Trump says 'we have prevailed,' as memo tells White House staffers to wear masks

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden on May 11, 2020.
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden on May 11, 2020.Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images

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President Donald Trump said Monday that the number of coronavirus cases were going down “almost everywhere” — even though an unreleased White House report showed infection rates spiking across the United States.

“We have met the moment, and we have prevailed," Trump told reporters during a White House briefing. The president later added that he was referring to testing, not the virus itself.

Inside the White House, a memo instructed staffers to wear facial coverings and to avoid coming to the West Wing unless it was “absolutely” necessary. The move came after a top aide to Vice President Mike Pence and one of Trump’s personal valets tested positive for the virus.

On Capitol Hill, U.S. Senators will question top health officials on Tuesday about the federal government’s response to the pandemic, though the officials and the subcommittee chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., will all appear via videoconference because of potential exposure to the virus.

Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

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Pennsylvania gov blasts early reopenings as 'cowardly act'

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday slammed counties in his state that plan to reopen parts of their economies ahead of his scheduled plan, calling it a "cowardly act" by their leaders and accusing them of "engaging in behavior that is both selfish and unsafe."

"These folks are choosing to desert in the face of the enemy, in the middle of a war that we Pennsylvanians are winning and that we must win," Wolf told reporters.

His harsh tone comes after some Susquehanna Valley counties said last week that they will reopen local businesses and economies on their own timeline because the cases of the coronavirus are not as overwhelming as in other parts of the state, as reported by NBC affiliate WGAL in Lancaster. Some counties — including Lancaster, Lebanon and Dauphin — plan to move to the state's so-called yellow phase by May 15.

The yellow phase is part of a three-prong approach that Wolf laid out in order to move closer to reopening the entire state. Under the yellow phase, telework can continue where feasible and businesses with in-person operations can reopen but with safety orders in mind. Large gatherings and other social activities are still prohibited.

CDC: 5,000 excess deaths in NYC could be related to COVID-19

An estimated 5,293 "excess deaths" in New York City may be related to COVID-19, according to a preliminary report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday.

The report looked at NYC's excess deaths from March 11 to May 2, meaning the number of deaths reported that were higher than the expected number of deaths for that time period. 

A total of 24,172 deaths were found to be in excess. Of these, 18,879 have already been linked to COVID-19, leaving 5,293 excess deaths with no clear cause. These deaths "might have been directly or indirectly attributable to the pandemic," the study authors wrote. Further investigation is needed.

Reporting of these extra deaths might provide a more accurate measure of the impact of the pandemic.

Greta Thunberg partners with UNICEF to help kids affected by pandemic

Climate activist Greta Thunberg recently launched a campaign to help children who are being affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The campaign, "Let’s move humanity for children in the fight against coronavirus," will support UNICEF’s efforts to protect children from food shortages, strained healthcare systems, violence and lost education, according to the statement.

Human Act, a Danish NGO, recently awarded Thunberg $100,000 for her global activism, which she decided to donate to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), according to a statement from the agency. Human Act matched Thunberg’s donation by contributing an additional $100,000 to launch the campaign. 

“We must now all act together to protect the children and end the devastating consequences of the coronavirus,” Thunberg said in a video statement posted on UNICEF’s Twitter account. “Children are the future and they must be protected.”

Cuomo announces three New York regions will be allowed to partially reopen this weekend

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that three upstate regions are ready to begin reopening on Friday. He said the state would allow certain low-risk business and activities to resume operating on Friday, including landscaping, outdoor recreation activities such as tennis and drive-in movie theaters.

The governor said that the Finger Lakes, the Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley have met the criteria to reopen.

"Some regions are ready to go today, they just need to get some logistical pieces in order by the end of the week," Cuomo said at a news conference Monday, adding that some places such as Central New York "are very close."

The state's nonessential businesses have been closed since March 22 under an order issued by Cuomo.

Gay men restricted from donating plasma to U.K. coronavirus trials

Sexually active gay and bisexual men are restricted from donating plasma to a coronavirus research trial in the United Kingdom, and a number of them have expressed disappointment and anger about being excluded.

“Not only is it obviously frustrating but it’s short-sighted,” Ethan Spibey, a blood donation advocate, told NBC News. “Donating blood, you don’t get paid; it’s about doing something amazing for other people.”

The trials, led in part by the National Health Service, aim to fight the coronavirus. Though there is no proven treatment for the virus, which has sparked a global pandemic, the research is based on evidence that COVID-19 patients may benefit from a convalescent plasma donation, according to the publicly funded health care system.

