Democrats push $3 trillion relief package, Trump calls it 'DOA'

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: West Java
A health agency official rests by the entrance to a public toilet as other colleagues conduct testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus at a bus station in Bandung, West Java, on May 13, 2020.Timur Matahari / AFP - Getty Images

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President Donald Trump said he disagreed with Dr. Anthony Fauci's Senate testimony from Tuesday. Trump said Fauci's remarks about the dangers or reopening too soon were "not an acceptable answer."

House Democrats are pushing a new $3 trillion stimulus package, which would include another round of $1,200 checks for Americans and extending federal unemployment benefits. Trump called the legislative bill "DOA. Dead on arrival."

Meanwhile, the California State University system said that it plans to offer most of its courses for the fall virtually. And in the U.K., coronavirus restrictions eased on Wednesday morning, allowing people to spend time outdoors and play sports with members of their household.

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

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Feds warn of Chinese attempts to hack health-care, drug firms doing COVID-19 research

The U.S. government issued a stark and unusual warning Wednesday asserting that China's efforts to hack health care and pharmaceutical companies pose a "significant threat" to the nation's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a joint statement, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency disclosed that the FBI is investigating "the targeting and compromise of U.S. organizations conducting COVID-19-related research" by the Chinese military and other Chinese hackers.

"These actors have been observed attempting to identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property (IP) and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research," the statement said. "The potential theft of this information jeopardizes the delivery of secure, effective, and efficient treatment options."

Click here to read the full story.

Johns Hopkins launches free online contract tracing course

Officials have said that contact tracing is an important tool to limit the spread of COVID-19 and now you can learn how to do it for free. 

On Monday, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, launched a free course aimed at training an army of contact tracers to slow the spread of COVID-19, the school announced in a news release

The course, which is completely online and takes approximately six hours to complete, will teach participants about the science behind the virus and how contact tracing is done. It is a requirement for the thousands of contact tracers being hired by New York. 

"This innovative online training course is a key component of our program that will provide tracers with the tools to effectively trace COVID-19 cases at the scale we need to fight this pandemic," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo explained

A recent report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School estimated that the United States will need at least 100,000 contact tracers to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Photo: Grim burial in Russia

A person who presumably died of COVID-19 is buried at a graveyard on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg. Anton Vaganov / Reuters

Congress, not the Federal Reserve, may need to take the next step, says Fed Chairman Powell

Congress, not the Federal Reserve, may need to inject more financial help to guide the country through the pandemic that has already caused “a level of pain that is hard to capture in words,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday.

Powell praised lawmakers for taking quick action, but acknowledged the need for more stimulus.

“There is a growing sense that the economy may recover more slowly than we would like,” Powell said Wednesday morning during a scheduled video conference with the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

While the Fed has slashed rates to near zero and implemented a series of crisis relief measures that support lending and liquidity, Powell said the central bank's "timely and appropriately large" economic response "may not be the final chapter." 

Powell said the scope and speed of the economic downturn is "significantly worse than any recession since World War II,” but he still rejected calls for negative rates.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump and some policy experts encouraged the Fed to consider negative interest rates to boost the economy.

“I know there are fans of the policy, but for now it’s not something that we’re considering,” Powell said. “We think we have a good toolkit and that’s the one that we will be using.”

Restaurants are open again in Texas — with some big changes. Is it safe to eat out?

Waiter Jason Vernon takes the order of some of the first guests to arrive at the reopening of Coltivare in Houston. "My whole goal was to make them feel comfortable," Vernon said. "I didn't want them to feel out of place."Brandon Thibodeaux / for NBC News

At one Houston restaurant that reopened recently following the coronavirus lockdown, the salt and pepper shakers were replaced with complimentary bottles of hand sanitizer.

That's just one change that the owners of Coltivare made as they sought to reassure their regular customers that it was safe to return.

“If we’re going to do this,” Ryan Pera, Coltivare’s chef and co-owner, recalled telling his team, “then we’re going to do it right.”

But not every business is taking the same precautions, and public health officials warn that there are risks associated with eating out, especially in parts of the country where the rate of new coronavirus cases is still growing.

Read the full story here. 

Schumer pushes for Senate to support release of CDC report, GOP blocks it

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., offered a unanimous consent request Wednesday for the Senate to adopt a resolution calling for the release of the reopening guidelines prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"America needs and must have the candid guidance of our best scientists, unfiltered unedited uncensored by President Trump or his political minions. The CDC report on reopening the country is an important piece of that guidance. The Senate should unanimously support the uncensored release of that document," he said on the Senate floor. 

The White House sent back the guidelines last month with a request for revisions. The coronavirus task force viewed the CDC’s advice as overly restrictive, an official told NBC News last week.

Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., however, objected to the request and blocked the resolution from being adopted because he said that Schumer was trying to get CDC bureaucrats to "shutter the economy."

This couple is delivering backpacks with pandemic supplies to N.Y.C.'s homeless

Jeffrey Newman, 52, left, president and CEO and Jayson Conner, 43, right, Vice President of Backpacks for the Street on April 19, 2020 in New York.Stephen Yang / Redux

A simple backpack has become a symbol of hope to the tens of thousands of homeless men and women throughout New York City, the epicenter of the nation's coronavirus pandemic.

A volunteer movement called Backpacks for the Street is crisscrossing the city’s boroughs in a rented U-Haul, delivering backpacks filled with masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and other essentials to New York's homeless. Since the COVID-19 crisis began ravaging the metropolis, where the virus has killed over 15,000 people since March, 1,200 backpacks have been handed out, according to Jeffrey Newman, who started the group with his fiancé, Jayson Conner, in 2018.

“For the people out on the street, the biggest thing when you talk to people out there is that they feel invisible, and they feel like nobody sees them as a human being," Newman, 52, told NBC News. "The thing about a backpack is that it gives people hope, it says, ‘Hey, we see you, and you matter.’”

Read more here.

Brazil records its deadliest day for COVID-19 with 881 deaths

Brazil recorded its deadliest day for COVID-19 with 881 confirmed deaths — as the total death toll has passed 12,000.

The country has documented more than 178,000 cases of the coronavirus.

The actual number of cases and deaths in the country are likely far higher than the official counts, since Brazil is only testing people with symptoms who've gone to the hospital.

Angela Merkel urges Germans to stay vigilant

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Parliament on Wednesday that it would be "depressing" if, "just because we want too much too quick," Germany had to reverse the easing of its coronavirus lockdown measures. 

Speaking to the Bundestag, she urged Germans to stay "vigilant," adding that the country was still living "in the pandemic and with the virus."

Germany is believed to have fared better than other European countries in its handling of the pandemic, largely credited to early, widespread testing. The country began easing lockdown measures late April, ahead of many other nations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel.Maja Hitij / Getty Images