100 of the animals have marched from all over Chiang Mai to their homeland of Mae Chaem, which is dotted with villages where members of the Karen ethnic minority live and traditionally keep elephants.

Relief payments sent to the dead should be returned, IRS says

The federal government said Wednesday people should return coronavirus relief payments that were sent to the deceased.

The IRS issued the formal guidance on its website Wednesday, and the Treasury Department also tweeted about what it called the inadvertent payments.

Congress authorized payments of $1,200 to individuals as part of a massive relief package due to the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus epidemic. Many were based on past tax returns, and people have reported that relatives who have since died got that money.

Read the full story here.

Texas AG calls for release of salon owner jailed for operating during shutdown

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the jail sentence of a Dallas salon owner who defied coronavirus shutdown orders "excessive" on Wednesday.

In a statement, Paxton said it was a "shameful abuse of discretion" when Dallas County Judge Eric Moye sentenced Salon À la Mode owner Shelley Luther to seven days in jail when she was trying "to put food on her family's table."

"He should release Ms. Luther immediately," he said.

Read the full story here. 

$5,000 offered in search for father, son in deadly mask dispute with guard

Days after a father and son were charged in the killing of a Michigan security guard in a dispute over a requirement to wear a mask in a store, law enforcement offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to their arrest.

Larry Teague, 44, and son Ramonyea Bishop, 23, are being sought in connection with the Friday killing of security guard Calvin Munerlyn, 43, in Flint.

The Genesee County prosecutor said this week that an argument began at the Family Dollar store after Munerlyn told Teague's wife and her daughter that the younger woman needed to wear a mask in the store.

The U.S. Marshals Service said Wednesday that there is a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest each of the two outstanding suspects.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is requiring state residents entering enclosed public spaces to wear masks, as part of measures to slow the spread of the deadly disease COVID-19.

Stormtrooper trying to get customers' attention taken down by officers

A restaurant employee in a “Star Wars” costume was detained in Canada on Sunday after 911 callers reported seeing someone in a Stormtrooper costume with a gun, police said.

The employee, who was carrying a plastic blaster, had been trying to drum up business for the struggling restaurant, which opened two months before Canadian authorities shuttered eat-in dining because of the coronavirus, the woman’s boss, Brad Whalen, told NBC News.

The promotion occurred on “May the 4th Be With You Day,” the unofficial holiday dedicated to the film franchise. The restaurant, Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina, is “Star Wars” themed and serves pizza and donair in the city of Lethbridge, Alberta.

A video showed multiple officers, some with their guns drawn, shouting at the employee to get on the ground. The worker, who Whalen did not want to identify, could be seen face down in Coco Vanilla’s parking lot. She could be heard sobbing while officers handcuffed her.

Read the full story here

First immigrant detainee dies of virus

SAN DIEGO - A man held at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center near the U.S.-Mexico border died Wednesday of coronavirus-related illness, a health official said. 

His was the first coronavirus death among detainees in federal immigration detention.

"We can confirm that we had a report this morning of a 57-year-old male detainee who had formerly been at the Otay Mesa Detention Facility and had been hospitalized since late April did die early this morning from complications of COVID," said Eric McDonald, a medical director at San Diego County's public health department.

With 132 COVID-19 cases, the contractor-run detention center has the most patients by far of the 41 ICE facilities where the virus has been reported.

Read the full story here.

Researchers watching virus and warm weather

As much of the country looks forward to the possibility of rubbing shoulders again in summer, scientists are carefully watching for signs that the coronavirus transmission could slow in warm weather.

The consensus seems to be that the virus will be seasonal and endemic, meaning that, like the common cold, it will thrive in winter but will likely never go away. That doesn't mean the United States will be in the clear come June.

Read the full story.

3 McDonald's workers hurt in customer attack over coronavirus limits, police say

Three workers at an Oklahoma City McDonald's were injured Wednesday by gunfire and a scuffle that appeared to have started because the restaurant's dining area was closed for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, police said.

