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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Gov. Baker announces four-phase approach to reopening Massachusetts

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday announced a four-phase approach to reopening the state's economy.

Baker defined the phases as follows: 

Start — "Here we're looking at industries that are more naturally set up to have little face-to-face interactions and workplaces that are better able to manage face-to-face customer interactions with certain conditions."

Cautious — "We plan to have more industries with more face-to-face interactions resume operations, again with conditions."

Vigilant — "Where we can allow for loosening of some of the restrictions from some of the earlier phases if, in fact, the public health data continues to conform to the terms that we're all pursuing as we look at that going forward."

New Normal — "We all know life will be different, but as the medical and life sciences communities make progress in developing treatments or vaccines, we can really begin to put this virus into the rear-view mirror. But none of that is going to happen overnight." 

Baker said the goal is to begin this process around May 18. All nonessential businesses have been closed in the state since March 23, Baker said.

"Keep in mind this is a disease we're still learning about across the globe," Baker said at a news conference Monday. "We've been one of the hardest-hit states, with almost 5,000 deaths and nearly 78,000 confirmed cases." 

Pentagon watchdog to evaluate Navy's response to coronavirus

The Pentagon’s Inspector General will evaluate whether the U.S. Navy has done enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 throughout the fleet.

In a letter dated Monday, May 11, the DOD Inspector General’s office informed the Department of the Navy that it plans to begin a subject evaluation to “determine whether the Navy has implemented policies and procedures to prevent and mitigate the spread of infectious diseases, such as coronavirus-2019 (COVID-19), on ships and submarines.”

Read more here.

When schools close and students leave: Inside America's empty college towns

Peyton Grant and Lizzy Anderson move out of their University of Michigan dorm amid the cornavirus pandemic on March 17, 2020.Gregory Shamus / Getty Images file

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated college towns, which rely on graduations, game days and a regular stream of students for revenue.

In Athens, Ohio, home of Ohio University, businesses — including those remembered with nostalgia by generations of students — said in a survey in early April that they couldn’t hold out beyond a few more months.

“For a lot of those smaller businesses, whatever sector you’re in — the bookstores, the restaurants and bars — I think they’re going to have a real difficult time being able to weather through a long-term change in the populace,” said Steve Patterson, the mayor of Athens and a board member of the International Town & Gown Association.

Read the full story here.

Disinfectant, furloughs, a loan and luck: How one tech startup is surviving

Before the global coronavirus pandemic, Shift had been flying high.

The startup, an online marketplace that brings used cars to customers' doorsteps for test drives, had raised nearly $300 million in funding from investors, with a fresh injection of cash coming last year. It was even eyeing the possibility of achieving what the majority of startups only dream of: selling stock to the public in an IPO in 2021.

In a matter of weeks, Shift, with hundreds of employees, was having an entirely different conversation: Would the company have to shut down? 

Most of Silicon Valley’s startups, including Shift, have been turned upside-down by the past two months, as the twin crises of a global pandemic and an economic nosedive have devastated countless businesses such as restaurants and retail shops.

Read the full story here.

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.