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.
- MAPS: Confirmed cases in the U.S. and worldwide, confirmed deaths in the U.S. and globally.
- Reopening America: See what states across the U.S. are starting to reopen.
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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
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
"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."
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
More than 1.5M Hong Kong residents register for free reusable masks
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
"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
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.”
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.