Two of three were injured by gunfire and the third was hurt in a scuffle, said Lt. Michelle Henderson of the Oklahoma City Police Department.

The victims, two females and a male -- two of them 17 -- were hospitalized and in non-life-threatening condition, she said. Two customers, a man and a woman, were in custody.

"They were asked to leave, and they refused and produced a gun," Henderson said. The dining area "was closed because of the virus."

Read the full story here

Los Angeles to relax some restrictions, but require masks at LAX

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he will relax some rules put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, allowing curbside retail and opening up trails, but he also said travelers at Los Angeles International Airport will be required to wear masks.

The move for the airport, which will start Monday, aligns with requirements from some airlines, Garcetti said.

The relaxing of other restrictions starts Friday when retailers like florists, toy stores, music stores and sports stores will be allowed to conduct curbside business. On Saturday, golf courses and trails and trailheads will be reopened. Car dealerships will also be allowed to open with safeguards. They largely follow guidelines announced county officials earlier Wednesday. 

People will be required to maintain social distance and wear masks when on trails or golf courses, Garcetti said. Popular Runyon Canyon, which was ordered closed in March after the initial order following large crowds seen there, will remain closed, as will beaches, Garcetti said.

Newsom makes worker's comp claims easier for coronavirus

The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed an executive order allowing employees across California’s economy to apply for worker’s compensation if they contract the coronavirus, with a presumption that it was work-related unless employers can prove otherwise.

The presumption applies for the next 60 days and is retroactive to March 19, when Newsom first ordered all but essential workers to stay at home to ease the risk of transmitting the virus. He said the change is needed now as California prepares to relax those orders in coming days and weeks.

Employees will be eligible if they tested positive for the coronavirus within 14 days after being at work, the maximum known incubation period. And they must have exhausted other state and federal benefits.

The state’s Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau previously said such a decision could cost from $2.2 billion to $33.6 billion annually, depending on the details. The mid-range estimate of about $11 billion is about 60% of the entire annual estimated cost of the state’s workers’ compensation system before the pandemic.

Watch how cellphones linked to one infected meatpacking plant travel across the U.S.

Emmanuelle Saliba

Meatpacking facilities have been hit hard by coronavirus. Location data pulled from cellphones at six U.S. meatpacking plants shows how a COVID-19 outbreak at one of the plants could potentially spread nationally. 

The data and technology company Tectonix focused on a Tyson pork-processing plant in Cass County, Indiana, where nearly 900 employees tested positive for the virus.

Tectonix analyzed the travel paths of phones used at the plant and showed in a video posted to Twitter Wednesday that the mobile devices from the Case County plant had been carried by their users throughout the continent. 

Devices active at the plant during March traveled to and from nearly every state in the U.S. and some of the provinces of Canada.

The plant halted operations on April 25 but it announced it would reopen this week. 

Clorox factories go into overdrive

Blayne Alexander

Blayne Alexander and Tim Stelloh

The numbers are staggering. One of America’s most well-known manufacturers of cleaning products, Clorox, produced 40 million more items in the first quarter of 2020 than it did during the same time last year.

For its disinfectants, the company has seen a 500 percent increase in demand since March and, in some cases, it sold as much in one week as it usually does in a month.

“We are in completely uncharted territory,” Clorox CEO Benno Dorer said. “We're in catch-up mode.”

Read the full story.

People of color on coronavirus frontlines forced to choose between health, paycheck

The Center for Economic Policy and Research says that 41 percent of frontline workers are non-white people of color while in New York the city comptroller says 75 percent of frontline workers are non-white.

NBC News’ Morgan Radford details the choice many frontline workers are forced to make during the pandemic between their safety or their livelihood.

Michigan Gov. Whitmer wants to ban guns from Capitol after armed anti-lockdown protests

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich., on April 29, 2020.Michigan Office of the Governor via AP file

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to bar weapons from being brought into the state Capitol after anti-lockdown protesters showed up with firearms, she told NBC News in a wide-ranging interview.