Read more here.

Putin lifts nationwide stay-at-home order as cases skyrocket

As Russia fast becomes Europe’s new COVID-19 hotspot, President Vladimir Putin on Monday announced an end to a federally mandated nationwide stay-at-home order. 

“Starting tomorrow, May 12, the nonworking period for the entire country and for all sectors of the economy is over,” Putin said in a televised meeting. 

Putin said the so-called nonworking period allowed Russia to slow the spread of the virus and prepare its hospitals to manage the crisis.

Officially, Russia has reported just over 2,000 deaths despite having recorded over 220,000 cases. Some suggest Russia is under-reporting fatalities.

Putin’s order, rather than lifting restrictions, effectively transfers responsibility for continuing them from the federal government to regional leaders.  

Some regional leaders, such as Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, have already shown zeal for their own COVID-19 crisis response. 

Last week, Sobyanin pre-emptively extended Moscow’s strict lockdown until May 31, and obliged residents to begin wearing masks and gloves when going to grocery stores or running other authorized errands.

Illinois gov's staffer tests positive; office now working from home

Employees working in the office of Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker in Chicago must work from home after a senior staff member tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Monday.

The staff member, who was asymptomatic and tested positive late last week, had been in close contact with Pritzker and other staff members, according to a news release. The governor and his other office employees have been tested and their results were negative, the news release added, but all are self-isolating at home out of precaution.

About 20 other staffers who work in the building of the James R. Thompson Center are still reporting to that location and are undergoing daily temperature checks, wearing masks and social distancing under public health guidelines.

Iran says it's ready for full prisoner swap with United States over coronavirus concerns

Tehran said Sunday that it was ready to exchange prisoners with the United States without any preconditions amid concerns for the health of Iranian prisoners in U.S. jails during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have announced that without any preconditions, we are ready for a full prisoner swap and ready for talks on this matter,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei said during a video briefing with reporters on the coronavirus situation in the country.

Read more here.

Hoyer tells lawmakers the earliest House could return to Capitol is Friday

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., released guidance to lawmakers Monday that said that the earliest the House could reconvene in Washington is Friday. 

"Members will be given 72-hours' notice of when they would need to return to Washington, DC," the guidance said, noting that it's "possible" the House could meet this week. 

Hoyer also said that conversations on the next stimulus package package and a rule change to allow proxy voting are ongoing. Democratic leaders have said the House will consider those two pieces of legislation when lawmakers return to the Capitol. 

The House hasn't been in session for several weeks because the Capitol physician advised leadership that it wasn't safe for members to come back to D.C. as coronavirus continues to spread in the nation's capital. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said last week that the House will only return when they get the green light from the Capitol physician and sergeant-at-arms. 

The Senate is in session this week. 

Spanish cafes reopen as daily death toll falls to seven-week low

A man walks past a sign on a tree reading "They are not just a number, they have a name. Agustina Leon Sanchez, 79, May 1, 2020" in memory of a victim of the COVID-19 disease in Madrid on Sunday. Rafa Rivas / AFP - Getty Images

Parts of Spain eased lockdown restrictions on Monday amid a slowing coronavirus epidemic that saw the number of new fatalities drop to a near two-month low.

About half of Spain’s 47 million people progressed to the so-called Phase 1 of a four-step plan to relax one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns. 

In regions that qualify, including most of Andalusia - Spain’s most populous - as well as the Canary and Balearic Islands, bars, restaurants, shops, museums, gyms and hotels were allowed to open, most at reduced capacity.

Still, cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, which have been particularly hard hit by the epidemic, have been left behind for now.

Health ministry data showed the daily death toll dropping to 123 on Monday from Sunday’s 143, bringing the total number of fatalities from the pandemic to 26,744 in one of the world’s worst-affected countries. The daily number, a seven week-low, has come down from a record of 950 in early April.

England's Premier League could return behind closed doors in June

England’s Premier League could return to the world’s television screens as early as June, according to new coronavirus guidance published by the U.K. government on Monday. 

The guidance said it aimed for cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed doors for broadcast starting June 1 at the earliest, meaning it’s possible soccer could be played this summer without spectators.

However, the government warned that the June 1 timeline was conditional on a range of factors and would depend on the coronavirus alert level in the country, as well as the government’s five tests for easing measures, among other conditions.

Meanwhile, a number of soccer players have also expressed concern that a rush back to the field could put their health and that of their families at risk.