Fauci warns of 'little spikes' becoming outbreaks

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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.

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

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Pence tweets out task force meeting photo where everyone's in a mask

AOC and Rep. Lee offer burial assistance legislation for COVID-19 victims

Two Democratic congresswomen are offering legislation that would give people financial assistance to bury loved ones who died of the coronavirus.

The bill by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Barbara Lee, D-Calif., called the COVID–19 Funeral Assistance Fund, would offer $10,000 to help people pay for funerals of relatives who died of the virus if they can “demonstrate a common familial relationship to the deceased individual” and don’t have insurance to cover it.

The money is limited to $500 million. The legislation, first reported by NBC News, comes as House Democratic leaders rolled out a new $3 trillion relief bill that includes narrower provisions what Ocasio-Cortez and Lee have pushed for, directing some financial assistance to cover funeral expenses in disaster areas."It's a necessary measure."

"We're talking about life and death. And we're talking about the basic human dignity of being able to bury our loves ones," said Ocasio-Cortez, whose district in the Bronx is one of the hardest-hit by the virus.

The median national cost of an adult funeral in 2019 was $9,135, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Lee argued that “minimally, we should allow families who are grieving access to benefits to just lighten their load.”

Kushner predicts it will be 'very hard for America to ever lock down again' after reopening

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner predicted in an interview with Time that it will be much more difficult to impose a future shutdown once the U.S. opens large swathes of the economy.

"Once America opens up, it will be very hard for America to ever lock down again," he said Tuesday.

Kushner's prediction comes as states en masse have started the reopening processes while health officials warn about the potential for future outbreaks or spikes later in the year — to say nothing less of the initial wave having yet to pass. Dr. Anthony Fauci said in congressional testimony Tuesday he is concerned about the potential for states to move too hastily in their reopening.

The concept Kushner described echoes the cautionary tale of the Spanish Flu pandemic in the U.S. more than 100 years ago.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft auctioning off Super Bowl ring for relief efforts

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft this week announced that he is auctioning off his Super Bowl LI ring to help feed those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

The proceeds from the auction, part of the “All In Challenge” launched by Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, will benefit Feeding America, Meals on Wheels, World Central Kitchen and No Kid Hungry. As of Tuesday evening, the “All in Challenge” has raised over $40 million for these organizations.

The Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons for the 2017 championship by overcoming a 28-3 deficit, the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. 

The 5.1 carat-weight ring features 283 diamonds and is inscribed with “Greatest Comeback Ever.” As of Tuesday afternoon, the highest bid is $900,000.

Fact check: Trump claims U.S. has among lowest coronavirus death rates

While the nation's leading health experts say the coronavirus fight is far from over, President Donald Trump has a more optimistic assessment. NBC News' Jane Timm fact checks the president's claim that the U.S. has one of the lowest coronavirus death rates in the world.

Universal Orlando to partially reopen this week

Universal Orlando Resorts announced it would be partially reopening in Florida this week, although with coronavirus protection guidelines in place.

The CityWalk attraction will reopen with limited operations on May 14 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., requiring visitors to wear face masks and be subjected to temperature checks on arrival, the company said Tuesday.

Theme parks, including Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, will remain closed until at least May 31.

Universal Orlando Resorts is owned by NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News. 

New coronavirus relief bill includes funding to help families get cheaper internet access

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a $3 trillion coronavirus aid package on Tuesday that includes emergency funding to help with the cost of broadband internet.

Some $4 billion is expected to go to companies providing internet access, with a further $1.5 billion to help libraries keep people connected.  

The so-called HEROES Act, which creates an “Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund,” is expected to go to vote on Friday. 

The act includes up to $50 per month as a subsidy for broadband access, but according to the language of the bill, the money will be used to reimburse providers. Some families have been losing access to the internet because they haven’t been able to pay their bills. 

Gigi Sohn, an advocate for affordable and reliable communications infrastructure and a former counselor to the Federal Communications Commission, welcomed the move.

“Broadband internet access is vital to learning, working, shopping, obtaining healthcare, connecting with friends and family and importantly to social distancing,” she said in a statement. “Every American must have access to robust broadband internet during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Study says official toll of coronavirus dead in New York City may be missing more than 5,000 deaths

Lily Sage Weinrieb transfers remains from an NYC hospital on April 23, 2020 in New York.Misha Friedman / Getty Images file

New York City's coronavirus death toll passed 20,000 yesterday and a new study by the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) indicates the true total could be many thousands higher.

According to the study, released by and with the Centers for Disease Control, there were 32,172 deaths between March 11 and May 2 -- 24,172 more than generally happen in that time period each year.

The study determined that around 18,000 of the extra deaths in that time period this year were either confirmed or likely COVID-19 deaths. Since May 2, the death toll has continued to grow, and has passed 20,000.

For March 11 through May 2, the report counts nearly 5,300 extra deaths that don't fit in either the confirmed or probable coronavirus categories.

The study says, "the 5,293 excess deaths not identified as confirmed or probable COVID-19–associated deaths might have been directly or indirectly attributable to the pandemic."

Read the full story here.

Budget airline says passengers will need to ask permission to use bathroom beginning July 1

On Tuesday, Ryanair announced its plan for keeping passengers safe while flying during the coronavirus pandemic.

The European budget airline said it plans to resume 40% of its scheduled flights beginning July 1, but with enhanced safety measures. The new guidelines include mandatory face coverings and temperature checks upon entering airports, rules already implemented by other airlines

Most notably, Ryanair is restricting access to bathrooms, saying passengers will need to ask permission to use the lavatory. The airline said the rule is being put in place to discourage passengers from lining up in the aisles of the aircraft. 

“Queuing for toilets will also be prohibited on board although toilet access will be made available to individual passengers upon request,” the airline said in a press release

New Jersey governor says no state is currently being hit harder

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday that his constituents were currently the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic compared to residents of any other large state.

"We can make a strong case that no state is currently as impacted as ours," he tweeted. "There are still thousands in our hospitals. More will die. We know this. We cannot forget this."

The governor said New Jersey has more patients, more new cases and more recent deaths per 100,000 residents than Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, California or Texas.

 

LGBTQ people face higher unemployment amid coronavirus pandemic, survey finds

A person files an application for unemployment benefits on April 16, 2020, in Arlington, Va.Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images file

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans are more likely to become unemployed as a result of the coronavirus epidemic than their non-LGBTQ counterparts, according to a poll by the national LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign and PSB Research.

"It is unfortunate, but not surprising, to see how COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting vulnerable populations, including the LGBTQ community,” Elizabeth Bibi, the campaign’s senior communications adviser, told NBC News. “Understanding the impact this virus is having on our community is crucial so that we can be best prepared to weather this crisis and work together on how to recover."

Read the full story here.