The Democratic governor's comments came after gun-toting militia protesters joined a larger group demanding Whitmer reopen swaths of the state's economy in a demonstration last week. The protesters spilled inside the Capitol, where a number of the armed demonstrators confronted police officers and insisted on being allowed onto the statehouse floor as lawmakers debated an extension of her emergency powers.

Under current state law, it is legal to bring firearms inside the Capitol in the open-carry state.

Read the full story here. 

Illinois Target worker threatened to call police on unmasked special needs woman, dad says

Bill Pratt.
Bill Pratt.NBC Chicago

The father of a woman with special needs is outraged after an employee at an Illinois Target threatened to call police because his daughter wasn't wearing her mask.

Bill Pratt was with 22-year-old Emma Pratt — who has cerebral palsy, autism, sensory integration disorder and is in a wheelchair — at a Target in Orland Park on Saturday when she asked him if she could take off her mask.

"She goes, 'Can I take this off? Can I pull this down?' I said 'yeah go ahead,'" Pratt said. Sensory integration disorder causes people to have abnormal responses to sensory information, like the feeling of fabric on one's face. "Sometimes things are too much," Pratt said.

Read the full story here. 

How one deserted zoo's animals are coping with loss of contact

The coronavirus pandemic forced the Phoenix Zoo to shut down during what's usually the busiest time of the year, and the animals have noticed.

Inside the secret DHS lab trying to crack the COVID-19 code

Michael Kosnar

The aerosol chamber at the Department of Homeland Security's biodefense research laboratory.
The aerosol chamber at the Department of Homeland Security's biodefense research laboratory.Department of Homeland Security

For scientists working at the Department of Homeland Security’s biodefense research laboratory, the directive from senior agency officials was unprecedented: drop everything and focus on one target, the coronavirus.

As the number of positive cases in the United States tops 1.2 million and deaths exceed 70,000, those scientists have been working 15 hours a day, seven days a week trying to crack the COVID-19 code.

Dozens of staff comprise multiple teams investigating different characteristics of the coronavirus, in the hopes of quickly learning more about its survivability and the transmission of the disease, both on common surfaces and in the air. Unlike other viruses, little was known about the emerging coronavirus when the pandemic broke out.

“This is the most urgent thing we have worked on since 9/11,” said Lloyd Hough, a senior official and biology expert with Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate.

Read the full story here

Nursing group says at least 90,000 healthcare workers have been infected

Governments aren’t doing enough to keep accurate records regarding how many healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) claimed Wednesday.

The organization, which represents more than 20 million nurses worldwide, said that the current infection numbers are significantly underestimated, which puts healthcare workers at higher risk. In data released Wednesday, the ICN said that at least 90,000 healthcare workers have been infected and more than 260 nurses have died. 

“The lack of official data on infections and deaths among nurses and other healthcare workers is scandalous,” ICN Chief Executive Officer Howard Catton said in a news release. “If governments do not count the number of nurses who have lost their lives, if they continue to turn a blind eye, it sends a message that those nurses’ lives didn’t count.”

Newborn baby born with COVID-19 discharged from UK hospital

One of the few babies born worldwide with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was discharged from a hospital in the United Kingdom after recovering from the virus.

Ruby Dawson was born with the virus on April 1 at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in Blackpool, England after her mother Katherine contracted it in March.

Following her birth, Katherine's condition worsened and she was placed on a ventilator and put into an induced coma. The hospital put her chances of survival at 50/50. 

While both mom and baby were fighting the virus, father Stuart remained at home with the couple's two other children, Grace, 5 and Ava, 11 months. 

“I owe my future to the staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. I thought I was going to be a widow looking after young children on my own, but they saved her life and Ruby’s life," he said in a hospital press release.

After 37 days in the hosptial, Ruby and Katherine were discharged with a guard of honor made up of staff from the delivery suit, the neonatal unit, A&E and the COVID ITU. 

