Fauci warns of 'little spikes' becoming outbreaks

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
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Leah Chapman, a registered nurse, waits for a protective gown before the healthcare team rotates a COVID-19 patient on the third-floor ICU at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., on May 7, 2020.David Joles / Star Tribune via AP

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Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday cautioned that reopening state economies before COVID-19 prevention measures are in place could lead to "little spikes that might turn into outbreaks."

Fauci's warning, part of his testimony by video conference before a Senate hearing, stands in stark contrast to President Donald Trump's urging on Monday that the U.S. is prevailing against the coronavirus and should "reopen."

The number of deaths linked to COVID-19 has passed 80,000, a figure that Fauci admitted is probably lower than the actual death toll because some who died were not tested for the coronavirus.

Also Tuesday, House Democratic leaders pushed for a second round of payments of up to $1,200 per person in new coronavirus relief legislation that's headed for a vote Friday.

Its prospects in the Republican-run Senate are far from certain. Michael Zona, a spokesman for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called the overall legislation "DOA in the Senate," although he didn't comment specifically on the stimulus money.

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UK's COVID-19 death toll tops 38,000, worst in Europe

The United Kingdom's COVID-19 death toll topped 38,000 as of early May, by far the worst yet reported in Europe, raising questions about Prime Minister Boris Johnson's handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics for England and Wales brought the United Kingdom's official death toll to 38,289 as of May 3 — up nearly 6,000 in the space of a week, according to a Reuters tally of death registrations data.

While different ways of counting make comparisons with other countries difficult, the figure confirmed Britain was among those hit worst by a pandemic that has killed more than 285,000 worldwide.

Migrants stalled at U.S. border fear COVID-19 outbreak

U.S. officials, immigration attorneys and health care workers fear that border cities in Mexico, where many migrants live in crowded shelters where families share beds, may be a new hot spot for COVID-19 infections.

Migrant health care workers operating in the cities of Juarez, Matamoros and Tijuana say the conditions are right for a "public health disaster in the making."

Read the full story here.

WHO warns summer heatwaves pose greater risks for vulnerable in lockdown

The World Health Organization is warning that summer heatwaves amplified expected to hit Europe in the coming months will add to the risks facing those already vulnerable to coronavirus outbreak. 

High temperatures can trigger heatstroke and aggravate conditions such as cardiovascular, respiratory, kidney or mental illnesses, particularly among people who are older, infants, those working outdoors and people with existing illnesses, the health agency said in a news release Monday. A spike in heat-related illnesses also risks overwhelming already stretched health systems. 

People who are the most vulnerable are recommended to stay at home or in cool environments and avoid sun exposure in over 77-degree heat. The agency is also recommending that countries review their heat health plans to add measures to reduce transmission of COVID-19. 

Japan to approve its first antigen test kits despite false negatives

Japan will be approving its first antigen test kits on Wednesday to bolster its testing rate despite imperfections in the results. 

The Fujirebio tests will take only 30 minutes to process compared with the four to six hours required for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests currently being used, the health ministry said in a release on Tuesday. But it also risks showing false negatives when there isn't enough of the virus detected in a patient. 

The tests, which are 80 to 90 percent accurate for positive results, are intended to supplement ongoing PCR testing, the ministry said. As of Tuesday, Japan had reported 15,847 cases and 633 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

Sheriff: California inmates tried to infect themselves in hopes of release

A group of Los Angeles County inmates deliberately tried to infect themselves with the coronavirus in a mistaken belief they would be released if they were sick, the sheriff said Monday.

Video released Monday by Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva appeared to show inmates at North County Correctional Facility in Castaic drinking from the same bottle of hot water and taking turns breathing through the same mask.

Villanueva called the behavior disturbing.

"As a direct result of the behavior seen in the video, 21 men tested positive for COVID-19 within a week," he said in a statement.

Read the full story here

Organ transplants dive amid virus crisis, start to inch back

WASHINGTON — Organ transplants plummeted as COVID-19 swept through communities, with surgeons wary of endangering living donors and unable to retrieve possibly usable organs from the dead -- and hospitals sometimes too full even when they could.

Deceased donor transplants -- the most common kind -- dropped by about half in the U.S. and 90 percent in France from late February into early April, researchers reported Monday in the journal Lancet.

Transplants from living donors had a similarly staggering dive, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which runs the U.S. transplant system. There were 151 living donor transplants in the U.S. in the second week of March when a pandemic was declared. There were only 16 such transplants the week of April 5, according to UNOS.

It’s too soon to know how many people waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant may die not from COVID-19 infection but because the pandemic blocked their chance at a new organ. Kidney transplants make up the vast majority of the drop, but heart, lung and liver transplants declined, too.

IRS sets deadline for relief payment by direct deposit

The Treasury Department and the IRS are urging taxpayers who want to get their economic impact payments directly deposited to their bank accounts to enter their information online by Wednesday.

The government has sent out about 130 million payments in the first four weeks of the program by both direct deposit and by mail.

The IRS said Monday that people should use the “Get My Payment ” tool on the IRS website by noon on Wednesday to provide their direct deposit information.

After that time, the agency will begin preparing millions of files to send to Bureau of Financial Services for paper checks that will begin arriving through late May and into June. The government cannot provide direct deposit once the process of sending a paper check has commenced.