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

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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.

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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

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.

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

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.”

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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.