Healthcare workers cheer for patient who spent 44 days in hospital fighting COVID-19

Jennifer Pietrofere

Ali Gostanian and Jennifer Pietrofere

Danny Wongis, 43, was first admitted to St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage, New York, on March 22 with a fever, cough and shortness of breath. His breathing quickly worsened and he was placed on a ventilator.

After 38 days on the ventilator, Wongis recovered from the virus and left the hospital for a rehabilitation center on May 6. 

To celebrate his recovery, hospital staff lined the hallways of St. Joseph Hospital clapping as Wongis was wheeled out on a balloon-adorned stretcher.

“Thank you to everybody who is here who took care of me,” Wongis said in the video. “From the bottom of my heart, I really really thank you.”

51 workers at Tyson plant in Maine test positive for COVID-19

Dan Good

At least 51 workers at a Tyson Foods processing plant in Portland, Maine, have tested positive for COVID-19, health officials said Wednesday.

That number reflects an increase of 14 cases since Tuesday. The facility is currently closed.

Outbreaks at meat processing plants have slowed down national production, creating supply chain issues.

Maine has experienced more than 1,250 confirmed and likely COVID-19 cases.

For sickest patients, blood thinners may be linked to reduced COVID-19 deaths, study finds

Blood thinners may help keep COVID-19 patients on ventilators alive longer, a study published Wednesday suggests.

In recent weeks, physicians have noticed that the sickest coronavirus patients are more prone to forming blood clots — an unexpected symptom for a respiratory virus.

Read more.

Pedro Martinez launches initiative for COVID-19 relief in Dominican Republic

Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez and a group of more than 40 Dominican baseball players launched “Step Up To The Plate,” an initiative aimed at supporting relief efforts in the Dominican Republic during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The campaign, organized by the Pedro Martinez Foundation, and supported by some of the biggest names in the sport, is providing food kits, masks and other personal protective equipment to healthcare workers and residents of the Caribbean nation.

"The Dominican Republic has always been my home, and right now it truly needs our help," Martinez said in an interview with ESPN. "These are people without the most basic needs, and we are blessed to be in a position to help, and it is our duty to do so."

According to data from the World Food Program, more than 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. Sources told ESPN that the MLB and MLB Players Association will make a joint donation to relief efforts in the Dominican Republic, with the announcement reportedly being made next week.

Number of kids in New York with rare COVID-19 complication rises to 64

A total of 64 children in New York State are suspected of having developed a rare complication believed to be linked to COVID-19.

The illness, referred to as pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, can lead to inflammation of the heart muscle, and "has features which overlap with Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome," according to a press release from the New York State Department of Health.

On Monday, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued an alert about the condition, which, at that time, had affected at least 15 children in the city alone. 

Symptoms can include fever, rash and abdominal illness. Some children have required intensive care. No deaths have been reported.


Photo: Blue Angels over Dallas

Image: The Blue Angels Fly Over Dallas Area To Honor Healthcare, Frontline And Essential Workers
Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Hospital staff cheer as the Navy's Blue Angels pass over Medical City Dallas as a show of support for health care workers and first responders on Wednesday.

Coronavirus 'parties' in a Washington county linked to rise in cases, officials say

Health officials in a county in southern Washington state say a rise in coronavirus cases is linked to "COVID-19 parties."

"Walla Walla County health officials are receiving reports of COVID-19 parties occurring in our community, where noninfected people mingle with an infected person in an effort to catch the virus," the county said in a press release Tuesday.

The statement stressed that scientists don't know yet if people infected with the coronavirus become immune and that contracting the virus risks serious illness.

"Health officials stress that there is much we don’t know about COVID-19," the release said. "Epidemiologists don’t know if immunity is a sure thing, if reinfection is possible, or if [the] virus could continue living inside you. They do know that even the young can be hospitalized, survivors may suffer long-term damage, and even a ‘mild’ case isn’t mild."

Read the full story here.

