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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

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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Uber to use facial recognition tech to determine if drivers are wearing masks

Riders and drivers on the Uber platform will have to verify they are abiding by new COVID-19 safety guidelines, including wearing a mask or face cover and regularly washing or sanitizing their hands, the company said Wednesday.

Uber drivers will have to take a selfie with their mask on and submit it within the app for verification before they can begin a ride. Riders and drivers both must also confirm they do not have COVID-19 or related symptoms, and drivers are required to verify they are sanitizing their vehicle daily. Users are also encouraged not to sit in the front seat of a vehicle and to open windows when weather permits. 

Uber said the company has committed $50 million to provide masks, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer for free to drivers, and already sourced 20 million masks that drivers can pick-up or request be mailed to them. 

The Uber app already uses face-scanning technology to verify a driver’s ID before starting a ride, so this new mask verification is built off that framework. Uber is also considering building out that tech to include riders in the future.


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'Calls to violence': Michigan Gov. Whitmer says armed protests could lengthen stay-at-home order

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday that armed protests at the state's Capitol over her stay-at-home order have "been really political rallies where people come with Confederate flags and Nazi symbolism and calling for violence," adding that if they continue, it could lengthen the state's social-distancing restrictions.

"I do think that the fact of the matter is these protests, in a perverse way, make it likelier that we're going to have to stay in a stay-at-home posture," Whitmer told ABC's "The View."

"This is not appropriate in a global pandemic, but it's certainly not an exercise of democratic principles where we have free speech," Whitmer said. "This is calls to violence, this is racist and misogynistic. And I ask that everyone who has a platform uses it to call on people to observe the best practices promulgated by the CDC and to stop encouraging this behavior, because it only makes it that much more precarious for us to try to reengage our economy, which is what everyone says they want us to be able to do."

Asked about protesters' threats against her, Whitmer said, "I would be not truthful if I said it did not bother me."

Read the full story here.

NYC antibody tests show frontline workers have lower exposure, Cuomo says

New York City area antibody test results show that crucial frontline workers, such as first responders and health care employees, have lower rates of exposure to the coronavirus than the general population, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

The tests show that transit workers in metro New York City have an exposure rate of about 14.2 percent, city fire department employees including emergency medical technicians 17.1 percent, health care workers 12.2 percent, and New York Police Department workers 10.5 percent. Those numbers are all lower than the 19.9-percent exposure rate of the city's general population, according to the antibody test results cited by the governor. 

Cuomo said he was particularly surprised about the results for health care workers, telling reporters at a news conference, "You know what that means? PPE works. Masks work. Gloves work. Hand sanitizing works."

There are questions among medical experts about the accuracy of some antibody tests.

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."

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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.”