House passes' $3T 'HEROES' aid for stimulus checks, rent assistance

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Truckers protest low rates and lack of broker transparency along Constitution Avenue in Washington on May 15, 2020.Olivier Douliery / AFP - Getty Images

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The global coronavirus death toll passed 300,000, with more than 4.4 million confirmed cases around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. remains the world's worst-hit country, with more than 86,600 deaths.

Friday evening the House passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package that would include another round of stimulus payments of up to $1,200 per person. President Donald Trump has suggested he won't support the bill.

Critics Friday said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is presenting families detained at the border with the choice of allowing children to be released without them or staying together and facing possible virus exposure in detention.

Additionally, the CDC issued a health alert to physicians on a rare but potentially deadly condition linked to COVID-19 in children that has now been reported in at least 19 states and Washington, D.C.

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

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Senators to introduce nonprofit aid bill

A group of Democratic senators are introducing a bill Friday that aims to help nonprofits meet the needs of their communities by providing federal grants to pay the salaries of their workers.

The measure, dubbed the "Work Now Act," would help the groups that provide a public service to scale up their activities and hire more workers if needed, even as charitable contributions and revenues decrease because of the pandemic.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., one of the co-authors, said the bill will help nonprofits that are struggling financially as demands for their services soar, as well as employ some of the 36 million people who've lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

"Nonprofits are on the front lines of this crisis helping millions of Americans in need," Klobuchar said in a statement to NBC News. "From food banks, to shelters, to counseling centers, charitable organizations are doing incredible work to help families put food on their table, provide housing assistance, and serve people with disabilities.”

Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford said his organization has had to “make deep cuts” that included layoffs, while Brian Gallagher, the president and CEO of United Way, said his group's budget and resources have become “incredibly strained.”

A medical journal called on voters to replace Trump

The medical journal The Lancet on Friday published a sharply worded editorial condemning the Trump administration's coronavirus efforts and calling on voters to choose a new president.

"Americans must put a president in the White House come January, 2021, who will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics," The Lancet wrote.

The publication, which seldom wades into political issues, blamed the administration for undermining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "capacity to combat infectious diseases ... leaving an intelligence vacuum when COVID-19 began to emerge." The Lancet also cited crucial missteps by the CDC, but it warned in the editorial that punishing the CDC isn't the answer.

"The Administration is obsessed with magic bullets—vaccines, new medicines, or a hope that the virus will simply disappear. But only a steadfast reliance on basic public health principles, like test, trace, and isolate, will see the emergency brought to an end, and this requires an effective national public health agency," The Lancet wrote, calling the national response to the pandemic "inconsistent and incoherent."

NYC cases of children with inflammatory syndrome rises to 110

New York City now has 110 cases of children with a rare inflammatory syndrome thought to be linked to the coronavirus, a 10 percent rise in one day, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday.

The newly-identified condition, tentatively called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, has symptoms mirroring toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease, including severe inflammation of the coronary arteries. The CDC is calling the illness "MIS-C."

The city reported 100 cases on Thursday.

De Blasio said Friday that all five boroughs have cases, but the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens have the most.

He said African American children account for at least 24 percent of the known cases, while in 38 percent of the cases the race is unknown.

Heat wave preparations for pandemic: NYC buying 74,000 air conditioners for seniors

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced on Friday that the city is preparing for a possible heat wave during the pandemic this summer, including by providing air conditioners to all low-income seniors so that they can stay safe and cool at home.

The city will buy 74,000 air conditioners for this vulnerable population, including 22,000 for public housing residents, de Blasio said at a news conference Friday. The initiative will cost an estimated $55 million dollars, $20 million of which the city will be getting from the state, the mayor said.

The preparations also include work to open cooling centers for the public that abide by social distancing rules, he said.

Pandemic teleworking is straining families, E.U. study says

The COVID-19 pandemic is placing unprecedented strain on families and working life, an E.U. study showed on Friday, with more than a fifth of people who now work at home in households with younger children struggling to concentrate on their jobs.

The study by the E.U. agency Eurofound, found that over a third of people working in the European Union had started working remotely or teleworking as a result of the pandemic.

"The toll this pandemic has taken on family life cannot be ignored," said Mary McCaughey of Eurofound. "Parents are facing unprecedented challenges." 

Wuhan to test all 11 million residents as China tries to avoid second wave

All 11 million residents of Wuhan will be tested for the coronavirus, officials in the Chinese city where the outbreak began last year said on Friday, as the country marked one month without any reported deaths from the disease.

Beijing also responded to the latest volley from President Donald Trump, who said he didn't want to speak to President Xi Jinping at the moment, and added that he could cut ties with the world's second-largest economy if he wanted to.

China called for "maintaining the stable development of Sino-U.S. relations" Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told press on Friday. 

Read the full story here.

A medical worker takes a swab sample in Wuhan, China. AFP - Getty Images

April retail sales fell by 16.4 percent, the lowest level on record

April retail sales sank by 16.4 percent to their lowest level on record, as stores and restaurants felt the full weight of a month of coronavirus closures.

The monthly sales data, which measures spending at places such as gas stations, restaurants, bars, and stores, was released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

The number was worse than economists had been anticipating, with most having forecast a 12 percent drop.

By comparison, March sales were down by 8.3 percent, which was at that time the worst decline since records began in 1992.

Consumer spending drives around three-quarters of the U.S. economy, but social distancing measures have restricted business operations, limited driving, and forced the closure of most retail stores and food service locations.

Amal Clooney: Coronavirus exacerbates 'existing human rights crisis'

Catholic churches gradually reopen in Pittsburgh

Catholic churches in the Diocese of Pittsburgh will gradually reopen on Friday in most areas, with private prayers, baptisms and confession allowed, the diocese announced.

Worshipers will be required to follow social distancing rules and wear masks. Daily masses are scheduled to resume on June 1, with a goal of restarting weekend masses over the weekend of June 6 and 7. 

“It fills my heart with so much joy to think of the doors of our Churches opening once again,” said Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik. "I’ve heard from so many who have missed praying in their parishes, I’ve missed it too."

Moscow announces massive antibody testing program

Moscow health officials launched an ambitious antibody screening program Friday to evaluate the population’s immunity levels as coronavirus cases continue to grow across Russia, with more than 260,00 cases reported nationwide.

In a blog post explaining how the effort will work, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that every several days 70,000 residents will be selected and invited into one of 30 state clinics across the city to be given an enzyme test for Immunoglobulin M antibodies. Sobyanin said the effort was necessary to provide an informed answer to the question of when Moscow can begin lifting a strict lockdown that has been in place for the past six weeks, and is currently not scheduled to end before May 31.

Sobyanin’s decision would seem to be a subtle rebuke to President Vladimir Putin, who earlier this week lifted a federal stay at home order and declared Russia was now ready to begin a gradual easing of restrictions — despite growing case numbers that surpassed a quarter of a million by mid-week, propelling Russia’s outbreak to be the second largest in the world.