Afternoon roundup of coronavirus coverage

The discovery of germs changed American life, especially parenting. Will covid-19 do the same? [The Washington Post]

The H1N1 crisis predicted COVID-19’s toll on black Americans [Wired]

The coronavirus crisis could change the way we eat meat [HuffPost]

Bill to forgive health care workers' student loans unveiled by Democratic lawmaker

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., introduced a bill Tuesday that would forgive student loan debt for health care workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The legislation would create “a federal and private loan forgiveness program for loans acquired to receive medical and professional training held by health care workers who have made significant contributions to ... respond to this urgent crisis,” Maloney's office said in a news release. Nurses, doctors, medical researchers, lab workers and other healthcare professionals fighting the pandemic would be eligible for the program.

“Frontline health workers are delivering care to the sickest patients and putting their own safety at great risk in order to keep doing their jobs,” Maloney said in a statement. “And in return, I believe that we have an obligation to ensure that they are relieved of the debt they incurred to train for this critical work.”

Medical school graduates incur an average of $200,000 in student loan debt, according to Association of American Medical Colleges.

A 'shocking' two-thirds of recently hospitalized New York patients had been staying home

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that a survey showed that a "shocking" two-thirds of patients recently hospitalized for coronavirus became infected despite staying at home.

Hospitals were asked to document where their most recent COVID-19 patients had been staying before admission, Cuomo said, and 66 percent came from their own homes, 18 percent from nursing homes, 4 percent from assisted-living facilities, 2 percent were homeless, 2 percent had been at other group-home settings, fewer than 1 percent were prison or jail inmates, and 8 percent were classified as "other."

"This is a surprise," the governor said. "Sixty-six percent of the people were at home, which is shocking to us." 

"They're not working; they're not traveling," Cuomo said.  "We were thinking that maybe we were going to find a higher percent of essential employees who were getting sick because they were going to work — that these may be nurses, doctors, transit workers. That's not the case. They were predominantly at home."

Photo: Students return to class in Wuhan

Image: Wuhan
High school seniors sit behind plastic partitions Wednesday in Wuhan, China. Students are returning to classrooms for the first time since their city was shut down in January.AFP - Getty Images

More than 1.5M Hong Kong residents register for free reusable masks

Ed Flanagan

Ed Flanagan and Yuliya Talmazan
Image: CuMask+
CuMask+ is made of six layers of functional materials, two of which are specially made with small quantities of copper, capable of immobilising bacteria, common viruses and other harmful substances.The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

More than 1.5 million Hong Kongers have signed up to receive free reusable masks as the semi-autonomous city continues its coronavirus containment efforts. 

The new mask, which can be washed up to 60 times, will be distributed free to all citizens of Hong Kong who have a valid address.

The office of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam said more than 1.5 million people had registered for the mask on Wednesday.  

Hong Kong has been effective in containing the outbreak with only four deaths and 1,040 infections so far.

Ohio lawmaker refuses to wear mask because he says it dishonors God

An Ohio state representative says he won't wear a mask because he believes it dishonors God.

"This is the greatest nation on earth founded on Judeo-Christian Principles. One of those principles is that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. That image is seen the most by our face. I will not wear a mask," Rep. Nino Vitale, a Republican, wrote on Facebook. "That's the image of God right there, and I want to see it in my brothers and sisters."

The conservative Vitale has also been vocal in criticizing Gov. Mike DeWine's stay-at-home orders, attending a protest against the measures in April and penning a letter to the governor urging him to reopen Ohio. 

"No government can stop death, no matter how hard we try. Life comes with some level of risk and it should be our choice to determine how we assess that risk as free citizens," Vitale wrote. 

DeWine ordered a partial reopening for Ohio that went into effect on May 1. By May 12, consumer, retail and service businesses will be allowed to reopen

But Vitale said on Saturday he was still displeased with the eased restrictions, writing: "Is this a stay safe order or does it look more like a house arrest order? Does this look like freedom or oppression?" 

NYC Mayor de Blasio says 139 homeless people came off the streets in one night

Mayor Bill de Blasio, in touting the success of the shutdown of the New York City subway early Wednesday morning for overnight cleaning, said 139 homeless individuals out of 252 agreed to accept support and come off the streets.

"This number is extraordinary," de Blasio said at a news conference. "More than half of the people encountered agreed to come in. We have never, ever seen so much success in a single night before."

De Blasio said the city will "obviously need to see how things play out over a longer period of time."

Social media influencers team up with Red Cross to combat coronavirus misinformation

Will Clark

The International Federation of the Red Cross announced Wednesday it will collaborate with social media influencers around the world to combat the spread of misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 global pandemic. Working alongside creative agency Billion Dollar Boy and launching across four continents, the Red Cross will send an approved and verified message to a network of more than 30 influencers, who will incorporate the message into their own creative content.

“Influencers have a crucial role to play in tackling this infodemic and cutting through the noise,” IFRC’s media manager Nichola Jones said. “They have a level of access to younger people that public authorities or charities don’t have and their relationship with their followers is different. By working together, we can make sure credible content reaches a broader audience and has a positive impact.”

A few of the influencers who have already signed up to the network are Antonio Nunziata, Katie Woods, Neda Ghenai, who have more than half a million global followers combined.

With global data showing a sharp rise in social media use since some countries began locking down, the IFRC hopes to use influencer’s engagement with their followers to get vital information to the public on a global scale. The network will initially reach more than 2 million followers, with more expected join each day, according the Red Cross.

German Bundesliga to resume matches later this month

Andy Eckardt

Germany's top-tier Bundesliga will become the first major football league to resume matches later this month after it was suspended over coronavirus concerns, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday. 

“We talked about the first and second league, which after the second half of May will be able to restart under the approved and tested regulations," Merkel told reporters in a briefing. 

Merkel did not specify what restrictions will be put in place. 

The league was suspended in March as Germany went into lockdown to slow down the spread of the virus. 

In change of plans, Trump now says coronavirus task force will continue 'indefinitely'

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

A day after President Donald Trump confirmed that he planned to wind down the White House coronavirus task force, the president announced Wednesday that it will now continue indefinitely.

In a series of tweets, Trump said the task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, has done a “fantastic job of bringing together vast highly complex resources that have set a high standard for others to follow in the future.”

Trump said that ventilators are now being produced in the thousands, repeated the false claim that the U.S. is doing more testing than all other countries combined and said face masks and shields are “plentiful.”

“The last four Governors teleconference calls have been conclusively strong. Because of this success, the Task Force will continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN. We may add or subtract people,” the president tweeted.

Read the full story.

Uber to lay off 3,700 workers

Uber is laying off 3,700 employees, almost 14 percent of its workforce, the ride-sharing company announced Wednesday.

Uber's chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi will also forgo his $1 million salary for the rest of the year.

The coronavirus lockdown has kept Americans homebound and shuttered businesses and travel, throwing many of the company's drivers out of work.

In a statement released to NBC News, Uber said it was taking these steps in order to bring costs in line and protect the future of the business.

Uber's stock dropped by around 2 percent Wednesday morning. The company reports its quarterly earnings on Thursday.

Around 20 million workers lost their job last month, new ADP data shows

The private sector lost around 20 million workers last month, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report, making April the worst month ever for America's workforce.

The report comes ahead of the closely watched monthly employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which will be released Friday morning.

The coronavirus has already wiped out all job gains since the Great Recession, with more than 30 million Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits since the pandemic took hold.

Continuing claims, or the number of people receiving ongoing benefits, hit 18 million last week, far surpassing the recessionary peak of 6.6 million.

After a record 10-year streak of economic growth and months at a half-century low, the unemployment rate, as measured in March, soared to 4.4 percent.

Economists expect Friday's BLS data to show that the national unemployment rate has now more than tripled, to around 16 percent.

Indonesian government postpones regional elections

Elizabeth Kuhr

The Indonesian government announced Wednesday that it had postponed its 2020 regional elections.

A statement on a government website explained the decision “aims to maintain the quality of the elections and maintain national political stability.”

The country’s 190 million potential voters would have turned out for the elections for several public offices including governors and mayors.

Prince Harry and Meghan mark Archie's first birthday with story for charity campaign

Annie Hill

Image: Meghan reads her son Archie for his first birthday on Wednesday as Prince Harry films the scene in support of Save the Children.
Meghan reads her son Archie for his first birthday on Wednesday as Prince Harry films the scene in support of Save the Children.The Duke of Sussex/@SaveChildrenUK

Queen Elizabeth II's grandson, Prince Harry, and his wife Meghan Markle released a video of Meghan reading to their son Archie to mark his first birthday.

Released on the Instagram page of the charity Save the Children, the video features Meghan reading the book "Duck! Rabbit!" in support of a campaign to raise funds for food and educational materials for children who normally rely on school for meals in the U.S. and U.K. Harry filmed the family scene and cheered at the end.

The Royal Family’s Twitter account posted a family picture wishing Archie, the queen’s eighth great-grandchild, a happy birthday. 

View this post on Instagram

"Duck! Rabbit!" with Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex (and Harry, The Duke of Sussex behind the camera), read to their son Archie for his 1st birthday. Happy Birthday, Archie! . Thank you #DuchessMeghan for helping us to raise urgent funds for our coronavirus appeal by reading "Duck! Rabbit" by @akrfoundation, illustrated by @tlichtenheld (published by @chroniclekidsbooks). . As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, children’s lives are being turned upside down. By donating to Save with Stories, you can support the most vulnerable families in the UK and around the world by helping to provide early learning packs, supermarket vouchers, essential household items and virus protection. . Please donate today by visiting our website. Link in bio. . Or you can text STORIES to 70008 to give a one-off donation of £5. . Together, we can help families get through this. . You can only donate via text from a UK mobile. You’ll be billed £5 plus standard rate text message. We receive 100% of your donation. By texting STORIES you agree to calls about fundraising appeals, campaigns, events and other ways to support. Include NO PHONE to opt out of calls. Queries? 02070126400. Read our Privacy Policy The Save the Children Fund is a charity registered in England and Wales (213890) and Scotland (SC039570) . #SaveWithStoriesUK #SaveWithStories #GrowingThroughThis

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Peter Jeary

Europe set for record recession, new forecast says

The European economy will contract by a record 7.5 percent this year in "a recession of historic proportions" brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission forecast on Wednesday. 

“Europe is experiencing an economic shock without precedent since the Great Depression,” Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Paolo Gentiloni said. “Both the depth of the recession and the strength of recovery will be uneven, conditioned by the speed at which lockdowns can be lifted, the importance of services like tourism in each economy and by each country’s financial resources." 

Italy, Greece, Spain, France and Croatia will be among the hardest hit economically by the pandemic, the commission said. The forecast baseline assumes that lockdowns will be gradually lifted from May, but a more severe and longer-lasting pandemic could cause an even larger fall in GDP, it added. 

Give us first-hand information to fight virus, Taiwan asks WHO


Taiwan's health minister asked the World Health Organization on Wednesday to ensure the island had access to first-hand information about the coronavirus, saying that not having the full picture slows down epidemic-prevention work.

Taiwan's exclusion from WHO — China, which considers the island one of its provinces, objects to Taiwan's membership — has infuriated Taipei. Officials there say it has created a gap in the global fight against the coronavirus and threatened the island's health.

"For Taiwan, what we want is first-hand information. Any second-hand information slows down any actions we take, and distorts our judgment about the epidemic, like we're unable to see the woods for the trees," said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung to foreign reporters, adding that Taiwan wanted proper access to the WHO.

'I love you': Trump's message to those grieving the loss of loved ones from COVID-19

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he wants to say "I love you" to Americans whose loved ones died from COVID-19. 

In an interview on on ABC News' "World News Tonight" during Trump's visit to Phoenix, Arizona, the president was asked if he wants to say anything to the families who lost relatives to the disease. 

"I want to say, 'I love you.' I want to say that we're doing everything we can," Trump said. 

"It's a vicious, vicious virus," he added. "But I want to just say to the people that have lost family and have lost loved ones, and the people that have just suffered so badly, and just made it — and just made it — that we love you."

"We're with you," Trump added. "We're working with you. We're supplying vast amounts of money, like never before. We want that money to get to the people. And we want ‘em to get better."

Some countries, against advice, mull certifying ex-virus patients immune

Helena Humphrey

Governments and health agencies around the world are considering issuing “immunity passports” to help restart their economies — documents certifying that the holders are immune to COVID-19 because they’ve already had it.

But global health authorities warn that such documents would be unreliable and potentially dangerous.

The World Health Organization says there’s no proof that being infected once with the coronavirus makes a person immune. And critics warn that granting additional freedoms to people who are theoretically immune would risk creating a black market for certification – and even create an incentive for deliberate infection.

Read the full story.

Peter Jeary

Italy considers ways for museums, beach clubs to reopen, official says

Lidia Sirna

The Italian government is considering measures that would enable the tourism and cultural industries to return to work as the country attempts to reopen its economy after weeks of coronavirus lockdown.  

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini asked the government’s scientific committee Tuesday to develop a protocol to ensure proper safety guidelines for the reopening of theaters, museums, hotels and beach clubs.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said last month that museums will be allowed to reopen from May 18 but Franceschini said Tuesday that not all Italy’s museums would be ready by that date.

Wuhan students return to school for the first time since lockdown lifted

Annie Hill

Image: Students in Wuhan return to their classrooms on Wednesday for the first time since the lockdown began.
Students in Wuhan return to their classrooms on Wednesday for the first time since the lockdown began.AFP - Getty Images

Some students in Wuhan, China have been allowed to return to school for the first time since the city, where the virus is believed to have originated, was locked down.

Senior students in high schools and vocational schools preparing for the college entrance exam resumed their studies after they all tested negative for the coronavirus. Before beginning their studies, the students first had to carry out an exercise for epidemic prevention and control, according to Chinese state media.

Disneyland in Shanghai set to reopen May 11

Elizabeth Kuhr

Disneyland in Shanghai, China, is set to reopen May 11 with limited capacity and advanced reservations, the company announced Tuesday.

“As the park reopens with significantly enhanced health and safety measures, our guests will find Shanghai Disneyland as magical and memorable as ever,” The Walt Disney Company chief executive officer Bob Chapek said in statement.

Under the new procedures, guests will need to buy admission tickets for a specific day, lines and rides will ensure people are socially distant and cast members will be trained on contactless guest interaction. The park will also have temperature screening and increased disinfection measures. Guests will be required to wear a mask during their visit.

New York City subway closes for nightly disinfection

Mumbai closes liquor stores because of too-large crowds

The Associated Press

NEW DELHI — Indian authorities have decided to shut down liquor shops in Mumbai, India’s financial capital which is the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic, after the police found it extremely difficult to control the surging crowds at the vends over the past two days.

Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi in an order late Tuesday said that only groceries and pharmacies will be allowed to be opened in Mumbai which is battling a rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases.

Mumbai currently has around 10,000 positive cases and 387 deaths. On an average it has been getting more than 400 cases per day.

After some lockdown restrictions were eased in India on Monday, thousands turned up at liquor stores across the country without following social distancing guidelines. This led the authorities to shut many of the liquor shops. 

Authorities in India’s capital imposed a special tax of 70 percent on liquor purchases on Tuesday to dissuade huge gatherings of thirsty drinkers at stores. The new tax is called the “special corona fee.”

Where's my check? Answers to common relief payment questions

The Associated Press

The U.S. government has distributed about 130 million economic impact paymentsto taxpayers in less than 30 days. The IRS anticipates sending more than 150 million payments as part of a massive coronavirus rescue package.

The distribution has had some hiccups, including an overwhelmed website, payments to deceased taxpayers and money sent to inactive accounts.

For those still waiting or with other questions, find the answers here.